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On Wednesday February 25th Betty and Johnny Shorthose, a daughter, Mary Elisabeth. Mother and Daughter both doing well.

Hearty Congratulations to Mum, and Dad, and welcome to the ”Young Idea”.

Editors Notes

I have learned that Alfie Collins hopes to be in double harness at Christmas.

At the request of a number of members we are printing the "Votes list of Candidates for the 1948 Committee":-

T. H. Stanbury 33
D.A. Coase 26
D.H. Hassel 25
A.M. Innes 20
J. C. Weekes 19
R.A. Setteriongton 18
G.T. Lucy 15
G. Fenn 12
J.D. Pain 5

The Committee decided to co-opt R.A. Setterington to the Committee because of the difficulty D.A. Coase finds in getting down for meetings.

Programme for March, April and May, 1948.

Saturday 13th March Swildons Hole
Sunday 21st March August Hole and Longwood
Saturday 10th April Burrington, General Caving
Sunday 18th April Eastwater
Saturday 8th May G.B.
Sunday 16th May Stoke Lane Lower Series

New Books

By R.M.W

The mere mention that there is a new book by Casteret should be enough to start a rush on the nearest book-shop. "My Caves", has just been published by Dent's at .15/-.

This is a chronological sequence to "Ten Years under the Earth” and brings us up to 1939, but it differs in some respects from that wonderful book. In this only one cave is dealt with in detail – the author describes very vividly the efforts he made to bye pass a trap in the cave of Labouiche, which required considerable effort in climbing and penetrating squeezes, only to find on regaining the river, that a further trap still barred the way. This he has not yet attempted to pass. The second chapter deals with some of the Basque Pot-holes which he descended (with aid of a winch and some terrifyingly thin cable) in company of Max Cosyns and Vander Elst - both one time stratosphere balloonists.

The remainder of the book is devoted to caving in general and a survey of facts and figures. He also discusses his own equipment, most of it little, if any, different from that familiar to us. His ladders, however, do not appeal to me. He pins his faith in 1/8" steel wire with magnesium alloy rungs, weighing only about 1.oz./ ft. He has 1600 feet of this - imagine about one Belfry-full of B.E.C. Ladder!

The final very interesting chapter records three years research into the habits of bats - their life-cycle, feeding and migratory habits. For some species do migrate, though why and how far remains a mystery. Some of the bats he observed and ringed successfully returned to their cave when released 180 miles away, though another group failed at 400 miles.

In the introduction, Casteret says: “Everything I have described has been observer, in the Pyrenees. I make no claim to ownership....but in many cases I have discovered and explored them. Visits to 700 caves.......are I think justification for the title. He does not claim it as a handbook or compendium, but rather a tale of adventure. Nonetheless, much can be learned from these pages by a pastmaster of the subject and even though he insists he is only an "Amateur and dilettante” he is beset by many correspondents suggesting suitable caves for exploration. One from said he had seen many large unexplored pots in the Apennines. It is only in the Postscript he bothers to mention that he refers to the Apennines in the Moon, which he had been studying in a telescope.

I feel this to be the work of a more sober man than the author of “Ten Years". His lone forcing of the Montesapn syphon in 1922, was, it seemed to me, a foolhardy risk, and as such he now recognises it. While he still prefers solitary exploration, he can in no case advise anyone to venture alone into the dark labyrinths below…. Do what I say, and not what I do.

The translation is by R.L.G. Irving, and very well done too. In one place only was I conscious of the fact that I was reading a book originally in another language, and that is a very difficult thing to achieve. Even a bad translation of ''Mes Cavernes" would have been better than none, but a very good one rejoices the heart.

26 photographs add a final touch to a book you must beg, borrow or steal (or you might even buy it - it's is worth it!).

A copy of the above book is now in the Club Library.( Ed.).

North Wales Border Caves

By A.C. Johnson.

Between Pantymevyn and Cilcain a dozen miles south of Holywell, and 3 miles west of Mold, the River Alyn runs through a deep narrow valley. I say runs, but it only appears in flood as it spends the rest of its time underground in old lead workings which it enters a mile or so upstream, not far from a pub boasting the name of "We Three Loggerheads'' commonly called "The Loggerheads”. Up till 1939 there used to be a spar quarry on the east bank of the river. The spar was quarried originally from a rift 20' wide. When they had got into the rift for about 300ft. they broke into the end of an enormous rift chamber about 120ft high at about 30 ft from the deck. This only left them 50 ft instead of 140 ft to quarry so they left it. The chamber is about 5 degrees out of the vertical. The bottom of this chamber Is filled with the water that should be in the river outside. The chamber stretches back into blackness although your light is hampered by a remarkable vertical buttress that stretches about two-thirds of the way up the left hand wall and connects up with a vertical inverted buttress coming down from the roof and attached to the other wall, forming a huge arch in the bottom right side above the water and an equally large doorway on the top left side. The whole thing is so far in as to be in gloom but I have a sneaking feeling that it is made of stalactite. A person with more energy than sense might possibly climb down the left wall into the doorway as there is a slight horizontal bulge running along the wall, having an upper surface at about 55 degrees to the horizontal. The which appears by the sound of the stonesto be very deep is divided at the limit of sight by a large spur but as there is still about 100 ft. headroom further progress should be possible. A dingy would be needed for exploration but a paddle steamer would be alright for size. Just about 50 yds up the river bank is a real scorcher of a cave entrance all choked by greenish stalactite. It is about 25 ft long and about 10 ft. high. Several promising holes peep out round curtains of the stuff and a chisel and hammer might reveal things. Even more hopeful is a corkscrew aven in the roof all covered in stalactite, which is the most impressive one I have seen. By its position, this is most likely to be an outlet cave and there is plenty of room under the hill so it may go. To return to lead mines, about ½ mile further on is the most shaky piece of mining engineering I have ever seen; just right for exploration by Johnnie Morris. A level has been driven into the rock near one end of a 100ft cliff, but it must have bean unsafe and they continue until it was about 70 ft. high. Then they stuffed it full of props to keep the walls apart. The two walls are now just masses of loose stone; most of the props near the entrance have gone and those further in have been removed by about 50 ft. of the roof collapsing. The first 50ft. was only saved by the roots of two big oak trees it seems. Anyway a rope over one of the props would probably fetch it all in, as stones start miniature avalanches. In the field above there is a line of 3 open shafts with large slab walls about 8ft. in diameter. There are about 20 shafts dotted about on the side of the valley; and towards The Loggerheads the O.S. marks a place called Cat Hole, that none of the locals know.

