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List of Members No.4.

T. Reed 53 Dongola road, Bristol.7.
R.G. Bellamy 5 Heron Road, Easton, Bristol.
P. Brown 5 Trinity Parade, Frome, Somerset.
A.J. Crawford 10 Elm Close, Hendon London N.W.4.
A.M. Innes 248 Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol 7
Mrs. M. Tompsett 6 Peter Street, Taunton, Somerset.
R. Cantle 46 Cherington Road, Henleaze, Bristol 7
J.A. Dwyer 255 Wellington Hill West, Henleaze, Bristol 7
R.A. Setterington 21 Priorswood Road, Taunton, Somerset
R,M. WaIlis “Briarcroft”, Marlborough Crescent, Latchford. Without Warrington, Lances. '

A different method is being used in this issue to cut the stencils for the duplicator. If the method is successful and a better print is the result it will be adopted for all future issues; if the results are worse than usual please bear with the Hon. Sec. who is at his wits end to im prove the quality of each issue. You will see, too, that the format is altered. This is partly dictated by the supply of paper and partly by urge to improve. Let the Hon Sec. know which type of BB you prefer.

Safety Underground

By “oldtimer”

This article is intended for younger members of the club and their friends. It is hoped that it will assist them in enjoying in safety the deepest and dirtiest of our caves.

Cavers, although they are reputed otherwise, are, in general mindful of their safety underground. Some of the younger of the fraternity, and occasionally one or two old enough to know better sometimes let their valour, (or shall we say, sense of bravado) outweigh their discretion, and do things that, make the seasoned caver, throw up his hands in despair.

Even before going underground there are certain things that should be done, and when you are there, there are of course more.

Before leaving home tell someone where you are going so that in the unlikely event of your non-return, we shall at least have some idea of where you may be. Mendip is a large place, and if no indication of your whereabouts is given, a search party may spend precious hours in fruitless endeavour before you are found,. The same applies in other caving areas ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, and remember, you experts, you too, are liable to accident!

In the event of an accident, do your best to make the unfortunate one comfortable and then follow the procedure laid down by the Mendip Rescue Organisation (or equivalent body in , other areas), If through faulty equipment or other cause, none of your party can reach the surface, conserve your lights and food make yourselves comfortable, DON’T PANIC and wait. This wait will seem endless, but, remember, if you have left word of your whereabouts, you will be rescued in a reasonable time, (Rescue parties have to be called out, and this takes time). If no one knows where you are, you've only yourself to blame.

The next point is in every way intimately connected with the above. Never go underground by yourself. Solitary caving is both foolhardy and senseless. Although the lone wanderer may experience a thrill of achievement out of such a trip he is rightly looked upon by others as a constant source of worry and trouble. Underground, a slip that in a party would be of little consequence, may easily prove fatal to the solitary man, a sprained ankle anchoring him there indefinitely. He has no-one to help him or go for aid, and I should imagine that one accident under such circumstances would cure him of all desire to repeat it.

Also linked with the first item is clothing. It is essential that all cavers should be adequately clad. To some this seems ridiculous, as they remember visions of swarms of cavers clad in filthy and fast decomposing rags. These rags, however are warm, and warmth underground is essential. Of course, common sense has to be used in dressing, as anyone dressing for Swildons would be prepared for a wait in the chilly depths of the 40' pot, and would consequently wear far warmer clothing than for a trip down Goatchurch. Don’t be like the party encountered in Swildons Old Grotto some time ago. This party of 8 were clad in shorts and singlets and were already bruised and shivering.

A great point of failing with novices is their unwillingness to turn back when tired. It is far better to 'Call it a day' and return to the surface in good order, than to go to the bottom and have to be hauled out by main force. Novices are thought more of if they do not over-reach themselves in their first sallies underground, and are honest enough to admit that they've had enough. Don’t forget, you have a return journey that will be worse than the downward one.

The greatest source of trouble amongst beginners is the entire lack of common sense concerning lighting. The writer once met a party of 10 in Swildons, who only had one miniature torch between them. They were not impressed by the cave and considered caving a dead loss. Always take plenty of light underground, and always have alternative means of lighting, and this doesn't mean two boxes of matches. Two main types of lighting are in general use, Acetylene and electric, the ideal being a combination of these. Lighting is a subject of argument amongst cavers and this statement will probably bring down howls of derision on the writer's head from those of other schools of thought. Nevertheless, I have used this combination for many years and found it unbeatable. The acetylene lamps give both a 'spread' and a 'spot' beam, the position of the flame along the axis of the reflector ensuring maximum lighting effect. A gas lamp is unfortunately easily extinguished, and I have filled an auxiliary electric spot lamp with switch and battery to my helmet. By the way, always carry a spare jet and a pricker, so that you may readily clean or replace the jet if it chokes. An acetylene lamp is much cheaper to run than a battery lamp, and it will run for 4 hours on one charge of carbide. A candle too, carried inside the socks, together with waterproof matches is very handy in an emergency. Matches can be rough and readily waterproofed by dipping the heads of 'Swan' or similar into candle grease.

A word about electric light and batteries. A No.800 cycle battery is ideal both for size and endurance, but some plutocratic cavers prefer the more elaborate proprietary kit of NiFe accumulator, flexible lead and head-lamp. The writer has found that NiFe cells are bulky and a great nuisance in constricted passages, but, here again, there is a great divergence of opinion. I have spent quite a time on lighting, as without lights there would be no caving.

The next item is tackle. This of course varies with the cave, some needing none and others a large amount. Although a nuisance on both the downward and return journeys, a sufficiency of tackle is essential to the safe descent (and return) of any cave. By this I don’t mean that the party should be bowed down and encumbered with a mass of useless gear, but that every item should be carefully selected for the job it has to do. Examine all gear before going underground, as although all club equipment is tested at regular intervals, a rope may have frayed since the last test. Any tackle that has frayed or otherwise become dangerous *should be scrapped at once. This is done most easily by cutting the offending ladder or rope in several places thus rendering it useless. If it is ever necessary to do this, don’t forget to notify either the Hon. Sec. or the Equipment Officer, so that the article may be replaced with the minimum of delay. Do not leave equipment underground for long periods. This is a common failing of certain types of individuals who are either too lazy or careless of other peoples welfare to remove it, and is one of the cardinal sins of caving. After using tackle return it to its proper place and hang it up to dry; don’t throw it on the floor for someone else to clear up. It isn’t good for the ropes or the temper of the chappie who has the clearing up to do.

If you haven’t enough gear don’t attempt a descent. ALWAYS use a life-line, only fools go without. The cave will wait until tomorrow or next week, why risk an accident? If an accident should happen below a pitch normally laddered that has only a rope what then?

“Odd” caving is to be discouraged. By this I mean parties of Cavers unattached to any club or society. The clubs are in existence solely to help cavers and it is to their advantage to join them. They then reap the benefits of the experiences of others and are able to use the adequate facilities offered by these organisations.

Each Club trip is under the control of an experienced member, and his instructions should always be followed. Remember, he knows more than you, and it is his responsibility to bring you back in safety to the surface. If you disagree with his decisions, and you want to argue about it, leave it until you return to surface, and you will find that, usually, before surfacing, the reason for his action has become obvious.

Don’t think that the writer advocates that all trips should be "official" ones. By no means so; but for other trips chose a cave within your capabilities, and as your experience increases, so also should your field of endeavour increase.

Don’t hesitate to ask the "Old Sweats" advice, it will always be gladly given.

If those to whom these notes are addressed study AND absorb them caving will, become easier and safer for them and those in control of the sport would have less reason to worry about them.


