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Belfry Bulletin Vol. 2 No. 13 List of Members No.4 T. Reed R.G. Bellamy P. Browne A.J. Crawford A.M. Innes Mrs. M Thompsett R. Cantle J.A. Dwyer R.A. Setterington R.M.Wallis

BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

July 1948

53. Dongola Road, Bristol. 7. 5. Heron Road, Easton, Bristol. 5. Trinity Parade, Frome, Somt. 10. Elm Close, Hndon, London N.W.7. 245. Filton Avenue, Horfield, Bristol. 7. 6. Peter Street, Taunton, Somt. 46. Cherrington Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7. 255. Wellington Hill West, Henleaze, Bristol. 7. 21. Priorswood Road, Taunton, Somt. “Briarcroft”, Marlborough Crescent, Latchford Without, Warrington, Lancs.

A different method is being used in this issue to cut the stencils for the duplicator. If the method is successful and a better print is the result, it will be adopted for all future issues; if the results are worse than usual please bear with the Hon. Sec. who is at his wits end to improve quality of each issue. You will see, too, that the format is altered. This is partly dictated by the supply of paper and partly by the urge to improve. Let the Hon. Sec. know which type of B.B. you prefer. ********************************************* SAFETY UNDERGROUND by ‘Oldtimer’ This article is intended for younger members of the club and their friends. It is hoped that it will assist them in enjoying in safety the deepest and dirtiest of our caves. ‘Cavers’, although they are reputed otherwise, are, in general, mindful of their safety underground. Some of the younger of the fraternity, and occasionally one or two old enough to know better sometimes let their valour (or shall we say sense of bravado) outweigh their discretion, and do things that make the seasoned caver throw up his hand in despair. Even before going underground there are certain things that should be done, and when you are there, there are of course more. Before leaving home tell someone where you are going so that in the unlikely event of your non-return, we shall at least have some idea of where you may be. Mendip is a large place, and if no-indication of your whereabouts is given, a search party may spend precious hour in fruitless endeavour before you are found. The same applies in other caving areas; ALWAYS tell someone where you are going, and remember, you experts, you too, are liable to accident!! In the event of an accident, do your best to make the unfortunate one comfortable and then follow the procedure laid down by the Mendip Rescue Organisation (or equivalent body in other areas). If though faulty equipment or other cause, none of your party can reach the surface, conserve your lights and food make yourselves comfortable, DONT PANIC and wait. This wait will seem endless, but, remember, if you have left word of your whereabouts, you will be rescued in a reasonable time. (Rescue parties have to be called out, and this takes time). If none knows where you are, you’ve only yourself to blame. The next point is in every way intimately connected with the above. Never go underground by yourself. Solitary caving is both foolhardy and senseless. Although the lone wandered may experience a thrill of achievement out of such a trip he is rightly looked upon by others as a constant source of worry and trouble. Underground, a slip in a party would be of little consequence, may easily prove fatal to the solitary man, a sprained ankle anchoring him there indefinitely. He has none to help him or go for aid, and should imagine that one accident under such circumstances would cure him of all desire to repeat it. Also linked with the first item is clothing. It is essential that all cavers should be adequately clad. To some this seems ridiculous, as they remember visions of swarms of cavers clad in filthy and fast decomposing rags. These rags, however are warm, and warmth underground is essential. Of course, common sense has to be used in dressing, as anyone dressing for Swildons would be prepared to wait in the chill depths of the 40ft. pot, and would consequently wear far warmer clothing than for a trip down Goatchurch.