There are a number of quarries in the area and I believe that small caves were found and may still be open, but I do not know at present anything more but will try and investigate soon.

The hills to the west of the valley rise to the Clwydian range where some magnificent hill walks can be obtained. The highest peak, Moel Famau 1820 ft, has the base of a monster cairn on top but the builders must have thought that it wasn’t worth lugging stone that far. From here fine views can be had especially towards Snowdonia.

It seems to me that North Wales has been sadly neglected, but under this present ---x petrol situation it will have to wait. All the caves I have seen have been within a mile of bus routes and ½ a mile of a road, so they are all accessible like those of Mendip. Also the owners of the land surrounding the cave entrances don’t seem too bad in fact they seem almost interested..

Tony Johnson has asked that any information about this area please be passed to him. (Ed.).


We have had some letters from Terry Reed. He is infesting Trinidad now and has found some caves there; we shall print his notes all being well in the next issue.

List of members.

We have decided to publish lists of members and their addresses, so that those members who live adjacent to each other, may know their neighbours.

1 T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec, 74. Redcatch Road., Knowle, Bristol 4.
3 D.W. Jones, 18 Highbury Road, Bristol 8
4 D.H. Hasell, Hill House, Moorlynch, Nr. Bridgewater, Somerset
5 R. Wallace, 32 Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol 4
7 G.A.R. Tait, 35 Laurence Grove, Henleaze, Bristol
9 F.A. Edwards, 14 Tuegla terrace, Bristol
17 J.V. Morris, Ye Olde Jolly Sailor Inn, Teighnmouth, Devon
19 S.C.W. Herman, 34 Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
20 R.J. Bagshaw, 11 Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol 4
21 G.R. Fenn, Kinsale Road, Knowle Bristol 4



The Editor's Notes

As most of you know, Mr. Beecham has asked us to move the Belfry and has considerably reduced our rent. We want to complete this work as soon as possible and the job was started the first weekend after Whitsun. Mr. Beecham has given us a new site and promised to lay on transport, we need lots of labour to complete the job, so let the Hon. Sec know if you can come, if not turn up anyway there's plenty for all to do.

Caving at Bude II by T.H.S.

Since my article published recently in Belfry Bulletin Vol.3. No.9. was written, I have been asked to increase the area covered by it. I intend to cover the coast southwards from Wheelbarrow Rock to Millhook Cove. Although the area is singularly barren of caves, there are ample compensations in the form of climbing and the scenery is as fine as any that I know of the same type.

To the BEC the area is of particular interest, as the cliff at Upton is the nearest point to the club camp site at South Lynstone Farm, from which the sea can be seen. The camp site is about ¼ mile from Upton Cliff, and until the cliff is actually reached there is no sign of the sea except its roar and the fact that the trees, such as they are, all lean landwards at an acute angle.

Upon reaching the cliff a really wonderful view can be seen of the southern end of Bude Bay; Millhook, with its Trials Hills and water splash, already tasted by certain club members; Crackington Haven; Boscastle and Trevena, (known generally as Tintagel, although Tintagel is the headland, and not the village), with their sea caves and seals; with Trevose in the far distance with its lighthouse showing a red flash at night. To the north the view of the bay is curtailed by Efford Beacon, but Lundy Island can be seen lying low on the horizon.

The Coast Road as its name implies, runs parallel to the cliff as far as the south of Widemouth Bay, and then becomes a 'Mountain Track' along the edge of the cliff to Millhook Cove. Cliff falls on the higher land has caused the road to be moved inland some time ago, and on the low lying land at Widemouth Bay the sand has completely covered the old road, the new one making a considerable detour.

The beaches are readily accessible from this road, along which runs the bus from Bude to Widemouth. Numerous paths run down over the cliffs, which hereabouts are usually steep grassy slopes for the greater part of their height. At low water there are sandy tongues running in towards the cliff, but when the tide is in the seas beat against the bases of the cliffs.

Following our previous plan, we will follow the cliff base to the southward.

From Wheelbarrow Rock to Upton there is good climbing and just before Upton is reached, a hole through the rock gives access to Upton Beach itself. Upton Cliffs are sloping and grassy and we pass on to one or two tiny depressions in the cliff face that one can hardly dignify by the name of Cave.

Beyond this the cliffs heighten and run out to a small headland, the outstanding characteristic of which is the contortion of the strata (Fig.1).Image

Past this headland the shattered cliffs are clothed in turf almost to the sea, and shale beds form the major part of the next headland, the point of which is so broken and contorted as to make it almost impossible to describe or draw. Fig. 2 shows only a few of the contortions).Image

Below this point the character of the cliff changes and vertical cliffs rise from the beach. Here are isolated fingers of vertical rock 60-80 feet high that will defy the best of climbers to scale them. In contrast to the previous cliff, this rock is both hard and strong and can be trusted- not to break when weight is placed upon it.

The next headland is broken up, but passing it and also the little cove adjacent to it, we see that the next one stands out in a totally different manner to its predecessors. This headland, too, has been broken up, but instead of becoming a mass of tiny fragments, has become a colossal mass of huge boulders, some as large as a house. Excellent sport can be had here climbing over and through them. The writer visited these boulders the day before writing this article. The passages are of a satisfactory tightness, but the boulders themselves are so much larger than anything seen by him underground that the familiar "Ant in the stone-pile" feeling of the boulder ruckle of Eastwater is considerably magnified.

As we pass along the various benches, the remains of sea mines washed ashore during two wars are often to be seen, reminding the explorer of the risks taken in, travelling these same beaches not so very long ago.

A long point of rock, undercut and polished by the sea next stands as a barrier against further progress. This can only be circumnavigated at low water during spring tides, and at other times a really sticky time can be had here unless the key to the ridge is known. The overhang averages 2 feet and is from 8 to 10 feet above the beach, the rocks being in places slippery with slime as well as polished by the sea. The writer is keeping the secret of this climb as he feels that a lot more sport is had in hunting out ones own routes than by following in someone else's footsteps. The climb is easy when the secret is known.