We are delighted to welcome back into circulation again, D. Bessell, R.A. Crocker, and R.J. Bagshaw all recently demobbed.


The Club has purchased a tent which is available, subject to committee approval to members for a small cover charge.

Club Library

Both the Librarian and the Hon Sec. are seriously disturbed by the lack of care taken of the club books. These books which cost the club a considerable amount every year are being treated disgustingly and at a recent committee meeting it was decided that anyone returning books in a worse condition than they were issued would become liable for the damage, up to the full replacement value of the book, depending of course upon the amount of damage. A growing practice, too is the passing of books from member to member indiscriminately with the result that the Librarian has no idea who has the book and the consequent repudiation of responsibility by the person to whom the book was issued. In future would all members so passing books on please notify the Librarians that the necessary adjustments may be made in the records. In future the responsibility for any fine incurred will rest with the last person to whom the volume is booked out.

Club Records.

Jim Weekes has been appointed Club Recorder. Will members please send reports of trips etc. to him so that they may entered into the club records. You may reach him c/o Hon, Sec..

Owing to the distance that D.A.Coase has to travel to attend committee meetings and the curtailment of the travelling facilities of last summer it was decided at a recent committee meeting to co-opt R.A. Setterington on to the committee. His large experience and knowledge of the sport will strengthen considerably the working of the committee.

Members probably saw recently in the paper that a watch was found in Longwood. We are glad to say that this watch is the property of our member Terry Reed who lost it at Easter this year. As he is in it has beam claimed on his behalf by his father. Thanks to all those whose information helped to identify the owner.

The Belfry,

Since the last issue of the BB a great amount of work has been done at the Belfry. At the time of writing this there is still plenty for all to do so still roll up in your thousands. The response to the last call for volunteers was very good, but those who turned out were those who always can be depended to turn out when there is work to be done. Come on you slackers, what about it? The new site is very near the old one. The Belfry is now situated up the next track towards Priddy from the Hunters Lodge. So that instead of turning into Mr. Beecham's gate the next turning is taken. The hut is on a site facing the exit from the quarry. The hut is temporarily 'reconstituted' in its old shape pending the purchase of a larger and more suitable H.Q.. No stone is being left unturned to obtain one and it is hoped that within a short time a really 'spiv' hut will be reared on the new site.

They have a castle on a hill

Whilst browsing through an old book our Hon. Sec. has found the following, which except for the replacement of the word Lydford by Belfry in stanza 3 is as written. For the information of those who have not taken part in the removal operations, the hut has been moved by dividing it into three sections and moving each bodily on a farm wagon.

1. They have a castle on a hill;
I took it for an old windmill,
The vanes blown off by the weather:
To lye therein one night, 'tis guessed,
'Twer better to be stoned and pressed,
Or hanged, now choose you wether.

2. Ten men less room within this cave,
Than five mice in a lanthorn have,
The keepers they are sly ones.
If any could devise by art
To get it up into a cart,
'Twer fit to carry lyons.

3. When I beheld it, Lord! Thought I,
From this place all sane men would fly
This Belfry, when I saw it all.
I know none gladly there would stay;
But rather hang out of the way,
Than tarry for a tryal.

4. The prince an hundred pounds has sent,
To mend the leads, and planchens rent,
Within this living tomb:
Some forty-five pounds more had paid,
The debts of all that shall be laid
There till the day of doom,

5. The people all within this clime
Are frozen in the winter time,
For sure I do not fain:
And when the summer is begun,
They lye like silkworms in the sun,
And come to life again.

6. One glass of drink I got by chance,
'Twas claret when it was in :
But now from it much wider:
I think a man might make as good
With green crabs boyl'd, and wood,
And half a pint of syder.

7. At six a clock I came away,
And prayed for those that were to stay
Within a place so arrant:
Wide and ope, the winds so-roar,
By God's grace I'll come there no more,
Unless by some Tyn Warrant.

William Brown 1590.


List of Members. No.5.

J.M. Tompsett               6.Peter Street, Taunton, Somt
E.H. Cole                     "Sunny-side" Clarendon Roadt, Kenilworth, Warwickshire
W.W. Hucker                14 Dean Lane, Southville, Bristol.
J.K. Bindon                   19 Morse Road, Redfield, Bristol
P. Daymond                 15 Cheddon Road, Taunton, Somt
F. Seward                     32 Uxbridge Road, Slough, Bucks
S.J. Collins                   33 Valentine Ave, Bexley,
P. Woodroffe                 296 Cooden Drive, Beechill-on-sea, Sussex
Miss K. Hartnell            14 Endsleigh Street, London, WC1
J.L. Hull                        137 Filton Ave, Horfield, Bristol 7

The Belfry Bulletin.

The change in style of the BEB for July has been acclaimed as a great improvement, so it has been decided to continue with it as long as the paper situation permits.

Belfry Charges

It has been decided by the committee, that in view of the popularity of the Belfry, a 'rebate' system be instituted whereby those Members using the hut most frequently will pay a reduced charge. Although' this announcement is rather late for this year, there are plenty of members who will even now reap a benefit from it.  The rates decided on were:- The first 20 nights 1/- per night; the next 20 nights 9d per night; the next 20 nights 6d per night; all subsequent nights free. A season ticket for 40/ can also be obtained! The Season Ticket being available from 1st Jan. to 31st Dec., these dates also being applicable for the reduced rates, viz; On the 1st January any member who is paying reduced rate will again 1/- a night for 20 nights and so on.


A translation by Pipistrelle and Vesperugo

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of George, at the Feast of Easter, that Beecham, a wealthy man and owner of the land whereon the tribe of the Bat had chosen to dwell, gave audience to one of the Head Men of that tribe.  And said unto him: "Behold, I like thee not, nigh unto my house, neither thee, nor thy tribe.  Here on every seventh night can no man sleep, and my servants are weary from their labour in the fields." And he further said: "Get thee gone, thou, thy tribe, and thy dwelling, unto the furthest part of my land."

And he of the Bat said:" It shall be even so."

But he went away sore troubled, for the dwelling was large, and seemed more than the tribe could move.

Then came unto a maiden of the people, a huntress of great renown, one Pamela, so fair that all marvelled at her beauty. And she said unto them:" Lo, my father's brother hath many men and horses the sound of whose hoofs is as the thunder of the sea. For the love that I bear ye' all, I will persuade him to lend ye a cohort of these horses; with these and a great wagon shall ye move your dwelling."

And they said;'' Yea, it shall be oven so.^

So, on the twelfth day of the month of midsummer, a great number of the tribe gathered at that place. And there came unto them the maiden, as she had promised, driving a cohort of horses.

Then did the tribe heave mightily to lift the dwelling, in three pieces, on to the wagon.  But it moved not. Then said they: "Let us appoint a leader, one that shall say unto this one, “go”, and he goeth, and unto this one, “Come”, and he cometh.  And they chose one Sett from among them, a man not of Royal Blood, but skilled in the making of devices withal, and of piercing voice. And he called unto him all they of the tribe that were likewise skilled in the arts of making engines of war, and, they that were miners in the earth, and said unto them:* How shall this thing be done?"

And one said:" This and even this should we do," and mother said: "Nay, I would do this, and this." Raving heard their counsel, Sett then said unto them:" So shall we do."

And behold, men came running with great bars wrought of iron, so great that one man could scarcely lift with both hands, and these they placed under the divers parts of the duelling.

Then said Sett unto them: “Lift,” and they lifted as one man, and placed a piece of the dwelling upon the great wagon.

