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Programme for March. April and May.1949,

Sat 5th March                     August Hole and Longwood

Sun 20th March                  Eastwater

Sat April 9th                                               Burrington

Sun April 24th                                          Swildons Hole

Note. There will be great activities over Easter. Details from Hon. Sec later

Sat May 14th                                            G.B.

Sun 29th May                     Stoke Lane.

Other trips will of course be run as usual most weekends, details will be fixed on Thursday evenings.

Another Menace Episode.            by J.V. Morris

This article is short and in the form of a letter and should really come under the heading “From the ----------“ but as it is in the Menace’s usual style we think it deserves a better fate. Ed..

I am still in the land of the living and have returned from my climbing trip in one piece. The sole damage, over the trip was a badly sprained ankle on George’s side, and one heel off my climbing boot. The weather couldn’t have been worse, and we climbed under appalling conditions. We climbed the Aretes and Chimneys on Gable and Scafell Pinnacle by Deep Ghyll which is a severe. Under the conditions we climbed I should think it would be classed as an Exceptionally severe, and we were nearly beaten by the big Cave Ditch, which was as wet as the Swildon’s 40ft pitch; with the difference of 400 feet to fall.

We also did all the gullies on Great End, and climbed a new route up the south east Buttress by a series of cracks, chimneys and slabs. It was about the most difficult climb I have done, as the rock was loose, covered with moss and streaming with water. Also included in this course were two Lay Backs and a hand traverse, and there was no break away either side, in fact it was the hardest climb I have done. Incidentally this climb was due to us mistaking the directions in the book of words, and when we enquired about it from the regulars, we found that it had never been climbed direct before, so we have a new climb to our credit, though I cannot imagine it becoming a popular course.

Some Interesting Theories on Stoke Lane Swallett by A.M. Innes

Stoke Lane swallet does not present a very imposing entrance, but there is no doubt that once the first sump is passed, the chambers and passages then revealed are some o f the best in the Mendip series of Caves. In my opinion Stoke Lane Swallet is really formed of two parts, one old and the other comparatively recent.

The old part is that reached after the first sump, but before the second, and consists of the large chambers. This is probably part of a system that a long time ago stretched from the Hunting Lodge Swallet to St Dunstan’s Well, 1½ miles away. However due to some occurrence on the hills, a valley was cut across this cave by the stream which now passes through Stoke Lane Village and into the cave entrance. The valley stretches northward from the village, past Stoke Lane Entrance and Browne’s Hole to Edford.

This naturally destroyed part of the cave and blocked the stream passage, the water which entered at Hunting Lodge Swallet now escaping by some other route. Water, probably an overflow from the Hunting Lodge stream has been known to flow from the entrance to Browne’s Hole, showing that an active system exists behind it. Exactly opposite Browne’s Hole on the west side of the valley is a similar arch now blocked, which is probably the old stream passage and continuation of Browne’s Hole, Pitted on the hillside above this arch are numerous depressions which may prove to be an entrance into the Bone Chamber.

The new system is the crawl stretching from the entrance to the first sump and was probably formed by the stream which formed the valley being diverted into a small passage. This was then enlarged to give us our route to the main cave. The stream entering here combines underground with those from Withy brook and other swallets to flow out at St Dunstan’s Well with a volume many time that at Stoke Lane.

After the valley was formed Stoke Lane II was open to the surface and had an accessible and probably large entrance, large enough in fact for it to have been used for habitation. This is proved by the following fact. Bordering on the Bone Chamber is the Throne Room. This contains two very large stalagmites which have been named the King and Queen. Exactly in front of the Queen and between it and the connecting passage to the Bone Chamber is a small stalagmite about 10 inches in height and 4 to 5 inches in diameter. When this was found in 1947 it consisted of an old stump with a new stalagmite growing on top. Lying nearby was the old top of the stalagmite which had been broken off. Surrounding the present formation and the old stump was a ring of charcoal. The soot marks on the new part shows that the fire had been lit after its formation.

Bearing this in mind it is apparent that persons entered the cave a very long time ago and broke this stalagmite off. Also that comparatively recently the cave had again been entered and that other persons had lit a fire around the stalagmite, and also on a large flat rock in the Bone Chamber.

This I substantiated by the fact that of the bones found on the slope of the Bone Chamber, they nearly all fall into two distinct ages.

The questions which now arise are:-

a.                   Why was the stalagmite originally off) and

b.                   Why was a fire lit around it a long time after ?

The latter of these two incidents may be concerned with some rite or sacrifice, but neither may be answered correctly until the entrance used by these people has been dug and examined to exactly determine its use.

Before the entrance may be dug, however, it has to be located. The recent survey that was made is only provisional and the site of the entrance will remain undiscovered until the detailed survey is complete, unless it is stumbled upon by chance. The detailed survey may not be done before the summer owing to wet weather and bad conditions.

There are only two possible places where the entrance can be,

a.                   in the shake hole adjacent to the stream entrance, or

b.                   on the side of the valley.

If the entrance is on the side of the valley there are two other possible alternatives.

1.                   The Bone Chamber stretches from the valley towards the shake hole, and

2.                   the Bone Chamber lies after the shake-hole having a string of chambers between it and the entrance in the valley side, the shake-hole being formed by one of these chambers collapsing.

If the latter is the case, then the Bone Chamber was the inner recess of the cave and the bones are accounted for by people being trapped in the Bone Chamber when the shake-hole collapse occurred.

Because of the following points I am inclined to think that the entrance is on the side of the valley, not in the shake-hole, and that the Bone Chamber lies between the valley and the shake-hole.

1.                   It is doubtful whether the shake-hole is as old as the new stalagmite in the Throne Room, showing that the entrance is elsewhere. This point may indicate that the Bone Chamber lies after the shake hole.

2.                   Shake hole collapse past the second sump would explain why severe flooding is occurring in the cave. (stream passage past sump partially blocked by fallen boulders.)

3.                   There is no sign in the shake hole of there ever being any entrance large enough to attract even a modern caver.

However, until another survey can be made, and the Bone Chamber pinpointed accurately, digging will be partially dormant, and the above remain as pure theory.

A.M. Innes.

This very interesting article explains, a number of points in connection with Stoke Lane that time alone will verify. There must be several schools of thought on the subject, however, would anyone else like to advance any alternative theories? Ed..


Yet again!  Another member has gone and got himself engaged!  We are pleased to announce that Pat Woodroffe recently became engaged to Miss Margaret Illingworth.

British Caver Vol 19.

Will be ready in March. To the old timers the “B.C," needs no introduction, to those unfamiliar with it, the “B.C.” is the B.E.C, official journal (together with some 16 other societies) and is crammed full with things of interest to cavers.

Copies are 6/6 each or a ream of 10 by 8 paper. Send your orders now to :- G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.

Cave Diving Group News.

Two members of the London Section, Bill Mack and D.A.Coase, ( wots this, Don, a transfer? Ed,) Working with the C.D.G. Derbyshire Section, after a 380 ft. dive, have come out above water into a large passage with the stream flowing along the bottom, nowhere more than waist deep. This was followed for several hundred feet until time compelled a retreat.