More boulders pave the way to another shingle beach where once again the rocks are shattered and the green of the cliffs dip to the sea. The next small headland shows more of the strangeness of the strata usual in the area. (Fig. 3.)Image

The next beach shows a cliff with horizontal strata at the top, contorted in the centre, and horizontal again at the bottom.

A long lowish headland is next reached and another climb over boulders gives access to Widemouth Bay with its mile of sands and popular camping sites. Here the cliffs sink to sea level and a broad, clay bedded valley extends as far as the Tea Rooms. Salt House, at the northern end of the bay is the eldest house in the vicinity, and from it generations in the past have purchased their salt, obtained by the evaporation of salt water in shallow pans.

In Widemouth Bay, generally flat, Black Rock stands out and catches the eye. Legend surrounds it, a man, whom I have no idea, has been imprisoned under it for many centuries, and he will stay there until he can make a rope of sand. A similar story exists about the legendary Cornishman Tregeagle, but whether they are connected I cannot say.

Beyond the Tea Rooms, the cliffs again rise from the sand, this time of soft clay and stones. This cliff is being eroded tremendously every year, the 'old road' in places being completely eaten away.

Penhalt stream enters the sea from its little valley just beyond this, and then the cliffs shoot up again to tremendous heights, albeit sloping ones, and rounding the headland, the high vertical cliffs descend abruptly to the Millhook stream. There is here I am told a cave of some size, although I have never been able to find it.

The shattering and weathering of the cliffs is due to the fact that the area is situated in the Culm, with beds of Shale becoming increasingly predominant to the southwards. Because of this the cliffs would show signs of shrinkage absent from the secondary beds, with the erosion of the softer shale causing the undermining and collapse of the surrounding strata. The area around Bude abounds in excellent examples of the of the tremendous pressure and shrinkage that the original surface of the earth was subject to before the sedimentary rocks were laid down.

Chalk Mine, Near Springwell, Mill End, Herts


Ode to a “Beeza”

By “Ariels".

Don Stripped Rasputin's engine to see what he could do
To increase his brake horse power from 1.5 to 2.
With a clanking from the con-rod and a rattling from the chains,
And 80 thou of clearance in the big end and the mains.

He put rubber on the piston and polished up the bore
But 1.5 brake horse power was all he got, no more.

So he opened out his crankcase and filled it with oildag
Then he tried the timing and tuning up his mag..

Then he polished his exhaust port and fixed the carburettor
But 1.5 brake horse power was all he got, no better.

So he reset his tappets and ground his valves in well
But did it make a difference, did it ---- hell.

Then he filled his gearbox and relined his clutch
This made a slight improvement although it wasn’t much.

His valve guides were non-existent, his main jet was too small
and as for his main bearings they only had one ball.

He straightened out his con-rod, he put his big-end back
And then he bent his piston to take up any slack.

His engine once stopped firing and set his cart on fire,
And this burnt all the string off, so he tied it up with wire.

That engine failed one weekend, far out among the hills,
Out came a rescue party, equipped with headache pills.

The moral of this story, is if you buy a bike,
Make sure its not Rasputin, Dan goes faster on his trike.

List of Members. No. 3

44 K.S. Hawkins, 6.Melbourne Terrace, Little Horton Lane, Bradford. Yorks.
48 C.H. Kenney, 5.Vicars Close, Wells, Somerset
51 A. Johnson, 46.The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol
53 J.D, Pain, Bibury, Old West Town Lane, Brsiliongton, Bristol 4
54 D.A. Coase, 18 Headington Road, Wandsworth London SWl8.
56 G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants
57 E.J. Steer, c/o 23 Andover Road. Knowle Park,Bristol.4
58 G.T. Lucy, 28 Bibury Creasent, Henleeaze, Bristol 7
60 P.A.E. Stewart, 11 Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol 6
61 T. White, 107 Creswicke Road, Filwood Park, Bristol 4.

Programme for June, July and August 1948

JUNE. All this month will be devoted to Belfry moving; All hands on deck theres plenty for all to do!!

JULY. Sat. 3rd Burrington.
Sun.18th Eastwater.
24th - 2nd August. Club Camp at Bude, Cornwall. Subject to confirmation. Will all members who intend to go to Bude please inform Hon. Sec, as .soon as possible.

AUGUST. Sat.17th Longwood *and August Hole.
Sun.25th Stoke Lane.

Anyone with any spare time is asked to contact Jiim Weekes or Woodbridge who have plenty of digging on hand.


Editorial Notes

The Weekes' Crossword Puzzle.

The response to this Competition was not very big. Only two entries being received. Only one of these was correct, so the result reads:-

First; D.A.Coase.
Also ran ; J.D.Pain.

The prize will therefore be presented to the Winner at an early date.


The perpetrator of the above outrage, No. 1853093 Sgt. Weekes will, from 2/9/47 be referred to as Mr. Weekes, and may be found wandering on Mendip at any time. If found without a glassy look, take him to Hunters' Lodge. At all other times, push him into the Mineries.

Annual General Meeting

The A.G.M, will be held early in December. The following, being the 1947 Committee, will resign.

T.H. Stanbury. Hon.Sec.& Hon.Treas.
D.H.Hasell. Hon.Editor,Belfry Bulletin.
D.A,Coase. Hon.Equip.Officer & Hut Warden.
A.M.Innes. Hon.Librarlan.

All nominations for 1948 committee, together with any items for inclusion in the Agenda, must reach me before November 1st,1947.

T.H.Stanbury, Hon.Sec..

The Belfry

The following notice has been posted at the Belfry and members are asked to note that its terms will be strictly enforced by the Hut Warden and that any action taken by him has the full support of the Committee.

To all Members and/or all users of this hut (The Belfry).

As from this date .......... any person or persons are liable to suspension from use of the Belfry for the following offences:-

  1. Any undue noise after 10 pm.
  2. Any refuse, paper, etc, left about outside the hut.
  3. Any action that may cause Mr.Beecham or his family any inconvenience.

The above action to be taken by the Hut Warden as he thinks fit and as approved by the Committee. The length of time being varied to suit the offence.

All caving gear left about the hut will be disposed of if not claimed after 14 days.

All bunks must be tidied by the previous night's user(s) before he or she leaves.

The fee for sleeping must be paid to the Assistant Warden before leaving/unless this is impossible.