Swiftly then were the horses that the maiden had brought harnessed to the wagon, and the tribe said unto her “Take it away.” And she called unto the horses, in the tongue of the people of that place:" Yur! Giddap!" which are the words those people use to drive horses. And they strained mightily, and did bring the dwelling unto its new place.

There were those present, they that had the power of making likenesses on pieces of papyrus, without a pen. And these exercised, their power, and made many likenesses. Which likenesses pleased them greatly, and they did shew them unto all men.

This then was done with all the pieces of the dwelling. And they were upon the ground in their new place, but were not joined in one. And the tribe were weary and said:" Let us break the dwelling into smaller pieces that we may carry them with less labour.

Then came one Weekes, a man that flew even as a bird, and, calling aloud on strange Gods, said: “Nay, let us shift them now.”

And the tribe, likewise calling on other strange Gods, did labour mightily, and did place the dwelling on its proper pillars, and by the eighteenth hour it was done.

Then went they to an Inn, and drank of the wine of that place which they needed sorely, for they were athirst. After that went they their several ways, in carriages drawn by many horses*, to their dwellings, many thousand paces distant.

And in the morning Beecham looked from his window, and said unto his wife and his servants: “It is well.”

*           'Tis said, though I believe it not, that in sundry parts of the world beyond the Pillars of Hercules, men have made carriages to move at great speeds, without horses, oxen or elephants. If so, it is grossly impious.

Club Library

Following up the note printed in the last BB, the Hon. Sec,, and Librarian have been checking up further on the library. As a result of this examination the following books are found to be missing:-

British Caver, Vol. 14. Copy. C.
British Caver, Vol. 15. Copy. A.
Cave Science. No.1.
U.B.S.S. Proceedings 1943. Copy C
U.B.S.S. Proceedings Vol.5. No.3., 1944-46.

The library has always been made available for reference on Thursday evenings, and these books must have been taken home for reference without notifying the Librarian: will all members with books at home please check that they have none of these listed above amongst them: if so please send them, to the Librarian as soon as possible.

From the Hon. Sec's Postbag.

As you all know the Hon. Sec. has a considerable amount of mail from members and others. Some of these letters are from 'Furrln' Parts and are of general interest, others contain items that are worth passing on to members but would not in themselves be worthy of a special article. The Editor will browse through these letters from time to time and anything worth while will be printed under the above heading.

From Tony Crawford, now serving with the Royal Navy. He has been stationed near Porthleven.:-

----—There is a pool called Loe Pool and on the east side of it there is a boarded up opening that leads to an extensive and dangerous lead mine. These caves are noted for their stinking rotten sea-weed, dead fish, crabs and lobster-pots which rather sullies the pure Cornish air.—---------Our Naval Engineers pumped oil fuel through our fire water pipes system, so the fire fighting practice team pumped oil on to a fire, much to their surprise.--------

From Terry Reed, then in Rio:-

Report on Rio is disappointing. "All this coast line is igneous and eruptive. Every minor hill meriting the description of mountain.------- I found nothing even giving me a hope of a 'dirty great hole' and my attention was somewhat diverted when two girls sitting behind me started to squirt scent into my ear, and later into the 3rd. mate's beard--------

From John (Menace) Morris.:-

There is another cave in Plymouth itself; it starts in the limestones down by the Hoe and is supposed to run far a considerable distance. There are supposed to be some very good formations.—--------


We are pleased to announce that S.J. (Alfie) Collins was married on Sat. 19th June to Miss Jean Hill at Dartford.  Pat Woodroofe was the best man.


Back Numbers of this Bulletin are obtainable, when in print, from the Hon. Sec. 3d. each; post free, 4d each.

Programme, for September. October and November, 1948


Saturday 4th              Digging. Vicinity of Belfry
Sunday 35th       Ditto.
Sunday 19th       Swildons 1 & 2


Saturday 9th       Bath Freestone Workings
Sunday 24th       Muddy Mendip Mine Shafts.


Saturday 6th       Lamb Leer.
Sunday 21st       Eastwater, Both Routes.

Will all members intending to go on any of these trips please notify Hon. Sec so that arrangements may be made.


The following poem has been sent down by Don Coase. It was written in the 1935 diving days by, I believe, Mossy Powell to whom we give due acknowledgement; Club members who have been on CDG Ops. at Wookey, will I am sure enjoy it. Ed.

On Saturday nights the Diving Gang,
A wild and lawless crew,
With pumps, and ropes, and scarlet hats,
And shirts of navy blue,
Come roaring down from Mendip's heights
In Wookey Hole to pitch-
So call the Wing-Co. quickly Boys,
To chaperone the Witch!

Begob! They are the toughest crowd
That ever filled the Cave,
The Celtics and Romano- Brits
Lie shaking in their grave.
They'd use a pound of gelignite,
To open any niche
So call the Wing-Co, quickly Boys,
To chaperone the Witch!

The Diver takes some holding down,
It's done with leaden weights,
His frightful boots are made of brass,
As Safety First dictates.
His range is quite four hundred feet,
Before there comes a hitch-
So call the Wing-Co, quickly Boys,
To chaperone the Witch!

Before they go, on Sunday Morn,
They take a last look round,
And anything they may have missed
Will now be surely found;
The mermaids of the river Axe
Lie swooning in the ditch,-
So call the Wing-Co, quickly Boys,
To chaperone the Witch!

Will all those stalwarts who are interested in digging please Contact Jim Weekes or Dick Woodbridge, when they will find that there is plenty of work at hand for them to do.

The Belfry

The new hut is still being chased but there has, at the time of to press, been no purchase made as yet. The old Hut had been reared phoenix like from its own ashes and is being used until the great day.


Those members who attend our Thursday evening meetings will remember out American friend Albert Eccles, "Ek" to the gang. He has now returned to and has sent over a cartoon cut from a newspaper in his home town.  This cartoon shows two mountain goats.  One of those has fallen off its mountain top, and is lying rather the worst for wear on .a pile of boulders at its foot. The caption reads:-“A family tradition of sure-footedness for ten thousand years, and you have to bust it!” He has added: “Dedicated to all the B.E.C. Cavers. It may not be Stoke Lane, but—-----!!!”

Ek had his first experience of Caving in Stoke Lane.

More news from is from Joan Fountain in Texas. She sends her love to all the gang and Happy Caving!!


One Belfry Tent, Property of B.E.C.,
One Ground Sheet, Property of Pongo Wallis,
One Sleeping Bag, Property of R.A. Setterington,
& One Folding Primus, Property of B.E.C.

The above have been borrowed from the Belfry. Would the person who did the dirty deed please return them as soon as possible. If gear is wanted please ask any committee man, who will willingly explain who owns the various kit and if it is borrowable.


In these days of inflation & what have you, the costs of developing and printing has also risen. Members will be pleased to hear that if they contact Bob Bagshaw they can obtain films and get developing, printing and enlarging done at about 2/3 of normal shop prices.


T.H. Stanbury,   Hon. Sec, 74. Redcatch Read, Bristol.4.
J.C. Weekes,    Recorder & Assist. Sec, 376 Wells Road, Bristol.4.
D.H. Hasell        Hon. Editor, Belfry Bulletin, 1.Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somt.
A.M. Innes        Hon. Librarian, 246, Filton Ave., Bristol.7.
G.Platten,         Hon. Editor, British Caver, Rotherfield Fernhill Lane, New Milton Hants..


First a Correction,

In the last BB we announced that Don Coase was supplying photographs for sale by the Club. This should have read Don Coase and W.J. Shorthose are doing the work for the Club.

By the way, these photographs are copyright, and must not be reproduced without their permission.

Apologies to all concerned, for the omission. Editor.