We await further particulars of this splendid piece of work,

The Belfry

The new Belfry stands!!!  The walls and roof are up.  The roof is watertight, and the glazing is done.  BUT there is still plenty to do, so come on you slackers forget the holes on the ground for a weekend or so and give a hand to finish what will be the best Caving H.Q. in .  Thanks are due to the small band who week after week have toiled and strained to get as far as they have.

Articles for the BB

Do you like reading the BB, or do you say what, again? when one comes.  If the latter you won’t read this anyway.  If the former remember the BB is kept alive by the contributions of the members without your efforts it will die.  Anything that interests you will interest us send it in to the Hon  Ed. BB c/o Hon. Sec,.


In the near future a selection of P.C. prints of Stoke Lane will be available price 6d each. We shall be pleased to send a set on approval to any member, who can select those he requires and return the rest with the cash for those selected. If larger prints are required, this can be arranged. Don Coase is doing the work for us and a percentage of each 6d goes into the club funds Please send requests for prints to the Hon. Sec.

Club Library

Since the note in the last BB requesting the return of books, only one member has had the courtesy to return any. If any members who have books do not return them pronto, further steps will be taken to speed up their return.

T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec

Walking and Climbing Sections.

The response for names for the above sections has been good, and we are pleased to announce that Roy Wallace has consented to take charge of the walking section. Roy is one of our oldest members and is an enthusiastic walker. As many know a small group of BEC Members have been walking for some time now (Getting tired out by now, Ed) and have had some very enjoyable times together. Roy has submitted the following:-

I propose after talking it over with S. Herman and G. Fenn, to go ahead with a programme we are getting up for our own enjoyment this summer, consisting of one evening ramble per week, and a Sunday ramble occasionally. Anyone interested in walking would be welcome to come along and should the numbers warrant some better form of organisation or a fuller programme, I will endeavour to arrange one. I hope this will come about and be the beginnings of a good Walking Club that will give as much pleasure to others as walking gives to me.

Roy Wallace.

A programme will be fixed as soon as the evenings become lighter and will be printed in the BB. Membership of the Walking or climbing section is open automatically to all BEC members, but does not preclude a person joining specifically for climbing Etc.

The Climbing Section has seven names appended to date and we are looking for a suitable tutor. Several names have been suggested, and we hope to make an announcement soon.

Grand Shorts Auction

Remember chaps , the auction of Henry Shelton’s Natty Shorts closes at the end of the month. Bidding is now standing at 27/6. Come on you bods make a beast of yourselves, Who makes a bid of 30/-??

From the Hon. Sec’s Post Bag,

From J.H. Rapley, London.

In the middle ages and during the Roman Occupation of Britain, the Mendips were regarded as a rich source of lead, which occurred in large quantities in cavities in the limestone. These deposits were not discovered by investigating the outcrops of regular lodes or veins, but by their being seen either on the surface of the ground or more particularly in the caves. Where discovered these deposits were followed as far below water level as the primitive pumping apparatus would allow, after which they had to be abandoned. These deposits are distributed irregularly through the limestone and can only be discovered by being exposed (particularly underground) or by geophysical prospecting, which is a complicated and not entirely satisfactory method in the case of small deposits.

From Andre C. Anastasion now in Belfast

I am very impressed by the advancements made by the BEC. I was very pleased to see that my cartoons were received so very favourably by the public at the recent exhibition. Keep up the good work chaps!! Hope to see you all again soon. Andre.

From Terry Reed

We have received from Terry Reed, now on leave in ; two plans. They are of two caves discovered by him whilst on vacation near Coombe Martin. They will be reproduced when our cartographer has finished copying them.

Life Membership of BEC

At the Annual General Meeting the amount of a Life Subs was left for the Committee to decide. At the last Committee Meeting it was agreed that this subs be 5 gns.. Our first paid life member has been enrolled. Who will be the second??

Have YOU forgotten YOUR annual subs ?

To All Members & Friends

There will be held at Valence, in the Rhone Valley, from 22nd to 26th ,August 1949 an international Speleological meeting, with, it is hoped, representatives from all the "Caving minded" countries in attendance.  There will be, to quote:-" Sessions of work, festivities, and excursions" and the week will no doubt similarly organised to that which I spent in Valence in 1948.

The B.E.C, is going to send as large a party as possible to this meeting and those who are interested are asked to send their names to Hon. Sec. By the end of the month (May) so that the preliminary details may be put in hand.

This trip will cost in the region of £20, this figure being based on the expenses incurred last year. This includes the journey from Victoria to Valence and back, but not from your home to London. The fare from London back to London being about £8/15/- (unless B.R. raise the fares). Subject to the party being at least 20 we can I believe obtain a reduction on the fares over the French Railways.

The party will leave Victoria by the morning boat train on Sat. 20th, Aug. and will probably leave Valence on the return journey on the evening of 27th. Aug.

The detailed programme will be circulated to those who have sent In their names as soon as it is received.

The Belfry

Work is going on apace at the new Belfry. Although there seems to have been little actual work done a considerable amount of planning and organising has been done with the result that, we hope to have made the hut really habitable in a few more weeks.

Fatal Accident at Wookey Hole

It is with the deepest regret that we have to report the death of Frogman Gordon Marriot during operations with the Cave Diving Group at Wookey Hole. Although not a member of the Bristol Exploration Club, he will be greatly missed by those members who comprise the Somerset section of the C.D.G., and also those others who met him at the Belfry and listened to his tales of adventure underwater.

It was Marriot’s second trip to Wookey Hole, and his underwater time of 500 hours put the C.D.G. members to shame.

He was returning from the recently discovered 9th Chamber when he was missed; Bob Davies who was following him to base immediately returned in search of him, although his own Oxygen was almost exhausted, and was immediately followed by Don Coase. Graham Balcombe followed shortly afterwards and Marriot was found lying on the bottom. He was taken to an emergency platform in the sixth Chamber and artificial respiration was applied for 1½ hours without avail.

Marriot lost his life because his supply of oxygen, due to a faulty flow meter became exhausted. The equipment that he used was his own property and not the property of the C.D.G.

At the inquest hold in Wells the jury returned a verdict that death was due to anoxaemia, accidentally sustained during diving operations when his oxygen became exhausted due to a fault in the test pressure gauge and added a rider that "all divers, including guest divers should be subjected to the same equipment tests as the members of the Diving Group”.

The party was complimented by the police at the time and at the inquest the way operations were conducted for the rescue of the lost diver. The Bristol Exploration Club extends its deepest sympathy to Marriot’s wife and family in their bereavement.

The Belfry

Work us going on apace at the new Belfry. Although there seems to have been little actual work done a considerable amount of planning and organising has been done with the result that, we hope to have made the hut really habitable in a few more weeks.

Some French Caving Techniques

By Pongo Wallis

I have recently been reading a French Caving Book - 'Underground Climbs" by Pierre Chavalier, being an account of the exploration of the worlds deepest cave (2150 ft) in the Dent de Crolles system near Grenoble. It occurs to me that although the majority of the techniques worked out by Chevalier and his friends are not of great use in this country, they may none the less be of interest.

