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Compiled by B.M. Ellis from surveys and sketches by:-

R.  Bennett   C.P.  Falshaw C.A. Marriott
D.A.  Coase D.C.  Ford  R.J.  Roberts
B.M. Ellis R.S.  King  


This report is published as a companion volume to Caving Report No. 7, "A Second Report on St. Cuthbert’s Swallet".   It consists of a copy of the survey so far completed and a text describing the methods used in making the survey and how the surveys have been joined together.

It is now nearly nine years since St. Cuthbert's Swallet was first entered and it maybe thought that this has been more than enough, tine in which to produce a survey of the complete system but, be that as it may, it has not been done.  Working on the idea that anything is bettor than nothing, and not knowing when the survey would be completed, it was decided to publish as comprehensive a survey as possible.  There were two possible courses that could be followed, either that part of the survey so far completed could be published or else this could be used as a basis for a survey-come-sketch of the major part of .the cave.  It was decided to took the latter course.  As more accurate surveys are made of those parts at present sketched it is intended to publish then separately so that they can be added to the present sheet if desired.  Accordingly, at the back of this Report will be found a post card and if this is completed and, returned to the given address your name will be placed on the mailing list for copies of any future additions to the survey.  As and when these become available it is intended to publish them at the sane, scale as the main sheet so that the recipient can transfer then easily, and so keep the survey up to date.  An invoice will be enclosed with each of the additions and provided that this is paid your name will be kept on the list.  Obviously it is impossible to give definite figures but it is not expected that those additions will cost more than, one shilling .each, including postage.


(1)  The Duck to the Railway Tunnel.  The late Don Coase started a high grade survey of the cave in 1955, commencing at what was then the Sump (now the Duck) and working at a Cave Research Group survey grade of 7.  This survey had reached as far as the Railway Tunnel when unfortunately he died and as yet no one has been found willing to complete the traverse.  The instruments used wore a tripod mounted. "Cave Theodolite", and a one hundred feet long copper tape.  The cave theodolite consisted of an ex-R.A.F; astro-compass modified to take an ex-R. A. F. gun sight.  The theolodite was tested for accuracy on the surface before -use in the cave.  The horizontal scale is fitted with a vernier, and can be read to 0.2O, while the vertical scale is graduated to 0.5O and readings wore estimated to 0.25°.  Measurements of distance  were read to the nearest three inches.

The only closed traverse on the survey was the Fingers - Railway Tunnel - Cascade Chamber - the Fingers and at first attempt this failed to close by several feet and eleven degrees.  The next survey trip checked the observations on this traverse and the final figures failed to close by 0.2 foot and 0.02° in a total of 141 feet.  Unfortunately this was the last trip that Coase made.

(2)  Maypole Series and Line Survey to Entrance.  After the successful exploration of the Maypole Series Ron King wished to know the position of the end of the series in relation to the surface.  Therefore in 1958 he surveyed the Maypole Series and then continued a line survey from Upper Traverse Chamber to the entrance.  The instruments used in this survey were, a prismatic compass, a clinometer and a one hundred foot long copper tape.  As the compass was not calibrated a Cave Research Group grading of 5 could not be claimed, even though a clinometer had been used and is not required for a grade 4 survey.  This shows one of the failings of the C.R.G. system and a grading of 4½ seems to be appropriate in this case.  There was no closed traverse and therefore no indication of accuracy is available.

(3)  The Duck to the Entrance.  In 1960 Derek Ford was making notes for a thesis en the formation of some Mendip caves and as at that time there was no complete survey of the Old Route through the cave ho decided to plot his own.  The survey was essentially a lino survey made at C. R. G. grade 5 - 6 using a four inch diameter prismatic compass mounted on a tripod and read to 0.5°, a Watkin clinometer and steel tapes.  Distances were measured to the nearest inch.  At the time of the survey Ford also made notes on the passage width and roof height at each survey station so that a rough plan and section could be drawn.  Although the instruments were sufficiently accurate for a grading of 6 to be claimed, Ford only claims grade 5.   Again there was no closed traverse to give an indication of accuracy.

(4)  The Rabbit Warren and Extension/Catgut Series, High and Upper Traverse Chambers.  In August 1950 Chris Falshaw and Bryan Ellis started surveying in Continuation Chamber with the intention of making a survey of the Rabbit Warren and Rabbit Warren Extension.  While surveying in T-Junction Chamber another party opened Cross Leg Squeeze and the surveyors decided to survey through the Catgut Series to High Chamber before returning to the Rabbit Warren.  After four trips the survey, had been taken as far as Upper Traverse Chamber but shortly afterwards one surveyor, left the district and the other joined the army.

During the next two and a half years Ellis made a further four trips and on those completed the survey down harem Passage and then through the Rabbit Warren to the Dining Room, across to Plantation Junction and finally up to the T-Junction to complete the traverse.  The instruments used for this survey were a calibrated hand held liquid filled prismatic compass, a simple home made hand-held, clinometer and steel tapes.  Readings were taken to the nearest degree with the compass and clinometer, and to the nearest three inches for measurements of distance.  The readings for this survey were to a C.R.G. grading of 5 but due to the difficult conditions under which the survey was made and the resulting short average length of survey leg, the accuracy is probably not as high as that usually expected of this grade.

This survey contained one closed traverse of its own, that from the Railway Tunnel nearly to the Dining Room, along to Chain Chamber and T-Junction Chamber, through the Catgut Series and back to the Railway Tunnel via Upper Traverse Chamber and Harem Passage.  This traverse of 1308 feet failed to close by twenty three feet, an error of 1.8%.  There were also several further closed traverses when this survey was added to those already made in the cave, those are mentioned further in the section dealing with the joining together of the surveys.

(5)   Arête Pitch to the Choke by the New Route.  Bryan Ellis and Mike Luckwill commenced surveying the New Route in November 1961 and by the tine that this Report was being prepared they had completed a traverse from Arête Pitch to the Choke.  A line survey was also made from above the Water Shute to Upper Mud Hall so that it could be tied in with Ford's survey.  The instruments used were a calibrated liquid filled prismatic compass and a home-made clinonotor, both mounted on a tripod.  Steel tapes were used for measurements of distances, readings being to the nearest three inches.  The "leap-frog" method of surveying was used in this the instruments are placed at alternate stations and readings are taken to the intermediate stations.  The instruments used correspond to these for a Cave Research Group grading of 6 but as they were tripod mounted for ease of use and not with the intention of gaining any accuracy a grading of 5½ would be more appropriate.  This survey does not contain any closed traverses of its own and the closed traverse with Ford's survey is mentioned in the next section.

(6)   Sketches of those parts of the cave so far not surveyed.  To make the survey as complete as possible, those parts of the cave that have not been surveyed have been sketched by members of the B. E. C.  Roy Bennett has provided the sketch of the Rocky Boulder andCoral Series; Johnny Eatough of Cerberus Series and Dick Roberts that of the September Series.  Any other low grade sketches are by the author, either from his own know­ledge of the passages or from sketches in the Caving Log. (See page 5).

(7)  Plantation Swallet and height of the Entrance of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Plantation Swallet was surveyed, for what it is worth, by Bryan Ellis.  At the same time an accurate line was plotted from the entrance of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet so that its relative position and height above Ordnance Datum could be calculated.

The height of the entrance of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet above Ordnance Datum was determined by Derek Ford who made an accurate lino from a nearby bench mark.  This line was checked part way along its length with a similar line made by Norman  Humphries ( Shepton Mallet Caving Club).  The two agreed to within 0.1 feet.

Summary of surveys used in Compiling Plan



C.R.G. Grade


Total Passage Length

No. of Sections

Average Passage Length per Leg

D. A. Coase


The Duck to Cascade Chamber

1030 feet


38 feet

D. C. Ford        

The Duck to the Wire Rift

1282 feet


26¾ feet

The Wire Rift to the Entrance

Not Known

R. S. King

The Maypole Series

379 feet


34½ feet

Upper Traverse Chamber to Entrance

510 feet


23¾ feet

C. P. Falshaw and B. M. Ellis

Rabbit Warren, Extension and Catgut

1737 feet


16½ feet

High Chamber to Railway Tunnel

563 feet


26¾ feet

B. M. Ellis and M. Luckwill

Arête Pitch to the Choke

648 feet


29½ feet

Water Shute to Upper Mud Hall

132 feet


22 feet



For all the surveys used in preparing the plan the surveyor's readings were obtained, the exception to this being for Ford's survey between the Wire Rift and the Entrance.  From this information the latitude, departure and height of each station was calculated using three figure trigonometrical tables and a calculating machine.  All the calculations were made to the nearest 0.1 foot and then the co-ordinates were adjusted to the nearest foot.  All the readings from tables and all calculations were then repeat­ed as a check.  From the co-ordinates so obtained it was possible to  attempt plotting the surveys on one sheet.

As soon as the plotting was attempted - it immediately became obvious that there was a serious discrepancy between the surveys of Ford and Coase for that part of the Main Stream between the bottom of Everest Passage and the Duck.  Theoretically Coase's survey -was the more accurate but for several reasons it was decided to use Ford's.  As this choice will surprise many people I must explain my reasons.

    1. If an error is made in a theodolite traverse the error is amplified as the traverse proceeds; an error of bearing on a compass traverse only affects the direction of the leg on which the error was made, the error does not(if anyone doubts the validity of this state­ment, a few minutes exercise on an imaginary traverse with a protractor and ruler should prove the point.).
    2. Ford did not make a closed traverse and therefore no check on accuracy is available, but at the first attempt Coase’s traverse failed to close by "several feet and eleven degrees".  Admittedly the traverse closed extremely well on the second attempt but this does show that errors possibly exist in Coase’s survey.
    3. Both Ford and myself have taken compass bearings along suitable passages such as the Main Stream near the bottom of Everest Passage, along Sewer Passage and down GoarWe did not use each others survey stations but in none of these places did we differ by more than two degrees.  However, not only did the surveys of Ford and Cease differ in detail but the difference in bearing between Gour Rift and Sewer Passage measured by theodolite by Coase disagreed with the difference measured magnetically by Ford and myself.  The same applies between Sewer Passage, and the Main Stream near Everest Passage where the difference between the two sets of readings was over thirty degrees.  There is the possibility of magnetic abnormalities and this will have to be checked before a complete plan is published.
    4. Finally there is my own survey through the Rabbit Warren between the Main Stream near the Dining Room and PlantationAlthough this survey was of a lower grade it failed to close on Ford's survey between those points by three foot, an error of 0.5% but it failed to close on the survey as madeby Coase by a considerably greater figure, 10.8%  in fact.

The only other part of the cave where there was a choice of surveys was from Kanohenjunga to the Entrance.  Here there was the line survey made by King after completing his survey of the Maypole Series, and there was Ford' s survey.  These two disagreed by thirteen foot when plotted together but as the exact location of   King’s survey station at Kanchenjunga was not known this discrepancy could be plus or minus ten feet.  In this case it was decided again to use Ford's survey because not only was it made to a greater potential accuracy but also, because it included passage detail.

Having made a decision on which surveys to use where there wasa choice, then came the task of joining all the surveys together.  The positions of the stations for Ford's survey through the cave were plotted on gridded paper at a scale of forty foot to the inch.  To this basic line passage detail was added and here Coase's survey was used to a large extent because he had surveyed the features in greater detail.  To this survey of the Old Route was added that part of Coase’s survey from the bottom of Everest Passage to the Cascade.  Ford did not survey this area and Coase's survey is almost certainly accurate - the final closure error after re-surveying being extremely small.

The Rabbit Warren survey was taken next and fitted across the Coase -Ford survey from the Railway Tunnel to Plantation Junction.  From the Railway Tunnel to the Dining Room the closure error was fairly high, 2.5%, and the Warren traverse should have been repeated.  However, this was not done and instead the error was distributed along the traverse, the Main Stream survey being taken as correct.  When this had been done, all the various smaller closed traverses in this section, those between the Rabbit Warren and the Main Stream, closed to within three feet.

As already mentioned the closed traverse between the Dining Room and Plantation Junction failed to close by 0.5% (three foot) and this error was distributed along the Rabbit barren, traverse.

Having made these adjustments to the Rabbit Warren survey it was found that the complete Rabbit Warren traverse failed to close by 1.4%.  Again this error was distributed along the traverse, for this purpose it being assumed that the likelihood of error was the sane throughout the length.  This, was not a very fair assumption because it was much more likely that errors would be made in the more constricted sections of the survey, that is in the Rabbit Warren Extension and particularly in the Catgut Series.  However, a satisfactory method of weighting the corrections could not be found and it was thought that it would be safer to distribute the error throughout the survey in proportion to the length of each leg.

The most difficult survey to tie in was that of the Maypole Series by King.  A tie-bearing had to be taken from his station at Maypole Pitch to one of the Rabbit Warren traverse stations, and by using this and his line survey from Upper Traverse Chamber to the entrance, the survey was tied-in to the satisfaction of the author.

For the final survey, that of the New Route, there was a closed trav­erse through the bedding plane from above the Water Shute Upper Mud Hall and also the position of Traverse Chamber Pitch to give an additional check.  The closure error on the traverse from Arête Pitch to Upper Mud Hall Pitch was 1.8% and it is thought that most of this lies between the Water Shute and Mud Hall because not only does the position of Traverse Chamber Pitch agree well with that obtained from the Rabbit Warren and Maypole Series surveys, but also tripods were not used on this section.  Some of this error may be "lost" when accurate co-ordinates for Ford's survey stations above the Wire Rift are available.  At present the traverse has boon closed using co-ordinates taken from Ford's drawing of his survey results and not those obtained by calculation.  However, the surveyor feels that at least part of the error may be at Pulpit Pitch because he considers that insufficient care was taken over the readings at this point.  A more accurate method of carrying the survey down the pitch will have to be used as a check.

The connection between the stream sinking in Plantation Swallet and that joining the main stream at Plantation Junction was proved by the author, during 1961;details are given in Belfry Bulletin No.166, Dec­ember 1961.  At the same time the connection was proved between various streams found on the eastern side of the cave; these connections are shown on the survey.

It will be seen that there is still plenty of work to be done with regard to surveying in the cave, not only the surveying of parts not pre­viously done but also checking certain parts that have been.  Whenand if, this is completed it is intended to publish a survey of the complete cave, together with sections.

B.M Ellis

December 1961



Since the remainder of the Report was typed the following information has become available on the "sketches" mentioned on page 3.

Rocky Boulder and Coral Series.  Roy Bennett provided a sketch of this part of the cave and this has been used on the survey.  Although the sketch is from memory and therefore technically of C.R.G. Grade 1, the series tie in with the survey of the cave in so many places that the accuracy is thought to be equivalent at least to that of a normal Grade 2.

Cerberus Series.  This survey has been made by C.A. Marriott and not by John Eatough as mentioned on page 3.  A C.R.G. Grade 6 survey was made from the Dining Room to the Rat Run, then trouble was found with the tri­pod and the survey was completed at C.R.G. Grade 1 for the last few feet to Everest Passage.  There was not sufficient time for the co-ordinates of the stations to be calculated and the small closure error was closed by eye.  The sketch of Lake Chamber is by the author and is a very hazy Grade 1.  It is hoped that a complete survey of Cerberus Series will be published as one of the Additions in the near future.

September Series.  Dick Roberts has started a Grade 4 survey of this series but it was not completed in time for publication on this survey.  His line has been used for the route through the boulder ruckle so that Illusion and Cone Chambers could be sketched in to show the known course of Plantation Stream.  The completed survey of this series is another that it  hoped to publish as an Addition in the near future.

The Choke to Everest Passage.  The Main Stream from the lower side of The Choke to the bottom of Everest Passage was surveyed atG.R.G. Grade 3 by the author.  Measurements were made with a prismatic compass read to the nearest 5°, and by pacing.


B.M.E.     Feb. 1962.

This Report has been compiled with the assistance of the following Leaders for St. Cuthbert's Swallet:-

M. J. Baker D. G. Ford M. J. Petty
R. Bennett P. M. Giles B. E. Prewer
J. A. Eatough R. S. ;King R. J. Roberts
B. M. Ellis C. A. Marriott R. D. Stenner
C. P. Falshaw M. Palmer E. J. Waddon

Acknowledgement is made of the assistance given by everyone asked, in particular the following who contributed the sections following their names: - R. Bennett (Rocky Boulder mad Coral Series) D. Ford (Geology and Formation of the Cave) P.M. Giles (References to the B.B.) and R. King (Maypole Series).     The photographs of formations in the September Series are by B. J. Prewer, end those of the St. Cuthbert's depression by J. Eatough.

Another Caving Report is published with this one. "A Preliminary Survey Plan of St.  Cuthbert's Swallet" and contains most complete and most accurate survey of the cave yet.




This Report is NOT intended as a supplement to Caving Report No.2, "A Preliminary Report on St. Cuthbert's Swallet".  That Report proved to be very popular with the result that it went out of print and it was de­cided that it would be better to bring the manuscript up to date and issue it as a new Report, rather then re-issue the original.

This Report has been compiled from Caving Report No.2, articles app­earing in the "Belfry Bulletin" and notes provided by members of the Bristol exploration Club.  The manuscript was then shown to as many of the "auth­orised leaders" for the cave as possible and comments invited.  These comments were then incorporated in the Report.

An impression that will probably be gained by the reader of this Report is that every nook and cranny in the cave has a name.  At a meeting of the Leaders held during November 1961 it was agreed that in the past naming had been too prolific.  However, it was felt that the confusion would be oven worse if some of the names wore dropped in this Report.  Therefore all the old names have been kept and in two instances names have been standardised - Cascade Passage is incorrect and the correct name is the Railway Tunnel, and in the September Series it is Victory, and not Victoria, Passage.  It is hoped that the discoverers of future extensions will be more conservative with their naming.

A survey is not included in this Report but the frontispiece is a' diagrammatic ''route plan'' of the type drawn by S.J.  Collins for the "Belfry Bulletin" in 1959.  It does show the usual routes through the cave and should enable the reader to follow the text.

B. M.  Ellis. December 1961.


1.       Situation and Access.

St. Cuthbert's Swallet is situated in Priddy, Somerset; the National Grid Reference of the entrance being 3T/543505.

The entrance is at the base of a low cliff at the southern end of the largo depression to the west of the ruins of St.  Cuthbert' s Leadworks.  From the "Belfry" take the well worn path, which leads to the mineries pool, for 100 yards.  Turning right a track crosses the Ladywell stream and descends into the largo depression already mentioned.

The cave entrance is locked and the regulations regarding access are strictly observed; details are given in Appendix I.

2.       Discovery.

The cave was discovered by the Bristol Exploration Club in September 1953.  A short history of the discovery and original exploration of the cave will be found in a later section.

3.     Principal Features of the Cave.

The cave entrance is 783 feet above sea level and the survey shows the depth of the cave to be 400 foot.  The total length of cave passage surveyed to December 1961 is approximately 5,000 feet and it is estimated that there are a further 4,000 foot to be surveyed.

Without any doubt this cave is the most complex yet discovered on Mendip; a glance at the frontispiece will show the large number of inter­connecting passages that exist.  A section of the cave shows three distinct parts.  To begin with, the cave descends at a steep gradient.  In the short section from the entrance to the bottom of Pulpit and Ledge Pitches there is a drop of 150 feet and the cave is mainly vertical.  The Maypole Series can be regarded as part of this section.  From the bottom of the two pitches the cave drops fairly steeply for two hundred feet until the Main Stream is reached.  These two sections contain most of the ladder pitches in the cave.  The remainder of the cave forms a third section and falls only fifty feet to the Duck.  This section consists of a gently graded stream passage occupying the lowest part of a complicated system of passages and chambers at various levels.  The largest chambers and most of the stalagmite formations occur in this section.   Several small trib­utary streams are met but most of the section is inactive.


For convenience the cave has been divided into two sections; these are listed in the Table of Contents and the approximate area of each is shown by shading on the Frontispiece.  In places the division of the sections must be arbitrary but it has been made as logical as possible to enable the reader to obtain the best overall picture of the cave.  First the two routes through the upper series of the cave are described, foll­owed by the lower and middle series, it being easier to describe thorn in this slightly illogical order.  Then the "side" series such as the Rabbit Warren, Maypole and September Series, are described.

1.     The Old Route.

The OLD ENTRANCE SHAFT is a fifteen feat deep shaft through clay leading to a small horizontal passage into the rock face.  To the left, a tight squeeze leads to OCHRE RIFT which can be descended and traversed for about twenty five feet down dip to a small grotto.   As the name suggests, the walls, floor and roof in Ochre Rift are ochre coloured.  The start of the rift is awkward and a twenty foot hand line is useful.  The grotto contains some very white stalagmite stumps.  To the right at the bottom of the Entrance Shaft a narrow beading plane leads off, a ten foot vertical drop follows and a small chamber is entered.  A tight passage from the top of this chamber leads to the bottom of the NEW ENTRANCE SHAFT, a fifteen foot shaft through clay that is shored with concrete pipes.  The floor of the chamber falls away in a ladder pitch, the ENTRANCE PITCH.  This is a narrow rift that was only 6½ inches wide at one point when first descended but which has since been enlarged to ten inches.  Sometimes water is met a few feet down the pitch and under very wet conditions water also enters at the top; the pitch is then impassable to a tired or inexperienced party.

At the bottom of the pitch the passage descends a slope and through a large pile of boulders where chert may be seen projecting from the rock.  The character of the cave at this point resembles the Boulder Ruckle in Eastwater.  A notable feature is the presence of many ochre deposits; stalactites having ochre centres and calcite on the surface being found.  High or low level routes lead to the chamber at the top of ARETE. PITCH, the floor of which is composed of jammed boulders and these can be seen as one descends the ladder.  ARETE PITCH is twenty feet and. the landing is on the edge of a large rectangular block - the ARETE.  At the northern end of the chamber at the bottom of the pitch, ARETE CHAMBER, a passage leads to PULPIT PITCH and the NEW ROUTE; these are described in Section 2.

The OLD ROUTE is reached by dropping through the floor of ARETE CHAMBER.  A low passage is followed for a few feet, that ends at the UPPER LEDGE PITCH, a ten foot drop on to a ledge overlooking a high rift.

From this ledge the LOWER LEDGE PITCH gives access to the bottom of the rift via a fifteen foot drop.  At this point a stream enters fifteen feet up the right hand wall so that it is best to pass on quickly.  The stream way here is of generous proportions, about sixty feet high for some twenty foot, then two right angle bonds occur and the passage alters character.  Another rift is entered, the WIRE RIFT - between one and two feet wide and descend­ing steeply with the dip, the stream cutting deeply into the shale beds.  The roof rises and some stalactites can be seen high on the left-hand wall.  The passage continues for thirty foot, then dips steeply into WATERFALL PITCH.  A traverse above a metal ladder across the top of this pitch leads to a platform and from here the pitch can be descended.  Beyond the head of Waterfall Pitch the Wire Rift continues but becomes very narrow.   A squeeze over a chocked boulder leads to a dividing of the ways: to the left a very narrow bedding plane loads downwards but soon becomes too tight to follow, to the right a meandering stream passage continues.  After a further fifteen foot the passage opens out into a large chamber - UPPER MUD HALL.  The UPPER MUD HALL PITCH, a fifteen foot drop, gives access to the floor of this chamber.

If the twenty foot WATERFALL PITCH is descended, twenty foot of passage leads to the top of WET PITCH - a fifteen foot drop in the stream.  Leav­ing the stream, a short climb straight ahead leads to MUD HALL, whilst on the left a mud covered bedding plane loads to STREAM PASSAGE on the NEW ROUTE.

2.      The New Route.

At the northern end of ARETE CHAMBER, small drop loads to, PULPIT PASSAGE, water from a small passage in the roof being the start of the New Route stream.  It is interesting to note the distribution of water between the old and now route streams, the removal of one rock would lead to the diversion of the old route water into Pulpit Passage.  During the excessively wet summer of 1954 the new route stream was deepened by two foot in this passage.

The head of PULPIT PITCH is reached after less then a hundred feet.  Vertically above the pitch is a stalactite curtain with the corresponding conical stalagmite a few feet down.  The pitch is sixty feet deep and is laddered from a convenient ledge on the right, care being needed when placing the ladder.  The ladder lies against rock for a few feet then hangs between the wall and a rock flake; this is an awkward spot when ascending the pitch as the ladder has to be left and the flake negotiated from the outside.  The alternative is to hang the ladder straight down the pitch but it then hangs in the stream and one gets extremely wet!  Thirty five foot down the pitch a ledge is reached, then a traverse along this to the left and a drop of several foot gives access to the PULPIT.  A long stride round the wall, a scramble down and the bottom is reached.  The rift narrows to a few foot and the stream flows over one small drop after another to the top of GOUR PASSAGE PITCH, a drop of fifteen feet.

At the bottom of this pitch another drop of eight feet loads to GOUR PASSAGE.  Brown stalagmite gours bridge the stream and are up to two foot wide and five foot high, the pools being silted up with mud and gravel.  They are coated with a brown deposit containing a large amount of manganese, the deposits probably being pyrolusite.  Some eight to ten gours occur in the next hundred foot of passage.  Halfway down this section, two tributary passages enter opposite one another.  To the left a steeply ascending passage can be followed for about two hundred feet and cuts deeply into shale beds.  It is interesting to note that as soon as this passage roaches solid limestone it rises vertically in a well shaped pot hole which, with the aid of a maypole, has been ascended for fifty foot; it then becomes too tight.

On the other side of the main stream passage the tributary passage enters a narrow bedding plane that extends as far as the bottom of the WET PITCH.  The passage is a very tight crawl over eroded stalagmite flow.  A little further on down the main stream way another tributary enters via the loft hand wall, this is the DRINKING FOUNTAIN.  This tributary, like the one just mentioned, can be for followed for about two hundred feet.  Proceeding downstream an awkward eight foot drop has to be negotiated where severe folding of the rock has occurred; in one place the strata, being vertical.

On the right below the drop a short climb loads to a bedding plane and MUD HALL.  A short distance further downstream is the WATER SHUTE, a 45° slope following the strata and having only poor hand and foot holds but the climb is made easier by a fixed chain.  An alternative route to the right of the Water Shute is mud covered and is not recommended.  Looking upwards from below, the Water Shute presents an impressive picture with a second, higher arch contributing to the scene.  From this point the general gradient of the STREAM PASSAGE is nearly horizontal except in a few isolated places.  There are several passages entering the roof in this section of the cave and with the aid of a maypole these have been explored but none wore found to lead for any distance.

A few yards   downstream from the Water Shute the Old Route Stream cascades down the right hand wall, and a little further on a passage from MUD HALL enters on the same side.  By following the stream across several pools and a deep mud patch, TRAVERSE CHAMBER is reached.  This is almost circular, up to fifty foot high, with a small waterfall falling twenty five foot on to a gravel floor from a passage high up in the left hand wall.  This water is the continuation of the stream that flows through the MAYPOLE SERIES and is described in section 8.  In this chamber an altimeter gave a depth of three hundred foot below the entrance and this figure has been, confirmed by survey.  The passage roof drops rapidly beyond the chamber and in a few yards the FIRST CHOKE is reached, the roof then being at water level.

A small passage in the loft hand wall (facing downstream) of TRAVERSE CHAMBER leads to a short series of "oxbow-type" drainpipes which give access to a bedding piano and leads back upstream.  The passage rises to about forty foot above the stream and at this level it is possible to cross over the stream by a series of jammed boulders.  After crossing the stream a complex system of muddy passages can be entered, those to the south loading to the Traverse Chamber bedding piano and Bypass Passage.

3.      The Lower Series.

From TRAVERSE CHAMBER a false bedding plane on the right (facing downstream) can be entered via an awkward ledge - THE TRAVERSE.   Another way into this bedding piano is to climb out of the stream just before Traverse Chamber is reached.  Hear the top of the bedding plane, on the left, a passage can be entered which leads to the ROCKY BOULDER SERIES that are described in section 9.  About forty feet up the bedding plane, also on the left, a small hole loads to a squeeze through boulders and a short drop into BYPASS PASSAGE.  Just beyond a six foot drop the roof lifts and SENTRY PASSAGE can be seen fifteen foot up the wall to the left.  This loads to UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER and can be entered by a climb just above the six foot drop.   Continuing down Bypass Passage for a little way a short drop leads back to the MAIN STREAM.

Progress upstream is only possible for a short distance as the roof drops rapidly to meet the level mud floor and the meandering stream at the lower side of the FIRST CHOKE.  The very high rift continues down dip for several hundred foot, the floor being nearly horizontal and rising through the rock beds which lie at about 50°.  In one place chert projects into the passage and at several places stalagmite flow, generally covered in. mud, covers the walls.  At the end of this section a six foot climb up to a ledge on the right, by some white stalagmite flow,  gives access to EVER­EST PASSAGE and the MIDDLE SERIES described in section.4.

The whole character of the STREAM PASSAGE now alters abruptly.  The system shows well rounded passages containing the remnants of a fill mainly composed of sand, carboniferous limestone and red sandstone pebbles.  A dig that was attempted a few feet upstream of the Dining Room entrance showed that the bed rock was about eight feet below the general stream level.