*We have received from the Assistant Hon. Sec.of U.B.S.S. the following letter which we are printing in full:-

Dear Sirs,

Would you be so kind as to bring to your members’ notice the following:

Members of the Bristol University Speleological Society have marked a number of bats in Mendip Caves, in connection with research on the habits of the animals. The bats are marked with a metal tag on one wing bearing the words UBSS and a number.

It is earnestly requested that anyone finding such bats should not injure them or remove their tags. We will however be obliged if the finder makes accurate note of the following details and sends it to the Sec. of the Society.

1. Letters and numbers on band

2. Cave (& part of cave) where bat was found

3. Date of finding

Any such information will be of great value to us.

Bats may also be found bearing tags with the following words on

“Van Schaik- Zool. Mus. Utrecht. Holland" and a number.

Information concerning these should be sent to;

The Zoological Museum,

Or to the Sec of this Society.

Thanking you for your co-operation,

I am.

Yours sincerely,

H. Wright, Assist Hon Sec

The Caves and General district surrounding Burrington Coombe in Hydrology

by P.A.E. Stewart.

Burrington Coombe is one of the finest cave areas on Mendip. In its limestone flanks lie two Master Cave systems whose Hydrology is one of the most fascinating studies that I have yet encountered.

These can be classified as the systems with resurgences at Langford and Rickford.

Taking the Langford Master Cave first, one can include definitely the Swallets of Read’s Cavern, Bos Swallet, Drunkard's Hole, Rod's Pot and Bath Swallet.

Sidcot Swallet is rather indeterminate - the general direction of the cave trends toward Landford, but, however, the present active waterway trends towards Rickford. Sidcot also has not a great altitude above the water table and it is doubtful whether the mechanical erosion of the water would be capable of carrying a passage the distance to the Master Cave (Langford System).

The Rickford Master Cave may be extremely large, taking water from Goatchurch Cavern and the other main sink in Lower Twin Brook, and East Twin Brook Swallet. It must also have taken the drainage from Plumley's Hole, Aveline's Hole, and Foxes Hole as well as the roadside swallets on Burrington Ham when water was flowing down Burrington Coombe.

Mr. Balch of Wells also puts forward the interesting theory that water at the bottom of Cow Hole also issues at Rickford Rising - however, this water may possibly issue at a rising between Ubley and Compton Martin.

Sidcot may again join the Goatchurch waters to emerge at Rickford.

An Analysis cf the Swallets follows:-

Langford Swallets

Read's Cavern. Water issues from the sandstone, crosses, the shale band and sinks naturally at the foot of the cliff on the southside of the track from Burrington to Rowberrow. When there has been little rain the stream sinks further up the valley in a subsidence that may in time become a passable swallet. This water appears in "Z. Alley", sinks again and reappears later in the system.

When there has been more rain, the water sinks at the western base of the cliff, reappears in the present waterway at the western end of the Main chamber and can be followed down through an intricate maze of passages to the "Tee Slot". It was for the purpose of exploring this system that a party led by the author descended the cave on 30/11/47. The "Tee Slot" was reached, but due to size, the author could not penetrate further. Pat Browne then undertook the lead and the exploration was carried on to about the same distance from the entrance to the "Tee Slot". More massive limestones were reached than are obtainable in the Upper cave and water - very probably from the "Z Alley" - was encountered. Numerous choked side passages and sinks were encountered and signs of flooding were noticed. This lower system (which was subsequently named "B-S" System), is more stable than the upper parts of Read's, although a hectic few moments were enjoyed when a bank of scree began to avalanche in the best traditions of the London Escalators. Between the upper and lower systems however there is a zone of highly unstable rock., each rock supporting three or four others and an objective contemplation of the scene roundabout brings on a violent dislike of movement!!

About 300 ft, of vertical depth was obtained at the furthest point - this leaves about another 100 ft. to the water table, leaving one to imagine that the flood marks may be the result of constrictions of the water passages. The horizontal development of the cave is not large and the inference - borne out by other observations in different areas, is that mechanical erosion carries the cave down to the water table in a fairly constant distance, this being proportional to the strata dip.

If this is so, then the Langford Master Cave must be at the present moment in phreatic state fed by vadose swallets.

Bos Swallett ls a tight crawl with little of interest to show hydrologioally.

Drunkard’s Hole is a tight rift development with two small final chambers,

Rod’s Pot, opened in 1944 by R.A.J. Pearce drops from O.D.575ft. at the entrance to about O.D, 390 ft.(scaled from map in U.B.S.S. Proceedings) - this gives over 190 ft. of vertical depth to the water table, although the water table might be perched near this swallet as the impervious rock outcrops close on the 500 ft. contour in Mendip Lodge Wood north of the Pot. There is about 200 ft, of horizontal development in this cave and the terminal chamber is quite large so more may be expected from this system.

Bath Swallet has not as yet been completely opened, one or two chambers have been entered but progress has been very slow.

There are one or two other hollows and digs about the U.B.S.S. Headquarters, but nothing of any size as far as I know, (15/2/49.). Professor Palmer obtained some interesting results in some water table determination tests carried out with the Megger Earth Tester at Link Batch, but these results may be purely local. He has also carried out a search in the region of Warren House on the north side of Dolebury Warren.

Rickford Swallets.

Goatchurch Cavern. This from its structure seems to have been the subject of phreatic development - it has the general lattice structure of the type - it is a bedding plane cave with three (so far) levels of development known. It is supposed to be about 220 ft. aneroid depth, so there is about 80 ft. before one reaches saturation level (in Rickford Rising). Incidentally the stream in Goatchurch Water Chamber was running recently when no water was present outside the Waterworks Enclosure in Twinbrook. This rather knocks on the head various salt tests carried out when water was sinking at the dig half way down the valley. It may be that the water seen in the "Sump" is not encountered elsewhere in the cave.

The Dig that someone has carried out near the rock face in Twinbrook leads to a rift but is still too tight to follow.

The Large Crater near Sidcot leads to Sidcot secondary system - the water possibly leading to Rickford,

Plumley's Hole, This is a vertical shaft in the quarry above Mendip Gate. It is marked on the Ordnance Survey 6" 1931 as “Plumley's Den". This is a misnomer, Plumley's Den being Foxes Hole. This has finally been settled and the new name will probably appear on the latest OS Maps - when they appear!! It may be a natural shaft on a fault, this can be seen in a shaft further up the Coombe above Aveline's Hole, There was no report of any water in Plumley's so It is of no interest in the present Hydrology.

Aveline's Hole has streams apparent at two points. At the far end of the main chamber in wet weather, and also in the lower series. This may be the same stream. Where it goes now is rather dubious - the original cave itself seems to be of strike development and there is much more to find in Aveline's if the general run of the cave is followed. Aveline's entrance is at 400 ft. OD giving 200 ft of depth to saturation level. The source of the stream in Aveline's is also a mystery.

The Shaft above Aveline's has loose earth at the bottom, and if dug may go further - there is no stream - it was probably a feeder swallet in the formation of the Coombe.

Whitcombe's Hole is likewise of no importance.

Smaller Swallets formed at a later date are Tratman's Dig and other minor digs opposite East Twinbrook.

Foxes Hole (Plumley’s Den) is an early formation swallet. In the lower of the three chambers, stalagmite covers a rift down which a small stream flows.

Toad's Hole and Frog’s Hole the origin of these mined shafts is a mystery.

Pig Hole is a mined adit into a rift of bedding plane formation.

A Large Rift in the woods behind Pig Hole.