Light-weight ladder, consisting of steel rope sidelines and light alloy rings were of course used. This is standard French practice, but it is essential under these circumstances in any case, as falrly small parties would not otherwise have been able to carry the considerable lengths of ladder needed. In general, ladders were tethered to pitons hammered into suitable cracks, or grouted into holes drilled in the rock. This of course saved carrying tethering ropes considerable distances through small passages.

A considerable part of the system had to be climbed from the bottom upwards.  As rock-climbing was impossible, a 50ft. long pole was constructed, originally using 3 ft, sections of iron piping, but later using light alloy.  This could be carried to the bottom of a pitch erected, a ladder tied to the top, and propped against the vertical.  As long as a series of suitably large ledges at not more than 50ft. intervals were available, a sort of staircase could be worked by a man climbing up the ladder and then drawing the pole up after him and repeating the operation.  This was naturally a slow and tedious business, but it did make otherwise impossible climbs possible.  Once a pitch had been climbed in this manner a piton and pulley were fixed at the top.  A rope, (generally steel) was then passed through the pulley and left double down the length of the pot.  On subsequent visits a ladder need only be fixed to one end of the rope; by hauling on the other end the pitch was laddered.

At one stage of the exploration, it was necessary to know exactly where the end of a passage (over half a mile long) was in respect to the surface topography, in order that it might be reached by digging from the surface. Under the difficult conditions prevailing in the passage (a small really fit party took 8 hrs. to get along it), a survey was insufficiently accurate. A radio direction-finding method was employed - a magneto and length of wire as aerial were taken down to the end of the passage, and at fixed times, a party on the surface listened for the crackle of the magneto on a radio with a loop aerial. Quite accurate directions could be established in this way, even through 120 feet of limestone.

Incidentally, Chevalier's formula for estimating the depth of a pot may come in useful sometime. If a medium sized stone is thrown down, and the sound of its fall is heard t secs. after letting go, the depth, d is given by:-

d = 115 plus 80(t - 3) feet.

I hope that a translation of Chevalier's exceptionally interesting book will eventually appear in the Club Library.


Caving in , Series 1.

by Roger W.C. Cantle,

Report of a visit to the limestone area around Wuppertal.

Iserlohn.  At the entrance to the town the “Decherhole lies. It is purely a show cave but shows some very interesting formations.  The cave was opened by railway workers in 1868; whilst cutting a new track through the limestone cliff on the eastern side of the town

The Cave consists of about sixteen grottos, and is about 400 meters long.  The temperature is 59.o F. summer and winter. Numerous skeletons of various animals have been found in the clay deposits in many places, in the cave.  Its name is derived from the surveyor Dechen frcn Bonn.

The caves contains some really excellent formations among which are many good curtains.  Some of the finest '''Organ Pipes" I have seen were found in the fourth chamber named "Organ Cave".

In the tenth grotto called “Palamangrotte”, can be found a very fine formation from which the Grotto gets its name.  Cave crystals can be found in the twelfth grotto in small pools. Although the cave is a show cave it has been laid out quite cleverly and the lighting is good,  I would like to add that although most cavers walk around a show cave with their noses in the air, I was quite thrilled to find that there are other "grottes” in the area and that further exploration is definitely warranted.

Editor's note.

Roger enclosed a number of photographs with this short article, they are available at H.Q., should anyone desire to see them.; Parts of this article were translated from the German Guide Book, and Roger apologised for the dis-continuity of it.. Anyone who can translate even one word of Gothic Type, in my estimation should be presented with a medal as big as a soup plate.

Rhodesian Caves

We have received the following from Brian Coase, now in Northern Rhodesia:-

Extracts from Exhibit Notices in the Livingstone-Rhodes Memorial Museum, Livingstone. Northern--

The Broken Hill Cave,

It was in this historic cave, situated on the Broken Hill mine, that in 1881 was found remains of a new, extremely interesting type of man, later as Homo Rhodesienis.

The mine was at that tine working the lead and systematically basting away a Kopjie known as No.2 Kopjie, in which was a cave long known to contain fossilised bones of animals and Stone Implements.

The deposits in this cave had become impregnated with zinc in its upper levels, and in its lower with lead.  It was the latter one that was required, the zinc impregnated material was placed on dumps for use at a later date.

It was while blasting was taking place in the lower levels that the skull together with a complete shin bone, two ends of a thigh bone and a fragment of pelvis were found 90 feet below the cave floor.

Owing to the difficulties in obtaining accurate geological evidence the age and status of the skull is still a subject of dispute. In it's general features, heavy eyebrow reiges, absence of forehead, the great size of the eye sockets, the mouth and, brain capacity, it closely resembles Neanderthal skulls of Europe but differs from them in being pivoted more centrally on the neck. The man must therefore have carried himself more upright than the Neanderthal man and, largely on this account, he is considered to be a distinct species, Homo Rhodesiensis.

The Mumbwa Caves

These caves are situated about three miles S.W. of the Government station at Mumbwa, N.W. of Lusaka, in two outcrops of limestone which stand out from the flat plain around. Cliffs at the base of which are the caves rise to a height of 70 to 80 feet vertically.

The caves are three in number besides several rock shelters showing evidence of having been lived in. Two of the .caves have been excavated and have yielded evidence of three distinct phases of human occupation. After a long period during which the caves were under water and a layer of red clay was deposited, they were occupied by a people who made thin leaf shaped arrow and spear heads showing them to be typical of the people responsible for what is called the Rhodesian Stillbay culture. These people appear to have inhabited the caves for a considerable length of time as the deposit of red earth containing their tools was as much as 4ft. 6 inches deep.

In the layer above this was found the remains of a second stone age culture, characterised by small microlithic tools, crescentic in form, which were used as barbs for arrows as well as blades with a blunted back which were used as knives.

The diet of these people consisted mainly of wart-hog, zebra and various species of buck including Eland, from which it is adduced that considerable skill in hunting had been attained. They also knew how to grind and polish stone. Four rather crudely polish axes have been found and broken fragments of digging stick weights were also probably of their manufacture.  It is interesting that actual remains of the men themselves have been found, showing them to have probably been an early type of bushman.

The third phase occurred when the caves were occupied by bushmen at a comparatively recent date.

From The Hon. See's Postbag.

From Brian Coase in Chingola, N. Rhodesia.

—— This area is well wooded, but I have noticed outcrops of limestone amongst the trees which will bear examination as the opportunity occurs. I am sure there would be plenty of scope for speleologists out here. Whilst passing through the Union and I noticed that the plains and desert were dotted peculiarly alike flat topped hills. It looked like sand stone and I also observed that the strata was exactly horizontal which together with rain and wind erosion would presumably account for the shape.

The geology of the Victoria Falls is very interesting, they having been formed where basalt and sandstone meet. ---------

Hon Sec has had a letter from John Adam and one from John Hull in which they each bemoan their fate. John Hull is on the shores of the Great Bitter Lake and John Adams is in the Navy. Both send their “love” to the club and its members,

From Mrs. F. Moriarty of Meer Cottage Bude.