For a short distance the stream is lost, the way lying past a six feet long slab of rock above a small pit where the stream is visible, then, down a drop back to the stream.  Various openings high on the left hand side, up dip, lead to the RABBIT WARREN.  At one point it is necessary to crawl under the remnants of a gravel fill.  This may be avoided by a six foot climb to the left into a well developed meander passage.  The STREAM PASS­AGE continues along a horizontal floor, round several bends with the stream meandering from side to side.  On the left a steep, muddy, upwards slope gives access to the RABBIT WARREN, and twenty feet further downstream a low opening on the right under a brown stalagmite flow leads to the DINING ROOM.  Another fifty foot downstream, the water drops down a narrow slot between the right hand wall and a flow of stalagmite.  The slot is impassable but con be bypassed by climbing over the top of the stalagmite bank on the left to the top of STALAGMITE PITCH.  Two fixed hand lines have boon placed on this pitch and a ladder is no longer required.  This pitch leads, into a well formed pot hole, now covered with stalagmite.  The stream continues over some silted gours and then a squeeze gives rise to a sharp left turn in the passage.  The STREAM PASSAGE now continues for one hundred and fifty foot in a straight line and consists of an enlarged bedding plane at 30°.  The whole of the passage is mud covered and is known as SEWER PASSAGE.  This bedding plane continues up dip for eighty foot before widening out and joining the lower end of the RABBIT WARREN.

At the end of SEWER PASSAGE a sharp right turn occurs and a tributary stream enters on the left.  This tributary, which carries more water than the Main Stream, was named PLANTATION STREAM because the only known swallet in the locality, of sufficient size, was Plantation Swallet.  However, it was not until July 1961 that the connection between Plantation Swallet and Plantation Stream was proved.  (Details will be found in the "Belfry Bulletin", No.  166.)  PLANTATION STREAM can be followed for about fifty foot at which point it can be seen to issue through a number of holes in a stalagmite bank.   The same stream is also met further upstream in the RABBIT WARREN and in the SEPTEMBER SERIES.

Returning to the MAIN STREAM, after PLANTATION JUNCTION the stream way assumes, a more rift-like nature and continues over a gravel bed for fifty foot.  The stream way then becomes blocked, by a stalagmite flow.  A climb over this by the side of a fine stalagmite flow and a small crystal pool, leads to a drop back to the stream.  The roof of the stream passage at this point is of gravel cemented with stalagmite.  A low crawl in the stream, or a climb to the right over a stalagmite bank, leads to BEEHIVE CHAMBER.  A largo orange coloured beehive formation gives the chamber its name.  High in the wall behind the BEEHIVE, an awkward climb lends to a narrow system of passages known as the PYROLUSITE SERIES which contains large amounts of this deposit.  A small stream runs through the system, entering high in the roof of a rift passage but it is impossible to follow it.  Down­stream it disappears, through a small hole and it is believed to be the stream that runs into the gours in GOUR HALL.

From BEEHIVE CHAMBER a steep climb, assisted by a fixed chain, over a stalagmite flow loads into GOUR HALL.  The most noticeable feature is the size since it is the largest chamber on the active stream route.  At the point of entry the roof is sixty foot high and the width of the chamber as about twenty foot.  On the right a stalactite flow descends over a ton foot vertical face into the GREAT GOUR.  This measures eighteen feet by twelve and is filled with water to a depth of six to nine inches, below which at is filled with mud.  Standing on the Great Gour and looking downstream the stream can be soon to emerge from under a series of subsidiary gours.  The stream can be followed from BEEHIVE CHAMBER along a low wet crawl to this point, the crawl containing a surprisingly large amount of stalactite.

Access to the stream is gained by climbing down the side of the Great Gour and again a fixed hand line makes the climb easier.  The stream passage remains high for the next one hundred foot but gradually becomes narrower, finally ending at what appears on first sight to be a formidable looking sump on the right of the passage.  It seems to a stagnant pool but closer examination shows that the stream runs off at an angle to the right.

The sump was first passed by D.A. Coase and J. Buxton on 9th June 1957, and work with a crowbar and shovel on the far side resulted in lowering the water level by three inches, sufficient to cause the sump to become a DUCK.  At the far side of the DUCK a small passage, which is half full of water goes off at 45° to the right.  After eight foot a tight squeeze over a stalagmite bank, or a second duck, must be passed but then' the passage becomes higher.  The passage swings to the left and a short crawl under a low arch follows with the stream spread out over gravel.  The roof rises again to comfortable standing height; the passage turns left again and be­comes reasonably straight with the stream disappearing at the far end in a SUMP.  The gravel floor will have to be dug out if divers are going to penetrate any further.  Several short high level tubes between the Duck and the Sump have been investigated but none wore found to lead far.

There is a short continuation of the MAIN STREAM PASSAGE for about ten feet at the DUCK but this soon becomes too tight for further penetration.  Avertical wall of shale can be soon six feet ahead of the furthest point reached.  The rift above this point can be climbed for some way to the BANK GRILL and a passage has been entered some thirty feet up and followed for sixty feet when it becomes too narrow.

4.       The Middle Series

UPPER MUD HALL is usually entered by descending UPPER MUD HALL PITCH from the WIRE RIFT.  The floor of the chamber consists of piled boulders.  Behind the ladder a drop leads to MUD HALL from which there are several passages.  A hole at the bottom of the left hand wall leads to the bottom of WET PITCH and d muddy bedding plane leading to the NEW ROUTE between the DRINKING FOUNTAIN   and the WATER SHUTE.  There are two holes amongst the boulders forming the floor of the chamber, one leads into the ROCKY BOULDER SERIES (see section 9) andthe other to the Old Route Stream.   A rocky passage from MUD HALL leads to a twenty foot pitch, the MUD HALL PITCH, which drops into the MAIN STREAM below the WATER SHUTE.  There is also a connection between MUD HALL and the passage loading from PILLAR CHAMBER to BOULDER CHAMBER,

PILLAR CHAMBER is entered by ascending the boulders in UPPER MUD HALL and is "L" shaped and about ten feet high.  There is evidence of consid­erable rock movement; broken formations lie everywhere and some have been cemented to the floor by a further deposit.  Fractured pillars that have since rejoined may also be seen.  As a result the area has been named the STALACTITE GRAVEYARD.  PILLAR CHAMBER is so-called because of the substantial column one foot in diameter that is to be seen on the right of the chamber.  The pillar has been fractured a few inches above its base and, unfortunately, is a dirty brown colour.  By squeezing past some finer pillars behind the large one, an extension may be reached.  This region is a boulder ruckle and gives the impression of being near the sur­face.  A molar of Elephas has been found here (see section later in this Report).

An awkward ten foot drop in the corner of PILLAR CHAMBER leads into another chamber containing some good floor deposits.  A steeply descend­ing boulder slope from this chamber leads to a right angle turn in the passage.  The passage now has a sandy floor and is about fifty feet in height.  A narrow squeeze between a suspended boulder and the rock face on the right leads to the top of BOULDER CHAMBER.  This chamber varies in height from eight to twenty feet, is irregular in outline and slopes down dip for over one hundred feet.  The floor is boulder covered and to the right of the entrance is a prominent cracked corner of rock.  This is known as QUARRY CORNER, is potentially dangerous and should be treated, with due respect.  There are a number of routes from BOULDER CHAMBER.

To the left of the BOULDER CHAMBER a traverse past a large boulder known as KANCHENJUNGA,  leads after a hundred feet to UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER.  This has a fine stalactite flow with a very good crystal pool on its lower slopes.  A further fifteen foot drop from this point loads to an active stream which, if followed downstream, leads to the top of the twenty five foot TRAVERSE CHAMBER PITCH into TRAVERSE CHAMBER on the NEW ROUTE.  The stream can also be followed upstream, this section of the cave being known as the MAYPOLE SERIES.

To the right of the drop to the stream way in UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER is a steep boulder slope.  If this is climbed HIGH CHAMBER is reached.  This is a very high rift chamber about twenty feet wide and even with the aid of "imported" rock climbers using climbing techniques the roof has not been reached.  It is estimated that they climbed to a height over one hundred feet to a small chamber.  One wall of the chamber is covered by a fine calcite flow rivalling even that in Cascade Chamber, while the roof could not be seen even with powerful electric torches.  There is a continuation passage on the right of HIGH CHAMBER that leads to a low but extensive bedding plane.  At the highest point of this bedding plane, behind some formations, is a squeeze leading to the SEPTEMBER and CATGUT SERIES.

It is possible to climb down the boulders of UPPER TRAVERSE CHAM­BER end in the floor is a hole leading to SENTRY PASSAGE.  A six foot drop below some orange curtains leads, to a fifteen foot climb down, through boulders.  The passage descends rapidly with squeezes and pot­holes.  A projecting flake of rock, the SENTRY, is reached and a fifteen foot drop then leads to BYPASS PASSAGE.  This is part of the LOWER SERIES.

On the left hand wall above the drop in UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER is a chimney which has been maypoled for approximately sixty feet.  The maypoling was not pushed to a satisfactory conclusion through lack of suffic­ient equipment.

At the lower end of the chamber an opening above a three foot high bank is the start of HAREM PASSAGE, a narrow passage leading to the RAILWAY TUNNEL.  Turning to the right along the RAILWAY TUNNEL brings one to CASCADE CHAMBER and the bottom of the CASCADE.  Turning to the left at the bottom of HAREM PASSAGE, the end of the RAILWAY TUNNEL is reached in a few feet but on the right, on either side of a curtain, are two passages.  The first leads down to the FINGERS and EVEREST PASSAGE and the second is one of the numerous entrances to the RABBIT WARREN.

To the left of HAREM PASSAGE, in UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER, is another passage that can be followed for approximately forty foot to a muddy patch.  Crawling through this pitch brings one to the bottom of a rift that can be climbed for ten feet to a very tight crawl.  To the right of HAREM PASSAGE, UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER continues into a boulder mass and by keeping to the right it is possible to roach the bottom of BOULDER CHAMBER, below the VANTAGE POINT.

Returning to the top of BOULDER CHAMBER, a route goes down dip to CASCADE CHAMBER.  The route is rather indefinite but keeping, to the left and descending, the roof becomes lower and some erratics may be seen.  The roof rises after a few feet and the floor forms a ledge before dropping away more steeply.  From this point, the VANTAGE POINT, the main feature of the chamber may be seen.  To the right a beautiful white stalagmite cascade, something like seventy feet in length, descends at an angle of 35O.  The CASCADE is split by a series of small drops each of which is decorated with stalactite organ pipes.  The floor of CASCADE CHAMBER is 25 feet below and although it would be possible to descend it would be most inadvisable to do so as this would undoubtedly spoil the Cascade.  An alternative route is via UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER and HAREM PASSAGE described at the top of this page.  Alittle below the VANTAGE POINT is a remarkable curtain hanging from the steeply sloping roof.  It is five feat long and eighteen inches deep, and the end of the curtain is perpendicular to the roof not vertical.  Alight behind this formation shows it up to its best advantage.

Returning once more to KANCHENJUNGA at the top of BOULDER CHAMBER, another route is by descending to the right under QUARRY CORNER.  Keeping to the right hand wall below Quarry Corner leads to LONG CHAMBER and CORAL SERIES (described in section 10) and to SUGAR BOWL CHAMBER that is prob­ably part of the ROCKY BOULDER SERIES.  Continuing down the main chamber below QUARRY CORNER, EVEREST CHAMBER is reached.  This is really part of BOULDER CHAMBER and should not be separately named.  It contains some fine stalactite formations.  At the bottom of the chamber there being a tusk-like stalactite seven feet long hanging from the roof.  On the right of this chamber a stalactite flow has formed on gravel which has since subsided and drip pockets can be seen projecting below the flow.  A small climb to the left of this flow leads to a high rift chamber beautifully decorated.  A guide tape has been laid here as some of the floor deposits are especially fine.  On the loft is a nest of cave pearls, behind which the floor is carved into a series of intricate mud pillars.   Following the tape under a low arch, CURTAIN CHAMBER is reached.  This is a very high rift, the left hand wall overhanging a little.  On the right is a boulder slope, well cemented with calcite.  To the left the rift rises and twenty feet up, a passage can be seen.  This has not yet been entered but it is thought that it may join up with thee lake in the CERBERUS SERIES (section 7).  By climbing the boulder pile, to the right the main feature of CURTAIN CHAMBER may be seen, a largo number of curtains, something like twenty in number descend from a flow on the right hand wall.  They are so close together and so intertwined that the exact number is impossible to determine.  They are all a foot or more in depth with a dark brown banding on the outer edge, throwing the creamy white stalactite into greater contrast.  Great care is required when entering this chamber to avoid damage to those curt­ains which reach to within a few foot of the floor.  As with CASCADE CHAMBER, no description can do them justice.  The upper part of CURTAIN CHAM­BER may be ascended and at the top a well decorated passage leads back into the formations in BOULDER CHAMBER.  Use of this unimportant passage will certainly destroy formations.  UPPER CURTAIN CHAMBER possesses more curt­ains hanging from the roof and a twenty foot wall completely covered in a beautiful stal flow.  The passage above this has boon entered by maypoling.  It leads after approximately fifty feet to a visual connection with the highest point of the CASCADE.

In the floor of CURTAIN CHAMBER a hole in the stalagmite leads to a small passage which descends steeply through a pebble infill to EVEREST PASSAGE.

A short drop in the floor of EVEREST CHAMBER also leads into EVEREST PASSAGE.  The passage descends steeply for fifty feet and at the upper end a largo, boulder - EVEREST - is found.  The way down is an easy slide but the return journey is a much more strenuous affair.  A scramble over a pit leads to a hands and knees crawl to the right a four foot drop gives access to one end of the RAT RUN and the CERBERUS SERIES.  The height of the passage increases and after a short drop the MAIN STREAM is reached.  The stream flows so quietly at this point that it is not noticed until one is standing beside it.

Shortly after descending EVEREST an opening on the left gives access to a bedding plane and if this ascended, a group of formations known as the FINGERS is reached end it is possible to look down into STREAM PASSAGE.  The FINGERS are a group of stalactites and stalagmites, some several inches away from joining, more only a fraction of an inch apart and others that have joined to form columns.  With suitable imagination the finger nails can be seen on three of the stalagmites!  Beyond the FINGERS an opening gives access to the RABBIT WARREN.  Traversing to the left at the top of the bedding plane a loose climb on the left leads to CASCADE CHAMBER while by turning right an easy route loads to the RAILWAY TUNNEL.

5.      The Rabbit Warren, Rabbit Warren, Extension and Catgut Series.

This part of the cave is a complex system of passages interspaced with steeply sloping bedding pianos and small chambers.  It is situated on the eastern side of the cave system and extends from HIGH CHAMBER to PLANTATION JUNCTION,  the western boundary being the MAIN STREAM.  It is a very difficult part of the cave to describe.

The most usual entrance to the RABBIT WARREN is by climbing the mud slope from the MAIN STREAM just upstream from the DINING ROOM.  The other entrances are from PLANTATION JUNCTION, several other places along, the MAIN STREAM between EVEREST PASSAGE and STALAGMITE PITCH, from the FINGERS, the RAILWAY TUNNEL and from HIGH CHAMBER via the CATGUT SERIES.

Entering the RABBIT WARREN from the RAILWAY TUINNEL(see section 4) and at the different junctions reached, taking the left, left again, then right and finally left hand passages will bring one to the top of the mud slope leading down to the MAIN STREAM near the DINING ROOM.  The most northern (i.e.  the nearest to the Railway Tunnel) of the passages to the west of this route leads to a point overlooking the FINGERS.  All the other passages on this side of the route lead to various places along the MAIN STREAM, downstream of EVEREST PASSAGE.

Climbing up the mud slope from the MAIN STREAM near the DINING.ROOM, the first passage on the left is a blind end and the second is the route to the RAILWAY 'TUNNEL, described in the proceeding paragraph.  To the right is a four feet high stalagmite barrier and to the right of this, there, is a visual connection with the top of STALAGMITE PITCH.  The passage continues above the barrier, a climb on the left leading to some fine formations.  Fifty feet further along the passage a passage on the right leads to the top of a large bedding plane.  SEWER.PASSAGE is at the lower extremity of this bedding plane and by traversing down and to the left, MAIN STREAM is reached at PLANTATION JUNCTION.  There is an alternative, high level, route known as STRUGGLE PASSAGE leading from the top of the bedding plane to PLANTATION JUNCTION.

Continuing along the passage past the entrance to the bedding plane and the route to Plantation Junction, there is a low passage to ERRATIC CHAMBER n the right, then the route turns left along a rift for fifty foot, getting lower until a very low crawl over wet stalagmite - marks the entrance to the RABBIT WARREN EXTENSION.

Beyond the squeeze the roof rises again and on the right hand side there are some nice, though small, gours.  A further low crawl leads to CHAIN CHAMBER, an interesting point being that this chamber has been form­ed by the intersection of two passages, one being at a higher level than the other.  Straight ahead is the TIN MINE, in which a stream is met, the same stream as that flowing in CONTINUATION CHAMBER.  Upstream the water enters from a stone choke and is joined by water from another small stream entering through a hole in the roof.  The stream can be followed to the right (downstream) for approximately fifty feet to where it sinks amongst gravel.  The higher level passage on the right (south) of CHAIN CHAMBER is known as HELICTITE PASSAGE and, as the name suggests, contains some fine thread like helictites.  Beyond those the passage descends steeply aid there are three dry gours spanning the passage, the first nearly six foot high.  Under the rim of one of these gours a hands and knees crawl leads to SOAPFLAKE POOL.  This was so named from its appearance, a film of calcite on the surface., giving the appearance of soapflakes.  It is possible to proceed a short distance down the rift, in the water, but there does not appear to be any continuation.

The upstream continuation of Helictite Passage from CHAIN CHAMBER leads to the further reaches of the RABBIT WARREN EXTENSION and into the CATGUT SERIES.  A short length of chain facilitates the climb up into the passage and on the left is a fine group of stalactites; the finest was two feet long and had erratics growing from it but this has unfortunately been broken.  Thirty foot along the passage, on the left, is a pure white stalagmite flow but again, this is quickly becoming covered with mud by the careless passages of cavers.  Low in the right hand wall of the main passage an opening leads to a fifteen feet high chimney with a foot wide rift leading off at the top, parallel to the main passage.  The rift has been climbed for forty to fifty foot until it becomes too narrow.  Continuing up the main passage, another passage on the left leads to OCTOPUS CHAMBER, while on the right a vertical squeeze, the VICE, is soon reached.  Beyond, there is a low crawl, on the left being a low passage - the SAUSAGE MACHINE - which is an oxbow tube leading back into the left hand fork of the T-JUNCTION.  The T-JUNCTION is reached soon after the Vice.

To the right at the T-JUNCTION a stream can be hoard and an awkward six foot drop loads into CONTINUATION CHAMBER, so called because it was thought that the stream here might be the upstream continuation of PLANTATION STREAM; this has since been proved to be so.  A small stream enters under the drop and joins the main stream in the chamber, the latter entering from a small rift and disappearing at the end of a low, wet pebble crawl in a choke.

Taking the loft hand passage at the T-JUNCTION leads to a large irr­egularly shaped chamber known as T-JUNCTION CHAMBER, the area of the chamb­er being broken by rock pillars and boulders.  Keeping to the right hand wall leads into a continuation of the chamber and at the top of this is a tight, very awkward squeeze leading into the CATGUT SERIES.  Most people: going through this squeeze find their legs tied up part way through, hence its name of CROSS LEG SQUEEZE.

The CATGUT SERIES start with a mud covered bedding plane that has to be traversed, an awkward operation because the mud and the slope combine to force one into the tightest part!  At the far side of the bedding plane a rift is reached and this is followed until it becomes too tight when it becomes necessary to climb up and continue along the rift at a higher level.

At the far and of the rift a boulder ruckle is reached and general direct­ions for getting through this are to "keep going upwards".  There is. a choice of routes, the lower taking one straight into the chamber above HIGH CHAMBER, the higher passing the entrance to SEPTEMBER SERIES before a low squeeze into the same chamber.  The higher route is to be preferred as the lower forces you to scramble past some very fine hair stalactites growing from the wall.

6.      The September Series.

At the upper end of the bedding plane above HIGH CHAMBER (see section 4) is a squeeze leading to a small chamber.  A squeeze downwards leads to the beginning of the CATGUT SERIES but straight ahead a low passage leads to a boulder ruckle.  The route through this ruckle is now fairly well marked and in a short distance entry is gained into a fairly largo chamber.  This is known as CONE CHAMBER from a large cone shaped stalagmite boss.  At the far side of this chamber the wall drops away to a stream passage which may be followed for about one hundred foot downstream to a sump.  It has been proved that this stream is the water flowing from PLANTATION SWALLET to PLANTATION JUNCTION, via CONTINUATION CHAMBER.  Upstream the water appears from under a stalagmite flow which is covered with a layer of black substance containing lead, manganese and iron.


Two photographs of the formations in the September Series.

From CONE CHAMBER, following the upstream direction, a climb of about ten feet gives access to another chamber, ILLUSION CHAMBER, which is roughly one hundred by twenty five feet and twelve feet high.  This is the last place that the stream enters.  Another short climb under some curtain formations leads into a small chamber called PAPERWEIGHT CHAMBER and doub­ling back almost to the entrance of this chamber, a climb heavily coated with brown stalagmite flow leads up into a large chamber.  Above this chamber is a fifth that is known as SEPTEMBER CHAMBER and is comparable in size with BOULDERCHAMBER.  It has a boulder strewn floor and in the upper; corner are some very fine formations on what is known as the BALCONY; they are probably the best of their type in the cave.  The chamber slopes down, the roof drops and then rises again to form TRAFALGAR CHAMBER.  Here are found an extremely high aven and also a very fine pillar known as NELSON'S COLUMN.

At the lower end of SEPTEMBER CHAMBER a hole in the floor gives access to a low bedding plane at the end of which is a small chamber.   A squeeze in the floor leads to VICTORY PASSAGE - a large old stream passage fifteen foot high and ten to twenty feet wide.  After about one hundred foot a T-junction is reached.  To the left the passage closes down after a few feet but to the right the passage continues in a high rift known as THE STRAND and containing some fine helictites.  The passage ends in a low crawl and a high level passage has boon entered but was found not to lead anywhere.

7.       The Cerberus Series.

The CERBERUS SERIES is best entered from the DINING ROOM.  As mentioned earlier this is reached from the MAIN STREAM just before STALAGMITE PITCH.  The entrance is under a brown stalagmite flow and is easily missed but it is marked by a piece of red reflector tape to aid a stranded party.  Part of the DINING ROOM has a gravel and stalagmite false floor as a roof which shows incipient roof pendants.

The DINING ROOM is roughly twenty feet square and is used as a base for most of the longer trips in the cave.  At the far end of the chamber a climb over a muddy bank leads to CERBERUS HALL.  On the loft a small trickle of water, descends in wet weather and below a false floor a small hole leads to an inner chamber.  This chamber is six foot wide by twenty foot long.  It has been flooded at one time and the roof at one point bears some un­usual stalactites which have the appearance of rounded cylinders with the ends stuck together.  There is a way out of the chamber at the far end but it soon closes down.

Turning to the right at the back of the DINING ROOM, CERBERUS HALL is entered which is twenty foot high.  On the wall has been mounted a plague in memory of Don Coase who, until his death in 1958, was the driving force behind most of the work done in the cave.  CERBERUS HALL has a sandy floor, containing some deep pockets formed by strong drip action.  At the end of the chamber a fifteen foot drop leads by a solutional passage to MUD BALL CHAMBER.  At the far end of this chamber a high level passage fifteen feet from the floor continues over the top of Lake Chamber.  At the lowest point of MUD BALL CHAMBER a squeeze on the right loads to the RAT RUN.  This is a small tube and by keeping to the right throughout, EVEREST PASSAGE is reached.

By keeping to the left through the RAT RUN a descending passage leads into LAKE CHAMBER.  This is thirty foot wide and slopes downwards to the lake, the level of which fluctuates with rainfall, the variation in water level being at least fifteen foot.  Alittle way above the lake at the far end is a high level passage which is thought to join up with CURTAIN CHAMBER, but repeated efforts to prove this connection have not been successful because of the steep fifteen foot mud wall and the difficulty of manoeuvring maypole tubes through tight passages.

8.       The Maypole Series.

Entering UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER a stream can usually be heard and on the northern side of the chamber will be found a drop down to the water.

This is UPPER TRAVERSE CHAMBER PITCH and in the wall can be found a "Rawlbolt" for use as a ladder belay.  The ladder pitch can be avoided by a climb to the right but this is not recommended.  The water can be followed downstream for a short distance until it drops down TRAVERSE CHAMBER PITCH to TRAVERSE CHAMBER on the NEW ROUTE (section 2).

Upstream is known as the MAYPOLE SERIES.  The water descends a num­ber of pots, the first known as SHORT CHAIN PITCH from the chain fixed as a hand lino to assist its ascent and descent.  At the top of this pitch the bottom of MAYPOLE PITCH is reached.  There is a fixed steel ladder up this twenty five foot waterfall.

Three major pitches remain above the MAYPOLE PITCH.  The first is a twenty foot pothole which is called LONG CHAIN PITCH.  Next there is a tricky climb up CHOCKSTONE PITCH to another well formed pot called PULLEY PITCH.  A nylon line hangs through a steel ring in order that a rope may be pulled through the ring to pull a ladder to the top.  The nylon line MUST NOT be used to carry any load; obviously its strength cannot be guaranteed after several years in the cave.

The passage above this last pitch becomes nearer to being horizontal and formations may be seen.  The black edged stal drapery "Streaky Bacon" is particularly worthy of note, especially as the black is a loose deposit, probably of more recent origin and possibly is due to the lead workings on the surface above.  The stream passage finishes at TERMINUS CHAMBER in what appears to be a boulder filled pothole.  The cave at this point is about one hundred feet below the surface.  Alarge passage to the right, following the jointing, leads gradually upwards until it peters out in a low, very narrow rift at ESCALATOR PASSAGE.  This point is the nearest to the surface of any part of the swallet away from the Entrance Series.  The many small passages leading off mostly terminate in unstable boulders and are dangerous.  The most interesting passage is APPENDIX PASSAGE on the left and many fossils protrude from its walls.

By standing at the foot of the MAYPOLE PITCH waterfall and facing upstream, a hole can be seen about sixty feet up in the left hand wall.  This is known as HANGING CHAMBER and has been entered by very complicated maypoling techniques.  Arriving on the Lending Stage, which is equipped with a "Rawlbolt" and ring, reveals large stalagmite flows.  The cham­ber lacks much depth.  Looking out from HANGING CHAMBER provides one of the more sensational sights of St. Cuthbert’s; upwards is a very high aven which is likely to remain inviolate.

9.      The Rocky Boulder Series.

This series runs at a level below the Middle Series, towards and under BOULDER CHAMBER.  It may be entered from several points in the system.  Although no connection has yet been found, a dangerous chamber, SUGAR BOWL CHAMBER, situated below QUARRY CORNER, probably forms part of this series.

From PILLAR CHAMBER, a short climb behind the PILLAR leads to a chamber having some decorations on the far wall.  A passage loads off from the bottom for about 100 foot to ROCKY BOOLDER PITCH which is a twenty foot drop.  Below the pitch a small canyon leads via a low gravel floored sec­tion and a squeeze into a passage.  (There is a better route to this point by bearing right from the bottom of the drop.)  After a few feet the route divides.  To the right a passage, SURPRISE PASSAGE, runs over OUBLIETTE PITCH (a twenty foot rift that is choked at the bottom) and continues for about sixty foot.  On the left an inclined tube leads, via a narrow rift, to boulders.  An awkward climb in the roof at this point leads directly to BOULDER CHAMBER, near the entrance to the CORAL SERIES.

Immediately opposite the rift another, narrower, rift containing a chock stone gives access to a very irregular chamber, ROCKY BOULDER CHAMBER.  Holes in the floor of this lead via bedding plane passages to a final mud choked chamber, the lower extremities of which appear to be liable to occasional flooding.

The series may also be entered from MUD HALL via a largo rift, part­ly bridged by boulders, in the middle of the floor.  A passage on the right at the bottom leads to the OLD ROUTE STREAM while the main passage continues via an awkward step to a pile of upturned boulders.  A passage on the right is followed by a bedding plane traverse to a small passage running up dip, and a hole leading to further extensions of the bedding plane.   At the top of the passage a bedding plane with roof pendants opens on to the canyon below ROCKY BOULDAR PITCH.  A rift in the roof is thought to connect with BOULDER CHAMBER at QUARRY CORNER.

The bottom of the first bedding plane is blocked except where a small gravel encrusted chamber may be entered.   At the bottom of this, a short climb leads to the top of a large passage, and the descent of this, to the right, leads to BYPASS PASSAGE and TRAVERSE CHAMBER.

(In the "Preliminary Report" mention was made of a 'ROCKY BOULDER LOWER PITCH'.  This drop was only descended on the original exploration, an easier route by-passing it being found later.  For this reason pitch is no longer counted as one of those to be found in the cave.)

10.      The Coral Series.

This series is most easily entered from BOULDER CHAMBER, by keep­ing to the right hand wall below QUARRY CORNER.  A climb over stalagmited boulders loads to ANNEX CHAMBER, a small chamber with some formations and mud stalagmites.  On the far side a climb to the loft of a blind passage loads to a large rift.  A step across the right hand wall of this gives access to a passage ending in a twenty foot ladder pitch adjacent to ROCKY BOULDER PITCH.  This is called CORAL PITCH.