East Twinbrook Swallet. This cave has three chambers, the third recently reopened by Sidcot Speleos - it is however in loose rock and until it reaches the limestone proper and finishes with the passages beds to the shales, we can expect no large system. This cave has however fine possibilities and should reach more solid rock within about another 300 ft., the small digs on the other side of the road should join the East Twin System. East Twin is on the 500 ft. O.D., so it has quite a depth to go.

The formation of the Coombe is rather a moot point, however we can assume that, unless there has been some massive earth movement or a concentration of the American/Lower Severn Axis movements hereabouts, Mendip top was some thousands of feet higher than at present, from the strats angle. Thus at the time the Coombe was formed there is every chance that it was in the same state as GB is today. Cheddar according to Martel was formed in that way. If so we can put an approximate date to all the swallets in the Coombe. Probably the cycle is is:

1, That the Coombe was phreatic,
2. That the mud filling was washed cut and into tho bottom swallets, e.g. Aveline's;
3. Thiat the surface was eroded and the roof fell in;
4. That the phreatic system was modified by vadose streams;
5. That small vadose systems wore formed.

The fitting of these caves into the hydrogeological formation of the district is largely hypothesis and the rest imagination, with about 10 p.c. field observation - it is like trying to work out a jigsaw from half the pieces present. It is however an extremely fascinating subject.

P.A.E. Stewart.


We are delighted to announce the forthcoming wedding of Reg Hazell and Miss Beryl Herman. They are to be married at St. Mary Redcliffe on Thursday 21st April. Thus two B.E.C, families become linked, Although not a caver herself Beryl is a sister of our popular member Stan Herman.

The Editor has received an anonymous letter signed by "Becite", who will be interested to know that such letters are not considered by the Committee or the Editor of the BB. If any member wishes to make any criticism we shall be only too glad to receive it.

D.R. Hasell Hon. Ed..

Fresh News from the Divers at Peak.

Since the last BB the following information has come to hand:-"Four members of C,D.G. again entered the Buxton Water Passage-and advanced beyond the previous point till after approx. 3,000 ft, a second sump stopped progress. Plans are in hand to tackle this shortly. The dressers who had also passed a duck in Speedwell Water, linked up after 1,500 ft with the Buxton Water Passage. Several side passages await attention". Although the London Section of B.E.C, is 'officially' dormant, it is seen by the above that our members there are certainly going places.


There has been a big run on the Stoke Lane Pictures, but there are still some left. Send in for a selection as soon as you can, and be sure of getting a number to choose from before they are gone.


London Section News

In addition to the splendid news from Peak, the London section in addition to a very full local programme, details of which will be published when available, is planning a week on Mendip the dates being from 23rd July to 1st August. The final details will be printed when I have them.


The following has been received from Pongo Wallis.:-

"The following is taken from the description of 'Natterer's Bat' in 'British Bats' by Brian Veasey-Fitz-gerald. It seems to apply very well to the inhabitants of the Belfry.

The Natterer has much hair on its face. It goes into caves for hibernation at the end of September and does not resume activities until the end of March. There is no segregation of the sexes during hibernation. Hibernation is very fitful as there is much disturbance in the roost, so many occupants are woken before hibernation is really over.

The Natterer is very gregarious and sociable, living in large colonies. It is little affected by the weather, though it dislikes a cold east wind. The time of its evening flight is very variable, on many days in the summer, coming out before sunset. There is much squeaking before emergence.

It alights head up or down impartially. If the latter, it turns a somersault before alighting, but it is not good at this manoeuvre and often misses its foothold. It makes a long and careful toilet?!!

It drinks on the wing, and squeaks continually in flight. The squeaks are loud and can be heard by anyone with normal hearing.

It is found in the vicinity of water, but is not water loving.

It is generally but locally distributed in the West of England.


There are two new Caving Books to be published shortly. Both are on the Laxaux painted caves, Pongo who sends in this information will doubtless review them in the BB at a later date.


Owing to lack of space "The Hon. See's Postbag" feature has had to be held over until a later issue.


The Birmingham Cave and Crag Club have during the last month spent a weekend as our guests on Mendip. They visited Swildons Hole and G.B.


T.H. Stanbury Hon Sec. 74 Redcatch Road; Knowle, Bristol 4,
W.J. Shorthose, Hon. Sec, London Section, 7.Marius Mansions, Rowfant Boad, Balham, London. S.W.17.


List of Members 1948. No.6.

D.G. Brown 12 Edgerton Road, Bath, Somerset
S. Treasure Stoke Lane Poultry Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Bath, Somerset.
J.W. Ifold Leigh House,Nempett Thrubwell, Chew Stoke, Somerset
A.J. Needs 63 Callington Road, Brislington, Bristol.
C. Bennett 23 Uplands Road, Fishponds, Bristol.
Miss M, Thomas 6. Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol.
J. Long 24. Bannerman Road, Easton, Bristol.
R.A.Ifold 32.Coburg Road, Montpelier, Bristol
E.O. Howell 4 Compton Drive, Sea Mills Park, Bristol 9
M. Hannam 14. Vyvyan Terrace, Clifton, Bristol.8

Notes on the collecting of Cave Flora.

(Extracted from the American National Speleological Societies’ Bulletin No.6.p,48, and submitted by D.A.Coase.)

Cave Flora may contain representatives of the four major groups of plants viz:- Thallophytes,(Fungi & allies); Bryophytes,(Mosses & their allies); Pteridophytes,(Ferns & their allies); and Spermatophytes, (Flowering Plants). Each of these groups presents a special problem in collecting.


In this group are the Bacteria, Algae and Fungi. You will probably not see Bacteria and for the time being it would be best to disregard them. Algae should be collected in screw top phials of water, preferably the water in which they are found growing. Fungi will be the plants most commonly encountered in caves, especially in zones of total darkness. The fleshy fruiting bodies of many fungi such as mushrooms, etc., should be collected in bottles of weak 5 pc formaldehyde solution. Woody specimens which will not dry out too much may be collected in boxes or other similar containers. Filimentous fungi, i.e. the mould like forms should be scraped into sterile screw top phials.


The BRYOPHYTES contain the liverworts and mosses. They are most likely to be found near cave entrances and in the zone of partial darkness. LIVERWORTS are usually quite succulent and should be collected In 5 pc formaldehyde solution. MOSSES will revive sufficiently to be recognised even after having dried out, so they may be collected in match-boxes or similar containers. When possible collect a small clump of the moss Including the organic material upon which it is growing.


The PTERIDOPHYTES include the FERNS and their allies. These too will most likely be found near the entrance end in the areas of partial darkness. Probably the beat way to collect these plants is to spread the fronds out flat between the pages of a note book if the plants are small enough. Larger plants may be brought out of the cave and spread out between folded newspapers or the pages of an old book to dry. When the plants are abundant, collect the whole plant, root and all. When only a few are present, collect only a single frond. Be sure to collect a frond that has the brown fruiting bodies on the undersides or margins of the fronds whenever they are present.


The last group the SPERMATOPHYTES, contains the seed plants. Whenever possible the whole plant should be collected; when this is not possible, collect a part or branch of the plant with several leaves. These specimens will probably be very succulent and fragile, so for the time being it would seem best to preserve them in a 5 pc formaldehyde or a 30 pc alcohol solution.

All of these suggestions are merely suggestions and will probably be modified as we become more familiar with plant life in caves. Be sure to include a complete label with your specimens giving name of cave, location in cave, and name of collector. Also include any notes of interest about the specimen, such as its abundance; and since preserving solutions remove colour, be sure to note any colour which may be present in the specimen when collected.

C.E. Cox.

The following has been added by Brig. E.A .Glennie of C.R.G.:-

The only group of importance to collect is thallophytes well inside the cave.