------- I bought this house 30 years ago and I was told the exit to the passage was in the corner of the garden--------

(the Passage she referred to is the other end of the Smugglers' Cave the Club are excavating at Bude. Ed,)

Cave Research Group.

The CRG General Meeting will be held at Cardiff on 7th May in the National Museum of Wales.  Will all those requiring accommodation please write to J. Davies, 32 Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina,  Cardiff at once.  Further particulars of this Meeting can be obtained from Hon. Sec..

Important Notice for London Members

The Club has had a very generous offer from Dr, (Miss) CM, Rendell, of Poplar Hospital, East Dock Road, London E.14. (Telephone East 1876).  She will be travelling to Bristol and returning to London, about one weekend a month.  She will be delighted to fill her car with anyone who would like to come down for the weekend.  Please ring Miss Rendell for further information. Her brother, Oswald Rendell is already known to a large number of his fellow members.

London Section News

A meeting of the London Section was held on 6th March and was well attended. It was decided that the swallets at Water End be investigated further and that all local information about them be gathered.

It was too early to make any definite plans for field work but among the items discussed was Climbing on the sandstone outcrops at Tunbridge Wells and the Group Meet at the Belfry In July.  The first depends on the weather and arrangements will be made by telephone. The trip to Mendip will be from about 11th July until after the August Bank Holiday. Each coming as he or she is able.

There will be no organised program except that the Stoke Lane Survey will be proceeded with and that some digging will be done. John Shorthose says that any suggestions about digging will be welcomed. Also they will be chances to see any of the local types who may be enjoying a spot of leave around that time.

Club Badges

Older members will recall that from time to time the question of small lapel badges for the club have been discussed and turned down on the grounds of cost. We have however in the last few weeks obtained a very reasonable quotation for these badges. They would be in black and silver and would include Bertie Bat our emblem. The cost would be about 2/6. We should be glad if those who would like one would write to the Hon Sec and let him know, so that we see if the expenditure involved would be justified. Send no Money. Just a P.C. to say you would like one if we are able to proceed with the scheme.

List of Members 1949 no. 1

Each Year our list of members alters and extends. The lists printed last year are already out of date. The Hon. Sec is continually receiving letters asking for addresses and the following list and those that will appear in subsequent issues are to help those who require them.

T.H, Stanbury        Hon Sec. 74, Redcatch Road. Knowle, Bristol 4
W.J. Shorthose      Hon Sec. London Section,  7 Marius Mansions, Rowfant Road, Balham, London.S.W.17.
D.H. Hasell,           Hon. Editor Belfry Bulletin, 1 Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somerset
R. Wallace            32. Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol.4
J.V. Morris             Ye Olde Jolly Sailor Inn, Teignmouth. Devon
J.Beer                   3 Westfield Place, Clifton, Bristol
S.C.W Herman      34 Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol,4
R.J. Bagsbaw        11 Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol,4.  (Life Member).
G.H. Fenn             29 Kinsale Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
L.Peters                21, Melbury Road, Knowle, Bristol, 4
J.C. Weekes          376 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
R. Woodbridge       384 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4
A.E. Baxter           92, Reditch Road, Knowle, Bristol.4
E. Knight               46. Grafton Street, St. Philips Marsh, Bristol
R. Brain                 10. Weston Ave., Cossham Road, St, George, Bristol 5
Mrs. I.M. Stanbury (Hon, Life Member) 74 Redcatch Road, Bristol4
C.H. Kenney          Vicars Close, Wells, Somerset
A.C. Johnson         43. The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol
J.D. Pain               "Bibury", Old West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol 4
D.A. Coase            13 Headington Road, Wandsworth, London.S.W.18.

A very Happy New Year and a good year’s Caving to our members and friends all over the world.

Redcliffe Caves by. R. Brain.

Mr Harford the owner of Redcliffe Wharf prior to their purchase by the railways, said that the caverns were well known to him, and he has explored them to an immense distance. He said that they had been used at an early period for smuggling, and worse purposes, i.e., hiding kidnapped people for slave dealing. He believed they had been originally dug for sand pits.

In 1812 the owner of some adjoining property, Mr Thomas King, claimed the portion of the caves under his land, and built a wall to separate the estates.

A door in one of the sheds of the waterside depot led to an outer tunnel from which, after a short distance, other passages were seen to branch off.

On the occasion of the visit in 1906, taking a turning to the right, a series of ramifications were met, with galleries forking off from each other with apparently no set design. As they were about seven feet in height, they afforded ample room, but many were filled to the roof with barrels of oil. At points the visitor could see four or more tunnels branching off from that in which he was standing.

Having turned newly back to the entrance, a second set of excavations (rather nearer Bristol Bridge than the first set) was seen. They varied from the other in that the excavation had been carried out more systematically, so as to cut away all the rock except the portion left to form the great natural columns supporting the roof.

In one part of the caves, there is one compartment octagonal in form, 45 ft in diameter and seven feet high. The roof is supported on eight columns at equal distances, and a ninth in the centre has a well bored through it, (no doubt some BEC types will remember this from a previous visit). To reach this section turn to the left into a tunnel leading off the main gallery, just after leaving the entrance.

In late 1695, 120 Dutch Naval Seamen were brought to Redcliffe and imprisoned either in the crypt of St Mary Redcliffe, or, according to Latimer, in the caves, and were transferred in April of the following year to Chepstow Castle. The only record of this event is a corporation account for supplying a bed of straw and fifty bed mats for their use.

This information was gleaned from a book published in 1909 by the Western Daily Press called “Bristol as it was and as it is”, and is comprised of articles from the Daily Press published around the turn of the Century and earlier.

Although there is still no definite news of the starting date for work in Redcliffe, negotiations are still proceeding between ourselves, the Bristol Corporation and the Railway Executive, and we hope to be able to make an announcement very shortly.


Bristol Explorers Club

Has anyone any information about the Bristol Explorers Club? This organisation is nothing to do with Bristol Exploration Club, and has apparently been recently formed, and anyone with any information is asked to contact the Hon Sec..

Another Episode in the Precarious Life of:- The Menace
Climbing in Cheddar by J .V. Morris

Before going into the description of the climbing, I would like to offer a few words of advice.

I take it most of you know the meaning of the terms “pitch”, “Belay”, “Stance”, etc, as they are all used in caving. The cliffs of Cheddar are not very suitable for rock climbing; The strata runs the wrong way, producing an overlapping boiler-plate slab structure. Many of the cracks and chimneys and ledges have weathered off to a rounded form, calling for delicate climbing. The sharp edges, flakes, etc., should be treated with caution as they are generally rotten.

The fact that a lot of the holds are loose is only of secondary importance. Even a loose hold if treated the correct way, that is, with a steady downward pull, is quite safe. This does not of course apply to all holds.

Some of the harder climbs consist of tricky cracks and mantle shelves which require “handjams” and “press-ups”, and other advanced techniques.