We have to thank Miss C.M. York, 9 Goldney Road, Clifton for the gift of a large number of Books ,many of which will be useful additions to the Library. A list will be published as soon as possible. Mrs Lucy for a saucepan for the Belfry. And several friends for other useful articles.

Our versatile Secretary has been doing a lot of talking. He has given two lectures recently, The first at the Crown & Dove to the Old Georgians’ Society. The second to the To H, Knowle Group, at Pengrove. Both talks were very successful, he didn't even .get the Curate's Egg.

Adventures of The Menace.


Episode one. Plymouth Caves.

The Caves in question run up from the sea under Plymouth Hoe in Limestone. They are not just Sea Caves, but caves of outlet. To reach them a boat is needed at high tide but they can be got at normally at low. We explored them at high tide, with a heavy swell running wrecking a boat in the attempt, and getting as wet as we would in Swildons.

The main Cave goes by the name of "Lions' Den", and is a high rift cave. The water remains deep about fifty feet into the cave, when a steep boulder pile slopes down into the water. There are plenty of jagged rocks just below the surface, and as charged for the boulder pile, one came through the bottom of the boat, tipping us both into the water.

Anyhow, having climbed the boulder pile we found a steeply ascending passage,(beautifully muddy) until we were brought up by a creep through rock which looked as though it would fall to bits at any time. After a brief discussion we decided to "have a bash at it".

Then, much to our horror, the roof fell in and we were nearly buried alive. As it continued to collapse, we didn’t wait for any more but bolted for the entrance. There was not much more of interest in the place except what had been some rather fine formation.

The next cave we visited was also a rift cave. (This time with a different boat which had been used to rescue us by some of our pals). It went for a considerable distance until the cave got too narrow, so I decided to get out and walk, but to my disgust, I stepped into about six feet of water, so once again we had to turn back.

The third cave also turned us back, as it was a problem for the CDG even at low tide. We didn’t try diving it, partly because the. water wasn’t warm enough, and partly because we didnt know how long the dive was.

We both returned to Barracks that night looking like cavers, plastered with mud and candle-grease, but as the Officer of the Watch had never heard of Cavers or any such phenomena, we were polishing the brass work at sunrise the next day.



It is with great pleasure that we announce the forthcoming Marriage of Miss M. Akers and Mr J.M. Tompsett at Taunton on Saturday September 20th. We wish them the very best of luck.

Caving above ground


Derbyshire caves had had to be abandoned earlier than I had hoped, and driving North through the appalling traffic of the Lancashire towns on a grilling hot weekend, I envied those left behind, the coolness of Bagshaw Cavern.

did not, I thought, abound in caves, and though I had "Boots, Caving" with me, they were intended more for rooks above ground than below it.

With no definite objects in view, the sight of "Caves" marked on the Ordnance Survey in the roods north of Dunkeld called for early investigation. With the usual perversity of the surveyors, no definite points were marked, and my search would have to cover half a square mile or so. Several hours unsatisfactory walking produced no results; the ground was rough and very wooded and good views were not to be had. Eventually, I had to give it up with no more reward than a "cove"— a largely artificial rock shelter ,well hidden by trees, apparently inhabited by a Lady Charlotte in 1704. No doubt she had been unable to scream louder than the girl in the story.

All this was unsatisfactory. The only other sign of a cave - the map called it the "Thief's Cave"—was again to vague, and too far distant to tempt me.

Loch Leven Castle, on an Island in Loch Leven, and the one time prison of Mary, Queen of Scots was not a likely place, but none the less it contains most of the more desirable features of a cave. The main chimney forms as good an aven as you could want - 40/50 ft. high and 2½ /3ft across with plenty of foot and hand holds in the rough masonry. For the more ambitious and slimmer type there was another, shorter but more difficult, it being fairly tight, perhaps 15”X12”. Since I was wearing " Clothes, Spiv" I did not try it. The remains of a spiral stair formed the basis of a neat traverse requiring caution and good balance. It led nowhere, the upper floor being non-existent, but who cared? - until it came to getting down, which I found a good deal harder than going up.

The dungeon proved that cavers did not .exist in those days. Two windows, neither showing any trace of where there might have been bars, both-provided a means of exit; one to the slimmer and more agile only, since it was a very tight hole, the other easy enough, its extra width giving just that much more room for the shoulders.

I do not pretend to prefer such trifles to Swildons', GB. or what have you, but when caves are absent, don’t despair. Compensations can be found in the most unexpected places if one can only spot them.

A Caving Quiz with particular reference to the Mendips.

By D.A.Coase

  1. Which cave on Mendip contains the Initials "T.W." cut in the wall, whereabouts in the cave is it, and what date were the initials carved?
  2. How many natural show caves in can you Name?
  3. Who named Avelines Hole, and why was it so named?
  4. with which caves do you associate the following:-
    1. Z Alley?
    2. Bames'Loop?
    3. Rumba Alley?
    4. Duck II?
    5. Coal Shute?
    6. Tie Press?
    7. The Grill?
    8. Harris's Passage.
    9. The Speliocord?
  5. The Waterfall with the biggest clear drop in is located in a cave in Yorkshire, what cave is it, and what is the approx. drop?
  6. What two caves on Mendip contain appreciable quantities of Arragonite?
  7. What knot would you normally use for tying yourself to a lifeline?
  8. Two geological terms, used in connection with the formation of caves are- "Rift" and 'Bedding Plane". Give a short definition of each, with two examples of each from Mendip Caves?
  9. What cave on Mendip was excavated by schoolboys, and what School was it?
  10. What cave do you associate the noise of "cymbals" with?
  11. What is the total depth of GB from the surface?
  12. Which cave has recently been sealed by a slab of concrete, and whereabouts is it?
  13. What are Stalagmites and Stalactites composed of chemically?
  14. Which Cave on Mendip bears most resemblance to a Yorkshire Pothole?
  15. What Mendip caves, do the following describe?:-
    1. A four legged herbivorous animal’s home?
    2. Lengthy plus fuel for the Belfry Stove?
    3. A cardinal point plus H20?
    4. The operation of putting the last part of b in the stove, plus a relation of a road?
    5. A corruption of a (generally very wet) Saint?
    6. Seen on the back of cars that have travelled abroad?
    7. Usually associated with South Sea Islands. A book on this subject is in the club Library?
    8. Sometimes kept for milk plus a building found near e?
  16. Which is generally recognised to be the biggest stalagmite on Mendip and where is it found?
  17. What was the first successful cave dig on Mendip, what year was it done in, and who was the person responsible? (By cave dig, an excavation to enter a new cave is meant not an archaeological dig).
  18. Various features in caves have been named. Starting at the entrance to Swildons Hole, and going via the Short Dry Way to Sump I, can you fill in the missing names in their correct order?
    Dry ways,
    Short Dry way
    20ft Pot,
    Barnes Loop,
    Sump One
  19. What Major Archaeological excavation is in progress at the present, and what society is undertaking it?
  20. Recently a new theory on the formation of caves has been publicised in this country. It divides the formation of caves into two sections (a) by means of a free running stream, as in Swildons, and (b) by means of solution of the rock under the water level, as in the submerged parts of Wookey Hole. These two divisions have been given the names "Vadose" and "Phreatic", but not necessarily in this order. Which word means the formation of a cave by a free running stream?