To the left the bottom of the rift may be followed until it is possible to drop to a lower section.  At the far end an interesting squeeze on the right loads to CORAL CHAMBER, a steeply inclined joint chamber.  An inter­mittent stream descends this, sinking at the bottom.  Beyond, a small hole that is easily missed on the return journey leads to ROCKY BOULDER CHAMBER.

CORAL CHAMBER extends upstream from the point of entry and some pass­ages may be entered.  Parts of this upper section are menaced by danger­ously poised boulders and are best avoided.

From the top of ANNEX CHAMBER, a climb over boulders to the left leads to LONG CHAMBER.  This is well decorated and extends down dip in the form of bedding planes.  These are quite remarkable and appear to have been formed by large sections of rock subsiding en-bloc.  The bedding planes may be descended, bearing to the right to avoid damage to formations.  At the bottom a short climb down leads to UPPER CURTAIN CHAMBER which contains some good formations.  The climb down into the lower part of CURTAIN CHAM­BER from here must NOT be made as it would involve descending over stalag­mite flows.  CURTAIN CHAMBER can easily be reached by descending BOULDER CHAMBER.


St. Cuthbert's Swallet is developed in the lower beds of the Mendip limestones (i.e. the 1 Black Rock or Zaphrentis zone of the formal classifications).  Like the other major engulfment caves of Mendip top,  its ent­rance swallets lie very close to the junction of the Black Rock with the underlying Limestone Shales.   At Ledge Pitch, in the Maypole Series and along the Pulpit Route of the main stream, the cave makes a deeper pene­tration into these shaly rocks than is to be seen in any other Mendip cave.  In some places 60% of the exposed rock is shale: the occasional limestone interlaminae bring little tributaries along joint lines that are text book examples of passage formation between insoluble enclosing strata, e.g. the tributary that showers the bottom of Ledge Pitch comes from one.

There is some contortion of the shaly strata (best seen at the climb below Pulley Pitch and in the Middle of the New Route) but dip is generally uniform - true dip being about 28° in the upper parts of the cave, increasing to 36° below,  and trending a few points west of due south.

Although there is much local complexity, controlling structural features may be reduced to those shown in the diagram on the next page.     Follow­ing the water down from the surface, they are: -

    1. The "A" fractures - a series of small, near vertical faults bearing roughly northA similar series bearing 300/120° interlocks with them.  The water has opened the modern inlets along these, switching from one bearing to the other and back again, and develop­ing tall, narrow 'rift' passages.  The entrance series to the hire Rift and Pillar Chamber, the Maypole Series and High Chamber, are largely controlled by these fractures.
    2. Along a general level, Kanchenjunga Boulder - Upper traverse Chamber - High Chamber - September Boulder Choke, the descending waters are fed into one of the two predominant structural controls of the cave, the Rabbit Warren Bedding Plane, (B).  In reality not one but four bedding planes are exploited in different places - but all lie within a few feet of each other, creating a belt of rock some twenty feet thick that drops down the dip from 550 feet 0.D. to below 400Slicken-siding points to the slip of one bed against another, crushing the rock along the contact, thus creating favourable planes of weakness.  Prob­ably all four of these beds have slipped differentially.

The whole area of the cave from Boulder Chamber to Plantation Junc­tion, from Everest Passage to the Rabbit Warren Extension, developed initially in this narrow belt.  In many places near-circular tubes are seen, rather than the wide low passages typical of bedding control.  These reflect control by local joints within the twenty feet plane; the bedding always takes over at either end of such tubes.

The blank area on the survey between Harem Passage/Railway Tunnel in the west and the Rabbit Warren Extension in - the east, probably contains similar passages - more fully choked than elsewhere.  Many tubes of large dimensions feed into it, e.g. the Railway Tunnel, and others discharge from it below, but all are sealed.  The whole of the Rabbit Warren plane, as defined, was about 80% choked at one time and this unknown section has escaped subsequent re-excavation.


The Rabbit Warren plane should be considered one great worm-tube anastomosis, modified by fill, vadose trenching and collapse.  It is the most remarkable example of the anastomosis to be seen on Mendip.

    1. After the early development of the Rabbit Warren plane, the "C" frac­tures, dipping about 35° E, were opened up to sluice great quantit­ies of water intoThe Cascade tumbles down one such fracture.  The westerly wall of the cave from Everest Chamber to quarry Corner consists of collapse filling a second, larger example.   Coral Series are undermined and collapsed by this substantial fall.
    2. The Rabbit Warren plane functioned as a feeder into the biggest frac­ture in the cave, "D".  This is vertical and bears approximately 300°.  The presence of crushed rock and vein fill in places points to its faultIt controls Lake Chamber, the main passage of Cerberus Series and Gour Rift, all of which are aligned on it.  It is most probable that the fault was opened as one great rift passage from Lake Chamber to the Duck; it was very heavily choked contempor­aneously with the Rabbit Warren and the known sections are those which have been subsequently re-excavated.  Judging from mean heights and depths of fill, there may be open cave in the unseen section between Cerberus Series and Gour Hall.

The revised Geological Survey maps of F.B.A. Welch and G. Green, (in litt.) place a major fault between Stock Hill and North Hill up the line of the Minery.  It is probable, from its position, that the Lake Chamber - Gour Rift fault is a part of this.  It will be seen from the diagram and the map, that the open fault is placed to cap­ture all descending lines of drainage in the cave, which therefore functioned to feed to it.

    1. "E"represents the plane of a thrust fault through the passage beds between the limestone andIt dips about 30° E. S.E. and can be traced down from Pillar Chamber, through Upper Mud Hall and Mud Hall to the New Route.  Upper Mud Hall is a large pothole cut by vadose waters falling twenty feet from the Wire Rift.  It was drained and eliminated when cutting reached the fault, diverting water to form Mud Hall.  The Now Route itself, from Gour Passage Pitch to Traverse Chamber is a vadose trench cut in the bottom of the open fault.  Much of the collapse that forms Upper Traverse Chamber is to be attributed to the Rabbit Warren plane being undermined down this lino, and Traverse Chamber is another pothole cut through it by some larger precursor of the modern Maypole Series stream.

If the structural frame of the cave is relatively simple, its morphol­ogy and the sequence of its development is hardly so.  Two summer's work in the cave suggests the following, very tentative, sequence: -

    1. Initial phreatic boring opening up the Rabbit barren tubes and the Lake - Gour RiftLittle of the feed into the top of the Rabbit Warren can have come from the modern inlets (Entrance area and maypole Series) because these show signs of later, more restric­ted development.  September Series is one possible source, the collapsed area that closes the northerly sides of the great chambers from.  Pillar to Upper Traverse is another.
    2. The Rabbit barren was greatly expanded and the bore tubes often mer­ged (as in Sewer Passage) by the action of .an increased volume of phreaticThe "C" lines were developed at this stage.
    3. The water table was drained down and vadose streams trenched parts of the Warren and the "'E" fault, collapsing many parts of the cave.
    4. Approximately 10% of the volume of the cave below: the elevation of Pillar Chamber was choked in three distinct phases:  (a) heavy fill of rounded stream pebbles, cobbles and(b) deposition of flowstone cover  to 24" thickness in some places.  (c)  a repeat of phase (a).  This final choking must have had the effect of returning much of the cave to phreatic conditions.
    5. In a series of sub-stages, and with many captives, the modern inlets were developed and much of the fill cleared from the known parts of the caveThis process continues today but not as efficiently as at times in the past for which there is copious evidence of greater volumes of flow

It is very difficult to determine the time spans of the above stages and hence the age of St. Cuthbert's.  Few of the usual measures of geolog­ical chronology are found in the Mendip caves until the, relatively, very recent past is reached, from which the end of the story may be dated.  If anyone should ever find pieces of bone, wood etc in the main choke of the cave (typified by the Section in the Railway Tunnel) the author (Derek Ford) would be delighted to hear of them.  They should be treated with the care normally lavished on certain motor bikes and stored in a dry tin.

It is unlikely that any part of the system is inherited from the Permo-Triassic period during which the Dolomitic Conglomerate was deposited.  For example, if the oldest parts of the cave had such an origin they should show fill cemented by hydro thermal solutions such as aragonite, deposited after migration from the Lake - Gour Rift fault.  But none is to be seen.  Hence the cave will probably post-date the removal of Mesozoic rocks which later buried Mendip.   External evidence suggests that the two phreatic stages may be as old as the close of the Tertiary.  The later choke and vadose cutting stages belong to the Pleistocene.


The early history of the area is bound up with lead smelting and mining and may go back to Roman times (Gough - Mines of Mendip, pp 33-4).  The shape of the depression and the existence of a similar, though smaller, one above the nearby Eastwater Cavern suggest that it is, in the main, a natural feature modified by mining and smelting operations.  It has been suggested however, that it is mainly excavated, though no really large rock spoil heaps exist in the area (Balch - Mendip, its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters, p   135).

The swallets in the area are known to feed Wookey Hole Rising; the contamination of the water by lead working being the subject of a famous law suit Hodgkinson v.  Ermor (Gough, p. 189).  Local opinion has it that the depression used to contain a large amount of water which in 1927 was observed to drain away in three days.  The sink responsible was blocked up but the water never rose to its former level.  The photograph on the next page taken in 1937 shows a recent subsidence, in the pond at the bottom of the
depression, which is taking water.

The St. Cuthbert's area was therefore of great speleological interest and digging was carried out in various places.  Plantation Swallet, a natural sink enlarged about 1900 by the Mining Company, was dug by the
University of Bristol Speleological Society and later by the Bristol Exploration Club, but only a small extension was discovered.  Bog Hole, a small cave discovered in the quarry just north of the "Belfry*, now filled in, was also dug without success.  In 1947 the B.E.C. dug in the position of what is now the New Entrance, and again in 1951.  On each occasion subsidence of the bank occurred and discouraged the further work that would have led to success.

Digging was commenced on the present shaft (the Old Entrance Shaft) in the spring of 1953 after flooding of the depression had left debris as ev­idence of water seepage at this point.  After much digging it was possible, at a depth of ten feet, to get in under a boulder to the small chamber above the Entrance Pitch.  The floor of the chamber had to be lowered four feet (to its present level) before access could be obtained to the pitch.  This measured only a few inches wide and work was commenced on widening it, en­couraged by the sight of water flowing away at the bottom.  Eventually, by September of the same year the pitch was just wide enough for two of the thinnest members of the Club to pass and make their way to the top of Arête Pitch.  The cave was virtually open and work was quickly renewed on widen­ing the narrow section to take "normal" cavers.

The first phase of exploration consisted of following the main stream passages.  The Old Route was explored via Waterfall and Wet Pitches and what is now known as the New Route Stream, as far as the First Choke.  This route was unattractive to well laden cavers and attention was switched to the Pulpit Pitch route which became the standard way for a considerable time.  The number of pitches discovered during, this period became embarrassingly large and it was necessary to borrow tackle from other clubs while stocks were built up.  The First Choke was thought to mark the end of the system for a time, but the early discovery of Bypass Passage enabled the exploration to be pushed downstream until the Sump was reached.

The next phase consisted of a rapid exploration of all the readily acc­essible parts of the cave in what is now called the Middle Series; using the Dining Room as a base.  The use of ordinary caving ladders meant that con­siderable time and effort were necessary to get into the system and trips of fourteen hours and longer wore common.  This, and the complexity of the cave, resulted in considerable mental fog and led on one occasion to the "explorers" finding their own footprints coming in the opposite direction along an attractive "new" passage.  Eventually things were sorted out and work was started on the survey of the cave.  The discovery of the Upper Mud Hall Pitch led, in 1955, to the abandonment of the Pulpit Pitch route and the installation of steel ladders on the present route into the system.

Exploration now gradually entered a third phase when less obvious pass­ages were pushed, maypoles used and digging resorted to.  The main discoveries during this period were:- 1955 Coral Series, 1956   Continuation Chamber, 1957 Maypole Series and the passing of the Sump,  and 1958  Catgut and Sep­tember Series.  The discovery of the September Series was the last major find to date and exploration has entered a period where discoveries are smaller and serious digging necessary.  Such a complicated system as this cannot yet be considered as worked out and there is still a chance of important finds being made.



 Looking northwards from the position of the Entrance of St. Cuthbert’s Swallet



The remains so far discovered in the cave floor have been very few and consist entirely of teeth.  About three teeth of Bos have been found in the sandy floor deposit of Everest Passage.  The ago of these is indeterminate but they are of fairly recent origin.

The most interesting relic is a tooth of Elophas which was found in January 1954 lying amongst pebbles of Old Red Sandstone in an abandoned stream way at the top of Rocky Boulder Passage.  The tooth was in such a fragmentary state that some expressed doubts on its genuiness but it is thought to be an upper molar, probably of Elephus Primigenius.  The identification of it being a tooth of Elephas has since bean confirmed by the British Museum, Natural History Department.  It is thought to be a derived fossil, having been washed out of a gravel deposit, probably on the surface, and later re-deposited where found, having been washed into the cave by a stream which formerly flowed down Rocky Boulder Passage.

R.J. Roberts has collected samples of fauna to be found in the cave.  These have been sent to the Cave Research Group for identification but the results are not yet available.


Access to St. Cuthbert's Swallet is controlled as the Bristol Explor­ation Club has signed an agreement with the landowners to the effect that entry into the system will be strictly supervised.  Aater entering the cave is used in the Paper Mills at Wookey Hole and also for domestic purposes and therefore there must be no risk of contamination.

ALL parties must be accompanied by one of the current authorised loaders.  The B.E.C. will provide, the necessary leader .for organised parties from other clubs and applications should be addressed to the club secretary:-   R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, BRISTOL 4.-     As much notice of a proposed trip should be given as possible and parties should be limited to five people.

NO NOVICES will be allowed in the cave under any circumstances.

A TACKLE fee of 1/- per person is levied on all non-members of the B. E. C. visiting the cave.

Spent CARBIDE, and other rubbish, will not be dumped in the cave other than in specified places.  These will be pointed out to parties by the Leader.

A Primus stove, paraffin, spare carbide, candles and food are stored in the Dining Room.  They are intended primarily for use by a stranded party.



M. Baker

P. M. Giles

B. E. Prewer

R. Bennett

J. Hill

R. J. Roberts

F. G. Darbon

M. Holland

A. Sandal

J. A. Eatough

R. S. King

J. M. Stafford

B. M. Ellis

C. A. Marriott

R. D. Stenner

C. P. Falshaw

M. Palmer

S. Tuck

G. A. Fowler

N. J. Petty

M. Wheadon



This index, complete up to December 1961, together with this Caving Report integrates as far as possible all the published information on St Cuthbert's Swallet.  In compiling this index the author has taken into account only those details that refer to the historical and scientific background of the swallet.  For this reason such sources as the B.E.C. Caving Log, which is published periodically in the "B.B." has been ignored except where it refers to the above aspects.

Since, with the exception of Coase's sketch maps in the 'Preliminary Report', no survey of the system has yet been published, references to surveys in the "B.B." have been fully dealt with in this index.   (Editor's Note:   A preliminary survey of St. Cuthbert's Swallet has now been publish­ed as B. E. C. Caving Report No. 8.)

Not appearing in this list are references to the cave published in the "'Belfry Bulletin" prior to No. 91.  It is believed that only two prior references exist: the first mention of the cave is in No. 79 (March 1954) and this was followed by a brief description of the swallet in No. 81 (May 1954).  Mention has also been made of the cave in the Wessex Cave Club "Journal" and the "British Caver".  As far as is known the former contains only descriptive articles and the latter contains only reprints from the "Belfry Bulletin".

In order to simplify the index it his been arranged in sections agreeing with the layout of the Report, plus one covering miscellaneous aspects of the cave and another for references to subjects and places related to, but not situated in, the cave.  The index, as compiled, was found to contain references to places under different names.  This occurred in several instances and as far as possible these have fill been listed under the name used in the Report.  The other names are given in parenthesis.  It is to be hoped that now this Report has been published, future authors will be careful to use the correct nomenclature in future.

References are given in the following forms; -

Author's initials/"B. B." No. - Page No./Type of reference

The following abbreviations have been used:-

A - reference in an article               L – reference in a letter

C - reference in the caving log        S – reference in a survey

  1.  indicates that the feature is shown on the sketch of the cave shown in relation to the surface by B.M. Ellis,   "B.B."145.
  2. shown on the survey of the Maypole Series by R. S. King,  ''B.B. "126, pages 5 and 6.
  3. shown on the sketch of September Series by M. Wheadon and B.E. Prewer, "B.B." No. 135, page 4.
  4. shown on the sketch of the Rabbit warren and Extension by D.A. Coase, "B.B." No. 116, page 5.

 Author’s initials are: -



B. M. Ellis


N. J. Petty


B. E. Prewer


N. J. Petty and P. Burt


C. P. Falshaw


P. M. Giles


C. A. Marriott


R. A. Setterington


D. A. Coase


R. S. King


C. P. Falshaw and D. A. Coase


R. J. Roberts


J. A. Eatough and others


R. D. Stenner


J. H. Tucker


R. Winch


M. J Baker


S. J. Collins


M. J. Hannam


M. Wheadon and B. E. Prewer


M. Wheadon





(1)  The Old Route

(3)  Lower Series (continued)





Arête Chamber (b)


Gour Hall (a)




Main Stream (a)


Arête Pitch


(Main Stream Passage)










Entrance Pitch



BE/166-18, 21/A

(Entrance Rift)

CM/144-2, 3/A

Plantation Junction




(a)  (d)

DC/116-8, 9/A

Lower ledge Pitch




New Entrance Shaft




Ochre Rift







PB/120-3, 4/A

Old Entrance Shaft

RS/142-17, 19/A



(a)  (b)












Old Route Stream


Plantation Stream

DC/116-4, 6, 7/A












BE/166-18, 21/A

Wire Rift (a)  (b)


Pyrolusite Series




Sewer Passage (a)




(The Sewer)




Stalagmite Pitch

DC/116-3, 7, 8/A



Sump, The




(Second Sump)

DC/114-4, 5/A





(2)  The New Route





(4)  Middle Series

Disappointment Passage




Drinking Fountain


Boulder Chamber (a)


Gour Passage Pitch




Main Stream


Cascade, The


Pulpit Pitch






Cascade Chamber




Everest Chamber




Everest Passage (a)

BE/145-4, 5/A

Travers Chamber (b)




(Lower Trav. Chamber)

RK/126-3, 6A

Fingers, The (a)






Water Shute


Harem Passage (a)




High Chamber (a)


(3)  Lower Series


RS/142-17, 23/A





Beehive Chamber












Duck, The (a)

DC/114-4, 5/A

Pillar Chamber


(Sump, The)




(First Sump)






Quarry Corner












Railway Tunnel




(Cascade Passage)


Gour Hall (a)









(4)  Middle Series (continued)

(6)  September Series







Cone Chamber (c)


Upper Mud Hall (b)


Illusion Chamber (c)


Upper Mud Hall Pitch


Paperweight Chamber (c)


Upper Traverse Chamber


September Chamber (c)



BE/145-4, 5/A





September Series (c)


(5)  Rabbit Warren, etc







Catgut Series (a)

CF/128-2, 4/A









Strand, The






Chain Chamber (d)





DC/116-4, 6/A

Trafalgar Chamber






Continuation Chamber




(a)  (d)


Victory Passage



CF/128-3, 4/A

(Victoria Passage)







BE/166-19, 21/A



Cross Leg Squeeze

CF/128-2, 4/A





(8)  Maypole Series

Digs I, II, III




Erratic Chamber (d)

DC/116-3, 9/A

Appendix Passage (b)


Helictite Passage (d)




Octopus Chamber (d)


Bridge Chanber (b)



CF/116-9, 10/A

Chockstone Pitch


Rabbit Warren (d)


Echo Chamber




Escalator Passage (b)



DC/116-4, 9, 10/A

Hanging Chamber (b)







PB/120-3, 4/A

Long Chain Pitch (b)



CF/128-2, 4/A









Maypole Series (a) (b)


R. W. Extension (d)





DC/116-3, 4, 6, 7/A




DC/116-8, 10/A


FC/115-1, 2/A












RK/126-3, 6/A




CF/126-3, 4/A

Sausage Machine (d)

CF/116-8, 10/A



Soapflake Pool








T-Junction (d)


Maypole Series Stream


T-Junction Chamber (a)




T-Junction Passage (d)


Muddy Boulder Ruckle


Tin Mine


Pulley Pitch (b)



--/127-3, 4/C


RK/126-3, 6/A


CF/128-2, 3/A

Purgatory Passage




Short Chain Pitch (b)


Vice, The (d)


Terminus Chamber (b)












(7)  Cerberus Series

(11) Miscellaneous Aspects





Cerberus Hall


Air Pressure




Air Temperature

PB/120-3, 4, 5/A

Cerberus Series


Barometers in Caves


Dining Room (a)


Barometric Surveying




Cave Air Temperature




Caving Report No. 2



PB/120-3, 4/A









Hydrological System


Lake Chamber


Leader System






(9)  Rocky Boulder Series







Oubliette Pitch




Sugar Bowl Chamber


Relative Humidity


Surprise Passage








(10)  Coral Series





Route map


Coral series

DC/114-3, 4/A







Hidden Chamber




Long Chamber






Water Samples


(12)  Related Places

Water Temperatures






Ladywell Stream




Obituary – D. Coase




Plantation Swallet










Water Tracing










St. Cuthbert’s Pool




St. Cuthbert’s Stream








Wookey Hole





PB/120-3, 5/A




The following space is provided for anyone wishing to keep the list of references up to date.

















Where more than one reference is given for a feature, the principal one is underlined; the section of the cave under which the feature is described is given in parenthesis after the name.


Annex Chamber (10)

14, 15

Maypole Pitch (8)

13, 14

Appendix Passage (8)


Maypole Series (8)

6, 8, 13

Arête, The (1)


Middle Series (4)

6, 8

Arête Chamber (1)

5, 7

Mud Ball Chamber (7)


Arête Pitch (1)


Mud Hall (4)

5, 6, 8, 14

Balcony, The (6)


Mud Hall Pitch (4)


Bank Grill (3)


Nelson’s Column (6)


Beehive, The (3)


New Entrance Shaft (1)


Beehive Chamber (3)


New Route (2)

5, 8, 13

Boulder Chamber (4)

8, 12, 14, 15

New Route Stream (2)


Bypass Passage (3)

6, 9, 14

Ochre Rift (1)


Cascade, The (4)

9, 10

Octopus Chamber (5)


Cascade Chamber (4)

9, 10

Old Entrance Shaft (1)


Catgut Series (5)

8, 10, 11

Old Route (1)


Cerberus Hall (7)


Old Route Stream (1)

5, 8, 14

Cerberus Series (7)

8, 9, 10, 13

Oubliette Pitch (9)


Chain Chamber (5)

10, 11

Paperweight Chamber (6)


Chockstone Pitch (8)


Pillar, The (4)

8, 14

Cone Chamber (5)

1, 12

Pillar Chamber (4)

8, 14

Continuation Cham. (5)

10, 11

Plantation Junction (3)

7, 10, 11

Coral Chamber (10)


Plantation Stream (3)

7, 11

Coral Pitch (10)


Pulley Pitch (8)


Coral Series (10)

9, 14

Pulpit, The (2)


Cross Leg Squeeze (6)


Pulpit Passage (2)


Curtain Chamber (4)

9, 10, 13, 15

Pulpit Pitch (2)


Dining Room (7)

7, 10, 13

Pyrolusite Series (4)


Drinking Fountain (3)

6, 8

Quarry Corner (4)

8, 9, 14

Duck, The (3)


Rabbit Warren (5)

7, 9, 10

Entrance Pitch (1)


Rabbit Warren Extension (5)

10, 11

Erratic Chamber (5)


Railway Tunnel (4)

9, 10

Escalator passage (8)


Rat Run, The (7)

10, 13

Everest (4)


Rocky Boulder Chamber (9)

14, 15

Everest Chamber (4)

9, 10

Rocky B. Lower Pitch (9)


Everest Passage (4)

6, 9, 10, 13

Rocky Boulder Pitch (9)

14, 15

Fingers, The (4)

9, 10

Rocky Boulder Series (9)

6,  9, 11, 12

First Choke (2)


Sausage Machine (5)


Gour Hall (3)


Sentry, The (4)


Gour Passage (2)


Sentry Passage (4)

6, 8

Gour Passage Pitch (2)


September Chamber (6)

12, 13

Great Gour (3)


September Series (6)

7, 8, 10

Hanging Chamber (8)


Sewer Passage (3)

7, 10

Harem Passage (4)


Short Chain Pitch (8)


Helictite Passage (5)


Soapflake Pool (5)


High Chamber (4)

8, 10, 11

Stal. Graveyard (4)


Illusion Chamber (6)


Stalagmite Pitch (3)

7, 10, 13

Kanchenjunga (4)

8, 9

Strand, The (6)


Lake Chamber (7)


Stream Passage (3)

5, 6, 7, 10

Long Chain Pitch (8)


Struggle Passage (6)


Long Chamber (10)

9, 15

Sugar Bowl Chamber (4)

9, 14

Lower Ledge Pitch (1)


Sump, The (3)


Lower Series (3)

6, 13

Surprise Passage (9)


Main Stream (3)

6, 7, 8, 10, 13

Terminus Chamber (8)


Tin Mine, The (5)


Upper Mud Hall Pitch (4)

5, 8

T-Junction, The (5)


Upper Traverse Chamber (4)

6, 8, 9, 13

T-Junction Chamber (5)


Upper Trav. Cham. Pitch (4)


Trafalgar Chamber (6)


Vantage Point (4)


Traverse, The (2)


Vice, The (5)


Traverse Chamber (2)

6, 8, 13, 14

Victory Passage (6)


Trav. Chamber Pitch (4)

8, 13

Waterfall Pitch (1)


Upper Curtain Cham. (4)

9, 15

Water Shute (2)

6, 8

Upper Ledge Pitch (1)


Wet Pitch (1)

5, 6, 8

Upper Mud Hall (4)

5, 8

Wire Rift (1)

5, 8




Name of Pitch




Belays, etc. required


Entrance Pitch




40’ rope for raising tackle


Arête Pitch






The Ledge Pitches






Waterfall Pitch




2 karabiners


West Pitch




8’ wire tether


Pulpit Pitch




2 x 10’ tethers and pulley


Gour Passage Pitch




5’ tether


Mud Hall Pitch






Stalagmite Pitch






Upper Traverse Chamber Pitch






Traverse Chamber Pitch




40’ tether


Rocky Boulder Pitch




20’ tether


Oubliette Pitch




10’ tether


Upper Mud Hall Pitch






Short Chain Pitch






Maypole Pitch






Long Chain Pitch






Pulley Pitch




40’ rope to raise ladder through pulley


Abbreviations: -           PL – permanents Steel ladder

                                    FH – Fixed Handline (or chain)



The following was received from E.J. Waddon but unfortunately it was received too late for inclusion in the account of the discovery of the cave.

20 Sep 1953.    R. Bennett; D.A. Coase; E. J. Waddon.

Entrance Rift descended, followed by Arête Pitch and the two Ledge Pitches.  Wire Rift followed to Waterfall Pitch but this was not de­scended through lack of ladder.  Bennett and Waddon traversed across top of Waterfall Pitch to tight crawl but did not push it.  On return to surface, passage from Arête Chamber followed to head of Pulpit Pitch.

27  Sep 1953.    R. Bennett; V. Brown; D. A. Coase; A. Marriott; J. Paine; E.J, Waddon.    (9 hours).

Waterfall and Wet Pitches descended.  Entrance into Mud Hall found but attention concentrated on stream way.  Bedding plane descended to Main Stream.  Water Shute descended and Traverse Chamber reached.  Main Stream found to be choked.  Some passages above the Traverse partly explored.  Brown and Marriott remained at head of Waterfall Pitch during exploration as belay party.

11  Oct 1953.    R. Bennett; D.A. Coase; D. Kemp; R.A. Setterington.

Pulpit Pitch descended and stream way followed, via Gour Passage Pitch, to link with portion of cave, above Water Shute, found on previous trip.  Bennett remained at head of Pulpit Pitch to belay.

25 Oct 1953.    R. Bennett; D.A. Coase: C. Falshaw; E.J. Waddon.   (l0½ .hrs).

Via Pulpit Pitch along Main Stream to Traverse Chamber.  Bypass Passage found to far side of First Choke, Main Stream followed, Stal­agmite Pitch descended and along Sewer Passage and the stream way until Gour Hall could be looked into.  Dining Room noticed but not explored.

28  Nov 1953.    R. Bennett;  V. Brown; D.A. Coase; C. Falshaw; A. Sandall; E.J. Waddon.   (l4¾ hours).

Pulpit Route to Gour Hall which was descended to the Sump.  The Middle Series, including Everest, Cascade, Curtain and Pillar Chambers explored.

12  Dec 1953.    R.  Bennett; D.A.  Coase; K. Dobbs; C. Falshaw; N. Petty; E. J. Waddon.   (17 hours).

Further exploration, this time of the Rabbit Warren.  Upper Traverse Chamber entered.