On the whole the climbing in Cheddar is either “Difficult”, or “Very Severe “ with not much in between.

The Climbs.

Starting at the bottom and of the Gorge on the highest side.

No,l. The Knight’s Climb

This starts from just above the charabanc park. Walk up to the big grassy Terrace and a fairly deep chimney will be seen.

Pitch 1. 50 feet, Climb the chimney by bridging until about 10 feet from the top, then climb its loose right wall to a tree belay and grass ledge.

Pitch 2. 60 feet Climb this similar chimney, the top outside wall of which is a pinnacle. A rather awkward movement is made to get out of the chimney on to the pinnacle. This is rather exposed and loose but a good belay and stance is found on top.

Pitch 3 Length ?, The next move is rather sensational and rather tricky, but quite safe. Stand on a small hold on the pinnacle. Step across the top of the chimney on to the wall. Up the wall on small awkwardly placed holds to easy rocks, scrabbling to the top.

This climb was first done by The Climbing Club and owing to its rather zig-zag nature was named after a move in chess. The standard is probably “Difficult” but the last part of pitch 2 and pitch 3 is “Very Difficult”.

Next walk along the top to the exit of the Greay Gully, This is no more than a muddy scramble and it’s the best way off the cliffs. Descend Greay Gully for about 150 feet and on the left wall will be seen a clean buttress.

There are two routes on this; One consists of a traverse up the wall which bounds the Gully. Then up a little chimney to a good stance. A continuation of the chimney, very shallow, can be followed to the top, Standard Moderate, or straight up the w all. Very Difficult, exposed and rather trying.

The other route is up the face of the buttress. It is Very Severe and not to be recommended.

From the top, walk along until a peculiar pinnacle with a hole through it is seen. On this are two climbs: Digramers and Thisbe, (this is the only way of translating brother Morris’s writing. Ed.)


The first starts with an upward traverse to a chimney formed by the hole. On the left up the chimney and through the hole finishing by a chimney the other side.


The other follows the chimney on the right side, or harder up a line of slabs. They are both about Difficult Standard, with the right-hand one the harder.

On the right of the pinnacle are two Aretes. The first is climbed up the left wall until the unsound nature of the rock forces one out onto the edge of the arete. A fairly clean finish is made to the top. Standard Difficult, Rather bad rock. The Second is climbed by the obvious and impossible looking narrow curving crack on its left wall. A tricky exit is made on to the face of the arete and a direct line taken to the top. Standard, Hard Very Difficult, steep and exposed. Good Rock.

Between this and the Greay Gully is a new route called Gates of Babylon. Standard, Severe, which I have not done yet.

As you can see, most of the routes start from the upper terrace where the rock is most weathered. The lower part o f the cliff is too overhanging and has too much vegetation.

I hope that this rough guide will be of some use. Great care should be taken by the way not to dislodge stones on to the road.

By taking care and using all possible belays it will be found that the climbing in Cheddar is not as dangerous as many people imagine.


As reported from our roving London Reporter :-

“Alfie and Jean Collins have provided themselves with a bouncing daughter on 19/12/49. Mother and infant are progressing very well.“

Congratulations to you both, Can we send you a Membership application form for her??

Caving in the Pyrenees. No 2, Grotte de Gargas. By Iris and Harry Stanbury

You will remember that last month’s BB I threatened to inflict you with more episodes from our holiday. Last month by Error I omitted the “Better Half‘s” name. As those notes are compiled from her diary it is only fair that she should share in the title.

Upon reaching the Pyrenees our first call was at the house of Norbert Casteret, who gave us a splendid welcome. He took us up to his “study-cum-workroom” at the top of the house and we were able to see the wonderful collection that he has there. The choicest formations from Cigalere, a wonderful collection of books, maps and drawings; equipment of various sorts, bats, and a host of other interesting things.

From here we set out for the Grotte de Gargas, stopping on route for lunch, at a small town called Montrejeau. A short drive from Montrejeau along a side road brought us to the Cave which is situated in the foothills. Like most similar places, the cave was a show one and a small generator set was chugging away at the entrance. Here also was a small stall where we bought our tickets for the cave and also post cards of the interior.

Casteret then led the way to an archway with a door, and, unlocking it he led us into the cave. The entrance was comparable to that of Wookey Hole for size, and immediately inside the entrance the cave opened out into a large chamber with a unique flat roof.

This roof reminded me greatly of the freestone workings at Bath, and I have never before seen such an “artificial looking” ceiling to a cave. The walls, with their thick coloured deposits, of course reminded us that the place was natural, and we followed Casteret over duck boards further into it. The entrance chamber has yielded bones of Cave Bear, but the main wonder (we hasten to assure those who are picking up their pens to complain about the French pun, that it is unintentional) of Gargas is of course the hand prints.

Casteret told us that there were about two hundred of these prints, some made by covering the hand with colour, and placing it on the wall and others by painting around the hand instead. Most of the hands that made the prints were mutilated, the theory being that the owner suffered a mutilation every time he was bereaved. Some of the prints were those of children and some had only the stumps of all the fingers remaining. In one place there were pre-historic engravings and paintings, and although we saw vague marks and scratches, we could not, personally, make head or tail of them. How different those were to those of Niaux, the proximity of the entrance doubtless having the effect of causing the paintings to fade due to variations in temperature, humidity etc.

Beyond the “Room of the Bears” as the entrance chamber was called, and which contained a very fair stalagmite like a kneeling camel, there were abundant formations, some of which were very beautiful.

Only a small portion of the cave is now open to the public. During the war years the wooden stairways and electric lighting have rotted away. Rotted is the right word, Casteret took us up stairways that shuddered and shook, along duck-boards that crumbled and down places where there were only the remnants of ladders.

The Inner Series and the Salle Casteret are reached through an excavation in a very deep infilling. The head-room above this filling is in places was only inches, with the cutting deep enough to give head room for visitors. The Salle Casteret is a fair sized chamber (by Mendip Standards), that falls away into a deep pit in one corner. Visitors used to be able to climb down on to a boulder at the edge of the drop, but this was not possible when we were there, as the ladders were so bad that there was only a crumbling outline of what once had been a staircase. At the entrance to this chamber was a very fine curtain, pure white against the darker background, and in the Salle itself there were some good stalagmites.

We returned along the route followed on the inward journey, up the crumbling staircases, and through the cutting in the infilling, to the main chamber, reaching daylight by a different route, gaining access to the open air through a door much higher up the hillside. We returned down a steep path to the cars and then returned to The Casteret Home at St. Gaudens.

Our route was different to that taken on the outward journey, and we passed through the ancient village of St. Bertrand-de Comminges. Here we could see the remains of the Roman settlement there, but the name of the village was sufficinet proof of its age, the province of Comminges not being In existence for some considerable time.

Crossing the Garonne, we reached St. Gaudens shortly afterwards and here said goodbye to M. Casteret and his daughter, who shook hands with everyone and wished us all the best of luck during our stay in the mountains.