No prize is offered for a correct solution of this quiz. The answers will be published in our next issue.


Since the library lists issued with Belfry Bulletins Nos. 2 & 3, The following books have been presented to the Club Library:-


2nd Edition Mendip—The Great Cave of Wookey Hole. H.E. Balch
3rd Edition. Ditto
Fauna. CRG Publication No.1
Cave Science. No 1 BSA.


The Voyage of the Rattlesnake Huxley
Geographiocal Magazine Vol 18 Nos.9 & 11.
The Cotswolds Murray
Somerset M.Fraser.
Gloucestershire Newth.
The Happy Travellers. Tatchell.
British Ports and Harbours. Walmsley.
Rambles and walking tours in Somerset F.E.Page
Hike Tracks of the West.


Geology and Scripture. Pye Smith
Handbook of British Assoc. 1898.
Principles of Geology. Vols 1 & 2 Lyell.
History of Devonshire Scenery. Clayden.


Excavations at Sea Mills E.K.Tratman.
Handbook of British Asscc. 1898.

guide books

Dartmoor Guide
Wye Valley
The Now Forest Guide.
Ramblers Guide to Lynton and Lynmouth.


The Mechanism cf the Heavens. Olmstead
The Story of the Heavens Ball


The Story of Somersetshire. Richmond.
Marvels of Nature.
The Universe Pouchet.
Wonders of the Volcano,
Wonders of the Ice world.
The World of the Sea Tadon.
Turtons British Shells Gray.
Popular Educator. Vols 1-6.


From Earth to Moon Verne
Five weeks in a Balloon Verne
Around the world in 80 Days Verne
20,000 Leagues under the Sea Verne
Adventures of 3 Englishmen & 3 Russians Verne
Out of the silent Planet Lewis.

Besides these books a number of those presented are duplicates of those already in the library & will help to reduce the waiting time for the more popular books.


A Short History of the Bristol Exploration Club

by T.H. Stanbury.

I do not suppose there are many members that know how the B.E.C, came into being, or the hard work that has been necessary to put the club in the position that it holds today.

It is the purpose of these brief notes to acquaint those that are interested with a few facts about the earlier days of the BEC.

The first notes will, I am sorry to say, be very sketchy as all the earlier records were lost in the blitz. They were posted to me from Keynsham and never arrived, so I have only my memory to assist me.

In 1935 a group of my fellow employees approached me and asked if I would be willing to take them to Burrington and other places caving. Most of these lads had a little experience of Caves and Caving, and as my own experience was little better than theirs, I was extremely diffident about the whole arrangement; but agreed.  The following Saturday I took them to Goatchurch, and the trip turned out to be a great success.  The next four week-ends we were similarly employed and then many difficulties loomed large before us.

How could we get to the larger caves? How could we get Equipment? Would the Owners let us into the deep caves? There were two solutions.

The first and most obvious was that we join one of the recognised and established Cave Clubs of the district.  This was debated at length and it was decided that in view of the fact that we were a group of working class men and that there were a number of points in the existing societies we did not care about, that we should not associate ourselves with any body already in existence.

The second course open to us was to form an entirely new caving club, and after many misgivings the Bristol Exploration Club was duly formed with an initial membership of about a dozen.  If we could have foreseen all the difficulties and troubles that beset us, I very much doubt if the project would have been launched.  At the inaugural meeting a set of rules were drawn up, and although they have been modified and added to, to meet changing conditions, they were essentially the same as are in use today.

For a time all went smoothly; our subs enabled us to buy ladders and ropes, etc.  We familiarized ourselves with all the smaller caves and then turned to the larger ones.  Here, too, we were successful, and our first year concluded with the knowledge that we were still in existence, and if not exactly flourishing, we were holding our own.

Membership did not increase very much in the following years. We were not keen on too many members at first as we felt we did not have sufficient knowledge to hold them after they had joined. We preferred to move slowly, consolidating our position as we went, so that when the time came, as come it would, when members started to role in, we should be in a position to offer them something good.

The outbreak of war in 1939 found the BEC in a stronger position than ever before, although membership was still only 15.  We had suffered one bad loss, our Treasurer, who was also our Photographer, had been stricken with an liction of the eyes necessitating his withdrawal from all Club activities.  The last trip that he came with the Club was to Lamb Leer, where we went as guests of the UBSS.

The older members were called up, one by one, so that except for one fortunate incident, we should have had to close down, like other Mendip clubs for lack of active members.

We were fortunate to absorb in the BEC the Emplex Cave Club. The ECC was composed of employees of the Bristol Employment Exchange and had formed a club on similar lines and for similar reasons as the BEC. There men have since done, and are still doing, yeoman work for the Club, although they are only able to be present when on leave.

1940-41 saw us jogging along as before, a number of new recruits always balancing out those called to the forces, but 1942 saw the most severe crisis in the history of the B.E.C..  There was a very violent call-up, the result being that we were left with only about a half dozen active members, all of whom were actively engaged in the war effort. As those in the Forces were all made honorary members during their term of service, we were hit badly financially. For six months we struggled along, and then came salvation.

A number of persons of fair caving experience applied for membership and from that moment our worries vanished. lt is mainly through the hard work of two of these men (not forgetting the Hon. Sec. Ed) R. Wallace and D. Hasell, that the B.E.C. is where it is today.

In 1943 a forty foot duralumin and steel wire ladder was constructed, followed later by a similar one twenty feet in length. These ladders were our answer to the problem of transporting tackle to Mendip on push-bikes.