16 Jan 1954.    R. Bennett; D.A. Coase; N. Petty;  E.J. Waddon.    (20 hours).

Three further pitches descended in area of Mud Hall.  Rocky Boulder Series explored and mammoth's tooth found.   Oubliette Pitch descended.  Cerberus Series explored.

During February and early March the depression was in flood and no further trips could take place.  In the Spring and summer various trips were made to show the cave to visiting clubs and several further discoveries were made.



a) Introduction to First Edition.

This report sets out to give as comprehensive a survey as possible on the different types of lights available for cave purposes, and on the different makes and types of safety helmets that are on the market. In the report will be found, where it has been possible to ascertain such figures, details of approximate initial cost and, in the case of lights, running costs, and figures giving strengths, sizes, weights, etc. where the manufacturers have provided these. It will be found that part of this report is factual statements on specifications and the like and part .consists of comments on the product in question. The author has tried to make as much as possible of the report fact only, but where personal opinions have been included he has been careful to make it obvious that the statement is one of opinion and not necessarily fact. It is hoped that even cavers who are fully equipped in this field and have no intention of making any further purchases will be able to find a few tips and will also be more conver¬sant with the state of the market. The report will probably be of greatest interest to those wishing to purchase either, or both, of these items of equip¬ment, as it will put before them a survey of what is available and some of the pros and cons of each.

Although not necessarily followed in every section of this report, the general plan has been to give an introduction which will include the author's comments and comments from other sources, followed by a survey of what is avail¬able en the market. The latter is based on manufacturer’s figures and information, and/or that obtained as far as possible, by the author from tests he has carried cut personally.

After the two principal sections on helmets and lights, will be found app¬endices giving a list of the references and suppliers quoted in the text, a summary of the British Standards Institution Specifications for industrial safety helmets, and a brief survey of some of the legal aspects and dangers associated with acetylene and calcium carbide.

The reason for preparing this report was that the author could not remember having seen anything published in this field, and a search of well over 600 caving books and Club Journals brought forward one article on lights, another short article on one make of helmet, and a few brief references to either topic; but no survey.

Admittedly; by far the majority of journals searched were those of Southern caving clubs and something may well have been published by a Northern club; this report is more likely, however, to be read by cavers than potholers. This one article found during the literature search was a survey of cave lighting equip¬ment (1) by H.A. Bamber, and was a general article on many of the forms avail¬able. The present author has used this article as a basis for the second section of this report, but has added to, and removed from it, certain sections.

Although Mr. Bamber's article was used as a basis. Section C of this report is by no means a re-hash of it, and has been compiled quite independently, except where specifically stated.

The method of obtaining the information for this report, having come to a full stop after searching the literature, was to contact as many suppliers and manufacturers as could be found in a variety of directories, and from advertise¬ments in mining and similar journals. This involved correspondence with well over four dozen firms; and while it certainly does not cover the entire field, it must cover a large part of it.

As there is a definite possibility of bias amongst the opinions expressed in this report, it would be as well to show in which direction this bias lies by describing the author's own equipment and preferences. The helmet used is a "Texolex" Model 2. For lighting, an acetylene lamp (Premier Brand) is used for general caving with an electric lamp and a twin-cell cycle battery mounted on the helmet as a secondary a source of illumination. The electric lamp is focused to give a long beam so that it can be used for illuminating distant objects as well as an emergency lamp in the event of the carbide lamp failing for any reason. This electric lamp is used alone for photographic trips because of its beam, and the ease of switching on and off, but the author would prefer to use an accum¬ulator powered lamp for this purpose (provided there was little climbing or tight crawling in the cave) if he possessed one.

(b) Introduction to Second Edition. Revised 1967

Since the first edition of this report was produced in 1958 there have been many changes in the field of lighting and headwear equipment, and although many of the tried and tested items are still available, a good number have disappear¬ed from the market. The range of carbide lamps has been considerably reduced, and some accumulator sets (such as the Edison) are no longer manufactured, although second hand supplies of some of these items are available.

On the other side of the coin there is a considerable number of newer lines available. Some of the plastic helmets are becoming more popular, but the author is surprised that other items, such as Mallory cells, etc., are not used more. Presumably cost is the reason for this conservatism.

A good deal of material has been written of the subject of lighting since 1958, and the bibliography appended to the report has been considerably extended. There still appears to be no other paper with the comprehensive nature of this report.

Throughout the report it has been the authors intention to give as many references and names of suppliers as possible in order to make it easier for anyone wishing to read further into the subject or to purchase any of the items mentioned. It will be found that all references have been numbered in Roman numerals and are given in the text in the form (1); suppliers and manufacturers have been numbered using a Arabic numerals i.e. (1 ). Where an alternative source of supply in known this is the second of the two references, viz. (6) (33). A complete list of all these references will be found in Appendix I.

As the scope of this report has been increased slightly, and on the whole the variety of items available has also increased, it has been necessary to present the information in condensed form. Information given in introductory notes is not necessarily repeated in the body of the text. Before ordering any item, read the relevant sections carefully and quote any manufacturers refer¬ences given.

The author of the first edition ended his introduction by stating his prejudices. The present author records that his equipment is very similar. It is to be hoped that this has not made any resulting, bias too great.

NOTE: - The prices quoted in this report were correct at the time of the preparation of this manuscript.  Some of these may have increased up to the time of Publication.


(a) Introduction.

A good helmet is an important part of a caver's equipment, not only as a protection for the head, but as a means of carrying his light - leaving the hand free while still allowing the light to be directed (within limits) where it is required.

In the author's opinion the ideal caving helmet would possess the following qualities:-

(a) Strong enough to protect the wearer from hard knocks and reasonable rock falls,
(b) Durable.
(c) Unaffected by water.
(d) Lightweight.
(e) Comfortable to wear.
(f) Easy to replace parts liable to wear.
(g) Easily carries ones lights.
(h) Relatively cheap initial cost.
(i) As small as practical, i.e. no wide brim, or high crown.

It is of course important that the helmet should not only stand up to a heavy blow cut should absorb as much as possible of the shock, transmitting the force to the wearer as evenly as possible in order to avoid injury. It is reasonable to assume that those conforming to the British Standard Institutions specifications will meet this requirement, but it should be realised that B.S.S. 2095 requires a shock absorption test of only 28 lb/ft. while B.S.S. 2826 requires a 40 lb/ft. impact test. It is recognised by the National Coal Board that B.S.S. 2826 is the appropriate standard for men working in shafts, and it is the author's opinion that this is the more suitable standard for caving, par¬ticularly where there are any pitches involved.

A drawback of the B.S.S's. is that they make no mention of ageing prop¬erties. Synthetic materials particularly tend to become brittle with age and les able to withstand shock loads. Others are subject to impact fatigue. Some also show a poor performance at low temperatures and though there is a low temperature test in B.S.S. 2826, it is not obligatory for a helmet to pass this in order to achieve the standard. So far as the author is aware, there is no quantitive data available on these points, so that direct comparison is not possible between the various materials employed. Variations even between batches being possible.

An attempt therefore has been made in the text to asses these points qualitativ¬ely for the different materials.

An important feature of some helmets is that they are not constructed of a waterproof, material, and once the protective coating has been removed (which does not take long under caving conditions) they absorb water and begin to deteriorate in strength and become very pliable. Whereas helmets made of a water¬proof material are extremely durable and should last a lifetime, once the paint of the others has been removed they soon deteriorate and finally become unusable, unless great care is taken, attention is drawn to this in two British Standards Institutions Specifications for industrial safety helmets (i) and (ii), and while these specifications were not drawn up with caving in mind, the question is even more important for us, due to the greater incidence of water. The paragraph, which is identical in both specifications, reads as follows: -

"The particular attention of users of safety helmets is directed to an important feature of certain kinds of safety helmets which are made of materials which, if unprotected, are liable to absorb moisture and thereby lose their mechanical strength. The outer surface of helmets made of such materials should be protected against moisture. If this protective coating is damaged by abrasion in use and the material of the helmet is allowed to become wet, a serious reduction in strength may result. It should be appreciated therefore that the strength of many helmets when used in wet conditions may depend on the mainten¬ance of this protective coating, which should be renewed at regular intervals, especially if the helmets are likely to become wet".

The importance of this quotation lies in the last sentence, and anyone who has used the familiar black miner's helmet on more than just a few caving trips will know exactly what is meant.

Comfort in use depends largely on the cradle, and since, this is a part of helmet which is liable at some time to need replacement, some consideration should be given to the types of cradle available.
Broadly there are two types:-

    1. Leather or leatherette cradles. The headbands are usually of fixed sizes, though some are adjustable. The concussion tapes are usually adjustable by a common, lace at the crown. All the examples of this type mentioned here are laced into the helmet and thus are easily removable.
    2. P.V.C. adjustable cradles. These fall, into four types: - .

(i) The fixed type where the headband only is detachable; the concussion tapes being riveted to the shell.

(ii) The laced-in type (as employed by Texolex) the entire cradle is removable, but in the author's opinion it is a little "sloppy" in use

(iii) The "Snap-in" type cradle. The cradle has a number of wedges around its base which snap into moulded slots in the shell. The entire cradle is removable but the slot mouldings make external bulges around the base of the shell, above the brim. Fixed and adjustable crown straps are incorporated in the cradle and the entire helmet is among the heaviest reviewed here.

(iv) Various clip-in types. Panorma (1 ) use three variations:-

I 65 D. - six straps pass through the shell, thickened portions providing fixing stops. These are exposed and might be liable to abrasion.

I 65. - fastens by the same method, but the fastening stops are not exposed.

PP 63. - six nylon studs pass through the shell from the outside and clip on to the cradlo internally.

Some cradles employ fixed concussion tapes, which cannot be adjusted, so that the minimum wearing clearance cannot be reduced. Some manufacturers give a recommended minimum wearing clearance, Malcolm Campbell ''Caps" (9) for instance recommend 1.1/2 on their Texolex helmets. This space should not, of course be used for carrying items, although often it may be the only, dry place available. The danger of reducing the clearance should not be forgotten.

The comfort of a helmet can often be improved by inserting a lining of foam rubber between the headband end the shell. Ventilation is another factor which can contribute towards comfort, though this is a personal point, though, one thing, unventilated helmets make good substitutes for buckets when bailing, so if you do not want your helmet ''borrowed" for this purpose, be warned!

Although it is often claimed by the manufacturers that the P.V.C. cradles eliminate the need for chin straps by hugging the back of the neck, this is not so under caving conditions. There is also the danger aspect of using a helmet without a chin strap; dropping down a pitch for example. Most manu-facturers will supply chin straps out these are usually of leather, which is quite unsuitable as it hardens and rots after wetting. Only webbing or elastic chin straps have therefore been mentioned in the text. Prices of chin straps will be found in the list of common parts, at the end of this section.

In the following pages are listed details of all the helmets that it as been possible to trace. They have been divided into types, depending on the materials used in their construction.

All the helmets listed here are, or have been, fitted with a lamp bracket, which should be specified when ordering. Unless otherwise stated this is suitable for electric or carbide lamps with prong, rather than wire clip fittings.

All weights quoted are approximate.

B. (b) Metal Helmets.

The day of the ex-army "tin-hat" has passed and, with one exception, this is the only type, of helmet known to the author that comes under this heading. The fact that "tin-hats" are a thing of the past is not to be regretted as not only do they make unsatisfactory headwear for caving, but they can be very formidable weapons. However, to make this survey as complete as possible, they are mentioned here. As issued they are heavy, not provided with any method of fixing a cap lamp, and although the brim is reasonably small, it is surprising how much it gets in the way. It will be found that a hacksaw will make little or no impression on the helmet, but anyone deter¬mined to remove the brim will find that it can be done either by using an oxy-acetylene cutting torch, or by placing the brim in a vice and bending the helmet back and forth, and so fatiguing off the brim. Either method leaves a sharp rough edge which must be removed, and a file will not make much impression. Similarly, it is very difficult to fix any form of lamp bracket. It can easily be imagined that anything as heavy as a "tin-hat", falling, even from only a small height, makes a dangerous weapon, and for this reason many clubs frown upon, and some even forbid, the use of these helmets. From this it will be seen that they do not make a suitable form of caving headgear and they are definitely not recommended.

The following is one exception.


Sureguard. In bright anodised aluminium to B.S.S. 2095, the helmet has a narrow brim, a peak and ribbed unventilated crown. A chin strap is available. Clip-in adjustable P.V./C. head cradle (165D); sizes 6.1/2 – 7.1/2 approx.; weight 12.34 oz.

Price 27/6

A wide brim is available.

B. (c) Vulcanised Fibre.

These helmets are the familiar "black, miner's helmets" which are the ones most commonly used for caving. They have the advantages that they are light in weight and are the cheapest of all helmets to purchase but, they are presumably the type referred to in the introduction to the British Standards Specifications. Although very strong when new, after use for caving they soon become softer and after a time have to be replaced. For this reason they are probably not the best buy for people taking up caving "seriously".


These are the helmets most commonly used for caving on Mendip and are now sold as conforming to B.S.S. 2095. They are also the only type of helmet suitable for carrying the wire clip fastening type of carbide lamp. Fitted with leather headbands in fixed sizes, all have a 1.3/8" peak.

Type 100. 1/2" brim; vented by four holes; weight 12 oz.

Price 10/-

Type 107. Brimless; vented by four louvres over 1/2" holes; weight 12 oz.

Price 10/6.

Type 110. 1/2" brim; vented by four raised louvres over l/2;; holes; weight 11 oz.

Price 9/6.

The manufacturers of Huwood helmets are now Thetford Moulded Products and are referred to as such throughout the rest of this text.

CROMWELL (3) (32).

M 8/11. To B.S.S. 2095; 1/2" brim; peak; fluted, vented crown; fixed P.V.C. adjustable cradle; sizes 6.3/8 - 7.5/8; black or white

Price 14/9.

M 9/04. To B.S.S. 2095; plain unvented crown; damp proofed, adjust¬able leatherette headband; three sizes of moulding 6.1/2 -7.1/2; weight 11 - 13 oz.; black or white.

Price 14/3.

M 8/04. To sane specification as K 9/04, but with fluted vented crown.

Price 14/3.

L 8/04. As M 8/04 but sides and peak of lighter material; weight 10 - 12 oz.

Price 13/3.

A wide brim model is available.


B 8/11. To B.S.S. 2095: 1/2" brim; peak; heavily fluted crown; fixed P.V.C. adjustable cradle; two mouldings, 6.3/8 – 7.5/8; black or white.

Price 14/-.

M 605. Not to B.S.S..; 1/2" brim and peak; fluted crown with ventilating louvres; cradle in rexine, or as above; weight 8 oz.: black or white.

Price 12/6

B. (d) Glass Fibre.

The strength of glass fibre is well known and as it is impervious to water these helmets should recommend themselves for caving; yet very few are seen in use. One disadvantage is that the resin tends to crack when knocked hard.


Peakguard. To B.S.S. 2826; 1/2" brim; large peak; flat fronted, high domed, unvented crown: P.V.C, cradle (PP63) or leather (PP 25; alternative; sizes 6.1/2 - 7.1/2 approx.; weight 15 oz. Spray painted in B.S.S. Colour range.

Price 24/6.

Gapguard. To B.S.S. 23 26; 1/2" brim; peak; flat fronted, unvented crown; cradles as above; weight 14.1/2 oz. pigment, or spray painted, black, white and colours.

Price 20/9.

Skullpeak. To B.S.S. 2095; brim; peak; flat fronted, unvented crown; P.V.C. (PP 63) or leather (CL 4/1) cradles available; sizes 6,1/2 - 7.1/2 approx.: weight 13.1/4 oz . colours as Capguard.

Price 20/9.

Wide brim models are available.


Centurian 200. To B.S.S. 2826; 1/4" brim; 1.1/2" peak; webbing chin strap available; ribbed, vented crown; fixed P.V.C. adjustable cradle; weight 13 oz.

Price 18/-.

CROMWELL (3) (32)

5/11. To B.S.S. 2826; 1/2" brim: peak, flat fronted, ribbed crown; fixed P.V.C. adjustable head cradle; two mouldings; sizes 6.3/8 – 7.5/8; weight 13 - 15 oz; black, white and colours.

Price 17/5-


F 5/11. To B.S.S. 2826. T his helmet appears to be identical to the Cromwell F 5/11.

Price 17/6.


Fibreglass model. Brim and peek; flat fronted, ribbed crown; adjust¬able leather cradle available.

Price 20/-.

EVEROAK (6) (33).

These helmets have an adjustable, laced in, headband of padded rayon twill. P.V.C. is available as an alternative. The cradle has fixed, and adjustable, concussion tapes; heavy duty models having 1 .1/2" tapes. They are fitted with a webbing chin strap and are available in black, white and colours.

Model B. To B.S.S. 2095; 1/2'" brim; peak; flat fronted, ribbed crown; weight 14 oz.

Price 17/6.

Model HB. As above but to B.S.S. 2326.

Price 17/6.

Model D. To B.S.S. 2095; 1/2" brim; no peak; flat fronted, ribbed crown; weight 15 oz.

Price 17/6.

Model HD. As above but to B.S.S. 2626.

Price 19/6.

Wide brim models are available.


Fibreglass Helmet. To B.S.S. 2826; brim; peak; plain or ribbed crown styles; unvented; elastic chin strap available; clip in P.V.C. adjustable cradle with nape strap; black, white and colours.

Price 24/3•

NORTH (8).

SH 1501. To B.S.S. 2826; brim; 1.1/2" peak; plain unvented crown; lamp bracket in moulded plastic; elastic webbing chin strap available; six point strap-in P.V.C. adjustable cradle; sizes 6.1/2 - 7.3/4; weight 16 oz.; white and colours.

Price 21/11 .

B. (e) Cloth Laminated P.F. Resin.

Since the introduction of these helmets to cavers on Mendip early in 1953, they have become more and more popular due to their robustness and the fact that they are completely impervious to water, even when the cloth laminate is exposed.


This make has been used by the author (B.M.S.) for many years and alth¬ough it has been sadly abused, the helmet is still as good as new apart from some superficial scratches on the crown. The helmets are ventilated by four holes in the plain crown. The lamp bracket is suitable for electric or wide pronged acetylene lamps only. Laced in P.V.C. adjustable cradles, sizes 6.5/8 - 7.3/4, or leather or leather cloth alternatives, in fixed or adjust¬able sizes, are available. Leather brow bands for P.V.C'. cradles, and cork linings, can be fitted. They are available in natural brown, or spray painted. Pegram (iv) in a short article quotes some tests made on these helmets.

Medium Dome Model No. 2.

To B.B.S. 2826; virtually brimless; small peak.

Price 21/9.

Low Dome Model No. 1.

Exceeds B.S.S'. 2095; 1/2" brim; larger peak and lower done than No. 2. above, otherwise identical.

Price 23/5.


Miners "Saycap". To B.S.S. 20 95; 1/2" brim;-peak: plain crown; adjustable leather cradle available.

Price 20/-.

B. (f) Laminated Plastic.

While these helmets would appear to be ideal for caving because use of the water resistant .material used, unfortunately this is not so. As far as the author is aware, only the "Oldham-Sorbex" has been used for caving but at least four of those helmets have cracked for different reasons;- one of them when it was dropped from a height of three or four feet onto a wooden floor. It appears that once there is a crock or cut in the P.V.C., the helmets soon crack when submitted to shock. The material also becomes very brittle at low temperatures.


To B.S.S. 2826; 1/2" brim; peak; ribbed, unvented crown; P.V.C. harness (l 65 D); sizes 6.1/2 - 7-1/2 approx.; weight 11.1/2 oz. in natural brown only. 

Price 30/-


Safety Helmet.

In P.V.C. to B.S.S. 2095; V2" brim; peek; ribbed crown; bracket suitable for electric lamp; chin strap available; adjustable cradle of P.V.C. faced cloth or leather; in fixed sizes 6.1/4 – 7.1/2 or large, medium and small, white only.

Price 23/3

B. (g) Moulded Plastics.

Much the sane considerations apply to these helmets as to the laminated plastic ones above. Although several of them have been seen whilst caving they seem liable to cracking; also most of them have a fairly high dome, being designed for industrial, rather than mining uses.


Light Guard.

In A.B.S. to B.S.S. 2826; has a "gutter" brim (which might be use-full for protecting the lamp cable) peak; ribbed, unvented crown; adjustable P.V.C. cradle (I 65); sizes 6.1/2 - 7.1/2 approx.; weight 13.1/2 oz.; pigmented white and colours.

Price 23/9.

Top Vent.

To B.S.S. 2095; gutter brim; peak; ribbed crown; the only Panorma helmet which is vented, it has four holes which can be adjusted from open to closed; cradle (I 65); sizes 6.1/2 - 7-1/2 approx.; weight 10.3/4 oz.; white and colours.

Price 17/6.


Centurion 300.

In Polypropylene to B.S.S. 2095; 1/4" brim; 1.1/2" peak; vented crown; adjustable P.V.C. cradle; sizes 6.1/2 - 7.1/2; weight 10 oz.

Price 15/-.

Centurion 500.

In A..B.S. to B.S.S. 2826; 1/4" brim; 1.1/2" peak; vented crown; adjustable P.V.C. cradle; weight 12 oz.

Price 18/-.

CROMWELL (3) (32)

P 10.

In Polypropylene to B.S.S. 2095; 1/2" brim; peak; flat fronted, ribbed crown; cradle, alternatives of leatherette or leather in fixed sizes, or adjustable, leatherette in sizes 6.1/2 – 7.1/2 or fixed P.V.C. adjustable 6.3/8 - 7.5/8 (leather brow band for P.V.C. cradle available); two shell mouldings; weight 10 - 12 oz. black, white and colours.

Price 11/6. - 13/-

DP /2. ;

In Polythene to B.S.S. 2095; 1/2" brim; peak plain, unvented crown; fixed P.V.C: adjustable cradle; weight 10 - 12 oz.; black, ' white and colours. .

Price 21/6.

A wide brim version of the DP /2. is available.



To B.S.S. 2826; 1/2" brim; wide peak; ribbed, unvented crown; elastic chin strap available; clip in adjustable P.V.C. cradle with nape strap; three mouldings; sizes 6.1/3 - 8; white and colours.

Price 21/-.

NORTH (8).

SH 1511.

To B.S.S. 23-26; brim; peak; plain, unvented' crown; six point snap-in adjustable P.V.C. cradle; sizes 6.1/2 - 7.3/4; white and colours

Price 21/5.

M.S.A. (11)

V - Guard Cap.

In A.B.S. to B.S.S. 2826; brim; peak; V-ribbed crown; webbing or elastic chin straps available; four point snap-in adjustable cradle with P.V.C. leatherette head-band; sizes 6.1/2 - 7.3/4; weight 11 oz.

Price 20/-

S.G.B, (12).

Safety Helmet.

To B.S.S. 2826; bring peak; plain, unvented crown; six point snap-in adjustable P.V.C. cradle; sizes 6.1/2 – 7.3/4; weight 15 oz. white , yellow and blue.

Price 23/3,


Safe - t - Cap.

In Polycarbonate to "North American safety standards'''; brim; peak; ribbed, unvented crown; four point snap-in adjustable P.V.C. cradle sizes 6.1/2 - 7-7/8; weight 16 oz.; pigmented black, white and colours.

Price 24/9.



To B.S.S.. 2826; brim; peak; plain unvented crown; eight point snap-in adjustable P.V.U. cradle; sizes 6.1/2 - 8; weight 14.1/2 oz.; white and colours. 'The manufacturers make special claims of the "off centre impact 'and compression load resistance", and low temperature performance of the helmet.

Price 13/-.

B. (h) List of Common Parts.

Manufacturer Part. Catalogue Number Price.
      s. d.
    I 65 9. 6.
Pyrene – Panorma.  (1 ) Harnesses I 65 D. 9. 6.
  CL 4/1 7. -
    C 5/3 7. 6.
    PP 25 7. 3.
    PP 63 8. -
  Chin straps C 523 1. 6. +P.T
  C 407 1. - + P.T.
  Headwarmers   7. 6.
  Lamp Bracket and cable loop   2. 6.
  Self adhesive sweat band     10. +P.T.
  39" White Teryiene cord     6. +P.T.
  6" Laces     3. +P.T.
  Spray Painting (per- helmet)     5.
Thetford Moulded        
Products.  (2) Leathercloth covering for plastic lining   2. -

Cromwell.  (3)

Replacement linings (spare lining and lace). -/89 4. 6.
  -/04 4. 6.
    -/64 5. 6.
  Spare Polythene headband -/11 2. -
  Leather browband for -/11      
  headband   2. 6.
  Plastic draught excluder for      
  -/11 headband   1. 3.
  Lamp brackets      
  light pattern with cable clip C   6.
  Universal pattern with cable clip U   9.
Bathgate    (4) Spare polythene headband for      
  -/11 linings   2. -
  Leather browband for same   2. 4.
  Lamp Brackets      
  “C” type with cable clip     3.
  “U” type with universal cable clip     6.
  “B” type acetylene     9.
  “BC” type acetylene and electric   1. -
Crook. (5) “Skycap” No Information      
Thomas Townsend Lamp bracket     6.
“Everoak”  (6) Lamp bracket and cable lop   1. -
  Cork inserts   1. 6.
  Neckstrap     6.
  Drop linings (for warmth)   1. 3.
  Linings complete with laces and chin strap   4. -
  Laces – 41”, per doz.   2. - +P.T.
  Laces – 17”, per doz.   1. - +P.T.
Acrow  (7) Elastic chinstrap and assembly studs AT/C 2. 9.
  Lamp bracket and cork clip   4. 6.
  Internal suspension AT/IS 7. 6.
  Set of main studs for above AT/MS 1. -
  Set of harness collar studs AT/CS 1. -
  Headband 6.1/2 – 7.1/2; 6.1/8 – 7.1/3; 7 – 8 AT/H 4. 6.
  Drawstring   4. 5.
George Angus Complete headgear SP/160    
“North”     (8) Elastic webbing chinstrap (breakaway      
  attachment operates if caught in a fall) REF  “A”    
  Lamp bracket and cable clip REF  “B”    
  Winter liners – Half liner SH/1531    
                           Full liner SH/1530    
  When ordering helmet with chinstrap, and/or lamp bracket, quote Ref. No., E.G. SH/511 A/B.      
Malcolm Capbell Headcradles      
“Texolex”   (9) Polythene adjustable 6.5/8 – 7.3/4      
  Basil leather individual sizes 6.1/4 x 1/8 – 7.3/4      
  Leather cloth; sizes as for Basil leather type      
  Helmet retainer with Basil leather cradles   1. 3.
  Leather browband for polythene cradles   1. 6.
Oldhams   (10) See page 11      
Mine safety Grey webbing chin strap 257271 2. 6.
Appliances  (11) Black plastic chin strap 257335    
  Nape strap with studs 257272 2. 3.
  Replacement harness with P.V.C. leatherette sweat band 257589 11. 6.
  Cold guard winter liner; small, mediums and large 257262 7. 8.
  Foam back winter liner (small) 257275 8. 3.
      “      “         “         “    (large) 257276 8. 10
  Terylene winter liner 257277 11. -
  Yellow P.V.C. cape for V-guard 257273 7. 2.
  Reflective cape for V-guard 257274 18. 9.
S.G.B.   (12) Lamp bracket and clip   2. 3.
Safety Products Spare head harness   7. -
Ltd.   (13) Lamp bracket   2. -
Siebe Gorman        
Ltd.  (14) Lamp bracket   1. 6.

B. (i) Conclusions.

The helmet most suitable for caving are probably those sold for mining w2here the conditions are closest to those met in caves. Messrs, Thetford (Huwood); Malcolm Campbell (Telolex) and Oldhams manufacture helmets for the N.C.B.; Helmets Ltd., (Cromwell), Bathgate and Mine safety Appliances make helmets specifically for mining.

In the author’s opinion, only the helmets made to B.S.S. 2826, Heavy Duty, are acceptable. Vulcanised Fibre, Plastics and Glass Fibre all have disadvantages already stated. This leaves laminated P.F. Resin helmets, and of these, Texolex is the best known and most tried among caving circles.



(a) Introduction.

As lighting is the most important item of caving equipment, it is very surprising that so little has been written about it in caving .journals and books. Although one can go (if determined) without helmet, boots, ladders, etc., exploration is limited to the shortest of rock shelters without some form of illumination, although a candle may give sufficient light to see one's way, it is not powerful enough to show cave formations to their full beauty, as it is seen realised on burning some magnesium ribbon or visiting a commercialised show cave, with their powerful electric lights; nor does one have sufficient light for complete safety.

No one form of lighting is universally accepted by cavers, but there are two definitely predominant forms: -the acetylene miner's cap lamp, and the accumulator powered electric cap lamp. Neither of those are perfect, each having many features of the ideal lamp but neither of them all - some cavers preferring the disadvantages of one to the disadvantages of the ether and vice versa. In the author's opinion, the ideal caving light would posses the following features:-

    1. Reasonably cheap initial cost.
    2. Cheap running costs.
    3. Will give a beam or diffuse: light, as required.
    4. Easy to clean and maintain.
    5. Light in weight and of small bulk.
    6. Easy to affix to helmet.
    7. Unaffected by water or shock.
    8. Easy to recharge anytime and anywhere.
    9. Safe and foolproof.
    10. Capable of giving many hours of light at any one time.