BB13/2 Don’t be like the party encountered in Swildons Old Grotto some time ago. The party of 8 were clad in shorts and singlets and were already bruised and shivering. A great point of failing with novices is their unwillingness to turn back when tired. It is far better to ‘Call it a day’ and return to the surface in good order, than ‘go to the bottom’, and have to be hauled out by main force. Novices are thought more of if they do not over-reach themselves in their first sallies underground, and are honest enough to admit that they have had enough. Don’t forget, you have a return journey that will be worse than the downward one. The greatest source of trouble amongst beginners is the entire lack of common sense concerning lighting. The writer once met a party of 10 in Swildons, who only had one miniature torch between them. They were not impressed by the cave and considered caving a dead loss. Always take plenty of light underground, and always have alternative means of lighting, and this doesn’t mean two boxes of matches. Two main types of lighting are in general use, Acetylene and electric, the ideal being a combination of these. Lighting is a subject of argument amongst cavers and this statement will probably bring down howls of derision on the writer's head from those of other schools of thought. Nevertheless, I have used this combination for many years and found it unbeatable. The acetylene lamps give both a ‘spread’ and a 'spot' beam, the position of the flame along the axis of the reflector ensuring maximum lighting effect. A gas lamp is unfortunately easily extinguished and I have filled an auxiliary electric spot lamp with switch and, battery to my helmet. By the way, always carry a spare jet and a pricker, so that you may readily clean or replace the jet if it chokes. An acetylene lamp is much cheaper to run than a battery lamp, and it will run for 4 hours on one charge of carbide. A candle too, carried inside the socks, together with waterproof matches is very handy in an emergency. Matches can be rough and readily waterproofed by dipping the heads of ‘Swan’ or similar into candle grease. A word about electric light and batteries. A No.800 cycle battery is ideal both for size and endurance, but some plutocratic cavers prefer the more elaborate proprietary kit of NiFe accumulator, flexible lead and head lamp. The writer has found that NiFe cells are bulky and a great nuisance in constricted passages, but, here again, there is a great divergence of opinion. I have spent quite a time on lighting, as without lights there would be no caving. The next item is tackle. This of course varies with the cave, some needing none and others a large amount. Although a nuisance on both downward and return journeys, a sufficiency of tackle is essential to the safe descent (and return) of any cave. By this I don’t mean that the party should be bowed down and encumbered with a mass of useless gear, but that every item should be carefully selected for the job it has to do. Examine all gear before going underground, as although, all club equipment is tested at regular intervals, a rope may have frayed since the last test. Any tackle that has frayed or otherwise become dangerous should be scrapped at once. This can be done most easily by cutting the offending ladder or rope in several places thus rendering it useless. If it is ever necessary to do this, don’t forget to notify either the Hon. Sec. or the Equipment Officer, so that the article may be replaced with the minimum of delay. Do not leave equipment underground for long periods. This is a common failing of certain types of individuals who are either too lazy or careless of other people’s welfare to remove it, and is one of the cardinal sins of caving. After using tackle return it to its proper place and hang it up to dry; don’t throw it on the floor for someone else to clear up. It isn’t good for the ropes or the temper of the chappie who has the clearing up to do. If you haven’t enough gear don’t attempt a descent. ALWAYS use a life-line, only fools go without. The cave will wait until tomorrow, or next week, why risk and accident? If an accident should happen below a pitch normally laddered that has only a rope, what then? ‘Odd’ caving is to be discouraged. By this I mean parties of cavers unattached to any club or society. The clubs are in existence to help cavers and it is to their advantage to join them. They then reap the benefits of the experiences of others and are able to use the adequate facilities offered by these organisations. Each Club trip is under the control of an experienced member, and his instructions should always be followed. Remember, he knows more than you, and it is his responsibility to bring you back in safety to the surface. If you disagree with his decision, and you want to argue about it, leave it until you return to the surface, and you will find that, usually, before surfacing, the reason for his action has become obvious. Don’t think that the writer advocates that all trips should be ‘official’ ones. By no means so; but for other trips chose a cave within your capabilities, and as your experience increases, so also should your field of endeavour increase. Don’t hesitate to ask the ‘Old Sweats’ advice, it will always be gladly given. If those to whom these notes are addressed study AND absorb them caving will become easier and safer for them and those in control of the sport would have less reason t o worry about them. ***********************