During 1943/44/45, certain ''persons unknown'', instead of following the orthodox method of obtaining the key, broke into certain Mendip Caves and we learned later that we had been blamed for this vandalism.  We were not responsible, and we managed at last to convince others of this.  During these three years our membership increased by leaps and bounds and we emerged from our obscurity to take our place among the most active clubs of Mendip.

The year 1946 was a monumental one, our membership rose to 80 and we were able, through the generosity of a certain person, to purchase a large hut as Mendip Head Quarters.  Our dig at Cross Swallet brought us into contact with the Bridgewater Cave Club, who have since been our guests at the Belfry for their 1947 Easter Meet.  We absorbed The Mendip Speleological Group, and became, individually, very active in the Cave Diving Group.  Besides this we became members of the Cave Association of Wales and also of the Cave Research Group.

We look to the future with every confidence, and we still claim, as we did in 1935, that the Bristol Exploration Club is unique in that it is a “personal" club, wherein everyone, whatever their age and standing is welcomed, and is encouraged to take an active part in the running of their Club.

Editorial Notes

I am able to report that at last, we have acquired our own duplicator, which will enable us to issue the B.B. more regularly.  Our thanks are due to the stalwarts who, often at great inconvenient to themselves, have got the job done for the first issues.  Their efforts have been greatly appreciated.

We thank the donors listed below for the Equipment they have presented for use at the Belfry:-

Wing-Commander G.W. Hodgekinson for a complete hut stove.
Miss E.A. Barrett of Bude, for an oil stove.
Mr. A. Innes for a printing Press. (For disposal).

We have just received from Dick Woodbridge a very interesting report of a walk in the Peak District, which will be included in BB as soon as possible.

Greetings to our members in the Forces all over the world!! and thanks for the bouquets which have proved to us that the effort is worthwhile.

The lads who went to South Wales had a good time in spite of the filthy weather and hope to get another chance to visit the area in the near future.

I've just been told that "Pongo'', (Mr. R. M. Wallis), has presented the Belfry with a 24 volt Petrol Generator set. Thanks very much, we'll have Swildon's floodlit yet.

A short walk in the Peak District.

By Dick Woodoridge.

Travelling from Manchester by train we left Hayfield Station at about 1:30 and walked up to Edale Cross, following the road and path, from the top a good view was had of the Kinder Downfall in the distance and the valley running down to the Kinder Reservoir. Over Edal;e Cross (1751ft.), the path dropped suddenly down Jacob’s Ladder – descent of about 1 in 1.  Starting down very cautiously, our pace slowly increased and we finished the last 50 ft. in an uncontrolled flight.  There the path crossed over a bridge about 2ft.wide and carried on comfortably past Edale Head Hotel, through some National Trust Property.

On the hills were still patches of frozen snow remaining after several weeks of thaw, and one large patch looked rather like a ;arge bird with a wing span of about half a mile. Having dropped down to about 300ft. we again started climbing, this time following the road  and crossed Rushup Edge, the road in places being 1 in 6.  Just over the summit we saw the Blue John Cavern about half a mile below and as we walked down we saw the flag being pulled down from the shop outside the entrance. Assuming that this was a sign that they were closing, we ran the rest of the way and persuaded the Guide to take us through the Cavern.

The way in followed a natural rift, and whilst going along, the Guide explained how the cave had been broken into about 300 years age, by a party of miners, working in the Blue John Mine. These workings had been started by the Romans, but they had never reached the natural cavern, which had been carved from the limestone by the melting waters of the Ice Age.  Evidence of very strong water action was observed right through the cave, particularly in the first large chamber. There, the first 6 ft. in height was perfectly circular; above this the surface was rather irregular, and the upper walls and roof shoved the normal smooth surface cut by a swiftly flowing stream.  The exploration given of this phenomenon was that a secondary stream joined the main stream at floor level, through a small rift at right angles to the main rift, and caused a whirlpool at that level.  The intermediate level was cut by turbulent water between the normal rift and the whirlpool.  In the roof, small holes had been cut by pieces of hard rock being caught up and swirled around by the swiftly flowing stream.  Seven working levels were pointed out from which the Blue John stone was obtained, and it was asserted that a distinct colouration and pattern was obtained from each working.  The stone has to be blasted from the parent rock, and it is therefore difficult to get a large portion of the stone without flaws.

Very little formation was present, compared with some of the Mendip caves, but there was quite a lot of colouring in the Calcite covering of some of the faces.  The illumination is provided by an acetylene lamp carried by the guide, and candles carried by the party.  The Guide also has a large reflector with which he directs his light on the various points of interest during the trip.

From Blue John Cavern we had to walk a further 4 miles to Chapel en le Frith - where buses left every half-hour for Manchester, we arrived there at 8 O'clock having walked through grand country for about twelve miles.

The Squeeks of Herman.

(being a Member's impressions of the1943 Committee.)

The mob it is led by young Harry,
who's regarded as chief fetch and carry.
He can make people laugh,
And draw a good graph
His only mistake was to marry.

A well mannered fellow is Daniel
His hair is like that of a spaniel
His ears they are big,
and he eats like a pig,
And his work is dirty and manual.

Now next on the list we have Roy,
In whose presence the ladies find joy.
He has hair on his chest,
and goes caving With Zest,
And his bit of formation, Oh Boy!

Originally there were five limericks in this collection, but the other two have been engulfed in the Hon. Sees, efficient system, and we have given these up as lost.  (Ed. note:- I'm-, afraid we have dropped a bit of a "clanger'' over the last few lines of the proceeding page, so have repeated them above. Please excuse any odd slips like the above for a bit, until the ''duplicateers'' get the hang of things.

Belfry Progress Report

I regret to state that since the last report, very little work has been done on the Belfry. The major factor has been the better weather which has tempted every one to 'cave' again.

At Easter, the Belfry proved its worth, and was fully occupied all the time, and on the Sunday night, a record was set up by 16 people sleeping there, although we had only reckoned to sleep 12 bods.  Several more bunks have been fitted in the 'married quarters', and the stove presented by W/C Hodgkinson fitted. A start has also been made on the foundation for the P.E. generator.  The roof still requires waterproofing in one or two odd spots, material for which is now at hand. Although the majority of the lining has still to be fitted,- this is held up for the moment until the wiring of the Belfry for electric light is completed. A 'power house' for generator and batteries has also to be built at the back of the Belfry.

nas a:y member any of the following articles to spare, as good use of them can be made at the Belfry. A Soft Broom, a Scrubbing Brush, Milk Jug (quart), and a Clothes Brush.