Of the other classes you will get them only in the threshold and get only what any botanist might expect to find in any shady cranny. This is surface flora only and of no special spelaeological interest.

Enquiry by me at Kew some time ago produced the following informations- Fungi in caves in total darkness will go on vegetatively, i.e., developing mycelium, almost indefinitely without fruiting and in that form cannot be Identified.

The only way to collect them is to collect them into jars, or between damp paper and grow them under more favourable conditions until they fruit. This requires expert treatment. They did not considered specimens collected in formalin useful. The ideological Institute is interested in fungi found growing on insects. Bacteria of course is a job for an expert, but very much wants tackling.


Annual General Meeting

As usual the Annual General Meeting will be held early in December the actual date being announced later. The existing committee consisting of T.H. Stanbury, D.H. Hasell, D.A.Coase, J.C. Weekes, and I.M. Innes, and the.Co-opted member, R.A. Setterington will resign in accordance with our constitution. Members are asked to send in nominations for the 1943 committee by October 9th at the latest. It is pointed out that a committee man is eligible for re-election on the new committee providing that he is nominated in the normal way.

Bristol Quads

CONGRATULATIONS to the "Bristol Quads" (Messrs. Weekes, Innes, Wodbridg & Needs), to their Nurse,(Mrs. Iris Stanbury), and to their driver (our Hon. Sec), for their effort in both raising a laugh and £2 for the club funds by winning the first prize in their class in Bude Carnival. The Quads were dressed in long white nighties and bonnets and were sat in a trailer; they all had dummies, a feeding bottle and & Guinness bottle. The Nurse kept them in order with a mallet and their nappies and a very necessary utensil hung from a clothes line suspended above the car, which was decorated with flags. The police controlling the crowds were greeted with cries of "Da-da" from the babes and a good time was had by all. Photographs may be inspected at HQ.*

Warning Flooding of Stoke Lane Swallet

On Saturday 21st August, Coase. Setterington, Wallis and a visitor went down Stoke Lane Swallet at 2.0 p.m. There had been a fine drizzle since about 10 a.m. and the weather the proceeding week had been fairly wet. The stream itself w was not noticeably increased although Coase, who knows the cave fairly wall, declared that the water was higher than usual. At the sump Wallis turned back and explored various side passages, eventually reaching the surface at 5.0 p.m., where it was still raining, although there was again no noticeable Increase in the volume of the stream.

The others had been photographing in the Throne Room and Bone Chamber and returning to the Main Chamber at about 6.0. p.m., the stream was found to be increased considerably and to be extremely muddy.

At the Sump the level had risen by at least 3 inches, and a large stream was flowing down Browne's Passage, which from the Cairn Chamber to the Nut-meg Grater was flooded about 1 foot deep. Most of the water was entering from a small rift just below the Nut-meg Grater, but a small stream was flowing down the passage from just before the Pool Chamber, which was naturally full.

As Coase was getting through the Corkscrew, at the beginning of Browne's Passage, a small trickle started to flow along the floor down the main passage. From the main sink in the old cave, the stream was overflowing down the passage and sinking again into two fissures.

At the entrance, the water was overflowing from the Main sink and pouring into the 'Caver's' entrance. It was still raining fairly hard and continued to do so for several hours.

It wouldn't have required a very great increase to have made Browne's Passage impassable. So take heed of this warning.

Make sure that the weather is reasonably settled before going down Stoke Lane. If it is raining when you go down, watch the water level and be prepared for a hasty retreat.

The main danger is not from a sudden thunderstorm, but when the ground is thoroughly sodden, and a continuous downpour sets in. During the winter especially, it may remain like this for several days or even weeks.

Whilst discussing Stoke Lane, a further warning: The stream is heavily contaminated with a large percentage of organic matter and any cuts or abrasions, however small are liable to suppurate, (in BEC Language “to fester”), and should be treated as soon as possible with Dettol or similar germicide. (Dettol is generally to be found at the Belfry).


Editor's Notes on the above article.

Those who know Stoke Lane need no further elaboration on the above which is the first report received about the cave under flood, or rather the start of flood, conditions. To those who have not yet indulged, but are thinking of doing so, KEEP AWAY if the weather is doubtful, and let us know anyway whenever you go. There are signs in the cave that the majority of the "old" cave is subject to complete flooding under bad conditions, as tins, branches etc. jammed in the roof out of reach testify.

From our Roving Reporter in London,

It is learned that Frank Seward has recently become engaged to Miss Doris Sheridan, not a caver herself, but it is hoped that this will not prevent them from still visiting the Belfry from time to time.

From the Hon. Sec's Postbaf

From our good friend and member Pongo Wallis. "As you may be aware a BEC party have recently spent a week 'potting' in Yorkshire. We took a copy of 'Pennine Underground' with us and we feel that in light of our experience some further comments to my original criticism in BB are called for.

-------- in a week we could not possibly exhaustively test the book, but in our opinion the directions given for finding the pots are hopelessly inadequate. In most cases the maps were of far more use than the text, but there are unfortunately numerous errors in them as well------. We gathered from local 'potters' that the statements of tackle required were also frequently in error, but ------- all the ladders we climbed personally, were correctly stated.-------a good deal of searching around the position marked may be necessary to find a cave. .-------

From Tony Johnson recently on vacation at Carreghofa Hall, Llanymynech.

-------- The caves on the hills have turned out to be very disappointing. Three that I got into are blocked by falls which I hadn't time to clear. I penetrated about 1000 feet into an old lead/copper mine level but came to a blank end. The last small hole I haven’t entered as a family of badgers are firmly entrenched in the entrance chamber.

From John Hull at Suez,

-------- I blush to admit that I haven't done any caving since I left . I did try to investigate some holes in Camel Hill, Haifa, but the Arabs or Jews were using them for their own purposes, and after two or three shots had whizzed over my head, I decided that caving had its limits and beat a hasty retreat. Here on the Gulf of Suez the thermometer is hovering around 105 degrees-----------but I’m pressing on regardless and dreaming of Stoke Lane. ------

Joan Morris fully living up to his title of the Menace, has pioneered a new route up a face in Snowdonia. His letter didn’t make it clear which face it was. Lets have the details John, Congratulations to you and your companion.

Our Hon. Sec. has just returned from a fortnight's stay in . A week of which was spent, at the invitation of the Wessex Cave Club, in visiting the caves in the area of Valence he tells me that he had a smashing time, and that he will write a brief resume of his travels. The second week was spent in the area of Grenoble, and excursions were made in and on top of busses besides using Shank's Pony.

Incidentally, blame the Sec. for the BB being late this month, he arrived back in too late to print it at the usual time.

Several inquiries have been made recently about page 6, and the disappearance of the cartoons from it. What about it, Halfpint? Has the well of inspiration dried up? The BB needs articles, too.

They are its lifeblood. Come on chaps, pick up your pens and write. Who knows, under that brute-like exterior may lurk a literary heart!!!

Clifton Caving Club

Recently a number of youngsters formed a new society, the Clifton Caving Club. They were inexperienced in many ways, but had the makings of good cavers. We were approached by their representative and they have now sunk their identity in our own. We are very pleased to welcome them to the B.E.C. "Family Circle" and hope that they will spend many happy hours with us underground.

News for the Somerset Section of The Cave Diving Group

(Note. All members of the Somerset Section of the C.D.G. are B.E.C. men, so I am sure that those not in the C.D.G. will excuse these few lines being devoted to diving.).