Which type of lamp a cover will use depends on several conditions. Thus, when he starts, the chances are very high that if he hasn't been able to borrow a lamp from someone else he will use a torch, because even if one is not available the cost is small. Having decided that he is going to do some more caving, the decision then usually rests between acetylene or accum¬ulator. Which way he will decide depends on many factors, and as neither of them is ideal, and one does not surpass the other by much, there is no point in the author giving an opinion - he will state the pros and cons of each later in the report, together with a few comments.

Lamp brackets were mentioned earlier, all accumulator operated cap lamps and some carbide lamps (see details of carbide lamps) have a flat metal prong which is quite strong and will fit nearly every kind of helmet fitting. Some carbide lamps however, have wire clips which are not so strong and will fit only "Huwood" helmets. A Terry clip can be used to fasten the lamp to the helmet, but this makes the lamp project slightly more than in front of the helmet, which the author considers a disadvantage.

In the following pages, lighting has been divided into a number of categories, as with the helmets, and each type is first discussed before giving details of the lamps available. In addition the three usual forms of lighting - acetylene, accumulator and dry battery, these types of ill¬umination have been included to make the survey complete and also a section on methods of ignition. This last section has be on included in the hope that even experienced cavers, may be able to pick up a tip or two.

C. (b) Methods of Ignition.

Because the majority of types of lighting available for cave explorat¬ion require some form of ignition, it would be as well to consider the more practical idea's that are available in this field. The necessary conditions for a means, of ignition to be used underground are that it must be robust and capable of being, used when wet, or capable of being water proofed by some reasonably easy method.

Matches and ships' Lifeboat Matches.

Matches are the easiest method of ignition for all types of lighting but they are very susceptible to damp and must be waterproofed. Of the two types of ordinary match available (the safety, on, non-safety, the former is to be preferred because it ignites by means of a chemical reaction rather than by friction, and for this reason it is slightly less susceptible to damp). There is the disadvantage, however, that should the striker become wet but the matches remain dry, one is more likely to find dry striker for a non-safety match (e.g. the inside, of a caving helmet) than for a safety match. There are several others available for waterproofing matches, of which dipping the heads in wax is the easiest, but unfortunately not the most satisfactory. Not only does this method make no provision for waterproofing the striker, but if you have a dry striker, it is soon rendered useless as it becomes clogged with wax from the matches.

A more satisfactory method is to carry the matches and a striker in a waterproof container. Small plastic containers capable of carrying a doz¬en or so matcher are available (38) for a few pence and those are quite satisfactory, an alternative method is to seal matches and striker in rubber or polythene. A method of making a small rubber pouch with sheet rubber and rubber solution has been describe1 in the British Caver (v). The easiest and a very effective method of sealing polythene is to place the two edges between two flat surfaces, e.g. two rulers, leaving 1/8" sticking out, and then run a flame back and forth to melt the protruding polythene back to the rulers, care being taken not to heat the polythene too much so that it burns. Even opening a container to the very damp air found in caves will cause matches to become damp, and hence difficult to light, so it is a good idea to carry a number of small containers, each containing a few matches and a striker, rather than one large container.

The best of all, when they are available, is to use ships' lifeboat matches, such as are made by Bryant and May (39). These matches are sold in a watertight plastic container, and the matches themselves are. Reasonably impervious to water. Once alight, it is impossible to blow them cut and they are not effected by water spray; they can even be totally immersed in water for a fraction of a second and still keep burning. Unfortunately, Bryant and May have recently ceased making these matches.

Cigarette Lighters and Flint Wheels

The manufacturers of acetylene cap lamps provide flint strikers an their lamps, but while these are useful for lighting the lamp before enter¬ing the cave, or for re-lighting the damp in a dry cave, they are soon rendered useless under wet conditions. The same disadvantages applies to a cigarette lighter, but this may be kept dry in a waterproof container fairly easily. Bamber (i) mentions the possibility of catalytic lighters and also says he has experienced difficulty with the velatization of the fuel under damp, cold cave conditions. The latter can be overcome by using a lower boiling fuel such as 60° - 80° petroleum ether, but for lighting an acetylene lamp only a spark is necessary. It is preferable to use an automatic lighter of the Ronson type, as this does away with the necessity of putting a wet and/or muddy thumb directly onto the flint wheel.

Other Methods.

The author has seen a caving helmet fitted with a two way switch so that the battery could be connected either to the stand by lamp or to an electric gas lighter element. Unfortunately he has not tried this system himself but it does appear, at first sight, to have possibilities - it depends how susceptible the element is to water, another possibility is the use of a mixture of calcium carbide and calcium phosphide in an acetylene lamp, the latter producing phosphine with water, which is spontaneously inflammable in air. This mixture was used for self-lighting rescue flares during the last war.

C. (c) Magnesium Ribbons and Flares.

This class of lighting can in no way be considered as a permanent form of cave illumination, but they do have a very definite use for temp¬orary and brilliant illumination of a chamber. They cannot be considered permanent lighting because it would be found that they are expensive, in¬convenient, and produce considerably more light than necessary when used for this purpose.

Magnesium Ribbon.

Can be bought (40) for about 2/6d. an ounce reel and it will be found that a reel will illuminate a large number of chambers – if the remainder has has not been lost between caving trips.

A few hints for using magnesium ribbon; - Use two lengths of ribbon at a time and twist them loosely together to make it a little more rigid and less likely to curl. Fix the ribbon to a suitable point on the wall or the roof of the chamber so that there is no tendency to become en¬raptured by the view, and allow the ribbon to burn your fingers. Before lighting, scrape an inch of the ribbon to remove the oxide film and to expose the shiny metal, the ribbon will then be found much easier to ignite. But, choose a position for the ribbon such that the cave is not disfigured by the resulting white ash.

Magnesium Flares.

Also available (40) for taking cine pictures but these are considerably bulkier and heavier than ribbon and they also have the disadvantage that, unlike ribbon, they are susceptible to water. Bamber (i) mentions that self-striking varieties have been produced for purposes, but the present author has been unable go find any on the market.

Photographic Flash Powder.

Not suitable because, as the name suggests, it is burnt in a flash, but the author has heard of some made flares being produced from a mixture of photographic flash powder and potassium chlorate, held together and the burning slowed down by paraffin wax. While the author has not, as yet, tried these himself, he is assured that they are effective.

Coloured Bengal Lights.

As available for Guy Fawkee Night will be fount to produce an inter¬esting and unusual experience when used to illuminate a chamber; Tolson (yi) mentions that they were used for this purpose luring the 1870's in the commercialised American cave of Wyanlotte.

All these, forms of illumination suffer from the disadvantage that they give rise to clouds of dense, acrid smoke, which as well as being trouble¬some, by causing coughing, also obstructs future viewing until air currents remove the smoke.

C. (l) Candles and Night Lights.

Once the main source of illumination for cavers, candles still hold a place in every caver's equipment. They are cheap, light, easy to use, float if dropped - into water, and have many other advantages which make them
a very suitable emergency light. They possess many of the features of the ideal lamp, but unfortunately, on the points where they fail to meet these requirements, they do so with a vengeance. Thus as everyone who has used them in a cave knows, they are easily blow out by draughts or falling water, and they do not give an exceptionally good light: but as an ordinary candle burns at the rate of over half an hour per inch in calm surroundings, they will last quite a times, when being carried around a cave however, the burning rate is considerably faster. ...

Despite these disadvantages however, they do, as already mentioned, have a very definite use as emergency light, route markers and re-lighting points for acetylene lamp users, after very wet sections, such as waterfall pitches or sumps. For the last two purposes night lights are preferable as they are sturdier and a single night light will last for about eight hours if left in draught free surroundings.

Long life candles lasting about 7 hours in still air, are also available (38).

C. (e) Paraffin Lamps.

Although paraffin lamps do fulfil several of the conditions required for the ideal lamp, their few points which are contrary to this ideal im¬mediately severely restrict their use underground. These leaps can be divided into two groups (i) liquid paraffin fuel and (ii) vaporized paraffin fuel, and each will be considered separately.

Liquid Paraffin Burning Lamps.

This class of lamp included the old oil lamp with the tall glass chimney, as used in houses before the advent of electricity, and the hurricane lamp. The former type is much too bulky and fragile to be worth considering - any¬one who managed to get one of them any distance down a cave without break-ing it would be doing very well indeed. The hurricane lamp, while still being bulky, is not so fragile, and will stand a considerable amount of knocking about, but it is a very poor source of light. It is, however, cheap to purchase initially, and cheap to run. A medium sized lamp with a 5/8" wick will burn for about two hundred hours on one gallon of paraffin, at a cost of 2/9d. This factor alone may recommend the lamp for cave use as a semi-permanent fixture where a very cheap, but by no means powerful, source of light is required.

Vaporized Paraffin Purriing; lamps.

These lamps have all the disadvantages of the hurricane lamp (bulky, heavy, etc.), plus the fact that as they use an incandescent mantle, they are even more susceptible to shock and water than the liquid paraffin burning type. They have, however, the very real advantage that they are a very good source of reasonably white light, as anyone will know who has used one. This type of lamp will be found in some of the less commercialised show caves, such as the Michelstown Caves, Ireland, where they are used by the guides to show the beauties of the cave to an admiring audience. This type of lamp may be, and sometimes is, used in what the Americans would call a "wild cave" for illuminating large chambers or particularly fine formations; they also have a limited use as a semi-permanent fixture for illumination of "digs". One further disadvantage of lamps burning vaporized paraffin, is that they require priming in the form preliminary heating before lighting. It must also be remembered that they cannot be used unless there is a reasonable ventilation; while this does not affect their use in a large chamber, it should, be borne in mind if it was used to light a "dig" in a restricted space.

Details of the vaporized paraffin lamps available are listed in the table below.

Lamp Dimensions Weight empty Duration Capacity Output Cost
  in inches lbs hours pints C.P. £.  s.  d.
Alladin (15)            
“Bialladin” 13.1/2          
Pressure X 4.1/2 11 1.3/4 300 4.  15.  -
Lantern 315. 6.1/4          
Tilley (16)            
“X 246 B” 3.1/2 x 7. 5. 12 1.1/2 300 4.  12.  6.
“FL6” 26 x 14.1/2          
  X 22.1/2 48 6 5,000 15.  7.  6.

A 12” reflector is available for the Tilley “X 246 B”.. Two stands, raising the “FL6” floodlight 8” of 5’ 8” (adjustable) above the ground, respectively, are available, but size, weight, and initial cost would rule this lamp out for most caving purposes.

Spare mantles for the lamps cost 2/6d. each.

C (f) Calor Gas Light.

Although coming nowhere near the ideal light source for caving purposes, the Calor Gas (17) "Streamlite" may have a place for any person or club having control of a cave and wishing to install floodlighting. The "StreamLite" has a light output of 630 foot candles, and will run for a total of 30 hours from a Mk. 10 gas cylinder. The cylinder and lamp, they are designed for use together, stand 2' 0" high and weigh 29 lbs., there is a hire charge of 22. 10s. 01. on the cylinder, and the gas costs 15/3-. The lamp itself costs 29. 0s. 6d.

C (g) Acetylene Lamps and Flares.

The author has no intention in this report of entering into the eternal argument of acetylene versus electric. Below are given a few facts and the choice is left to the reader.

The acetylene miners cap lamp is the more popular source of illumination on Mendip, and it will be found that these lamps are not as trouble¬some as expected, once you have used one a few times and learnt their idiosyncrasies. As with most things, they have to be looked after and it is most important that they are kept clean if one is to be given the best of service. The carbide chamber should be emptied immediately on it’s returning to the surface to prevent corrosion, and, although it is not usually required, a solvent for spent carbide is a solution of ammonium chloride. The felt filter pad should be cleaned after every trip and replaced as soon as it becomes hard.

When an acetylene lamp is being used underground the user must carry a jet brush or pricker with him for cleaning the jet, and it is advisable to carry a spare jet and rubber washer.

The advantages of the acetylene lamp are, its low purchase price and low running costs. One fill of carbide - usually 2.1/2 oz. - will last up to 6 hours under static conditions, though under caving conditions 4 hours is more of an average figure. Even this latter time gives about twenty five hours of light to the pound of carbide (cost 2/6 - 3/6d. per pound, unless bought in bulk) which shows that the acetylene lamp is the only practical source of light for very long underground trips, as an accumulator will only last about fifteen hours and a spare accumulator weighs about at 5 lbs. with a relatively high initial cost.

The disadvantages of acetylene lamps is that while they require quite a strong wind to put out the flame, they are very susceptible to water, and also have a habit of going cut if knocked hard. The lamp can only be protected from falling water to a certain extent by fixing a shield ever the top of the reflector. Another disadvantage, for some people, is the smell of acetylene when the lamp is not burning.

Apart from cap lamps, a number of acetylene hand lamps are available, and while they are too cumbersome for general caving, they are useful for illuminating ''digs", etc. A surprising amount of light can be obtained from an acetylene lamp, especially if the reflector is kept clean and periodically replaced.

Cap Lamps.

The nly cap-lamp, that appears to be currently available is the.-

PREMIER (18) (35).

Lamp No .65 (code word CAPA)

This lamp was the most commonly used, even before other makes disappeared from the market, and is most satisfactory. It stands 3.3/4" high; weighs 6 ozs.; takes 2.1/2 oz. charge of carbide; gives 12 candle power, and lasts about 4.1/2 hours. It is available generally with wire clips. Two kinds of flat back clips have been made, - narrow and wide - and lamps with these fittings are available by special order from the manufacturer, though this will extend the delivery period.

Hand Lamps.

The following hand lamps are available:-

Lamp & make Height Weight empty Charge of carbide Duration Output Cost
  Inches lbs.  ozs, ounces Hours C.P. £.  s.  d.
PREMIER (18)            
No. 67 (AKIE) 8.1/2 1.   10 6 8 – 10 20 1.  12.  6.
No. 61 (AKIN) 8.1/2 2.    6 10 10 – 12 20 1.  17.  6.
WOLF (19)            
No. 854 9.3/4 2.    7 8 10 – 12 20 1.   9.   -
No. 60 A 8.3/4 2.  14 9 10 – 12 25 2.   2.  3.
No. 60 AB 8.3/4 3.    3 9 10 – 12 50 3.   3.  9.
No. 60 AMPH 9.3/4 3.    4 9 10 – 12 50 3.   5.  6.


The PREMIER lamps No. 67 (“Cleveland”) and 61 (“King”) are made in steel, and use burners No. 110 and 105 respectively. The “Cleveland” has a large flat back clip and a flint and a wheel. The “King” has a hook on the bridle.

The WOLF No, 854 is made of tinned steel, with a 3.1/2” brass reflector above the body of the lamp, and a wire handle. No. 60A is also made is tinned steel but with a 5.1/2” reflector in the normal position. No. 60APH has a ‘milk pail’ handle instead of the hook of the 60A, and a bonneted reflector after the fashion of all cycle lamps.

Acetylene Flares.

Apparently, only one manufacturer now produces those. They would not be very useful underground because of their size, but might be useful on the surface, e.g. on a rescue.

ATOZ Flares.

Made of galvanised steel, they have parabolic chromium plated reflectors; extension pipes can be fitted to raise the reflector further. It is stated that the 1,000 c.p. model costs about 1. l/2d. per hour to run. Two models are available, from (20).


Size Approximate C.P. Tank Dimensions Carbide Charge Price
        £.     s.   d.
No. 1 1,000 28” high x 10” diameter 6. lbs 24.  10.  -
No. 2 2,500 31” high x 14” diameter 12. lbs 33.   -     -


C (h) Accumulator Powered Cap Lamps.

Contrary to the belief of most acetylene lamp users, these lamps are not as heavy and cumbersome as expected. When a person has used one of them for a few trips he soon gets into the habit of moving the accumulator into the most convenient position for a climb; but all the same their bulk and the cable running from the helmet to the back are at times a nuisance. While the initial cost of the lamps is high, their running cost is negligible, if one has ones own battery charger and power supply. They also have the advantage of giving a very good light and requiring very little maintenance, though it is necessary, as with all lamps, to keep them clean and checked. Perhaps the main disadvantage of this type of lamp is on very long trips, or when making a number of trips away from a power supply, because as already mentioned in the previous section, the capacity of most batteries is about 10 ampere-hours, giving a useful life of about 15 hours. It is possible however, to charge an accumulator lamp from a car battery, when away from home. For normal charging, Knibbs (xvi) describes the construction of a charging set. The method the author uses, however, is to reduce the output of a standard car battery charger by wiring a length of resistance wire (from an electric fire element) in series with the battery while charging. The appropriate current is obtained by adjusting the length of resistance wire in circuit and reading the ammeter incorporated in the charger.

There are two principle types of accumulator available for cap lamps, these are the lead-acid battery and the alkali-nickel. Each has its own characteristics, but of the two the latter is to be preferred because it is
very much more robust, both electrically and mechanically. An acid accumulator will be ruined by short circuiting or overcharging, but while it is not recommended, this treatment will do very little harm to an alkali battery.

Accumulator lamp sets, if purchased, new, are expensive; second hand supplies, generally ex-N.C.B., however are often available. Second hand alkaline accumulators can generally be purchased with confidence, giving 90% or better of their original capacity, in the author's experience, after refurbishing. Second hand acid accumulators however tend to be less reliable as their total life is about 2 years. Their capacity and age should, be checked, before purchase.

A further disadvantage of acid accumulators is that when not in regular use, they must be charged and discharged occasionally to avoid sulphating. Some authorities also recommend this treatment for alkaline cells, but it is not so vital in their case.

Second hand accumulators are often available from caving clubs, and through the “Exchange and Mart”: they may also be obtained from G.W.George (21) and R.Stewart (36).

A final general point is that, particularly after topping up a battery, any liquid spilt should be washed off and electrolyte should not be allowed to come in contact with clothes, skin, eyes, etc.

NIFE (22).

NC 113 G. This is a three cell alkaline battery with a steel case. The weight complete is 51b. 15oz. The case measurers 7.1/2" x 5" x 1.1/2", and the reflector is 3" in diameter. The duration on main beam is 10 hours, and the cost new is £3. 15. 0.; second hand £1 . - £2.

Some replacement parts are: -


Part No. Component Price
    s.   d.
67416 Steel vent, complete       11.
55146 Cell rubber jacket 2.    6.
70132 Cable reinforcing tube clip        3.
70133 Cable reinforcing tube        8.
70134 Cable, complete 10.  6.
70126 Fuse 1.    3.
70207 Armour plate glass 1.    9.
70208 Reflector washer for use with above        9.
70263 Reflector – standard 2.    3.
70289 Reflector – spot 2.    3.
70240 3.6 volt  1.0 amp. Main bulb 3.    0.
70242 4.0 volt  0.9 amp. Pilot bulb        5. +PT
- Electrolyte, liquid, type 3 – per pint. (specific gravity 1.160 – 1.2000) 13.  0.


The second hand lamp, when received, may need some attention, procedure is as follows:¬ -

To open the battery lid, remove the solder from around the head of the locking, nut with a small file. Remove the nut and turn the whole battery up side down, the spring and plunger will then fall out. If you then cut a groove in the head of the nut for a screwdriver, or drill through the bottom of the catch plate and replace the entire plunger assembly with a split pin. This will avoid using a spanner each time you open the lamp. Do not rely on just the catch without some sort of plunger though, as it will tend to open in use.

If the cell vents are the plastic type, replace them with the steel items. Clean up the cell tops and grease with Vaseline.

The electrolyte is a mixture of potassium hydroxide and lithium hydroxide in the ratio of 14:1. If the light dims when the battery is in¬verted, this is a sign that topping up is needed. Use distilled water and fill till the plates are just covered, over filling will cause spillage. The manufacturers used to recommend topping up with a weak electrolyte, but this is not so any longer.

The specific gravity of the electrolyte should be between 1.160 and 1.200; when it falls below this, the capacity of the battery will be reduced. The electrolyte should then be replaced. Discharge the battery, drain for not more than half an hour, do not wash out with water, refill with the manufacturers electrolyte.

To open the headpiece, remove the locking screw on the bezel; this is superfluous for caving use. To remove the cable, undo the gland nut. Avoid touching the reflector. If necessary, clean it with a soft cloth or camel hair brush, do not use metal polish.

Charge the lamp at 1.75 amps, for 3 hours, or 16 hours after electro¬lyte renewal. Charging for too long is unlikely to damage the battery it will merely bubble off more gas, causing some loss of electrolyte.

As the battery will continue giving off gas for some while after charging, keep it upright for a few hours. It is best to slacken off the vents during charging, as this prevents a gas pressure building up.


The Patterson Company is, or was, a subsidiary of Fife Batteries Ltd. and the lamps should be treated as "Nife" lamps.


These items are no longer manufactured, but the details below are given as some are still about.

The A5 battery is a two cell, 2.4 volt model, weigh's 41b. 4oz., should be charged for 8 hours at 1.5 amps, after discharge and gives 11 hours light.

The A7 battery is a three cell, 3.6 volt model, weigh's 6lb. 8oz., should be charged for 8 hours at 1-75 amps'., and gives 12 hours light.

Both batteries have a stainless steel case, and two headpieces are available; a Bakelite one having a 3.75 volt. 1.0 amp. double filament krypton bulb; and a stainless steel headpiece fitted, with a 3.6 volt. 1.0 amp. single filament krypton bulb. A pilot emergency bulb could be fitted to the latter.

The electrolyte 24% potassium hydroxide; should, be maintained between a specific gravity of 1.17 and 1.23 in the battery. Topping up should be done with electrolyte diluted with distilled water to a specific gravity of 1.020. If however, the electrolyte in the battery becomes too strong, dis¬tilled water should be used until the specific gravity falls to within the above limits.

The electrolyte should be renewed when the battery is received and then every 13 months. This should be done while the cell is discharged. Empty the battery and wash out with tap water several times. Do not leave the battery standing for any length of time empty or with tap water in it. Fill with electrolyte of specific gravity 1.20 - 1.21. Charge the battery at 1.75 amps, for 12 hours.

A few general tips:-
A flickering light could be due to the bulb being loose in the socket, in which case, bent up the contacts, or to dirty bulb contacts or dirty/ worn switch contacts. If cleaning these does not help, look for a short circuit.

Leaking electrolyte can be caused by perished stopper sealing washers, battery sealing pad, or terminal bushes or cracked ebonite bushes under the battery terminals. As spares are apparently no longer available, a little ingenuity would be required to remedy these faults.


The "Concordia" lamps used to be -manufactured by the company now known as Transformers (Vales) Ltd. They are no longer made but some of the lamps re still in use.

Two and three cell models have been made. The charging rate should be 2 amps until the voltage on charge of the batteries reaches 1.3 volts per cell. This appears to take about 8 hours (or longer after electrolyte renewal).

The electrolyte is a potassium hydroxide and lithium hydroxide mixture. The specific gravity of the electrolyte in the battery should be maintained between 1.18 and 1.23 after use by topping up with dilute electrolyte or distilled water, as necessary. The electrolyte should be replaced when the electrolyte falls below 1.18. This should be done when the battery is discharged: empty and wash out the cells ad refill with an electrolyte mixture of specific gravity 1.19 - 1.20. The cells should be done individually, as it is harmful to expose the plates to air for longer than necessary. The lamps should be totally discharged every three months, and given a long (10 - 12 hours) charge at the normal rate.

The batteries should be allowed, to bubble freely for about an hour and a half after charging, and the headlamp should not be switched on luring this time. The lamp top should be removed when the lamp is out of service for more than a day.


These lamps are now out of production.

The model "L" lamp, is a three cell alkaline, battery in a steel case, with a Bakelite headpiece. The headpiece contains a rotary switch. The-weight is 51b. and the duration 10 hours. The charging rate is 10 hours at 2.0 amps. Two bulbs can be used, either a 3.6 volt 1 .0/0.5-amp or-3.75 volt 1.0/1.0 amp. type.

The electro magnetic case lock has to be modified and some lamps have no switches when received! ex-N.C.B. The electrolyte is a mixture of 25% potassium hydroxide and 1.5% lithium hydroxide. The specific gravity should be between 1.16 and 1.25 and the level is 11/16” above the plates.

SAFT (23)

Portable Miners Lamp Typo 3VR10.

The author has never seen this French made lamp in use; however, from the details below it will be seen that if a second hand source could be located, it would compare favourably with other makes. 

Weight 3.3/3lb. complete.
Dimensions of Battery 3.1/4” x 42 X 1.1/2”.
Battery Three cylindrical sealed Cadmium Nickel “Voltabloc” VR10 in moulded case.
Duration Over 10 hours on main bulb, or 20 hours on pilot bulb.
Output Main beam 180 lux. At six feet.
Charging Charge at 5 volts, final charging current being 800 milliamps. after nine hours use the battery will be charged in 15 hours.An "individual" automatic charger is available.
Price New £18


This is a two cell, four volt, lead acid battery. It is non spill able and has a hard rubber case. The main bulb is 4 volt 1 amp., and the pilot bulb is 4 volt 0.46 amp. The duration on main beam, when new, is 12 hours, but the second hand lamp may only last about 10 hours. If the lamp lasts less than 9 hours it is unreliable, and should not be used (Richardson (xv)).

The new lamp, together with an individual automatic charger and a “Tools and Spares Kit” costs £12. 6. 6.

A full range of spares is available from the manufacturers. A brief list of which is shown below.

Oldhams  Component Price
Code No.    s. d.
2.001.21. Lens ring, Black.
(White, red, yellow and blue available, same price). 
3. 1
2.001.31. Headpiece glass (clear). 1. 5.
2.014.27. Diffused reflector - Non focussing. 2. -.
2.025.27. Soft beam reflector - Men focussing. 2. -.
6.174.04.  Soft beam reflector focussing kit.
(For conversion from non focussing.
5. 9.
2.024-55  Soft beam reflector - Focussing.
(For replacement only).
4. 9.
6.174-02  Specular reflector - Focussing kit.
(For conversion from non focussing).
 5. 9.
2.023.55  Specular reflector - Focussing.
(For replacement only).
4. 3.


Charging and Maintenance.

    1. Topping up. This should be done with distilled water (NEVER BATTERY ACID). Remove filler cap in the front of the battery case and pour in the distilled water through the filler holes exposed. A syringe is useful here. The correct level is found by tilting the battery forward 10 degrees.
    2. Do not let the battery stand in a discharged condition when not in use.
    3. Charging. If the manufacturers automatic equipment is in use this presents no problem. Otherwise, charge at 0.3 amps. for a length of time20% in excess of the time that the lamp was used.
    4. To remove the battery top the nut in the side must be undone. A small pair of round nosed pliers are suitable. A groove cut in the top of the screw will enable an ordinary screwdriver to be used in future.


CgL2 Cap Lamp.

This is a two cell lead acid battery of 10 amp. hour capacity. The battery container, which is also the cell wall, is of hard moulded rubber. The lamp top will fit any standard battery. The headpiece is available with semi-matt, or fully polished reflector, and is fitted with a toggle switch. The main bulb is rated at 4 volt 1 amp., and the pilot bulb at 4 volt 0.8amp.

The battery should be charged at an initial voltage of 5 volts, which at no time during the charging should be allowed to exceed 3.05 volts. Experience will no doubt enable the user to determine the appro¬priate amperage. Charging takes about ten hours. Top up frequently with distilled water only. This should be done during the actual charging, through the vent plug in the side of the battery. The level should just cover the plates. Care should be taken to avoid spilling the electrolyte.

If there is a leakage of acid from the vent plug in the side of the lamp, check the fitting of the plug ande sealing rubber, and the level of the electrolyte.

To remove the lamp top, prise out the sealing wax from the locking screw. Unscrew this and pull off the locking piece. The lamp top can now be removed. To remove a blown fuse (which is fastened to the lamp top) undo the two screws which secure it.

To open the headpiece the wax must be removed from the locking screw, unscrewing this then enables the bezel to be removed. If the reflector (anodised aluminium) is dirty, wash in warm soapy water and dry with a soft cloth. Do not use abrasives etc. When assembling, ensure that the reflector notches are located on the headpiece mouldings.


Now out of production, the following details of the Concordia Type F lamp are given for completeness.

The basic battery is an "Exide" battery which is topped up through the vent in the side of the casing, as with other lead, acid lamps. The charging rate is 1.5 amps, for 10 hours.

There is a magnetic locking device op the headpiece which would have to be replaced with some form of grub screw. The external charging term¬inals, a brass button on the case top (+ ve.) and the case top itself (-ve.) are best disconnected from the battery as they tend to short out under water (Johnson (xxi)).

C. (i) Dry Battery Powered Cap Lamps.

These lamps are used to a limited extent for caving but they have, the disadvantage met with in all dry battery equipment - high running costs. The general arrangement is a headpiece which has an adjustable strap for fixing round the head, and a cable leading to the battery container carried in the pocket, or on a belt.

"EVER READY'" produce a well made battery powered cap lamp which sells at about 30/-. Three U2 batteries are used in series with an 0.5 amp. pre-focus bulb to give a very powerful beam. The lamp can be fitted either to the battery case, or the head band supplied. The battery case has a belt clip, button loop, carrying handle and stand, all of which fold or slide away independently of each other when not in use The battery case has an internal clip, for carrying a spare bulb (one is supplied) and takes the spare flex to the head lamp. The lamp is well designed, but it would be difficult to fasten the lamp to a caving helmet satisfactorily and it is not as robust as a damp designed for miners.