Club Loss

Since out last issue the club has suffered a loss. Mrs. Betty (Iln) Corpe passed away at Webbington House, Loxton on Dec. 19th.

She will be greatly missed by all thos who knew her, especially those who use the Belfry often, as she was a frequent vistor there.

Carbide Spares

For those members with Acetylene lamps there is a new spare part available. We can supply new carbide containers complete with a spare cap so that a charge of carbide can be very easily carried. These cost 2/3 complete with cap.

AGM note

Although this issue will reach you after or about the date of the AGM you will appreciate that it is not possible to include a report as the editorial wheels gring exceeding slow, A detailed report will be included in the next issue.

The Club Dance

The Club Dance, held on October 21st at St. Matthew’s Hall, Redfield, was an unqualified success. Congratulations are the order of the day all round. To Pam and her band of stalwarts who did the arrangements, and to those who gave refreshments and officiated over boiler and washtub in the kitchen. The combined efforts of all, gave those who attended a really fine evenings entertainment. The cry now is “Let‘s have another one”. As a result of this dance the sum of £15/2/3 has been paid into the Hut Fund account.


Christmas Cards and Calendars

You will remember that last year we were able to offer members Xmas Cards. This year in addition to the cards (of which there are eight different designs), you can obtain (also in any one of Eight designs) a mounted calendar of picture size 8 x 5½ on a mount 12 x 9½ inches.

These are being sold at 6d each the postcards and 2/6 each the calendars. The cards all have “With the season’s Greetings” across the bottom. The following are the eight photographs from which you can choose:-

a.         The Throne Room, Stoke Lane Swallet.

b.                   Fluted Column, Stoke Lane Swallet.

c.                   Queen Victoria and Page, Stoke Lane Swallet.

d.                   Harvard Plane in Flight (Tim Kendrick’s kite).

e.                   Queen Victoria, Stoke Lane Swallet.

f.                     The Bone Chamber, Stoke Lane Swallet.

g.                   The New Belfry being erected.

h.                   The Planners at work. Coase and Ridyard get down to it.

All orders to Hon Sec as soon as possible please. A percentage of the cost of each is going to the club funds. John Shorthose is churning these calendars and cards out so thanks a lot John.

News Flash by Dicky-bird Special

What two B.EC members went snogging in the entrance to GB a few weeks ago? I know, Do you????

Ivor Sawrem,

Thanks Squire for the Spuds. A lofty gift from a - - - - - -Person and to Mrs Corpe for the Blankets and Eiderdown.


News from the London Section

The L.S. had a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and last Sunday we investigated a rumour about some holes near Merstham, Surrey. Unfortunately it rained like it does on Mendip and we drew somewhat of a blank. The holes had definitely been filled in, although we got reports confirming that we had found the right spot. Quite the usual story, actually somebody‘s drive falling in during the night and so on.

We shall be doing something pretty soon, unless we start on a real winter of floods. We see a report about an underground chamber in the chalk at Godmersham, , and that might be worth looking at.


Caves in the Pyrenees Nol, Niaux, by T.H, Stanbury.

As most of you know my wife and I, had a very enjoyable holiday this year in . We visited various caves and many well known beauty spots, and I am going to write a series of articles, each devoted to one cave. This then the first, is about the Cave at Niaux.

Niaux is situated a short distance from Tarascon-sur-Ariege and is a small village situated on a road that further up the valley peters out under the Pyrenean peaks. In our party was Win Hooper, Pat Cahill, Trevor Shaw and John Hampton all of the W.C.C..

We met our guide at the foot of the path leading to the cave. He was a short fat man, who lit a large acetylene lamp and then started off up the path at a very fast pace! The night was very dark and the path was steep; with a surface of loose gravel! We each had our own lights and I was reminded of the stories that I had read about smugglers and bandits in the mountains as we zig-zagged up the narrow path.

The climb to the cave entrance from the road took about half an hour and we were all very hot when we reached the end of the path. The guide, who hadn’t uttered a word so far, threw himself down by a rock face and lit a cigarette. We all stretched out to cool off and rest, and then he chuckled and started to speak about the climb and the cave. He had a very harsh voice and it was very hard for me to understand him. Not a guide in the usual sense of the word, he was a caver belonging to a society who were working in the cave, and also in others in the district. After a ¼ of an hour we picked ourselves up and followed our guide to the entrance of the cave, a very insignificant slit in the mountainside.

E,A. Baker in “Caving” mentions a waist-deep pool immediately inside the entrance, but owing to the dry summer, this pool was dry, to our great delight and relief, and we were soon walking through a huge system, the largest that I have ever seen. From the entrance a huge tunnel with a floor composed of small “gours” led into the mountain, the tunnel becoming in a very short time, an immense chamber. Following the left-hand wall we entered a passage. This was comparable in size to the main chamber of GB, although the roof was lower and everywhere the rock was smoothed and polished by the water. There was one other difference too, the GB floor slopes down steeply, whilst here at Niaux the floor was level, or almost so.

A short distance along this passage a rock fall had made a barrier, and on top of this had been built a wall, in which was a steel barred gate that was locked. Unlocking the gate, our guide ushered us all through and then carefully relocked it again. Descending a flight of rough steps we found ourselves in a continuation of the same passage. The floor, here still almost level was of gours and sand, and in places there were dried out pools, the crystals that had formed under water shining in the light of our lamps.

All at once we saw a small railed-off enclosure. We crowded around and were shown some red stripes painted on the rocky walls. Some had black dots between them, as though the pre-historic artist had covered the tips of his fingers with pigment and then pressed them on the rocky surface. One theory as to what part these stripes played in the life of the community in the cave, was that they were placed where there was danger nearby, and acted in a similar manner to our modern red flags along the road. They were to be found in the cave in places where there was deep water close by, and our guide said that this was the only theory as to their use. Further along the same passage were other similar enclosures, some of which had very faded outlines of animals in red or black, whilst others guarded engravings cut into the stone or traced on the mud floor.

The tunnel, still of the same immense size, went on and on, and then suddenly the roof rose and the walls fed away and we found ourselves in an enormous chamber, The Grand Carrefour, our lamps became tiny spots of light in space. , A great mound or mountain of sand rose on our right and its flank vanished into the darkness.  We traversed along the side of this sloping mass and eventually reached its top, to see on our right the famous Rotunde des Gravures.

Here are displayed bison, bearded horse and deer.  Each one as perfect as though the artists had just completed them, instead them being 20,000 years old.  Jet black, against the creamy limestone background, there were dozens of them, all protected by a thin film of transparent stalagmite.  On the flanks of some of those animals were red painted arrows.  Doubtless these drawings were made to propitiate the gods of the chase, the painted arrows showing how the sorcerers wishes their victims to be wounded.

Here too, were traces of drawings in the mud of the floor, but unfortunately many more had been destroyed by the careless feet of sightseers. Once again the peculiar habits of Freach sightseers were apparent. Some of those priceless relics of the past were defaced, and other drawings had been superimposed over the originals.  Names and dates were everywhere, and although the enclosures and the gate now protect the paintings, there has been great damage done.