D.A. Coase,  5/5/47.

Whitsun Meet

A meet will be held at the Belfry over Whitsun.  No set programme has been arranged, but trips will be fixed up on the spot. If anyone is energetic enough, work will proceed on Bog Hole.

Please let Hon. Sec. or Hut Warden know if you intend staying at the Belfry, so that we can provide any necessary shoe horns and/or tin openers.

Dig at ''Stewart's Hole''

A dig was commenced about 300 yds. from the ''Hunters Lodge Inn'' on the 12th April, 1947.  Good work was put in on the first day in the main swallet, and a depth of 6 ft. reached terminating in thick mud. Some bones were found, and later, tentively, identified at Bristol Museum as possible human, waterworn, and of considerable age.  Diggers were A. Withers and P. Stewart.  Work continued the following weekends, a subsidiary swallet in the wall of the depression being dug.  Work has continued on the main dig but is rather held up due to thick mud.  We would like to thank the following for giving their time:- (What 6 months or a year? Ed.)  P. Browne,H. Stanley, R. A. Setterington, M.J. Akers, J.M. Tompsett, T.White. Work is progressing - anyone invited.

Bristol Speedway

A less well known activity of some of the members is to shout their heads off every Friday night at Bristol Speedway.  If any other club members would like to do the same, you'll find them in the 1/9 's on Smelly corner. If you don’t know where Smelly corner is, use your nose. That’s what it's for.

Stop Press

We also have to thank for contributions to the Belfry, D.C. McKee of the B.C.C. for a sleeping bag, end J.M. (Postle) Tompsett for two 12 volt Batteries. Not forgetting Uncle George for about a dozen sheets of corrugated iron.

List of Publications available in the BEC


Discovery of Man                                  S.Casson.
Ancient Burial Grounds.
B.C.                                          S.E. Winbolt.
Early .                                        J. Hawkes.
Prehistoric London                                E.O. Gordon.
Roman Folkestone                                S.E.Winbolt.
Report on a Human Skull found
at 's Cavern                                    Sir A. Keith, F.R.S.

Guide Books

Bath and Bristol Guide.
South Devon and Cornwall Guide.
Bude to Newquay Guide. (North Cornish Sea Caves).
Torquay Natural History Society. Guide to Museum.
A Short Guide to the National Museum of . 1945.


Coral Reefs                                          Charles Darwin.
Knotting                                               Gilcraft
A Brief History of Ancient Times             Breasted and Hugh Jones
The Scientific Study of Human Settlement.
The Adam Chasers                               B.M. Bower. (Fiction).
The Story of the Doones. (Tourist Edition).
Unbeaten Tracks of the West                 P.E. Barnes
Proceedings of the Bristol Naturalists Society. 1935.


6 inch to the Mile sheets of Mendip:-


1 inch to the Mile sheets of:

20 Kirby Lonsdale & Hawes
25 Ribblesdale.
90. Brecon & Llandovery
101. Swansea & Aberdare.
111. Bath, Bristol & District
118. Barnstaple
119. Exmoor
120. Bridgwater & Quantocks.
131. Wells & Frome
127. Bideford & Bude.
135. Bodmin.
137. Tavistock & Okehampton
138. Exeter.
143. Truro & St. Austell
145. Torquay.
145. Lands End & Lizard
Peak District. Tourist Edn.
Weston Super Mare & District. Tourist Edition.

½ inch to the Mile sheets of:-

Bristol & District
31. North Devon.
35. S.W. Cornwall & Scilly Isles.
36. South Devon.
57. Weymouth, Yeovil & Taunton.

The Editor's Notes

An Apology

One of the Members has pointed out to me that in BB No 5, I promised to put in the next issue, D.A.Coase' description of the New Section of Stoke-Lane Swallet. This I failed to do; and for thus disappointing members, I most sincerely apologise. However; this article was left out because it was not sufficiently up to date, and I now await a further contribution from Don giving a full description of the cave.

Withybrook Swallet. Stoke Lane

On July 12th 1947, P.Browne and L.Browne, together with, Sam Treasure as "Engineer", succeeded in entering the upper passage of this swallet and penetrated a short distance. A sketch plan has been sent to us with the threat of dire consequences should we dare-to-publish it. As soon as Pat sends us the Pukka Gen you shall have it.

Annual General Meeting

The AGM has been moved forward, at the request of Members, to Saturday November 29th, so that Members who do not live in Bristol may use their own transport to get there. (If they have any petrol left). Any members, who have items for the Agenda send them to the Hon. Secretary by November 1st.

Notice to all who are regarded as "Forces Members"

Many of our Pre-war and wartime members who joined H.M. Forces during the war and whose Membership has therefore continued, have not been in communication with us for some time.

The Committee have therefore decided to review the position at the end of the year and eliminate all those who are no longer "Cavers" in fact or spirit. Will all those members now in the Forces please write to the Hon. Secretary before November 30th to confirm that they still wish to remain "on the Strength".

Mrs. Joan Fountain (To say nothing of the Trickle)

The following note has lately been received from Joan.

"Hi Boys! Congratulations on your new cave. I remember the place. Don’t take off that smacker. Huh! I shiver to look at it. Keep me posted, I like to hear from you all, you bet I miss the fun of Thursday evenings. Take care of Mrs. S. for me. Say hello to Stan and Jimmy Weekes. Best of luck caving. Always your friend, Joan and Trevor.

P.T. Reed

Terry Reed will not be with us for some time. He tells us that he is now at sea in a Training Ship, name unspecified, and will not be able to do any caving for quite a while.

August Hole

We have received from the Hon. Sec. of the U.B.S.S. a plan of this new discovery. This plan is available at H.Q..

Mr.& Mrs. J.H.Tompsett

Dizzie and Postle are now safely married. God bless them. I wish to put on record my admiration of their courage in leaving on the decorations so liberally supplied for "Sue" by the Fellows. WELL DONE!!