The same damp is also sold under the trade names "BEREC" and "EXIDE".

The "G.E.C." and "WOLF" lamps mentioned in the first edition of this report are no longer available.

"PIFCO" manufacture a similar lamp: to the "EVER READY" model above, taking four U2 batteries; and cap damps taking the small flat 4.1/2 -volt batteries are available at some camping shops. Neither of these appear to be very robust.

C. (j) Battery Powered Hand Lamps.

Ordinary torches come in this category and these of course need no introduction. They are often used by the "novice" cavers as they are eas¬ily acquired and therefore the initial cost is small. Although useful as an emergency source of light the ordinary torch is not very convenient because it is frail, cannot be fitted to a helmet and the running costs are high. In another article (vii) the author of this report (first edit¬ion) describes experiments he performed, to determine the lengths of use¬ful life of a number of batteries when run continually and using a 3-5 volt 0.3 amp. bulb. A summary of the results are given here.

“Ever Ready” Battery Catalogue No. Type of Battery Useful Life in Hours
800 Cycle front lamp 7 – 7.1/2.
2 x U2 in series Cycle rear lamp 6 – 6.1/2.
2 x 1839 “Baby” battery 1.1/2 – 2.
No. 8 “Bijoux” battery 1
1289 4.1/2 volt pocket battery 2.1/2 – 3.
126 4.1/2 volt bell battery 3 – 8.1/2.

Both the "Ever Ready" and the "Vidor" companies produce water proof torches using two or three U2 batteries and of the two, .he latter is to be preferred as the water proofing is better. These torches will operate completely submerged in water, and being rubber cased will stand up to a certain amount of rough treatment. A Japanese made rubber torch is also available, but one owned by the author soon developed a faulty switch.

Although dry batteries do not deteriorate electrically by being submerged in water, they definitely do deteriorate mechanically and multi-cell batteries tend to fall apart. "Leak proof" batteries encased in metal are worth the extra cost for the more robust batteries.

There are several heavy industrial torches on the market which are made for use in inflammable atmospheres and are therefore watertight. They are however heavy, but very robust. The makes that are known to the author are given below. Prices are exclusive of batteries.


Made from heavy gauge solid drawn copper tube, chromium plated, the torches are fitted with armour plated clear glass and screw/press button switches. Spare parts, are available from the manufacturers and dimensions and prices of the three models are given in the table on the following page.

Model Length Head Body No. of Cells Price  
  Overall Diameter Diameter   £.  s.  d. +PT
PB2 8” 2.3/8” 1.1/2” 2 1  17  6 6/2
PB3 10.1/4” 2.3/8” 1.1/2” 3 1  19  6 6/5
td Mines Pattern            
PB2M 8” 2.3/8” 1.1/2” 2 2   2   - Nil
PB3M 10.1/4” 2.3/8” 1.1/2” 3 2   3   6 Nil
td Anti Explosive            
A.E.T. 11” 2.3/8” 1.1/2” 3 3   2   6 Nil

Mines pattern torches incorporate a locking device.

The Anti-explosive torch has a grill over the glass.

OLDHAM. (10)

TD3A. Safety Torch.

This also has armoured glass protected by a grill, press/screw button switch, and weighs 21b. 4oz. complete. There is a shock protector between the 3.5 volt 0.3 amp. bulb and the cells. Made in die-cast alloy, it has a cell retaining tube for easy removal of corroded batteries. Fitted with locking device. Earlier models in brass without a cell re¬taining tube are available from some ex-Government stores, e.g. (41).

CEAG (24)

3-Cell Universal Torch.

The solid drawn brass body is 12” long overall, the diameter of the body being 1.1/2” and the head 2.1/2”. The reflector is aluminised and focusable. The switch is of the press/screw button variety.

Price £3. 8s. 0d.


SA 6060 safety Torch.

A cast aluminium alloy body 10.1/4" x 3.1/4"; weighing, with batter¬ies 1lb. 14oz.; is fitted with armour plated glass protected by a grill; has an interior battery container. The torch takes three U2 cells.

Price £2. 5s. 01.

SA 622 Safety Torch.

The body of this torch is injection moulded in high density Polyethylene. The dimensions are 10.3/3"' x 3" and the weight, with batteries 1lb. 2oz. The torch is packed with 43 spare seals, key, and instructions.

Price £1. 17s. 4d.

A full range of spares is available for both these torches.

The author did, on one occasion, find a divers torch at the bottom of the "Forty Foot" in Swildons, presumably dropped by someone, although extremely robust, I should think that the person who dropped it was glad to have done so because it was extremely heavy, although it was only powered by three U2. batteries.

There are various large dry battery powered hand lamps on the market, designed largely for motorists' use. Although their size and weight rules them out for normal caving purposes, the good beam they give could be use¬ful on occasions. The "Ever Ready" range is tabled below.

Model and Price



Reflector Diameter



“Space Beacon”

7.1/2 x 5.3/4” 8” excluding wire handle

Cylindrical, pivots on base.  Dome light and reflector



6 volt

Round spotlight 5.5v  0.3amp

“Space Beam”

£1.  3.  3.

8.11/16 x 4.3/4” x 6.1/4” overall

Rectangular battery box, reflector pivots on handle


As above

Pre-focus 4. 75v  0.5amp

“Space Ray”

8.7/8 x 4/3/4” x



As above

As above

£1.  15.  -.

6.1/4” overall





One further type of lamp coning in this category, is, the accumulator powered hand lamp as produced for use in mines and other inflammable atmospheres, or where at high power, portable, light source is required. They are heavy and cumbersome, but could be put to use where a good light is required at one place, e.g. a "dig".

NIFE. (22)

These are alkaline batteries.

NH 10 A

Made of steel; weight 41b. (approx.); dimensions 2.3/4" x 4.1/4" x 5.1/2" excluding handle. Rectangular battery box; screw switch; focusing device. Give ten hours of light with a 0.75 amp bulb.

Price £4. 19s. 0d.

Hand Lamps NB 07 and NH 113.

Similar in appearance to the NH 113 cap lamp, these lamps have short cables and suitcase type handles. Both have krypton filled main bulbs and emergency pilot bulbs. Other details are given in the table below.

  NH 07 NH 113
Weight 5lb.   40z. 5lb.   11oz.
Dimensions 8.1/2” x 1.1/2” x 8” 8.1/2” x 1.1/2” x 9”
Duration  7 hours 10 hours
Price £7.  15s.  0d. £8.  15s.  0d.

Searchlight S 6.

This -lamp has a rectangular battery box with the reflector built into the case. Its dimensions are 7.1/2" x 5.5/3" x 3.1/2", and the weight is 131b. A very powerful beam, designed to be equivalent to a motor car headlamp, is given by the 18 watt dual filament bulb (3.0/ 0.5 amp.). The: duration of the lamp is 3 - 4 hours on main beam or 20 hours on reserve. On an alternative bulb (l.0/l.0amp) the duration is 9-10 hours. The six cell, 6-8 volt, 11 amp. hour battery should be charged at 1 .5 amp for 12 hours. The lamp is operated by a push button switch.

Price new £19. -. -.

Floodlight Set FL 6.

The battery is housed in a welded steel container size 13.1/4” x 12” x 11” into which a lamp standard also packs, when not in use. The unit gives 6 hours of light with a 24 watt bulb, and 18 and 38 watt bulb are also available. An even spread of light is given by the lamp on a standard which can be raised to 5’ 6” in height. The total weight is 42lb.

Price new £24. 19. -

CEAQ. (24)

2 - Volt Inspection Lamp.

The cylindrical battery case is made entirely of non-ferrous mater¬ials. Including the handle the height is 3.1/2" and the diameter 3.1/2”. The reflector casing is on the side. The total weight is 51b. 8oz. 4 2 volt 1.3 amp bulb is used. The lamp switches by rotating the top.
The electrolyte is non-spill Jellac Acid, the charging rate being 1,5 amps, for 8 hours.

Price, new £6. 16. -.

C. (k) Other Cells.

So far we have considered mainly the conventional dry batteries and miner's accumulators of the acid and alkaline types. There are on the market several other types of cell suitable for lighting sets, such as the "Voltabloc" cells used in the SAFE miner's damp, and consideration of these and other types of primary and secondary cells is given below.

The main .disadvantage of most of these cells seem to be their cost, but some comfort can be drawn for the fact that the prices have in some cases come down! The general advantage of the cells lies in their great¬er output per unit of weight. This of course results is smaller batteries and/or longer life. Some average figures quoted by one manufacturer, may be of interest:-

Lead - Acid 10 AH/lb.  18-20 WH/lb.
Nickel - Iron alkaline  10 AH/lb. 12 - 13 WH/lb.
Silver - Zinc  40 AH/lb. 50 - 60 WH/lb. '

DEAC Cells. (26)

These are permanently sealed Nickel - Cadmium accumulators.


The cells should not be discharged below 1 volt, especially when mounted in batteries. The cells should not be discharged continuously at more than ten times the average 10hr. discharge rate (I10)(20 times for cells with sintered electrodes).


The charging voltages are listed under. 1.4 times the capacity taken out must be replaced. Permissible occasional overcharge rates are: -

Up to 24 Hours with I10

Up to 48 Hours with 1/2I10

Up to 100 Hours with 1/3I10

The last rate has no immediate ill effect, but should be avoided. Similarly, when charging with constant current (i.e. normally) the rate 'of I10 amps, should not be exceeded. If a 'tapering' current is used, the starting rate may be 1.2 x I10, but at the end should not be greater than I10. If the state of discharge is unknown, charge for 12 hours only at I10 and then after a rest period, give a normal 11 hour charge.

The cells should not be mounted in parallel but may (except for the 20 DK and 50 DK) be mounted in series to form a battery. The manufactur¬ers will supply cells mounted in battery cases and this should avoid contact troubles. Soldering should be avoided, as should copper contacts


Although the manufacturer states that these are suitable for torches their small capacity must limit their usefulness. All but the 20 and 50 DK are suitable for mounting in batteries.

The full range of standard button cells is shown in the table below.


Some of .these cells correspond to standard dry battery sizes and the corresponding "Ever Ready" size is given where appropriate in the table below.

Type   20DK 50DK 100DK 150DK 225DK 450DK 1000DK 2000DK 3000DK
Capacity - 10 hr.  rate Milli amp hrs 20 50 100 150 225 450 1000 2000 3000
Discharge current 10hr. rate Milli amps 2 5 10 15 22 45 100 200 300
Average discharge voltage – 10hr. rate Volts 1.22 1.24
Cut-off voltage – 10hr. rate Volts 1.10
Charging rate (14hr. charge) Milli amps 2 5 10 15 22 45 100 200 300
Charging voltage Volts From 1.35 to 1.50
Cell weight Grams 1.1 3.5 9.0 11.0 12.5 33.0 57.0 95.0 135..0
Ozs 0.04 0.12 0.31 0.38 0.44 1.2 1.9 3.3 4.7
Dimensions in mm Diam. 11.4 15.5 - - 25.0 - - 43.0 - - 50.3 - -
Height 5.1 5.85 6.1 6.6 8.6 7.6 10.0 18.0 25.0
Dimensions in inches Diam. 0.45 0.62 - - 1.0 - - 1.7 - - 2.0 - -
height 0.20 0.23 0.24 0.26 0.34 0.30 0.40 0.64 1.0
Price   4/9 3/6 3/11 4/2 4/9 7/5 12/9 22/3 28/8


Type 450D 900D 151D 451D BD2.5
Capacity – 10hr. rate Milli ampere hours 450 900 150 450 2000
Discharge current rate Milli amperes 45 90 15 45 200
Average discharge voltage – 10hr. rate Volts 1.20
Cut-off voltage 10hr. rate Volts 1.10
Long term discharge rate – maximum Milli amperes 450 900 150 450 2000
Charging current (at 10hr. rate) Milli amperes 45 90 15 45 200
Charging voltage Volts From 1.35 to 1.50
Cell weight Grams 23 40 12 23 150
Ounces 0.80 1.4 0.42 0.80 5.2
Dimensions in millimetres Diameter 13.5 13.5 12 13.5 34
Height 50 50 29 50 62
Dimensions in inches Diameter 0.53 0.53 0.46 0.53 1.3
Height 1.9 3.5 1.1 1.9 2.4
“Ever Ready” size    - - - D23 U7 U2
Price   10/9 13/9 15/6 10/11 29/8



These cells should also be operated in an upright position normally. The 3/SD. batteries have solder tags; the other individual cells being fitted with screw terminals. The sintered plate design permits a higher current drain.

Technical data is shown in the table below.

Type SD1.6 SD2.6 SD4 SD7 SD15 3/SD1.6 3/SD2.6
Capacity – 10hr. rate Milli ampere hours 1.6 2.6 4 7 15 1.6 2.6
Discharge current rate Milli amperes 0.16 0.26 0.40 0.70 1.5 0.16 0.26
Average discharge voltage – 10hr. rate Volts 1.24 3.7
Cut-off voltage 10hr. rate Volts 1.10 3.3
Charging current (at 14hr. rate) Milli amperes 0.16 0.26 0.40 0.70 1.5 0.16 0.26
Charging voltage Volts From 1.35 to 1.45 From 4 to 4.35
Cell weight Grams 115 180 260 360 715 360 570
Ounces 5.25 6.3 9.1 12 26 12 20
Dimensions in millimetres Length 16.8 16.8 24.2 38.2 77 52 52
Width 41.2 30 43 43
Height over terminals 65.7 102 115 67.5 110
Dimensions in inches Length 0.66 0.66 0.95 1.5 3 2.2 2.2
Width 1.6 1.2 1.7 1.7
Height over terminals 2.6 4 4.5 2.6 4.3
Price   31/5 35/11 47/2 72/8 120/2 99/6 114/6

VOLTABLOCK Cells. (23) ;

These are stated by the manufacturer to be suitable for use in torches. Cells may be combined in series to form batteries. The cells are completely sealed, requiring no maintenance and the electrolyte is Potash. The rated voltage of the cells is 1.2 volts, and they may be discharged steadily at rates up to C. amps. (C = the nominal capacity in amp. hrs.). The cells are rechargeable. The rates are given with the cell data in the following table. They may be stored indefinitely and have good charge retention, but for the best results, discharge slowly to 1 volt per cell, and store in a cool place.

Type VO1 VO2.5 V04 VO4US VO9 VO9LM VO12LM
Nominal capacity.  C. # 0.8 2.7 3.8 4.4 9.9 11 13.2
Dimensions in millimetres Depth 8.6 20 15.3 16 15.3 32.7 32.7
Width 42 45 60 60 92 44.2 39.2
Height overall 76 69 76.4 73.3 104 115.5 152.5
Dimensions in inches Depth 0.3 7.8 6 6.2 6 12.7 12.7
Width 1.6 1.8 2.4 2.4 3.6 1.7 1.5
Height overall 0.3 2.7 2.3 2.4 2.3 5 5
Weight in grams   50 150 170 190 390 450 560
Weight in ounces   1.7 5.2 6 6.6 13.6 16.5 19.6
Container   Nylon Steel
Price       47/3   69/6  

# These nominal capacities are obtained when discharging fully charged cells at the 5 hour rate down to 1.1 volt final voltage.


Venner manufacture a wide range of Silver-zink accumulators. Extremely small and light, these cells have a rectangular perspex case, and for caving, would probably need to be enclosed in a battery box, although they are shock and vibration proof. The manufacturers state that they are suitable for portable lighting equipment, and the range of operating temper¬atures easily covers our requirements. They are supplied empty with the electrolyte in a separate container. Filling instructions are given.

The nominal voltage is 1.5 volts, and the charging rate C/10 (where C - the nominal capacity). The cell is fully charged when its voltage, while charging, reaches 2.10 volts.

Information on some of the individual cells is given in the table below.

Characteristics. Cell Type
   H075. H105- H4. H705. H10.
ELECTRICAL. td   td   td   td   td   td  
Nominal capacity (Ah). 0-75 1 «5   4 ,7*5  i :10
Maximum rate for            
complete dis charge (Amps). 1-75 4-5   10 ¦12 20
APPLICATION DATA             -  
at 20 °C.                
Discharge rate (amps). 0.75 1.4 0.4 4 0-75 5 1 5
Discharge time (Mins)o 53 60 128 80 600 90 640 131
td PHYSICAL.                
Weight .      (grms). 21.3 31.9 106 128 192
Height (overall)  (mms) 39 51 82 75 81
Width.                  ( " ) 28.5 28.5 42 52.5 57
Depth.                  ( " ) 14 16 20.5 21 27
Weight.               (ozs) 0.76 1.1 3.7 4.5


Height (overall) (lns) 1-5 2 3.2 2.9 3-2
Width.                 ( " ) 1.1 1.1 1.6 2.1 2*2
Depth.                 ( " ) 0.5 0.6 0.8 0.8


PRICE. 18/3 19/9 33/- 59/6 49/6

In addition to these, Venner make other Silver-zimk cells of up to 60 amp. hr. capacity, at a price of £7.15. 0.

Also manufactured is a Silver-cadmium accumulator (CD 5); nominal capacity 5 amp. hrs.; charging rate 0.5 amps.; duration at discharge rate of 1 amp. is 330 minutes; weight 121 grams.

Price: £2. 3. 6.


These cells are normally sold mounted in batteries. The standard batteries are 2 – 10. VO1., VO4., VO4US. ,or VO9. cells Information on the individual cells are given below in the table.

Charging. * .

Fully discharged cells should be charged for 16-18 hours at the following rates. The duration of charging at this rate should be suitably reduced for partially discharging cells.

Type V01 . V02.5 V04. VG4 US V09. V09 LM. V012 LM
Rate. M.A. 75 250 350 400 900 1 Amp 1.2 Amp

If the state of discharge is unknown, the cells may be permanently charged at a current of C/50, fully discharged cells will take about 80 hour at this rate.


These cells are designed as far as possible to be interchangeable with standard dry batteries. All except the VR1-RR. therefore have a cover with a central boss. The cell cover is +ve. and the container -ve.

The container is made of nickel plated steel.


The cells should be charged at a rate of C/10 for 15-16 hours, and at this rate, can withstand considerable overcharging (up to 200 hours), it is thus possible to recharge cells whose state of discharge is unknown at this rate. Alternatively, fully discharged cells' may be re re-charged at a rate of C/5 for 7 hours.

Type Format RatedCapacity # Weight Dimensions Equivalent type ofprimary cell Price
Grams Ozs. Height Diameter
          mm ins mm ins
VRO45 AA 0.45 23 0.8 50 1.9 14.6 0.6 U12/D14/U7 19/9
VRO65 ½ C 0.65 36 1.3 25 0.87 26 1.0    
VR1 RR 1 47 1.6 41 1.6 22.8 0.9   23/-
VR1.6 C 1.6 72 2.5 49 1.9 26 1.0 U11/LPU11/HP11 28/6
VR3 Dm 3 124 4.3 61 2.3 32 1.2 U2/LPU2/HP2 37/-
VR3.5 D 3.5 144 5.1 61 2.3 34 1.3 U2/LPU2/HP2 41/-
VR5 Fm 5 195 6.8 91 3.5 32 1.2   50/-
VR6 F 6 229 7.2 91 3.5 34 1.3   56/3

# the rated capacity C is for discharge at the 5 – hour rate at a temperature of about +20O C after normal charge for a final voltage of 1.1 volts.

All the cells are fitted with a cover with central boss, except the VR1 – RR which has a flat cover. The following cells can also be supplied with a flat cover on request: -

VR3 – Dm, VR3.5 – D, VR5 – Fm and VR6 – F. In this case the overall height of these cells in 3mm less. The diameters are given for cells covered with an insulating sheath.


Although the supplier states that these cells are suitable for torches, their small capacity must limit their usefulness in this direction.

The cells can be supplied in batteries of up to 20 cells. The output terminals should not be used for supporting or fixing the battery, and soldering should not be made direct to the cell itself.


The cells must be charged at constant current. Fully discharged cells should be charged at the C/10 rate for 15 - 18 hours. If a cell is part¬ially discharged, it may be charged at the above rate provided that the time is reduced. In this case the charge replaced should be approximately 1.5 times that withdrawn. If the state of discharge is unknown, it can be recharged at the C/10 rate provided that it has been discharged at a current of C down to a terminal voltage of 1 volt. Alternatively, the cell may be overcharged at a rate of C/50, but the cell will only regain 70% of its full charge at this rate.

Type Rated Capacity (mAh) Weight Dimensions Price
    Gr. Ozs. Thickness Diameter  
        mm. ins. mm. ins.  
VB10S. 90 6.5 0.2 5.2 0.2 22.7 0.9 3/10
VB18S. 200 11 0.3 7.4 0.3 24.8 1 4/6
VB25S• 275 16.5 0.5 5.2 0.2 34.4 1.3 4/6
VB50S• 550 28.5 1.0 9.45 0.4 34.4 1.3 7/-
VB100 900 64 2.2 8.3 0.3 50.5 2 13/-
VB200 1750 100 3.5 14.90 0.6 50.7 2 20/6

The rated capacity is for discharge at the 5 hour rate at a temperature of about + 20°C, af"cer normal charge and for a terminal voltage of 1 '1 V.


Manufactured by Vidor Ltd. (28), these cells are stated (xiv) to have improved output characteristics over standard dry cells. At present however, only two Kalium cells are available, which although suitable for use in torches, are rather too small for general use. The initial voltage of the cells is 1 .3 volts as opposed to the 1 .5 volts of the normal Leclanche dry cell.

Number Description Dimensions Dis.     Length Price.
V107 Penlight. •555"x 1 .985" 3/3
VI09 Half Weight Penlight •555"x 1" 2/6

The above table gives details of the two cells.


These cells are available from (30).


These are primary cells i.e. they are not rechargable, they have the advantage though that they last three to five times as long as ord¬inary dry batteries. They also have 2 years storage life and are of leak proof construction. The nominal voltage is 1 .5 volts and they are inter¬changeable with standard batteries (Ever Ready U2 etc.).

Mallory Type No. Corresponding "Ever Ready" Battery Size. Capacity Ah. Price.
Mn1300 U2 10,000 7/-
Mn1400 U11 5,000 4/9
Mn1500 U7 1 ,800 2/9
Mn2400 U16 750 2/4
Mn9100 D23 580 1/10

It will be seen that these batteries are at the moment more expensive to use than ordinary batteries. However, if considerations of weight and space are important, and there is no source of power available for accum¬ulators (vis. on an expedition), these batteries could well be very useful.


A wide range of Mercury cells (these are also primary cells) is also manufactured, but these are designed for much smaller current drains than would be required for lighting a bulb. Some of the largest only are dis¬cussed here.

Mercury cells have a very high ratio of energy to volume and weight (3-4 times that of a conventional, cell), uniform discharge character¬istics, similar to those of a secondary cell, strong construction, long shelf life and reliability

They are designed to be connected in series to form a battery, and the normal voltage is 1.35 volts per cell.
Some of the types available are:-


Cell Type No :- RM.1R RM.502R RM.4R RM.12R RM.42R
Capacity MAh 1000 2400 3400 3600 14000
Max Current Drain M Amps 100 200 80 250 1000
Dimensions in   mm Dia. 15.75 13.47 30.22 15.8 30.18
Height 16.38 49.61 16.51 49.61 60.3
Dimensions in ins. Dia. .6 .5 1 .2 .0 1.2
Height .6 1.9 .6 1.9 2.3
Weight G-ms. 12.2 29.77 42.52 39.69 165.89
ozs. .9 1.0 1.4 1.4 6.4
Price. 2/9 4/6 6/- 5/9 24/-

These cells would doubtless be very useful for emergency radio equipment or other communication devices, but for general lighting purp¬oses would be much too expensive. The RM.42R for instance, approximates in size to an ordinary U2.

Mallory also manufacture a range of Silver oxide batteries for use in Planar transistor devices. Dalforso (xvii) discusses further the technical nature of Mallory cells«


Ever Ready also manufacture ranges of conventional, sealed Manganese and Mercury batteries.

Sealed batteries are recommended rather than standard types because of their greater strength and corrosion resistance. Their sealed Manganese batteries (sold as "High Powered") they claim, last twice as long in torches than ordinary batteries, giving brighter light. Prices for their Mercury batteries are about the same as Mallory, but as they do not cover so wide a range as the latter, no details are given here.

Cat. No Price Typical use Dimensions (inches)
U2 -/8 Torches 1.11/32 - 2.13/32
U7 -/7 Torches 9/16 - 1.63/64
D14 -/4 Torches 9/16 - 1.63/64
U11 -/5 Torches 1.1/32 - 1.31/32
8 -/7 Torches (3 volt) 27/32 - 2.29/32
U16 -/5 Torches 13/32 - 1.3/4
U10 -/5 Torches 51/64 - 2.19/64
72 1/2 Torches 9/16 - 3.31/32
126 3/- Bells (4.1/2 volt) 4.1/16 1.3/8 3.7/16
481 12/6 Lamps (4.1/2 volt) 4.7/16 2.19/32 6.1/2
800 1/6 Cycle lamp (3 volt) 2.11/16 1.7/16 3.3/16
996 4/- Hand lamp (6 volt) 2.21/32 2.21/32 4
1289 1/3 Pocket lamp (4.1/2 volt) 2.7/16 7/8 2.5/8
1839 -/10 Torches (3 volt) 1.1/32 - 3.15/16
1915 -/8 Torches (3 volt) 9/16 - 3.11/32
D20 -/7 Hearing aids 37/64 - 63/64
D22 1/2 Hearing aids 13/32 - 1.3/4
D23 -/9 Hearing aids 15/32 - 1.3/16
LP U2 -/10 Torches 1.11/32 - 2.13/32
LP U11 -/11 Torches 1.1/32 - 1.31/32
HP2 1/6 Torches 1.11/32 - 2.13/32
HP11 1/3 Torches 1.1/32 - 1.31/32
HP16 1/- Torches 13/32 - 1.3/4


Many of these cells could usefully be applied to caving purposes; the Voltablock YR series, Venner, and Manganese batteries particularly. Some of the secondary cells must be charged at constant current, and the proper equipment is needed to do this. The button type cells however, generally do not have the capacity required, though they might be use¬ful for a supplementary or emergency light.

(C) (1) Bulbs.

The standard ranges of torch bulbs are too well known to need dis¬cussion here. The bulbs used in most accumulator sets however, are Krypton filled. These are 20% more efficient than ordinary bulbs, thus giving more light for no increase in drain on the battery. The range of Osram (30) miners bulbs is given in the table on the next page.


For use in Volts Amps Shape Dimensions Cap Finish Price
Dia. mm O/L length mm
Hand lamps # 2.5 1.75 Pear 18 ±2 43.5 ±2 953 $ Pearl 3/-
Hand lamps # 2.5 1.75 Pear 18 ±2 45.5 ±2 S.E.S Pearl 3/-
Cap lamps 3.6 1.0 Round 18 ±1 30.5 ±1 M.E.S. Clear 2/6
Cap lamps 3.75 1.0 & 1.0 Pear 18 ±2 40 ±2 S.B.C Clear 3/6
Cap lamps 4.0 0.8 Round 18 ±1 30.5 ±1 M.E.S. Clear 2/6
Hand lamps 4.0 1.0 Pear 18 ±2 43.5 ±2 S.E.S. Pearl 3/-
Cap lamps 4.0 1.0 Round 18 ±1 30.5 ±1 M.E.S Clear 3/-

# These bulbs have fuses in the caps.
$ Special S.C.C. Made in accordance with B.S. 535 where applicable.


For use in Volts Amps Shape Dimensions Cap Finish Price
Dia. mm O/L length mm
Cap lamps 2.5 0.75 Round 15 ±1 27.5 ±1.5 M.E.S Clear 2/-

C . (m) Making an Electric Lighting Set.

Having given the details of separate batteries and bulbs available, it seems only logical to make some recommendations for assembling them into a working unit, especially as inefficient home made sets cam be positiv¬ely dangerous.

First the battery box. The purpose of this is to protect the batteries, and provide a terminal point for the lead. It should be as small as possible, strong, easily opened, but not liable to open accidentally, rustproof, and perfectly waterproof.

The flex should be a heavy duty cab lay type, and should be protected from chaffing by a grommet, wherever it passes through a hole in the battery box or lamp. The wire should be soldered firmly, either direct to the terminals, or to tags which are themselves screwed to the terminals. The terminal should never take any strain from the cable, and to avoid this, pass it through a hole and knot it, or hold it by a clamp, near to the terminal.

The lamp itself is difficult to make and these may be bought separately from the accumulator manufacturers. If you wish to make your own, the simplest way is probably to modify a cycle front lamp.

In this case the lamp may be removed from the battery box without distorting, by drilling through the small spot-welds (usually five) with a small bit. The terminals must then be made so that they are properly insulated, and protected from accidental damage. The glass should be re¬placed, preferably with armoured glass, or alternatively with plastic. The surface of the plastic will soon be badly scoured and it will need regular replacing, but ordinary glass will be broken even sooner.

If the lamp is to be fastened to the helmet rigidly, it must point in the proper direction - downwards - and the mounting: must be designed to do this. It should also project as little as possible from the helmet, or it will be too cumbersome.