General instruction and practice will start, we hope at Bristol South Baths, by the middle of this Month again we hope. Each member will be notified personally when the final details are fixed up. Intending applicants for membership please note, that there is a long waiting list of partly trained bods. Until those have been trained there is no hope of an applicant, even if he is accepted for membership, doing any diving. Things generally in the Somerset Section have been dormant during the Summer for a multitude of reasons. We hope that we shall get back into trim quickly again, however and to start some at least of the diving jobs that want doing in this part of the world.

T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec.

The books listed as lost in the last BB together with the Tent Etc., HAVE NOT.YET BEEN RETURNED. Come on you bods. Cough ‘em up. Surely the whole organisation hasn't got to suffer because of the thoughtlessness of one or two???????????

List of Members 1948. No.7

R.E.J. Gough Camp Farm, Elberton, Olveston, Bristol.
E.J. Mason 11. Kendon Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.
G.W. Ridyard 14. Harvey Road, Croxley Green, Herts..
Miss P.Richards The Cottage, Wellsway, Keynsham, Somerset
W.T.Udall 10. Windsor Terrace, Bristol.8.
R. Hazell 1. Tralee Walk, Bristol.4.
M. Bayfield-Davies c/o G.P.O., Dartmouth, Devon.
G. Orren 68. Hazelbury Road, Knowle, Bristol
M. Lansdown c/o 376, Wells Road, Bristol.4.
Miss M. May The Chantry, Old Church Road, Clevedon, Somerset
Miss.D. Vickery Seaton Lodge, Station Road, Staple hill, Bristol.
T. Hodge 8, The Avenue, Clifton, Bristol
R.A.Shelton 18. Walsh Avenue, Hengrove, Bristol.4.
A.R. Preston 43. West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol.4.
J. Swift 3. Wellesley Street, Lawrence Rill, Bristol.
F. Sharland 4. Vera Street, Taunton, Somerset
R.H. Newman 77. Beaufort Road, St. George, Bristol.5.

Some Notes on 'Mendip Mining'

by P.A.E. Stewart.

Mining has been carried on in Mendip from time immemorial, it began in Pre-Roman times and was organised after Caesar's invasion. The principal stations on Mendip were situated at Charterhouse, Priddy and the port of Uphill, and their lead, being smelted on the spot, was sent on the Roman road over Mendip top to the Severn.

Between the Middle Ages, and the Roman period, there is no base for saying definitely to what extent the industry was carried on, but in Richard Lionheart's reign, he granted mining privileges to the Bishop of Bath.

Throughout the following years, we find mention of mines at "Hidun" or Haydon (near Nordrach-on-Mendip), Rowberrow, and Burrington(1489). About the early 16th century the working declined, but we begin to hear of the mines at Chewton Mendip, they later revived and reached their maximum development in the 17th century. At this time there were mines in operation all over Mendip. They were however, divided into various areas of jurisdiction or ''Liberties” These were:-

West Liberty, where the lead that was mined at Ubley, Blagdon, Burrington and Cheddar was taken to the lead works at Charterhouse.

Harptree Liberty, the lead from the Lamb Leer area, Lord's Lot, Haydon, Castle of Comfort, and Wurt Pit was worked at Frances Plantation near Smitham Hill.

Chewton Liberty the mines at Red Quar, Tor Hole, Emborough, and "Gocedyres" or Cuckoo Cleeves sent their ore to the Waldegrave Works near Waldegrave Pool.

Wells Liberty the lead from the mines in an area Wells-Rodney Stoke- Westbury Beacon-Priddy Nine Barrows- Fair Well, (in Priddy mineries)- Green Ore- Masbury, were sent to St. Cuthbert's Lead Works.(The old site of the Belfry).

These 'Liberties' belonged to various people, who were called “Lords Royal”; they were respectively the Lords of East Harptree, the Gurneys, The Lords of Chewton Manor, and the Bishop of Wells, Charterhouse, however is rather in doubt, it seems to have belonged in turn to:-Witham Friary, who had a monastery there, the May family, and finally to Lord Gore.

It may be opportune here to mention the visit of 'Lord' Chocke. “Lord” Chocke was actually Richard Chocke of Stanton Drew, he was appointed a J.P. and bought Ashton Court in 1454. In 1469 he judged a mining dispute at Axbridge and he died in 1486. 'Lord' Chocke was supposed to have drawn up the Mendip mining laws, but these ware actually in existence long before his time. These laws were finally codified. They were vary stern in ways, For instance, if a miner stole, he was put in his house with all his mining tools and burnt. This is the old custom of "Burning from the Hill''. They also gave the miner very considerable rights, but, however, quibbles always arose and were dealt with in the mineral courts.

The lead mines were at their peak in the 17th century, when Chewton, Bowsland,(Tor hole), Priddy, Harptree, and the West Minories were all producing. Later on in the years following, the price of lead fell considerably, and due to other causes, the mineries closed one by one and by 1813, Priddy Mineries had closed. However, odd mines were still producing on Mendip. On 6th May, 1830, an adit was dug on Dolbury Rill and nearby Mr. Webster,(a retired officer) spent his fortune in driving the level at Sandford.

The main future of the lead works was in the middle 19th century when the Cornishmen brought improved smelting methods to Mendip. These men put up their works in various places near the old load works and resmelted the slag heaps, Nichols Enner undertook to work the St. Cuthberts heaps, Mr. E.H. Barwell worked the Waldegrave holdings and the Rev. E.T. Treffry the Charterhouse works. These men used the new reverberatery furnaces, round buddles and the draugnt tubes or horizontal flues. The flues were used to load the smoke or “flight” from the furnaces for a long distance before coming from a chimney stack to the open air. The reason for this is that the smoke contains a high proportion of volatile lead, and it condenses on the walls of the flue; this was periodically scraped and re-smelted. At St. Cuthberts in 1864 the flue was 800 yards lung, the soot collected in the first 550 yards yielded 60 pc lead and the remaining 250 yards to the chimney was 50 to 55 pc lead.

The final death knell of the Priddy Minery was the decisicn of the court in the Enner vs Hodgkinson water pollution case; Waldegrave works finished in 1885, in 1884 the Charterhouse works finished, the Harptree Mineries died out in 1875. Spasmodic working without using the water was carried at St. Cuthberts until 1908 when the works wore dismantled and sold. During the first World War, the Charterhouse Mineries were again at work, with 6 men, but at the close of the war the work finished.

A way in which losses were defrayed was the extraction of silver from the lead, the old heman cupellation process which was considered unprofitable if silver contained was less than 8 oz. per ton being of little use.- The new Pattinson process was perfected and a small plant was erected at Charterhouse - the ruins are on the east side of the valley almost opposite the Roman Camp in Velvet Bottom.

So it was that the Mendip Mineries, starting in the mists of antiquity continuing through Roman times and receiving an added impetus from the discovery of gunpowder in the middle ages, finally died one by-one. All that serves to remind us of the ''Old Men" who worked on Mendip top and finally came to rest in God's Acre are the long 'rakes' and stretches of “gruffy” ground in the hills.

From the Hon. See's Postbag,

From Jerry Hull, M.E.L.F.

------------I am feeling in very good spirits today because yesterday I discovered a cave!! It isn't exactly what could be called a cave in , but it is the first one I have ever had on my own.

At the back of this camp------ starts a range of hills known as the Ataka Mountains. In this range there is a gorge, a kind of miniature Cheddar Gorge. It is about a mile long and is at times very grand. In parts it runs between vertical walls some 500 ft. high and is only 40 feet wide. In its upper sections it widens out into a shallow V, huge rocks piled on either side, with here and there a colonnade some 300-400 ft. high showing strata red, blue, green, snow-white and black in colour.-----About halfway up this gorge I found what I had been looking for, a cave.