Beneath the paintings we sat, in one place the footprints of the artist, who all those thousands of years ago had squatted there and created these animals of the past for us to marvel at. These drawings were made further back in time before the Pyramids, than the Pyramids are before our time, yet there in the mud of the floor we could see the outlines of the feet of one who not only lived 30,000 years ago, but who had such artistic sense that he was able to draw true to life, those animals with which he came in contact.

Leaving the paintings and return to the “Sand Cavern”, we were taken into another passage quite as large as the first, and here too, in several places were paintings and engravings. The most interesting thing, to me, that we saw, was a discovery made only the week before, and we were the first, outside of those who made the discovery, to see it.

Behind a pile of rocks, and on the mud floor was a jumble of child's footprints. In the main passage a few yards away was a painting on the rock wall. It is believed that the child crept into hiding and peeped out to see the ceremony being enacted either when the painting was made, or later on when some rite was being followed at the painting itself.  Whilst waiting, the child became cold and jumped up and down so keep warm. There, in the mud of the floor is the story for all to see.

This passage ended in a sump, which had been opened by the drought and columns of stalagmite could be seen beyond the archway. It was too late for us to even think about investigating any further, and so, after investigating a couple of side passages we returned to the “Sand Cavern”, passing on the way a part of the passage where red, green white and peach coloured marble are each clearly defined and within a few feet of each other.

From the “Sand Cavern” we retraced our steps to the entrance arriving back there about 11.30 p m. The distance that we walked underground was about 3 kilometres and there were many other side turnings that we had to leave unexplored. None of the paintings were near the cave entrance, the Rotunde des Gravures being 800 metres from the entrance. We returned down the path to the cars and took the guide back to Tarascon and then drove back to the very nice barn near Niaux where we were to spend the night.

From the Hon. Sec’s Post Bag.

From Gerry Orren on the Likomba Plantation B.W.A., :-

------- The plantation is situated about ten miles from the coast on the Tiko plain, which is low-lying and a network of creeks, islands and mangrove swamps. About 18 miles inland rises the great Cameroon Mountain, an active 13,350 foot volcano which is due to erupt sometime in the next year or two. I havn’t heard of any caves yet and I suppose that the chances of finding any in volcanic rock are small. But I believe there are some old craters up-country which should be worth a visit. About 60 miles away there is supposed to be a crater lake, and you have to climb down almost sheer rock faces to got to the water level. It is reputed to be a “ju-ju” lake though. The local populace are very “ju-ju minded” and say that the mountain is rules by a “mountain-master” - a strange bod who is half made of flesh and half of stone!! Any volcanic tremors and eruptions are put down to his doings. There is also another volcano in the chain “Little Cameroon” some 5,000 feet. It has the most regular cone-shape I have yet seen and looks like a mountain from a fairy-tale. It is reputedly almost unclimbable and has been scaled by an expert German mountaineer. Two other Germans attempted it but never came back! We hope to climb the main mountain at Xmas though, so I hope to have an epistle for the BB then.

We work very hard here, usually from 6.30 a.m. to 3.0 p.m, and have very few social amenities. Our main amusements are reading, playing shove ha’penny and the “bottle”.

From John Hull at Mackinnon Road, Kenya.:-

I should like to begin this letter with an account of the Primary Exploration of a cave “up country” by Mr R. de P. Bealon, a National Park Warden with whom I am in contact.

“I explored an interesting cave in the Jumpi River country in the Keriho District. It can only be entered when the river is at low water, I penetrated for about half a mile, but there was a labyrinth of passages, bat and snake infested in the majority of cases. I only had an old hurricane lamp and had some trouble in finding my way out again.”

Now for some doings of my own. Last weekend two others and myself climbed Kasgaro, 5,000 feet. I was on the lookout for caves, but had to be content with a few picturesque but uninteresting rock shelters in one of which I found a krake, one of the poisonous snakes of the region. Fortunately for me he was not in an hungry mood.

Caving in this region is a far more risky business than in , for whereas in the Mendips the discovery of leopard bones is a matter of interest, when in this place the bones are attached to flesh and blood the interest involved becomes anything but academic.

Now to the climbing of this mountain. It turned out to be, from the sporting angle a rather boring graunch, The chief interest to me was the tremendous variation in scenery which was met whilst climbing. We started off in a typical African bush. Then we trudged though typical English forest and finally finished up sitting a pile of stones in the middle of a fog-bound moorland with only a few patches of grass and rushes to be seen.

From Terry Reed “Off the Amazon”

While in Curacoa I was able to locate and discover a cave, its called the Grotto and is near Mato Airport. I suggest it be called “Cliff Cavern”. This cave has been known for a long time, and I believe that parties of visitors are sometimes conducted through it. I surveyed it for approximately 200 feet, but my torch failed, and I was forced to grope my way out; very difficult to obtain candles on the island. - - - - - I intend to explore and survey this cave very thoroughly on my return to Curacoa, I’ll forward you the survey as soon as possible.

Have a specimen of Vampire Bat; cavers, female, frightening for the purpose of!

It’s queer how a feeling of loneliness gets you over here when you’re underground. Psychological reasons probably, among which are the absence of English speaking people and anyone with caving knowledge. This causes a sub-conscious drag of worry lest you be trapped – which might mean curtains. I’ve felt that way in most of the nooks and crannies I’ve wormed into on those coasts. There’s a tremendous amount to do out here, and I believe that I’m almost, perhaps the first caver down this way. Mendips now seem pleasantly small.

T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec. 74 Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.

W.J. Shorthose, Hon, Sec. London Section B EC 26. Gateside Road, Upper Tooting, London, SW 17

Report of Annual General Meeting 1949.

The AGM for 1949 was held at Redcatch Road Co-operative Hall, Bristol on Saturday, 14th. January 1950, there being present 36 members.

The following is a brief precis of the meeting:-

1. Mr D.H. Hasell was elected as Chairman for the meeting.

2. Hon Sec. read the minutes of the 1948 AGM

3. Hon Sec’s Report for 1949. He-said that on Dec 31st the club membership was 120 of which 48 were new members. We had during the year unfortunately lost 25 members, the majority of which had been forces members. He explained that this was the first year that forces members had to “rebook” their membership which would account for the large number of defaulters, as some of these had not been heard of for some considerable time. He touched on the Trip to Valence, and reported that the Stoke Lane Survey was complete as far as the Sump. The Climbing section was progressing and had had one very successful trip to N. Wales. Other points mentioned were the number of lectures given to outside organisations, the work at Cross Swallet and the staggering number of caving trips undertaken during the year.

4. Mr. Geoff Ridyard gave a report on the London Section. He said that regular meetings had been arranged in Tooting, that excursions had been arranged to Swallow Holes in Herts, climbing trips had been organised, and that a very fine week had been spent on Mendip. He said that another Mendip week was being arranged and that he had brought a copy of the S/L survery for examination.

5. Mr Setterington as hut warden gave the Annual Belfry report, he said that during the last year there had been a lot of work done at the huts. He gave a resume of the progress made and said that over August Bank Holiday over 30 different persons slept there. Over 1,000 men-nights had been spent there during the year. A calor-gas cooker had been purchased and there were now three good primusses available.