Toggle type switches are seldom satisfactory for long, as there is no way of preventing water and dirt from entering. A screw down arrangement will probably last longer, and even a simple crocodile clip can be used. The author has tried using two switches in parallel, one acting as an emergency switch. The result looked rather like something from science fiction, but it worked. Plugs in the system are probably best avoided, suitable heavy duty ones can be obtained, but they are cumbersome, heavy and expensive.

One other point worth remembering, when connecting N cells of cap¬acity C. and voltage V in series to form a battery, then:-Nominal Voltage of battery - V.N. Nominal Capacity of battery = C. Whether your system is home made or bought, do not forget to dry it out, grease the terminals after use, and always check it the day before you want to use it.



For personal lighting no lamp is ideal, each having its advantages under different circumstances. No purpose would therefore be served by recommending one type rather than another. Nor should it be necessary to emphasise the need, whatever the lamp, for proper care and maintenance. No equipment will give reliable service for long, under caving conditions, without some attention.

High powered light sources are sometimes needed for such occasions as surface lighting on a night rescue, filming, digs, etc.. Though it is not claimed that the lamps mentioned in the text are necessarily suit¬able for such purposes, several high powered sources have been included to show what is actually available in this line. A brief resume of these lamps, in the order mentioned in the text, is given below:-

Paraffin Vapour Lamps and Flares.
Calor Gas.
Acetylene Flares.
Accumulator powered Hand Lamps
and Flood Lights.


The author would like to record his thanks to the persons who have helped in various ways with the compilation of this report. These in¬clude all the firms mentioned in the report who supplied information and answered innumerable questions about their products, and also a large number of other firms who were contacted, only to find that they did not mention products in which the report was concerned. Of the firms, acknowledgements go particularly to Thomas Townsend Ltd., and Helmets Ltd., who sent free samples of their products so that the report could be as complete, as possible. Finally, the author wishes to thank the British Standards Institution for permission to quote the paragraph about helmets made from non-waterproof materials from their Specifications.2095 and 2826.

In revising this report, the present author adds his thanks, particularly to the previous, editor Mr. B.M. Ellis, for his comments, and to the production team.



(i) H.A.Bamber. “Cave Science" Vol.3.No.21. pp 228-234.
(ii) British Standards Specification 2095:1954.
(iii) British Standards Specification 2826:1957.
(iv) J.Pegram. "Westminster Speleological Group Bulletin11 Vol.1 .No.38, pp-2-3.
(v) "MOT" "British Caver" Vol.23. 1952. page 41.
(vi) P.Polson. "Exploring American Caves" page 76.
(vii) B.M.Ellis. "Westminster Speleological Group Bulletin" Vol.2.No.3. pp 2-3.
(viii) Petroleum (Carbide of Calcium) Order 1929.
(ix) Post Office Guide.
(x) Southern National Omnibus'Co. Ltd., Regulations and Conditions. Section 18.
(xi) Western National Omnibus Co. Ltd., Regulations and Conditions. Section 18.
(xii) Bristol Omnibus Co. Ltd., Regulations and Conditions. Section 10.
(xiii) A.Cumming and J.Horn. "Journal of Applied Chemistry" Vol.1 . pp 198-202.
(xiv) A.J.Knibbs. "Lighting Miscellany", "Mendip Caving Gi-oup Journal" No.2.1960. pp 28-62.
(xv) D.T.Richardson. "Lighting Equipment & Care & Maintenance" "White Rose Pothole Club Journal" Vol.1. December, 1961. pp 48-63.
(xvi) A.J.Knibbs. "An Accumulator Charging Set", "Mendip Caving Group Journal" No.3. 1962. pp 52-58.
(xvii) J.L.Dalfonso. "Miniaturisation and the Primary Cell" "Electrical Manufacture” (March, 1962).
(xviii) D.Kemp. "Nife Cells", "South Wales Caving Club News¬letter" No.45- (December,- 1 963 ).
(xix) R.Johnson. "Edison Overhaul", "White Rose Pothole Club Journal" Vol.2. Section 1. (June, 1964). pp 25-28.
(xx) A.D.Benn. "Ceag Do's and Don'ts", "Bradford Pothole Club Journal" Vol.4.
(xxi) R. Johnson. "Exide Concordia Lead Acid Lamp", "White Rose Pothole Club Newsletter" No.45. (September, 1964) pp 6 – 9.
(xxii) R.J.Staynings. "Edison Safety Lamps", Wessex Gave Club Journal. No-.102. Vol.8. (July, 1965) PP 271-272.
(xxiii) J .Church. "The Nickel Iron Accumulator11 -, Wessex Cave Club Journal No.103. Vol.8. (October,.. 1965) PP 321-323.


HanwortheAir Park, Feltham, Middlesex.

Thetford, Norfolk.

Moat Factory, Wheathampstead, St. Albans, Herts.

Marlborough Street, Liverpool, 3«

High Level Factory, Gateshead, 8.

32, Great Pultney Street, Golden Square, London, W.1.

South Wharf, London, W.2.

300, Gray's Inn Road, London, W.C.I.

5, Great James Street, London, W.C»1«

Denton, Manchester.

Queenslie Industrial EastatGlasgow E.3.

(i) Mitcham, Surrey.
(ii) Howes Road, Newfoundland Road, Bristol.
(iii) 46 other depots.

Holrnethorpe Avenue, Redhill, Surrey.

Davis Road, Chessington, Surrey.

Alladin Building, Greenford, Middlesex. (Do not supply direct to the public).

Dunmufry, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

178-202, Great Portland Street, London, W»1.

Pleco Works, Barras Garth Road, Leeds, 12.

Saxon Road Works, Sheffield, 8.

Sagma House, 23, Princes Gate, London, S.W.7.

The Oaks, Rettendon Common, Chelmsford, Essex.

Union Street, Redditch, Worcs.

Spedant Works, Park Royal Road, London, N.W.10.

Queens Road, Barnsley, Yorkshire.

Mellngriffith Works, Whitchurch, Cardiff.

Elmbridge Works, Island Farm Av., West Molesey Trading Estate, East Molesey, Surrey.

Kingston By-Pass, New Maiden, Surrey.

Vidor House, Petts Wood, Kent.

Gatwick Road, Crawley, Surrey. (Do not supply to the public).

Coronation Road, Park Royal, London, N.W.10.

(i). Sales Office:- Lena Gardens, Hammersmith, London, W.6.
(ii). Distribution Depot (London) :- East Lane, Wembley, Middlesex.
(iii). Distribution Depot (Bristol) :- Victoria Street, Bristol.

Spa Lane, Derby.

41-43, East Dulwich Road, London, S.E.22.

Coronation Road, Park Royal, London, N.W.10.

Midsomer Norton, Bath.

132, Barnwood Road, Gloucester.

20, Dock Street, London, E.1.

38) Camping Equipment Manufacturers,
20-24, Gray's Inn Road, London, W.C.1.

39) Ships Chandlers,
20, Brood Quay, Bristol, 1.

40) Photographic Dealers,
127, New Bond Street, London, W.1.

41) Ex. Government Stores,
62-64, Hampstead Road, London, N.W.1.

2, Park Street, London, W.1.

49, High Holborn, London, W.C.1.



Summary of the British Standards Specifications 2095 & 2826. (42).

The two Specifications dealing with safety helmets are the B.S.S. 2095: 1954 and B.S.S.2826s 1957, the former being for light-duty helmets and the latter for heavy-duty. While the compilers of these two Specifications did not have caving in mind when they were drawing up these Specifications they do give a good indication of the strength of helmets used, as all helmets available on the market are sold primarily as in¬dustrial safety helmets, or as mining helmets.

Common to both Specifications is the paragraph already quoted in the introduction to the section on Helmets, regarding the importance of maintaining the waterproof coating on helmets that are made of non-water proof materials. Then follows details regarding the construction of the helmet, the finish, and the construction of the head cradle. A table of helmet sizes and the circumference inside the headband is also given.

(i) British Standard Specification 2095 for Industrial Safety Helmets (Light Duty)
For evidence of compliance with the Standard, it is necessary for ten helmets to be taken at random and submitted to the following tests. If all the helmets pass, then the Standard has been complied with. If any of the helmets fail the tests, then a second random batch of ten shall be taken, and if one of this second batch fails, then the Standard has not been complied with.

(a) Proof Test for Resistance to Moisture.
The helmet is continuously wetted at room temperature for four hours and then tested for mechanical strength.
(b) Proof Test for Mechanical Strength.
The helmet is placed on a wooden block in the shape of a head, on top of which has been placed a five inch disk of white paper, and then a four inch diameter disk of carbon typing paper with the carbon facing the white paper. After settling the helmet on the block by means of a 25 lb. weight, an 8 lb. iron sphere is allowed to fall 3'6" on to the centre of the crown. There must be no marking on the white paper caused by the helmet touching the carbon paper,
(c) Proof Test for Inflammability.
After applying a 1/2" gas flame to the end of a 1/2" wide strip of the helmet material for 10 seconds, the material must not burn faster than 3" per minute.

(ii) British Standard Specification 2826 for Industrial Safety Helmets (Heavy Duty)
The method of sampling is similar to that for B.S.S. 2095 except that no one helmet is expected to pass more than one of the following tests.

(a) Shock Absorption Test.

Sample helmets are set up as for the mechanical strength tests of B.S.S. 2095, after being prepared in one of the following ways: -

(i) Four hours at 18° - 22° P. (-7.8° to -5.6° C.)
(ii) Four hours at 118° - 122° P. (47.8° to 50° C.)
(iii). Four hours continuous wetting at room temperature.

An 8 lb. iron sphere is then dropped from 5'0" onto the centre of the crown of the helmet, and afterwards the amount of shock transmitted to the wooden "head" block must not exceed a certain amount (measured by
the indentation made on a strip of aluminium of definite hardness), nor must any part of the helmet be found to be broken.
(b) Penetration Test.
A plumb-bob with a steel point of inclined angle of 30 and a maximum/point radius of 0.02" must not penetrate the helmet by more than 3/8" (this measurement includes the thickness of the helmet) after being, dropped vertically through a height of ten feet.
(c) Inflammability Test.
This is exactly the same as that specified in B.S.S. 2095.


Legal Aspects and Dangers of Acetylene and Calcium Carbide.

Acetylene, being so highly inflammable a gas, gives rise to a number of legal points, and these are applied to Calcium Carbide due to the ease with which it will generate Acetylene gas.-

Storage of Calcium Carbide (viii); obtainable from (43).

(a) Up to 5 lbs. weight of carbide may be kept, provided it is kept in separate hermetically sealed metal containers holding not more than 1 lb. each. Each container must be labelled "Carbide of Calcium" "Danger¬ous if not kept dry", together with the caution "The contents of this package are liable if brought into contact with moisture to give off a hjghly inflammable gas".

(b) Up to 20 lbs. of carbide may be stored, provided the following conditions are observed:-

1) The carbide shall be kept only in a metal vessel or vessels hermetically closed at all times when the carbide is not actually being placed in or withdrawn from such vessel or vessels.
2) The vessels containing carbide shall be kept in a dry and well ventilated place„
3) Due precautions shall be taken to prevent unauthorised persons from having access to the carbide.
4) Notice of such keeping shall be given to the Local Authority.
5) The vessels are labelled as in (a) above.

Transporting Calcium Carbide.

Due to the potential danger of Calcium Carbide, there are regulations forbidding its presence at certain places. Thus, it is not permissible to send carbide through the post (ix), and some 'bus companies forbid pass¬engers from carrying it on their busses, e.g„ (x), (xi), and (xii).

While on this subject, it would be as well to mention that some 'busses forbid the carrying of accumulators, e.g. (xii), while others will only convey them on certain conditions being fulfilled, such as their being in a proper carrier and being placed on the floor of the 'bus, e.g. (x), and (xi).

Danger of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from use of Carbide Lamps.

Cumming and Horn (xiii) have shown that there is a danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.' from Carbide Lamps in an enclosed space. They have shown that two Acetylene lamps burning with "two inch flames (the maximum that would normally be used) in an unventilated volume of 1,000 cubic feet, are likely to produce a large enough concentration of Carbon Mon¬oxide after a period of eight hours, to cause death if exposed to the atmosphere for two hours. While these: conditions will not be met with on ordinary caving trips, the necessary circumstances could occur during a long session of digging in a confined space; obviously the smaller the space, the quicker the danger will arise. Provided there is sufficient ventilation to keep the percentage of Oxygen in the atmosphere above 17% there appears to be no danger, however long one is working.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning will cause deep breathing, dizziness or fainting, on exertion, and most important of all, it will cause a sudden failure of ones sense of judgement.


Tankard Hole, Priddy

Location and Access:

The cave entrance is at the bottom of a shakehole, 30 yards south of the road from Hillgrove to the Hunt­ers' Lodge Inn and 1,000 yards from the latter.  The National Grid Reference is ST/556499.

The cave was locked for several years with keys held by various members of the Bristol Exploration Club and the Wessex Cave Club.  At present the shaft and the cave immediately beyond, are in a dangerous condition.  In 1960 it was decided to put in a new shaft but the owner of the land, the late Mr. A. Dors, asked for work to cease as he was negotiating the sale of the land in which the ent­rance lies.  It was intended to build a new entrance shaft when ownership of the land was settled, but then there was no support for the re-opening of the cave.   At the moment it will still be possible to re-enter the cave, climbing between a few car chassis, with half a days work by half a dozen men.  The cave would then be locked and keys would be held by members of the B.E.C. and W.C.C.

THIS IS NOT A CAVE FOR NOVICES.  Total passage length is approximately 540 feet, the main passage being about 280 feet, and the total depth is 160 to 170 feet.  To reach the final dig a thirty feet rope is required.

History of the Exploration:    

Various cavers, including P. Stewart in 194-7, had dug in the depression without success before Wessex Cave Club members started their attempt in 1955-M.  Grimmer, R.E. Lawder and M. Winnicks (all of W.C.C.) commenced digging during the August Bank Holiday.

5 Aug. 1955.     F.J. Davies opened a hole in the side of the shaft and the first chamber was soon entered.  The boulder ruckle was penetrated for twenty feet.

7 Aug. 1955.     F.J. Davies and M. Grimmer tidied up the route and started to follow the solid wall.  The way on was blocked by rocks.

13 Aug. 1955.     D. Ford, P. Davies and M. Lane broke up the rocks and reached a gravel floor seventy feet below the entrance.

Further trips by P. Davies and others during 1955 failed to make any further progress.  By May 1956 the entrance was blocked by a fall of earth and three hours digging were required to re-open the cave.

The initial enthusiasm had waned and members of the B.E.C., after the end of Fairman's Folly dig, offered their help.

24 Jun. 1956.   E.L. Jenkins, B.E. Prewer, A. Rich and R.D. Stenner re-opened the cave after a further fall of earth.

25 Jun. 1956.  A. Rich and R.D. Stenner used a rope to haul out boulders, thereby removing two squeezes.  There was nearly a bad accident when a moving boulder pinned one of the party and in getting him out the rock fell and blocked the way on.

30 Jun. 1956.     Miss D. Pairman, L. Dixon, B.S. Prewer, A. Rich and R.D. Stenner removed the rock and entered Horror Chamber. 7 Jul. 1956.  P. Davies, A. Pincham, M. Grimmer, A. Rich and R.D. Stenner found a way on to the south of Horror Chamber but abandoned it after two near accidents.

14 Jul. 1956.  A. Rich and R.D. Stenner dug at the north-east corner of Horror Chamber.

22 Oct. 1956.  N. Brooks, M. Ilies, A. Rich and R.D. Stenner found that the shoring near the entrance had fallen.  The passage at the south end of Horror Chamber was forced by Rich and a light connection made between there and the passage at the north-east corner of Horror Chamber.

Detailed Description  the Cave:    

First of all a lot has been said about the instability of the cave and its bad reput­ation has been spread largely  by people who have never been in the cave.  Original exploration in a boulder ruckle can never be anything but potentially dangerous and every mishap took place on exploratory visits.  The route to the bottom of the cave, as surveyed, is safe provided that common sense is used.  It is imp­ortant not to wander off the "beaten track" in the same way that it is not advisable to wander around at the head of Arête Pitch in St. Cuthbert's Swallet.

The cave is most easily divided into vertical sections.  Just beyond the entrance shaft is a short, steep passage having an unsupported roof of mud and stones.  A squeeze at the end of this passage leads into the first boulder chamber and a slide over mud leads to the first main section of the cave.

The first main section, from 20 feet to 70 feet below the surface, is largely vertical.  The obvious route spirals down following the same highly fluted wall and at forty feet is a rock that was roped up in 1955.  The rock must weigh at least one hundredweight but it is easy to avoid touching it.  To the south of the route several chambers can be seen which are unstable in varying degrees. This section of the cave ends in an easily climbed pitch called Rotted Rope Pitch after the hemp rope that hung there for nearly five years.  Evidence of an old dripstone flow can be seen; previously extensive, it has been eroded away except for the odd square inch or two in protected positions.  Originally the floor was of well washed gravel - in wet weather there is a heavy drip in Rotted Rope Pitch - but a considerable amount of mud has been walked in.  Pieces of highly fluted rock have fallen in places making a strange contrast with the vertical fluting

The next section, from 70 feet to 120 feet below the entrance drops at about 45° and is generally fairly solid with several tight squeezes.  At eighty feet the way on is an awkward but solid squeeze under a boulder pile, above which is a large space through the boulders but this should not be used.  Good fossils are exposed in places and they are especially fine at 120 feet.  The floor is usually gravel and stones.  Climbing up a little a fair sized chamber, which is dangerous, is reached but it is not necessary to enter it as a very muddy passage on the right leads down into a boulder chamber known as Horror Chamber.

The final section of the cave is reached at Horror Chamber and here are more eroded remains of dripstone formations - a flow, straws and curtains; there is also a mud flow on the wall and some small mud stalagmites.  Under the north-west wall a hole leads down into another small chamber that has an incoming stream passage but water is only seen under very wet conditions, the water dropping into a very narrow rift and re-appearing in the unsurveyed cave below.  Another passage, the deepest so far surveyed, also gave a light connection with the cave underneath.  In the roof is a connection with the northern corner of Horror Chamber and also with the chamber above Horror Chamber - all are unstable.  At the top of Horror Chamber is a hole in loose boul­ders dropping at about 45° and leading to a passage, and through two more squeezes, to the final chamber.  A rope must be used because it is necessary to reduce any disturbing force to a minimum.  A large passage can be seen underneath but this has not been entered and great care will be needed when it is.

The Survey:     

The survey was made by R.D. Stenner and P. Miller, with help from K. Robins and D. Dolan, and required five trips totalling 21½ hours.  The instruments used were a prismatic compass and a clinometer, both of them checked before and after use, thus giving a Cave Research Group Grade V survey.  However, the nature of the cave and the large number of short survey legs that were needed - fifty legs in 265 feet of main passage surveyed means that the accuracy will be less than that usually expected from a Grade V survey.

Great difficulty was found in putting the results of the survey on paper in an intelligible form.  The C.R.G. suggestions were followed as far as possible but the result is still not clear.  It was finally decided to use a plan and two projections.  An extended section would have been meaningless.

The passage from Horror Chamber to the final dig was not surveyed.

(Editor's Note: Unfortunately the cost of reproducing the plan so that it showed all the detail given on the original, was prohibitive.  It has been necessary to omit some of the finer detail in the plan given on the following page.)

Other Work done in the Cave.  Details that may be of use to a geologist have been noted and a few black and white photographs have been taken for record purposes.

R.D. Stenner May 1961.



Alfie's Hole, Priddy

Location and Access:

The cave is situated in the same field as Hunters'Alfie’s Hole is in the depression in that field adjacent to the wall bordering the Rookham road, opposite the farm entrance.   Access by asking the landlord of the Inn for permission to descend.

N.G.R. of Entrance:   



800 feet.

Total Passage Length:

Approximately 20 feet at present


About twenty feet below the shoring (not counting the rift which is about ten feet deeper, but is now temporarily blocked by boulders).

Tackle Required:    

55 feetBelay to the top of the shoring.  This is to prevent climbing down the rocks which are loose lower down.   The last ten feet are vertical.

Historical Account of Work Done:   

Severe rains early in August 1956 led to the filling up of this depression one night with S.J. Collins happened to be visiting Hunters' Hole the next day and noted that the water had drained away and left a subsidence about three feet square and three feet deep.

Digging started on Monday, 15th August and a hole was uncov­ered by the Wednesday.  On the Thursday Collins descended, followed by A. Thomas and "Spike" Rees, and looked around the cave below, probing about looking for a way on.  On the Friday S.J. Collins and R.D. Stenner uncovered the hole leading to the rift, and the former went down.  Unfortunately this led to a tight bedding plane going up to the other half of the swallet and shows the floor of the chamber to be composed of a tight mass of small boulders.  The cave remained perfectly clean and free of mud until rain came on the following Saturday.  It has been muddy ever since.

Several trips have been made since this time (a total of 25) to bang large boulders and clear small ones, but without a really concerted effort there does not seem to be any chance of getting through the boulders.  The cave has been semi-abandoned since the last trip on 50th March, 1959, but it might still pay further investigation.

Description of the Cave:    

The shaft leads through the roof of the chamber, which appears to be the upper part of a large aven, almost entirely filled with smallIn places, quite long bars can be inserted into crevices between the boulders on the floor.   At one place the rift can be entered and this enables one to get about ten feet below the level of the floor.  The boulders continue as far as can be seen.  It is unfortunate that this cave, situated between Hunters' Hole and Tankard Hole, seems to possess the worst features of both.  The vertical development is present, but whereas Hunters' is clear of boulders and Tankard contains rocks large enough to cave between, Alfie's Hole contains rocks just too big to lift out easily and too small to cave between.  It is doubtful whether the swallet has ever been a true stream entrance; it more likely drained flood water.  There are strong vertical groovings in the chamber.


Cave Research Group Grade 1 sketches of the cave are given below.


By S. J. Collins

Hunters' Hole, Priddy.


Location and Access:     The cave will be found at the bottom of a depression from which a tree is growing, in the field immediately to the south of the Hunters' Lodge Inn, Priddy.  Permission to enter the cave must be obtained from the landlord of the Inn; a charge of one shilling per caver is made.

National Grid Reference of Entrance:     ST/549501.

Altitude of Entrance:              810 feet.

Total Passage Length:            700 feet.

Maximum Depth Reached:    165 feet.

Tackle Required: ENTRANCE SHAFT   50ft rope (optional)
  LEDGE PITCH 15ft ladder & karabiner; 60 ft lifeline
  MAIN PITCH  35ft ladder & karabiner; 60ft lifeline OR 100ft lifeline and pulley; 20ft belay
  ROVER POT 20ft rope


The entrance shaft was started in 1951 by members of the Wessex Cave Club and the Cambridge University Mountaineering Club under the leadership of Peter Harvey.   At the end of a few days the shaft had been dug to a depth of about twenty feet but as no cave had been found it was semi-abandoned.  Some time later, Alan Thomas became interested in the dig and when he transferred his "allegiance" from the Wessex Cave Club to the Bristol Exploration Club the dig became one of the latter club.  The next concerted effort was made during the summer of 1954 and in the autumn of that year entry was made into the cave.

Since the cave was originally entered, digging has been carried out at the bottom of the Railway Tunnel and by the end of 1960 a passage fifty feet long had been dug through clay and sand but only giving access to ten feet of side passage.  Another dig is in progress in the bottom of Dear's Ideal.

The only significant discovery made in the cave since it was opened has been the clearing of the entrance to Sanctimonious Passage luring July 1958.


The Upper Series.     On arriving at the depression in which the cave is situated it will be found that there is a square of barbed wire marking the top of the shaft and inside there is a miscellaneous collection of corrugated iron and wood covering the top of the pitch.  Removal of this covering reveals an open shaft dug through clay and the presence of a number of boulders sticking out from the side enable one to climb down.  However, the use of a fixed rope, or a ladder, belayed to one of the railway lines laid across the top of the shaft will make the ascent and descent considerably easier.

From the bottom of the shaft there is a low passage that leads in three feet to the top of LEDGE PITCH.  Before going through the squeeze one end of a fifteen foot ladder should be belayed to a crowbar wedged behind two boulders at the back of the small chamber.  Although the pitch is only short, a lifeline should be used because of the exposure (see Figure II) and a sixty feet long rope enables the last man to be lifelined from the ledge.  At the bottom of the ladder me climbs down the rock to the left of the ladder to a ledge of jammed boulders.  To the left of the ladder there is a passage having a loose boulder floor that in ten feet leads back to the main pot.  This is known as SAGO'S POT and was once used as the route to the LOWER SERIES but one is now very strongly advised to stay away from it due to the boulders being very unstable.  From the other end of the ledge there is an aven that can be climbed to within fifteen feet of the surface.

To the west of the jammed boulders is a ledge sloping downwards .nto the main pot and it is necessary to traverse this ledge to reach ;he top of the MAIN PITCH.  On the far side of the ledge will be found two "Rawlbolts", one in the floor to which the ladder can be belayed and the other in the wall to which the person life-lining the party down the pitch can be belayed.  The only other passage in the UPPER SERIES leads from the back of this ledge for a distance of thirty feet then closes down amongst boulders.

The Lower Series.     A thirty five feet ladder is required from the ledge together with a lifeline, preferably one hundred feet long as it is easier to use a double lifeline once the first man is down.  There are a number of loose stones lying around on the ledge and it is inadvisable to have anyone moving on the ledge while there is anyone on, or at the bottom of, the ladder.  At the bottom of the pitch one reaches a large passage known as the RAILWAY TUNNEL, which is eighty feet long and twenty feet wide and at the lower end there is a dig continuing for a further fifty feet.  On the left hand side of the RAILWAY TUNNEL, about half way down, there is a low passage that drops into a tight squeeze leading to a small chamber known as DEAR'S IDEAL.  There is a further dig continuing at the lowest point of this chamber.

The Mud Series.     This lies up the cave from the bottom of the ladder/ that is, in the opposite direction to the RAILWAY TUNNEL.  A low passage, followed by a short flat-out crawl, leads to a comparatively large chamber which is forty feet by twenty feet.  Over half of the floor of this chamber is covered with mud and is the only part of the cave that does not have a boulder strewn floor.  There is a rift in the roof running the complete length of the chamber and at least twenty five feet high in places.  A squeeze between boulders in the top right-hand corner of the chamber leads to another small chamber from which there is a small passage that eventually becomes too tight.  Before this point is reached a chimney leads upwards, opening out aft fifteen feet and giving access to three avens.  The highest of these leads to within twenty feet of the surface.

Sanctimonious Passage.     This is the only known side passage of the system and starts from a small ledge eight feet above the floor and sixteen feet down the cave from the bottom of the MAIN PITCH.   The climb to this ledge should be made carefully because there are still a number of loose rocks around the ledge and the boulders are covered with mud.  A squeeze at the back of the ledge leads to a boulder floored passage which ends after fourteen feet but on the left hand side a second squeeze leads to the top of a nine feet deep drop.  This pot is easily climbed and from the bottom a low passage continues.  This reaches a small chamber from which are two more passages, the higher leading to a small grotto and the lower to the top of ROVER POT.  This pot is twenty feet deep and can be climbed fairly easily, but the use of a short rope or ladder, belayed to a convenient spur of rock a few feet down the pot, makes the climb considerably easier.  There is a passage from the bottom of the pot but it is blocked by a stalagmite barrier after twenty feet.  The end of this passage is the lowest point reached in the cave, 165 feet below the entrance.  Note: A description of Sanctimonious Passage and of its discovery will be found in the "Belfry Bulletin" (the monthly Journal of the Bristol Exploration Club) number 127 (August 1958).


Surveying.  The measurements taken in the cave were made to the standard recommended by the Cave Research Group for a Grade V survey, as follows.  The instruments used were a hand held prismatic compass, a simple clinometer and steel measuring tapes.    The compass and compass card errors were determined before the survey was made.  The former was found to be zero and the latter not greater than       in any quadrant; this was ignored.

The cave survey was carried out in the usual manner; that is a line survey was made with off-sets to the passage walls at approximate points and at least at every fifteen links, i.e. at approximately ten feet intervals.  Tripods were not used but each survey point was marked by a post or candle and readings were taken from the top of each candle or post.  Measurements of length were made using a six foot steel rule, and for longer distances a 331/2 feet steel tape marked in links; measurements were made to the nearest three inches or half link (3.92 inches).  For the benefit of those who scorned the use of a steel tape on a magnetic survey because of inaccuracies, the effect of the tape on the compass was investigated and it was found that the complete 33/2 feet of tape had to be within three inches of the compass to cause a one degree deflection.  The clinometer is shown in Figure 1 and consisted of a protractor and a weighted pointer fixed to an aluminium sighting tube seven inches long and having cross-wires and a pinhole.   Readings of slope were always taken until at least two consecutive readings were identical; in practice it was never necess­ary to take more than four readings to fulfil this condition.  Heights up to twelve feet were measured and above that, estimated, except in the case of the avens which were climbed, and the ladder pitches.


Figure 1 The Clinometer.

Calculations.     A slide rule end three figure trigonometrical tables were used for all calculations; these being regarded as sufficiently accurate because at the scale chosen, survey stations could only be plotted to the nearest six inches.