Postle's Appreciation

The Hon. Sec. has asked me to publish the following letter:-

6 Peter Street,

Dear Harry,

Dizzie and I wish to thank you very much indeed for the marvellous present from B.E.C. It's really a very useful weapon and looks very fair on the sideboard! Also many thanks for the attention Sue received from odd bods! We should have been most disappointed if she had been left untouched, and we left all of it on for the first day - in fact much of it is still on - and received varied greetings from passers-by who noticed it.

We did a very fair tour around the coasts of Devon, and Cornwall, and although we passed through Bude, we didn't have time to visit the Smugglers' Cave. However, we visited 's Cavern at Torquay, where Dizzie got a telling off from the Guide for sneaking off down an odd passage. However, we got talking and they were a damn sight more accommodating than other show caves I know! No doubt you are familiar with the place, and have possibly decided that it is not worth a visit in view of it's "walk-aroundability" but anyhow I've paved the way for a visit in speaking to the owner, Mr. Pave, who suggested that we write to him, in, say, November, the slack season, if we wish to arrange anything,

Cheerio for now, Postle.

Answers to the "Caving Quiz" in the last issue of the BB:-

  1. Lamb Leer, Cave of Falling Waters, 1894.
  2. Wookey Hole, Cox's Cave, Gough's Cave, Ingleborough or Clapham Cave, White Scar Cavern, Stump Cross Cavern, Peak Cliff Cavern, Peak Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Blue John Mine, Poole's Cavern. Dan-yr-Ogof, Bagshawe Cavern
    (What about 's Cavern & Michelstown Caves, Don? - H.A.Ed.)
  3. Sir Boyd Dawkins, after his old Professor
  4. a. Read's Cavern, b. Swildons Hole, c. G.B., d. Swildons, e. Goatchurch, f.Sidcot Swallet, g. Wookey Hole h. Eastwater, j. Rod's Pot.
  5. Gaping Ghyll, approx 360 ft.
  6. G.B. and, Lamb Leer
  7. Bowline
  8. Rift, high and narrow, Bedding Plane, wide and low.
  9. Wookey Hole
  10. 480 ft
  11. Sidcot Swallet, and Sidcot School.
  12. Coral Cave, Compton Bishop.
  13. Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3
  14. Cow Hole.
  15. a. Lamb Leer, b. Long Wood Swallet, c. Eastwater, d. Stoke Lane Swallet, e. Swildons Hole, f. G.B. Swallet, g. Coral Cave. h. Goatchurch.
  16. The Beehive Lamb Leer.
  17. Vadose.
  18. Swildons Hole, 1901, Mr. H.E.Balch.
  19. 1. Jacob's Ladder, 2. Old Grotto, 3. Water Chamber, 4.Water Rift, 5. 40ft. Pot, 6. The Shrine, 7.Double Pot, 8. Tratman's Temple, or November 22nd Grotto.
  20. Badger Hole, Wookey Hole, Mendip Nature Research Committee

Pennine Underground: by N. Thornber

The Dalesman Publishing Co

4/6 (4/9 post free from W.W. Waterfall, 10 Sheep Street, Skipton.)

This little book (it slips easily into the pocket), contains brief information on over 350 caves and pots in Yorkshire, and 14 maps showing their location. In such a small volume the description cannot be detailed, but sufficient is given to be of great use. For each pot we are told its altitude (which can be of great use in finding it), its length and Depth. Directions, (perhaps a little on the brief side) are given for finding the entrance and the tackle required, for each pitch is detailed.

The date of the first exploration is given, and each is graded as -Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Very Difficult, Severe or Super-severe. The method of grading is a little difficult to fathom. It seems to depend to some, extent on the length of the pitches, and a tight section also sends up the grading. The severity of a pitch, however, is not necessarily proportional to its height, and a severe crawl to one man may be easy to the next.

The maps, drawn by Arthur Gemmel contain plenty of detail and are very clear despite their small size.

A really invaluable guide to a party exploring the district and a remarkable 4/6 worth.


A copy of the above Book has been ordered for the Club Library.

The Tragedy of Thomas Todd or Laugh, Drink and be Merry, for Tomorrow we go Caving.

Another Squeek from Herman has arrived and follows below:-

This is the Tale of Thomas Todd,
Who, acting rather like a clod,
Decided one fine day he'd show
That he could be a "Spelio".

Young Thomas set out now with glee,
He took his dinner and his tea
And just in case he should feel dry,
Of Ginger Beer a good supply.

He leaped upon his trusty steed,
Alas, No warnings would he heed,
And with a load of half a ton,
Looked forward to a day of fun.

The journey to the hills was tough
The heat that day, was great enough
To melt a candle in the shade,
Or cook an egg as it was laid.

But Tom at last was in the Gorge,
And up the steep hillside he forged,
Until as shown upon the map,
He saw the frightful yawning gap.

He sat for just a while to brood,
And fester up a spot of food;
Two bottles spare of pop he found,
He'd take a couple underground.

At last with ginger beer complete,
A length of rope, say twenty feet,
And in his hand a goodly light,
He started, "Gad, this hole is tight".

For half an hour or maybe more
He struggled on, the sweat did pour
From off his greatly heated brow.
The passages were tighter now.

Young Thomas strained with every bone,
And gave at last a final groan,
As realising to his dread,
He was inextricably wedged.

The ginger beer which Thomas prized,
Had now, as you might well surmise,
Become the object of this grapple,
Like the legendary apple.

Still he struggled more and faster,
Then it came, the great disaster.
With the sound of crashing thunder
Solid rock was split asunder.

Glass and bottle stoppers flew,
As like bombs the bottles blew.
Rocky splinters hummed and whizzed
The ginger beer just lay and fizzed.

The frightful echoes died at last
And in this cavern dark and vast,
Young Thomas ended mortal life
And as a ghost took up the strife.

It has bean said, it might be true,
That when the moon is bright and new,
The ghastly voice of Thomas Todd,
Is heard front underneath the sod.

The moral of this tale is clear,
Do not take caving ginger beer
You might perchance get stuck and go
To join our late friend down below.

Programme for November, December and January.

Saturday November 1st Burrington.

Sunday November 16th Longwood.

Saturday December 6th G.B

Sunday December 21st Stoke Lane (Full).

Saturday January 10th Burrington.

Sunday January 25th Eastwater.

Will all members who intend to attend these trips please notify Hon. Sec. so that he may have some idea of who to expect.

Saturday Trips have been arranged with due regard to the transport situation.


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.