6. The financial report was read. This has been circulated to every member. It was proposed by R.M. Wallis and sec by G. Ridyard that the reports be adopted.

7. The list of Basic Committee for 1949 was read this is :-
Hon Sec & Treas TH Stanbury
Hon Hut Warden RA Setterington
Hon Librarian AM Innes
DH Hassell
JC Weekes,

8. The proposal that “the committee be increased to 9 members, and should include one lady member to represent the ladies, and one member to represent the London Section. The other two new committee members being a Tackle Officer and an Assist. Lon. Sec.” Was carried.

9. The second part “If the motion be carried that an election for these posts be held on the spot” was discussed and three different proposals were made. After the withdrawal of one of these the original proposal was carried by eighteen votes to 14.
Nominations were then called for and the following were nominated:-
Ladies Miss Sybil Bowden-Lyle & Miss Jill Rollason
Tackle Officer G.T. Lucy; R Cantle; A.C. Johnson
Asst. Hon Sec A.C. Johnson; F Young, R.J. Bagshaw
When voting took place Miss Bowden-Lyle was elected as lady member by 19 votes to 11,
F Young was elected Asst. Hon Sec. with 25 votes.
G.T. Lucy was elected Tackle Officer with 19 votes.
The Hon Sec was directed to ask the London Section to consider the matter of Committee at their earliest convenience.

9b. The motion of A.C. Johnson re the new belfry comittee as stated in the Agenda was defeated.
It was proposed by H. Shelton and sec. by R. Brain that the whole business of Belfry Committee be left to the General Committee. This was carried.

9c. A proposal by A.C. Johnson “there shall be at least 7 members present before a committee meeting can be held” was withdrawn. R. Woodbridge proposed that this be amended to read 15 members and not 7 as in the withdrawn proposal. This was sec by R. Brain and carried.

10. It was proposed by T.H. Stanbury that a Chairman be elected annually to preside when necessary. This was sec by J. Steer & carried.

11. It was proposed by T.H. Stanbury that “and Extra-Ordinary General Meeting can be called within one month, by submitting a request in writing signed by as least 15 members, to the Hon. Sec.” this was sec by H Perry.
An amendment by R.A. Setterington and sec by Miss Richards, proposed that 15 per cent be inserted instead of 15 persons. When voted on, the original proposal by T.H. Stanbury was carried.

12. A proposal that in Rule 5 be inserted ”Subscription for Life Members to be £5/5/-“ by T.H. Stanbury was sec by R.M. Wallis and carried.

13. It was proposed by R.J. Bagshaw that the club take advantage of the Scientific Societies Act, which would make the Belfry exempt from rates. This was sec by G.T. Lucy. Mr Bagshaw explained the Act and it was agreed that the Committee revise the rules as necessary so that the constitution of the Club would conform to the conditions laid down. So that if required advantage could be taken of it.

14. It was proposed by R. Cantle and sec by J. Bindon

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The Magnetism of Caving and Climbing, with special reference to the BEC. by Observer

Caves and cliffs are like magnets - they either attract or repel! The investigator either shuns them after his first visit or gets bitten by the germ of enthusiasm which is almost impossible to cure.

Persons of all ages, from all walks of life are attracted, chemists, clerks, engineers, students, very few trades or professions have members who are not interested in this “Kin Of Sports” in one form or another.

What is the reason for this strange fascination? It may be any one (or more) of quite a considerable number of things. In the case of the B.E.C. - The club itself has such a varied appeal that a person would have to be dull or extremely narrow-minded not to find amongst the many different paths to be trodden, one that would suit his own temperament and desires.

To enumerate a few :-

1. Caving itself can be subdivided into very many headings - sporting caving; digging in and for caves; surveying; photographing; biological and archaeological work to name only a few.

2. Archaeological and antiquarian work other than in caves. –This gives those members who so desire, the opportunities, (although, alas, few), of adding to the knowledge of the past.

3. Rock-climbing, which is indulged in by a growing number of our members, is a sport, (and a very exact one, too) that requires steady hands and nerves and like caving an absolute trust in one’s companions.

4. On the social side, many members enjoy the free and easy and easy meetings both during the week and especially at the Belfry. For those who like a friendly pint at the Hunters Lodge or other hostelry, or those, who do not partake of the “strong waters”, there is an equal welcome. - A friendly hand is outstretched to all, irrespective of age or status, and this can doubtless be regarded as one of the main reasons for the strange “magnetism” that we as club members find so noticeable.

Of course, like every large organisation, many different temperaments can be found, but we as a club have always been free from those “rifts in the lute” that so frequently seem to split other organisations of a similar nature. Why is this? The writer believes that it is due to the intimacy and understanding between all the members, which has always been a basic point in the unwritten code of Club conduct.

Let us always be sure, therefore, that our club, the BEC shall not only keep its place amongst the foremost clubs of England, but shall be an outstanding example of that Club spirit and co-operation for which we have for so long been noted.

Caving Programme

In accordance with the decision taken at the AGM, the Caving programme will not in future be printed here in the BB. Each member will receive a card for his pocket with the trips for the next three months in it. This is a reversion to the system in use a few years ago. The cards are awaited from the printers and will be distributed to each member when they arrive. Until you receive them, turn up on Thursdays at St Matthew’s Hall or at the Weekend at the Belfry – there is usually a trip of some sort being run.

Editor’s Note

The Editor thanks all those who have so nobly responded to his call for material for the BB, but would remind members that the rate of usage exceeds that of receipt, so churn up your horrible part and let us know about it.

From the Hon. Sec’s. Post Bag:-

From Pongo Wallis, Caving in North Wales

------ Last weekend I went out having a look at some North Wales caves.- Ones in the region of Nidd in Flintshire, near the village of Maeshafn. It is wonderful limestone country and rather unexpectedly heavily wooded. Very few of the holes are named which makes identification awkward. I had a look at one normally called “Maeshafn Cave”. It starts off as a fine passage, about 4-6 ft wide and 10-12 feet high, with a lot of dripstone - but as is so common in that region, it is all dead and so looks very poor. After about 150 feet or so, a mine passage leads off, and the rest of the cave is filled with the spoil from the mining. A band of unknown heroes has cleared the top part of the passage for a very considerable distance so that one can penetrate further than one could a year ago, though progress is slow and painful. It really is an amazing effort at digging, as they have just about doubled the length of the cave. My party had a sporadic effort at continuing the good work, for the cave still goes on, but unfortunately we didn’t get far enough to be able to go on ourselves.

After this we went on to the hamlet of Pothole, where there are a number of mines and shafts - some very deep. We went down one mine, which was a straight passage - still with the rails in place for a lot of the way, connecting up a series of natural caves.

The mine passages in themselves were dull and formed caving in comfort - strolling along with one’s hands in one’s pockets. There were however several things of interest. Firstly some extremely good calcite veins with large crystals. Unfortunately, we had nothing with which to get any out.

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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.