BB13/3 We are delighted to welcome back into circulation again, D. Hassell, R.A. Crocker, and R.J. Bagshaw all recently demobbed. ***************************** The club has purchased a tent which is available, subject to a committee approval to members for a small cover charge. ***************************** Club Library. Both the Librarian and the Hon Sec. are seriously disturbed by the lack of care taken of' the club books. These books which cost the club a considerable amount every year are being treated disgustingly and at a recent committee meeting it was decided that anyone returning books in a worse condition than they were issued would become liable for the damage, up to the full replacement value of the book, depending of course upon the amount of damage. A growing practice, too is the passing of books from member to member indiscriminately with the result that the Librarian has no idea who has the book and the consequent repudiation of responsibility by the person to whom the book was issued. In future would all members so passing books on please notify the Librarian so that the necessary adjustments may be made in the records. In future the responsibility for any fine incurred will rest with the last person to whom the volume is booked out. ************************ Club Records. Jim Weekes has been appointed Club Recorder. Will members please send reports of trips etc. to him so that they may be entered into the club records. You may reach him c/o Hon. Sec. ************************ Owing to the distance that D.A. Coase has to travel to attend committee meetings and the curtailment of the travelling facilities of last summer it was decided at a recent committee meeting to co-opt R.A. Setterington on to the committee. His large experience and knowledge of the sport will strengthen considerably the working of the committee. ************************ Members probably saw recently in the paper that a watch was found in Longwood. We are glad to say that this watch is the property of our member Terry Reed who lost it at Easter this year. As he is in Panama it has been claimed on his behalf, by his father. Thanks to all those whose information helped to identify the owner. ************************* THE BELFRY. Since the last issue of the BB a great amount of work has been done at the Belfry. At the time of writing this there is still plenty for all to do still roll up in your thousands. The response to the last call for volunteers was very good, but those who turned out were those who always can be depended to, turn out when there is work to be done. Come on you slackers, what about it? The new site is very near the old one. The Belfry is now situated up the next track towards Priddy from the Hunters Lodge. So that instead of turning into Mr. Beecham’s gate the next turning is taken. The hut is on a site facing the exit from the quarry. The hut is temporarily 'reconstituted’ in its old shape pending the purchase of a larger and more suitable H.Q. No stone is being left unturned to obtain one and it is hoped that within a short time a really ‘spiv’ hut will be reared on the new site.


BB13/4 Whilst browsing through an old book our Hon. Sec. has found the following, which except for the replacement of the word Lydford by Belfry in stanza 3 is written as found. For the information of those who have not taken part in the removal operations, the hut has been moved by dividing it into three sections and moving each bodily on a farm wagon. 1. They have a castle on a hill; I took it for an old windmill, The vanes blown off by the weather: To lye therein one night, ‘tis guessed, ‘Twer better to be stoned and pressed, Or hanged, now choose you wether. 2. Ten men less room within this cave, Than five mice in a lanthorn have, The keepers they are sly ones, If any could devise by art To get it up into a cart, ‘Twre fit to carry lyons. 3. When I beheld it, Lord! I thought, From this place all sane men would fly This Belfry, when I saw it all, I know none gladly there would stay; But rather hang out of the way, Than tarry for a trial. 4. The prince a hundred pounds has sent, To mend the leads, and planchen’s rent, Within this living tomb: Some forty-five pounds more had paid, The debts of all that shall be laid There till the day of doom. 5. The people all within this clime Are frozen in the winter time, For sure I do not fain: And when the summer is begun, They lye like silkworms in the sun, And come to life again. 6. One glass of drink I got by chance, ‘Twas claret when it was in France: But now from it much wider: I think a man might make as good With green crabs boyl’d, and Brazil wood, And half a pint of syder. 7. At six a clock I came away, And prayed for those that were to stay Within a place so errant: Wide and open, the winds so-roar, By God's grnce I'll come there no more, Unless by some Tyn Warrmt, William Browne 1590. ******************************


Belfry Bulletin Number 013