Plotting        For clarity the Entrance Shaft has not been shown on the plan (only the position of the top of the shaft) nor has the boulder strewn floor been shown on either the plan or the section of the Lower Series; except where a mud covered floor is shown, it is boulder covered.  Insets, at a larger scale, have been used to show details of the avens at the northern end of the cave, and of the grotto in Sanctimonious Passage.

With a simple system such as Hunters' Hole, there is little, if anything, to be gained from drawing a section of the cave pro­jected on to a specific plane, as apart from the Main Pot, there are no passages at a higher level to others that need to be shown in their correct position to one another.  An extended section has been used, therefore; that is, a section has been drawn along the major direction of each passage and this results in the relation of any passage to another, horizontally, being completely diagramatic.  For example, the avens at the northern end of the cave are shown as being only forty feet from the Entrance Shaft while a glance at the plan will show that in fact they are one hundred feet away.  The main disadvantage of using this type of section is that it does not show the exposure ex­perienced on Ledge Pitch.  This is shown better in Figure II where a section of the pot projected on to a plane of N. 43° W. has been used.

As there is no closed traverse in the cave, no check on the accuracy of the survey could be made.  However, from the instru­ments that were used, and the care that was taken over the readings taken in the cave, it is felt that the survey is of an accuracy expected of a C.R.G. Grading of Five.  It should be remembered, though, that the copy of the survey reproduced here has been made using a duplicating stencil and therefore some accuracy may have been lost.


FIGURE II.  Section of the Main Pot projected on N. 43O W.







The assistance given on the survey by Messrs. A. Cochran, CP. Falshaw, I.A. Dear and B.W. Sneddon is gratefully acknowledged by the author.

B.M. Ellis. March 1961.

Vole Hole, Priddy

Location:     An abandoned dig 200 feet east of the road from the Hunters' Lodge Inn to Miners' Arms, and 350 yards from the former.

N.G.R. of Entrance:      ST/549505.

Description:     The dig consisted of a shaft approximately ten feet deep reaching a horizontal bedding plane six inches high. There was no sign of the plane enlarging and as there appeared to be no likelihood of entering a cave system the shaft was filled in.

Historical:      During Whitsun 1957, Mr. Ben Dors of the Hunters' Lodge Inn told members of the B.E.C. about a subsidence that had occurred in one of his fields. S.J. Collins organised a digging party and in a burst of enthusiasm they sank a yard square shaft for eight feet.     Air spaces were reached.

Digging was spasmodic and the mud sides were weakened by rain and by October 1957 the shaft had collapsed burying the digging gear.  In November shoring enabled the gear to be rec­overed but this second shaft suffered the same fate as the first.

In April 1958 a third shaft was started by S.J. Collins and Miss J. Rollason and good shoring was placed in position.     Dig­ging continued in July in an attempt to find some sign of enlargement in the bedding plane cave that had been entered.     The dig was abandoned on 31st August 1958 and then filled in.

References:    "Belfry Bulletin" Nos. 114, 119, 124, 125, 127 and 129.

R.D. Stenner. August 1961.

Vee Swallet, Harptree

Location and Access:     Vee Swallet is located 800 yards due north of the Castle of Comfort Inn and about 150 yards east of the Hunters' Lodge Inn to West HarptreeThe swallet is sit­uated on land belonging to Vompitt Farm and the owner's permission should first be obtained.

N.G.R. of Entrance:    ST/544538.

Altitude:    910 feet.

Passage Length:    Approx. 25 feet.

Depth:   15 feet.

Historical:      Digging started in 1955 by C.A. Marriott and B.M.It has been sporadic ever since due to lack of support, etc.

Description:  The swallet is quite large, some twenty five feet deep, with two well defined gullies cut in its sides – hence the name, "Vee".  Water drains from the marshy fieldThe swallet is one of a line of fifteen or twenty other swallets that includes the Devil's Punchbowl.

A short vertical shaft, eight feet deep, was excavated down between two solid rock walls into a small chamber about six feet high.     A very low passage approximately fifteen feet long leads off from the floor of the chamber; digging is continuing in a sand and gravel choke at the end of this passage.

Geology:       To confound the, "Oh! but the limestone is overlain with dolomitic conglomerate on that side of Mendip", experts, it is worth noting that the entire cave, except the floor of the final passage, is formed in loose Rhaetic. Some flints have also been found in the small passage.

C.A. Marriott. July 1961.


Fairman's Folly, Chewton Mendip

This was a dig in the north-east corner of a field close to the Miners' Arms, Priddy.  The position is shown in the map on the following page.  The National Grid Reference is ST/551527.

The dig was worked as a "personal" one by Miss D. Fairman and A. Rich.  A shaft thirty feet deep was excavated - this has since collapsed.   A natural rift in limestone was opened, but it was not entered.

After enquiries, Mr Rich was sent by Lord Waldegrave to the lessee of the land and at the same time was given permission to dig.  The field has many mining depressions, but two were of special interest.  The depression marked No. 1 on the map was very deep and took a stream, and depression No. 2 which was not quite so deep but which also took a stream.  (Another, more recent, shakehole - No. 3 - was found by accident and was con­sidered of interest because of the draught of air that came out from it).

Digging took place in No. 1 depression during January 1956.  This depression was thought to have been used for washing ore.  The water was followed but it was found to flow horizon­tally just below the surface, vanishing into a loose bank.   The dig was then abandoned in favour of the second depression.

Depression No. 2 was not as deep as the first but took just as much water, a pond having been made at the bottom by means of an inverted pyramid of sheet steel.  This was removed intact to make a roof for a shelter and digging started in March 1956.  The majority of the work was done by A. Rich and Miss Fairman but help was given by A. Sandall and R. Stenner and other members of the Bristol Exploration Club.  Work was, however, somewhat spasmodic.  A mixture of mud, rocks and frogs at the bottom of the dig was soon replaced by gravel and water worn rocks (Old Red Sandstone and limestone) with large air spaces and a good draught.  Sheer legs were soon erected and a rope became nec­essary for reaching the bottom of the shaft but it was always a race against time to get shoring in place before mud ran down behind the corrugated iron.  By the middle of June the shaft was over thirty feet deep and a rift large enough to enter was opened but the roof consisted of two unsupported boulders and before they could be shored up they fell, blocking the way on.  The only solution was to break them with explosives and remove the pieces.  Explosive experts were approached but the promised help did not materialise, and after a year the shaft was crushed and the dig abandoned.



It is probably correct to state that most of the more obvious swallet cave entrances on Mendip have, at some time or other, either been investigated or entered by cavers. If therefore follows that future discoveries will, in general, tend to be the result of extended digging to a, greater extent than has occurred in the past.

Already, several digs and successful cave penetrations on Mendip have relied on shoring. In some cases (eg- St. Cuthberts) the shoring has proved itself effective. In others it has failed to keep the cave, or dig, open. One aspect of this report is therefore to review shoring methods and to describe those pract¬ices and principles which have so far proved practicable and -succ¬essful on Mendip.

Another trend which is becoming noticeable, is the recognition by some members of the caving fraternity that money, as well as effort, must sometimes be spent on a dig. The St. Cuthberts shaft already mentioned was constructed entirely from second hand mat¬erials at no cost. The recent Priddy Green shaft, on the other hand, is a concrete tube with cemented stone footings. This fine example of permanent, shoring may be followed by even more ambitious shafts in the future. Another aspect of this report is therefore to suggest methods of shoring which are not in use at present end which have not been used owing to expense.

It is hoped that this report may prove useful to any cavers faced with problems connected with the shoring of cave entrances involving either proved methods of constructing and installing such shoring or ideas for tackling situations which have not yet been attempted.


In order to open, and keep open, a swallet cave whose ent¬rance has become blocked by natural means, it is necessary to disturb the natural stability of the blocking material. It is necessary to restore this stability by means, if necessary, of shoring. A shaft is thus called on to withstand forces which may tend to destroy it by crushing, shearing or twisting. The most common of these is crushing and it is the properties of the subsoil through which the majority of such a shaft, will normally pass, which determine the magnitude of those forces.

2.1. Subsoil Friction.

This is the friction obtaining in a loose, dry, granular soil. It is this friction which prevents the soil from acting as a liquid and finding its own level, i.e. possessing a hori¬zontal surface when poured on to a flat plane. If such a soil acted in this way, the normal hydrostatic laws would apply and the pressure exerted on a vertical shaft would increase with depth according to the normal formula: -

Pressure = ρgh

Where ρ is the density, g the acceleration due to gravity and h the depth. ρg for water is 62.5 lbs wt/cubic foot and for clay about 115 lbs wt/cubic foot. Thus at 10 feet depth a pressure of 1150 lbs./ sq" ft would be pressing on a shaft in clay.

Luckily, soil friction reduces these pressures. A soil possessing friction will form a circular cone if poured on to a level surface whose sides will stand at an angle ϴ to the hori¬zontal. This angle ϴ is called the angle of repose or the angle of friction. Typical values of ϴ and ρg are shown in Table I below.

Material ϴ ρg
Water 62.5 lbs/ft3 
62.5 lbs/ft3Vegetable Topsoil 15-30   95 - 105
Clay 15-40  110 - 120 
Sand 25-35 110 - 120
Gravel 45 110
Shingle 30-35 115 - 120


Now. the lateral pressure exerted at depth "h" by a soil poss¬essing only soil friction is given by Rankin’s formula:-

                      Pressure = ρg x (1 - sin ϴ )
                                                (l sin ϴ )

which reduces to the previous formula when ϴ = 0.

Putting in the values, for ϴ into this formula for clay now produces a lateral crushing pressure at 10 feet depth of 383 lbs/sq ft instead of 1150 lbs/sq ft. Thus the effect of soil fric¬tion in clay is to reduce these pressures by two thirds.

However, the pressures are still high and still getting .larger at greater depths. If this was the case, a deep shaft would have to be built to withstand enormous pressures. Now surface friction only applies to a loose, dry soil. If the soil is neither loose nor dry the property of cohesion must be taken into account.

2.2 Subsoil Cohesion

The combined effects of compaction (the decrease of the av¬erage spacing between soil particles due to the pressure of over burden or top soil above the layer under consideration) and mois¬ture content give a soil the property of cohesion.

Cohesion is defined as the property which resists the tend¬ency for soil particles to separate under shear stress. The force of cohesion in a given plane is equal to the area of surf¬ace particles in contact times the coefficient of cohesion. A typical set of values is shown in Table II below.

Material  Moisture  Coefficient of cohesion
Sand Wet
400 lbs/sq ft
Gravel  Wet
Clay  Optimum  900


The water, in the case, of sand, with its small particle size, acts as a binder by capillary action and accounts for the great cohesion of wet sand with respect to dry. The sand in an egg timer is completely dry and possesses almost zero cohesion. A long as the angle of the waist of the timer exceeds ϴ for dry sand, the. sand will act as a liquid. On the other hand, sand castles made from wet sand possess a surprising, degree of stab¬ility. In the case of gravel (with its large particle size) the capillary effects are small. The water here acts as a lub¬ricant and lowers the cohesion properties of the dry material.



In clay, a much more complex series of events occur. Under some circumstances the effective particle size itself varies. It is sufficient to note that there is an optimum moisture content giving a high cohesion which is close to that naturally found in Mendip clay subsoils. The graph in Figure III shows the effect of cohesion. It will be seen that the curve tends to turn back¬on itself. Thus, in theory, no shoring might be necessary at great depths in clay. However, a further property of this type of subsoil is involved.

2. 3. Subsoil Slumping.

This property (which is peculiar to clays and materials of a similar nature) is less easy than either of the other properties to describe in a quantitative manner. However, the process is roughly as follows:-

If a mass of clay is supported solidly over some of its bulk and relatively or completely unsupported over the remainder, stresses will be present in the mass of clay. These will in general be present oh the free surface as a series of tensile, and compressive stresses. The tensile stresses will produce strains tending to pull the surface material apart (i.e. to produce a crack). Where the tensile stress is great enough and applied for long enough, this will occur. The crack so produced will not run normal to the face but will be bent towards regions of maximum tensile stress. This will lead to slumping when, as in most cases, the process is unstable (i.e. the formation of a crack leads to an increase in the forces producing the crack). Thus the crack builds up very slowly at first and then progressively speeds up until a section of the clay suddenly slumps. The process is completely silent and the slumped mass of clay exerts a heavy and uniform pressure on anything beneath it. The author has had the experience of being pinned by the legs under a large clay slump during the excavation of Browne's Hole. .A painful throbbing occurs quite quickly and one supposes that it would not take much clay over the chest to make breathing impossible.

Clay which is unsupported from below over a circular area will slump to form a slump chamber having a nearly hemispherical roof, such a slump chamber was dug into at Vole a Hole - its roof apex being some three feet below the ground and its diameter about four feet. Observations of slumping in St Cuthberts and Alfie Hole suggests that a slump crack forms as shown in Figure I and it is suggested that the ideal sequence of events in the collapse of an unsupported vertical hole would be as shown in Figure II.



In the first figure (below in FIGURE II) the hole is shown as dug. In the second Slumping has occurred and a slump chamber formed. In the third figure the slump chamber has reached the soil level and the roof is mainly held by grass roots, etc. In the fourth figure the roof has collapsed, thus allowing drying out and subsequent crumbling to occur. In the last figure a wide, shallow depression results since all the clay has recompacted. In practice this would be terraced (as in some shake holes) due to the binding effect of surface grass.

Since slumping will occur, not only must any permanent hole in clay be supported by shoring, but any horizontal tunnel must be built to withstand the entire weight of the overburden. A powerful argument against the use of other than vertical shoring.




There are two main types of initial excavations in subsoil during the search for a cave entrance. The sinking of a small shaft (some three to four feet in side length) has the advantage of retaining nearly all the wall moisture and hence all the co¬hesion. On the other hand, a wider excavation (defined as a pit in this report) has the advantage of exposing more rock face at the bottom and reducing the danger of slumping. Since no two situations are alike, the choice of excavation will depend, on factors present at any particular dig. In some cases the stability of either a pit or shaft may be judged sufficient to stand unsupported until an entrance is found. This was the case in St Cuthberts. In others shoring must be commence at once (as in Alfie's Hole). In the latter cases the best plan is to install temporary shoring until the nature of the dig warrants something more permanent.


This is best carried out in timber with any shuttering mat¬erials available. Long life is not important, but access to the work, at the bottom is and so crossbeams, etc should be arranged so that they do not interfere with the work. Compared to per¬manent shoring, temporary shoring has usually only to prevent crumbling at the top of the hole or slumping lower down and hence need not in general, be very strong. Sheets of corrugated iron will act well as temporary shuttering. (Note: "shuttering" on Mendip is normally used to describe the sheeting, planking, poling, etc needed to retain the earth and form the outer wall of a shoring). In addition there is little or no need for temporary shafting to be footed (i.e. to have a solid foundation to rest on) or for any of the beams retaining the shuttering in place to be firmly enough, wedged in to permit their use for climb¬ing in and out (since only the diggers will be using the shaft at this stage).

Apart from the reluctance to spend much time and/or money on permanent shoring before the effectiveness of a dig is known, it is not a sound plan to install permanent shoring until suitable rock has been uncovered so that footings for the final shaft may be constructed. It is difficult to over emphasise the importance of footings. Very few shoring jobs on Mendip (one exception be¬ing the shaft in Fairman's Folly) have failed through any other reason than that of inadequate footings. Therefore, as soon as solid rock has been reached this should be carefully examined. If there is any doubt the job should be delayed as long as possible, consistent with safety, until more is known of the underly¬ing rock. It is very difficult to re-foot a shaft once it has been installed and so this stage is perhaps the most critical of any from the standpoint of lasting success of the job.


Footings- have to provide three functions and provide them all adequately.

  1. To rest the base of the shoring on to a solid and stable foundation so that the shaft is able to resist any shear¬ing forces tending for drag it, or parts of it, down¬wards. Since most shafts are only proof against crushing forces providing they do not move vertically, this is doubly important.
  2. To increase the stability of the "transition zone" where artificial shafting meets natural cave.
  3. To prevent "running in" behind the completed shaft. By reducing the pressures locally behind a portion of the shaft, running in will create forces tending to move the shaft sideways. In addition, many shafts are designed to rely for their strength on an even, external pressure. Thus, running in can seriously weaken a shaft.

There is, unfortunately, no golden rule for footing or trans¬ition zone shoring as each case is so different. In the compara¬tively solid rock of Priddy Green Sink, cemented stone walls have been used to build up the irregular rock to a level base for a shaft. In St Cuthberts the transition zone extends from the shaft base down to the top of the entrance pitch about eight feet or so. The stone revetting in the small chamber was built here to prevent running in from the floor of the entrance shaft.

In Alfie’s Hole, small rocks and timbers have been wedged in between the large rocks to prevent running in and to prevent movement of the rock.


The system of keyed timbering evolved by the author during the construction of the St Cuthberts shaft has since been used with equal success elsewhere. In fact, no case of collapse of a keyed shaft .has yet been recorded. The system is, perhaps, best explained by describing an imaginary shoring job and choosing a situation where most of the variations on this theme may be ill¬ustrated. Let us assume then that a subsidence in clay some ten feet in diameter and six feet deep has had a shaft dug at its' base, again in clay, which is three to four feet square and a further ten feet deep, at which point rock has been struck, and a hole leading to a cave system cleared. Let us further assume that no temporary sharing has been found necessary and that a keyed timb¬ered shaft is to be installed.


Four long timbers (the main uprights) are lowered into the hole in each corner of the shaft. These should if possible be long enough to reach the surface. In the example above the SW and SE posts can be footed directly on the bed rock at B, the SE post being higher than the SW owing to the dip. The suspected flake at K can be used for the NW post after jamming the gap below it with suitable rocks and cement. Probing in the NE corner has failed to find rock and so the NE post must be rested on the clay floor and constructed as a hanging corner.

The uprights should be held apart by temporary spacers which can be removed as the shoring progresses.

The work now starts at the bottom by the insertion of a ring or set of crossbeams, which should be fitted in the lowest poss¬ible position (in this case at fourteen feet down) consistent with their being horizontal. Each crossbeam should be cut slightly too long and hammered into place by means of a sledgehammer. A little practice will determine the amount of extra wood to allow when cutting. Each beam should require considerable force to force it into place. Rings of crossbeams should follow at about three foot intervals up the shaft (say one at eleven feet down and one at eight feet down). At this point work should cease as the top portion of the shaft is not pressing against the clay. A different technique should be used on this, section at a later stage.

Now shuttering should be hammered into place at the bottom of the shaft. In this case, horizontal planking will be best for the lower half of the shaft as this can be easily hammered behind the uprights. Other types of shuttering, such as horizontal poling, will have to be "dug through".

With the lower part shuttered, the first set of ring spacers should be cut to size and fitted below the bottom ring, which is then hammered down onto them. At this stage, keys are fitted to the bottom ring. Figures 1, 2, and 3 of the Appendix show the principle of keying and ring spacers. Note that cappings or spacers may be necessary to support the cross keys and prevent the from slipping downwards. When the first ring has been spaced and keyed, work proceeds to the second ring and thus to the third. The lower half of the shaft is now complete.

Additional rings of crossbeams are now cut to length and nailed temporarily in position say at four feet and ground level and shuttering is nailed in position outside the shaft. All the space between the Shaft and the subsidence is now filled with clay and stamped down tightly. Spacers and cross keys are then fitted as before.

Finally, bracing must be added to prevent the NE corner from sinking into the clay on which it rests. This must be added to the north and east faces of the shaft in between the rings of tim¬ber diagonally so that the upper ends of each brace is at the NS Corner. The south and west faces need no bracing as there is no tendency to slip.

Now consider the completed shaft.

  1. The shuttering withstands the forces exerted laterally by the surrounding clay and is prevented from collapse by the main uprights.
  2. The main uprights are prevented from moving towards each other by the -crossbeams, which must be kept horizontal and between the uprights.
  3. The ring spacers keep the crossbeams horizontal and also (by capping or spacing) prevent the cross keys from downward motion.
  4. The cross keys stop the crossbeams from moving horizontally and are in turn locked by the next set of ring spacers,
  5. Finally, the bracing ensures that the only way in which the NE corner can move downwards is by also moving out¬wards. It is prevented from so doing by the pressure of the clay.

It is possible to build a keyed timbered shaft (using mitre keys) so that it is impossible to move any timber in the entire shaft except the topmost ring, WITHOUT THE USE OF A SINGLE NAIL OR SIMILAR DEVICE: Such a shaft would fall apart if the surrounding clay were removed. It is for this reason, apart from the others given, that it is so important to prevent running in by good footings.

In many cases, shoring materials must be improvised and timbering of the sort illustrated in Figures 1, 2 and 3 of the appendix cannot be obtained. In such cases construction must be modified to suit whatever is to hand.

A wide variety of shuttering materials have been used on Mendip. Whole doors, airfield landing strip and even a set of polished mahogany table legs (these may be seen in the SE shaft at Brownes Hole, although the top of the shaft is sealed it may be entered from Coronation chamber below). Similarly, it is not always possible to obtain long enough pieces of timber, or a rock may prevent standard methods from being employed. In all cases, however, the general principles of letting the subsoil hold the shaft together and ensuring adequate footings, apply, although these often call for ingenuity of the highest order. A point to remember is that one of the main sets of forces acting on the shaft are those caused by a caver using it to climb in. or out of the cave and rapidly and clumsily applying his whole weight to the timber in question.


The use of concrete piping as vertical shoring has been pioneered in the Priddy Green dig. Adequate cement footings are, of course, necessary as there is no inherent continuity of the shaft. A point here is that care should he taken to ensure that the shaft is not waterproof; leaks through the joins or through holes deliberately made should be encouraged. Otherwise, full hydrostatic pressures will build up. Reference to the graph on Page 3 and comparison with water pressures of 625 lbs/ sq ft at ten feet down will illustrate this point.

Manholes and underground concrete pipes as constructed by the GPO and other public bodies are designed on an even more pessi¬mistic basis and the relationship of ρ=90h or 900 lbs/sq ft at ten feet depth is often used.

The effect of heavy loads adjacent to the shaft is also all¬owed for. Boussinese’s formula is normally used and an example is that a load of 10 tons on the surface at a horizontal distance of four feet produces a lateral pressure on a vertical shaft wall at five feet depth of 100 lbs/sq ft. This sort of thing could well apply when a spoil heap is situated close to the shaft.

Normally, however, it is assumed that sections such as those used at Priddy Green will be employed. All such "bought out" components have stressing specifications which can be relied on and the subject then devolves into one of picking the right type of pipe for the job in question.


The use of iron or steel shuttering has been employed in Browne's Hole and several other cave digs. Oxidation is the drawback here and in this connection ordinary corrugated iron should be avoided. It has a short life below ground. A very strong shaft could be made from girder and would be useful against rock. Providing that the structure is simple in form, strains could easily be measured and stresses calculated from them. Local reinforcement would then be applied until an adequate safety factor had been obtained. Although the cost of such a shaft would be high, it would possess the advantages of ease of assembly and plurality providing it was given a suitable protective finish.


The life of a timbered shaft is quite long. In St Cuthberts the shaft has stood for nearly eight years but will eventually have to be replaced. A method of dismantling evolved during the digs at Vole and Alfie’s Holes is described below.

i. Seal the bottom of the shaft firmly with boards or steel plates to prevent any collapse from entering the cave.

ii. Starting from the bottom of the shaft, remove all keys and rings spacers, bracing, etc; keeping if possible above the unsupported lower section.

iii. Drive nails into the crossbeams with a pole and attach ropes to them.

iv. From above lurch out crossbeams with a pole and haul out on ropes.

v. Push in main uprights from the top and haul out if shaft does not collapse.

vi. Re-excavate hole and install new shaft.

vii. Remove seal from the bottom of the shaft.


It seems worthwhile to include three suggestions for tackling shoring problems which, so far, have not been successfully carried out on Mendip. All these suggestions may be seen as ambitious, but it is worthwhile remembering that only two years ago many people did not consider the use of concrete tubes to be within the practical limits of cave digging expense and effort.

10.1 Shoring Against Torsional Forces.

A keyed timbered shaft could further be strengthened by the addition of torsion resistant beams. The method suggested would also be useful if it was ever necessary to construct a wide timbered shaft of adequate strength without of having to use timbers of very large sections. The scheme consists of placing central spacers and keys between each ring of timber and wedging torsion beams between them. Looking down a ring you would have the arrangement as shown in FIGURE IV. A picture of the corner of such a shaft, with a list of timbers, will be found in Figure 4 of the Appendix.

10.2 Boulder Ruckle Shoring

Sooner or later the problem of digging through an unstable boulder ruckle will be tackled. It would seem that a steel girdered shaft bolted together on the Meccano principle would be a solution, the shaft being extended from below as work progresses. This could occur by prising rocks out, hammering corners off, using screw jacks or by blasting. Strains in the shaft could be measured by gauging rods. Shuttering would not be necessary and indeed would be a disadvantage since the position and movements of rock could be noted through the shaft girders.



10.3 The Hanging Shaft.

Such a shaft as described in l0.2 would have footings and this leads us to the consideration of shafting through a ruckle which forms the roof of a chamber. It would be most unwise to construct a shaft which was liable to fall when roof keystones were removed,

A solution is to use the surrounding surface ground as foot¬ings and to hang the entire shaft from top supports which are spread over on to safe ground. An illustration of such a shaft will be found in the Appendix.


Cave shoring is an occupation in which much depends on the individual concerned; the materials at his disposal and the part¬icular patterns of the dig and/or Cave. Of the shoring which has already been done on Mendip, some examples have fared better than others and in some cases conclusions may fairly safely be drawn (e.g. insufficient cross timbering, laying and bracing in Fairman's Folly). In other cases, the skill of the builder would be difficult to put on paper - an example here being the shaft in Browne's Hole. It is hoped, however, that some of the principles and suggestions offered in this paper may be of use to cavers whose work necessitates the installation of shoring in swallet cave entrances.



PLAIN KEYING (Keys nailed to beams)


MITRED KEYING (No nailing necessary)



Use of cappings to suit timber section



Use of spacers to suit timber section






A - Main Upright
B - Crossbeams
C - Ring Spacers
D - Crosskeys
E - Centre Spacers
F - Centre Spacer keys
G - Cross Bracing
H - Torsion Beams
J - Horizontal plank shuttering





(A) Horizontal Planking
(B) Horizontal Poling
(C) Cross Planking
(D) Sheeting

Also possible, amongst others are: vertical poling, diagonal and cross diagonal planking and poling.



The BEC's series of caving reports cover a wealth of knowledge and experience.Most of these were written many years ago but still contain very pertinent information covering many aspects of the clubs activities.


Been down St Cuthberts? Buy the report and get a free survey!

Less well-known than many of Mendip's other major cave systems, St. Cuthbert's Swallet offers much to those whose interest extends beyond mere sporting activity. Not only does it contain fine pitches and streamways but it has numerous large chambers, some beautifully decorated, intricate phreatic mazes and up to seven distinct levels. It is without doubt Mendip's most complex cave system and, not generally realised, it contains perhaps the finest and greatest variety of formations in the area. Among its displays are found magnificent calcite groups such as the 'Curtains', 'Cascade', Gour Hall with its 20ft high gour, 'The Beehive', Canyon Series and the 'Balcony' formations in September Chamber, all of which are without peer in the country. There are also superb mini-formations including floating calcite crystals, over twenty nests of cave pearls, and delicate fern-like crystals less than four millimetres long; a variety that few other caves can boast.

Access is strictly controlled by the Bristol Exploration Club. Conservation was the prime reason for wishing to control access to the cave. To achieve this aim it was decided by the BEC at their 1955 Annual General Meeting to introduce a leader system. St. Cuthbert's Swallet was one of the first caves in the country to be so protected. This action has often been the centre of controversy. However, the fact remains that, after thirty years, the cave is essentially still in pristine condition and proven justification for the leader system.

The St Cuthberts report was written and compiled by D.J. “Wig”  Irwin with additional material by Dr. D.C. Ford, P.J. Romford, C.M. Smart and Dr. J.M. Wilson. Running to 82 pages and containing a vast array of photos and a wealth of information this doesn’t just deserve to be on every cavers bookshelf, you should get one for all your friends too (well maybe).

Copies can be purchased from the Belfry or Bat Products for a very reasonable sum.

Also Available as a PDF download from the downloads section from the publications menu

The monthly newsletter will remove ‘internal’ members items from the regular Belfry Bulletin and hopefully be able to update our members more frequently on news, BEC events, local caving related events, any internal stuff members may like to know, dig updates, gossip, etc. etc. It will also contain a rolling calendar which will list both BEC and member events and any other cavers related events on Mendip and the wider community where appropriate.

The newsletter is totally internal to BEC membership and will not be distributed outside of the club, unlike the BB which is exchanged with other clubs and  eventually published publicly on the website.

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The Belfry Bulletin is the journal of the Bristol Exploration Club.

The current editor, always welcomes articles and pictures as this journal is what the members make it by sending in contributions. As well as his postal address published in the Belfry Bulletin, he can also now receive articles by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The entire archive of back issues is available here entirely due to Andy Mac-Gregor. Over a period of four years Andy has scanned and converted to text via OCR every single issue. When you consider that most of these were printed on a Gestetner duplicator you'll appreciate the scale of this achievement.