The main cave follows a fault in the rock face and goes from one entrance to the other in the space of 320 ft. Here and there it comes to the surface for a brief interval. As you can see the main cave is of little interest, but there are a number of side passages which may repay further investigation.-------

From Terry Reed at Antefagasta, .

---------- At a distance of 4 hours ride to the south----- are three or four very large sea caves, which are readily accessable. To the north at the far end of the Bay is a natural arch in the sandstone - known as El Porta. In the desert, over the mountains by the feet of which Antofagasta squats, lie an immense number of old and extensive workings for gold, silver and copper.'---------

From Terry Reed at Colon:-

-------- I have a heck of a lot of dope on S. American Caves, Cave Temples, Temples and ---little fellows---- never quite tamed who retain the habit of shrinking Human heads to the size of an orange.--------Have gen on:- Cave of the Virginon - Mt. Curacoa, Cave of the Millodon, Straits of Magellan, Cave of Guayabal & Caves of Mt. Vent in Mexico.

I should appreciate any snapshots of Caving to show to my friends anso please remember ME if any spare prints are floating about.---------

(Note. The Hon. Sec will be pleased to forward any spare caving prints that any one may have. These will help to remind our most roving member that Mendip and its netherworld still exists, although he is divorced from it. Ed.).

Faith and Friction

A joint effort by J.V. Morris and G.M. Whitaker.

Being Yet Another Episode in the Adventures of the Menace.

In contrast to the usual caving effort, I thought it might be of interest to offer an article on how not to rock Climb.

The climbing was decided upon as practice for a forthcoming graunch on Gable, Pillar, Scafell etc.. The site chosen for this suicidal venture being Anstey's Cove, whose weathered limestone cliffs make a passable climbing practice ground.

First came the question of the rope; finding the clothes line not long enough, the dinghy's anchor rope was immediately seized, cleaned and dried, and apart from a few strands of seaweed and its inability to hold more than a hundred pounds, it proved quite passable. Since then, this article has been returned to its former use, a spivvish length of nylon replacing it.

Arriving at the Cove, we decided upon the "Central Gully" which lies directly opposite the Tea Hut. As gullies go it was quite massive, about 550 ft. high. The first hundred feet proved comparatively easy, composed of scree and short pitches. From there we completed three routes.

The first was a left hand wall, slab traverse ending in a chimney finish. During this climb a good photo was taken of George trying to inflate himself with a bottle of very fizzy beer, presumably in an effort to float to the top.

The second climb was a direct ascent of the gulley, with the same chimney finish.

Then came the bind of the whole proceedings. On the right hand wall we had noticed a vertical crack, leading to a vile sloping traverse above a large overhang. Upon this George was determined to commit suicide. The crack went quite well, the belay at the top, being to say the least of it, sketchy. From here George, proceeded to lead across the traverse, relying on the fact that he hadn't shaved that day. The more I locked at it, the less I liked it, and when after much suspense he disappeared round the corner and called "come on, I've gut a fine beley", I didn't believe a word of it, but relying on “Faith and Friction” I pressed on regardless,

To my great surprise I traversed safely across and found George lashed to quite a reasonable belay. From there the climb proceeded to the top, up what in normal times would have been a really difficult crack, but which after the horrors of the “Church Roof Traverse” we romped up in great style, with the exception of George dislodging a rock on to my head. The seagulls for miles around took a distinct exception to my vocabulary,

Latter we proceeded to the Cave Gully, the first pitch of which was a, perpendicular cave of jammed boulders. From here a scree shute led to the top of the gulley, or a hundred foot climb, up the right hand wall, was much more acceptable to the "Menace" spirit. I then proceeded to climb it, whilst George stood by paying out the rope, issuing advice and sarcastic comments. When most of the rope had gone, and I had failed to find either a belay or a stance, I found myself underneath a realty crafty overhang.

Neither George’s advice or encouragement were any use to me here, and I contemplated joining him rather more hurriedly than I had intended. However George saved the day by hurriedly scrambling up a vertical ivy covered slab, and finding the best belay of the day, at a point vertically above me. Feeling much more encouraged by the support from above, I continued to climb upwards. However, the overhang proved beyond my powers, and I did a graceful back-dive into space. Fortunately, (No cracks from the Editor please!!) the rope held, and he lowered me back down.

The rest of the day was spent in practicing roping down. This proved quite exciting, especially on one occasion when the rope acting on quick release tactics, persuaded the belay to accompany it to the bottom, where it nearly flattened George. This called for refreshments at the Tea Hut, where we received quite an ovation from all and sundry, who, unknown to us, had viewed our antics from afar.

I have heard

That our Hon. Sec and Assist. Hon. Sec. were doing some climbing on the Cornish cliffs recently when one of them tried to prove that his head, was the best part of his anatomy to fall on. A hand hold came away and THS inverted him self and dived headlong to terra Firma. Total injuries wore a sprained wrist, a gashed leg and a hunk out of his temple. Hard Luck, Mrs. S. Better luck next time.

That one of the 'Quads' mentioned in the last BB has now progressed sufficiently and possesses sufficient intelligence to operate a slide projector. This he did in great style at a recent lecture given by the Hon. Sec..

The Structure and Location of Cave-Bearing Rocks in South America

by Terry Reed.

The main geological feature- of the Americas is the great mountain range, which, known under various titles-.Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Sierra Madre and the Andes-- stretches from Alaska to the rocky and still volcanic island of Tierra del Fuego,

This range was formed partly of igneous, and partly of metamorphic rocks, but by earth movement and consequent uplifting and denudation, the sea farmed the necessary marshes and shoals to produce packets of sedimentary strata.

In the Andes many caves (mostly at high altitude) are to be found. In the Chilean sector elevated marine beaches and layers of shells are also to be noted. Their elevation and distance from the present seashore bear witness to the penetration of the sea at an era which I consider was lying late in period between Permian and Jurassic. (Equivalent to the European Jurassic period which was the era of deposition for our New Red Sandstone.).

As the various beds or strata were not laid down in the same era nor in the same order in the various continents, it must not be taken for granted that rocks in South America named after the 'standard' system will exhibit identical characteristics nor contain like fossils to their European namesakes.

The costal belt west of the Andes between 20 and 30 degrees South Latitude is barren of considerable caves. The only things of interest here are the burials of Incan times. Incan limit of southern conquest is marked by thieir camp sites near P San Antonio on the Rio Mario, in the vicinity of Valparaiso.

An exception is the mountainous country west of 's Atacama nitrate desert, where areas of various erodeable rocks bearing superficial water rifts and deep caves along valley floors are known to exist.

The volcanic East Coast may hardly be considered, for, whilst I am aware that considerable caverns do exist in , yet there are few of them, and those are at some distance inland.

The last reliable source of information on the above was Darwin, who in the middle of the last century found important remains of extinct mammals in them.

Central Bolivia, Mid and North Peru, and South-west Ecuador bear a fine group of caves, most of the largo specimens of which have been converted into rock-temples, but these and the smaller ones having rock-carvings and inscriptions galore.

Nearly all these caves contain one or more burials of periods dating from very ancient times up to the seventeenth century. With few exceptions the corpses have been mummified by a process of rapid dehydration by the hot, dry soil, which is mainly of rock-dust base.

Small animals intended for "Post-Mortem consumption" by the dead are usually even better preserved than the human remains.

Finds of weapons, bone ornaments, and stone or pottery artefacts are associated with the burials and silver, sometimes golden, amulets are common.

Tin, silver and gold, mines cover much of South-America, and some of these are so old as to be of great historic interest.


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.