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Belfry Bulletin Vol. 2 No. 15

BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

September 1948

List of Members No.6 D.G. Brown S. Treasure J.W. Ifold A.J. Needs C. Bennett Miss M. Thomas J. Long R.A. Ifold E.O. Howell M. Hannam

12. Egerton Road, Bath Somt. Stoke Lane Poultry Farm, Stoke St. Michael, Bath, Somt. Leigh House, Nempett, Thrubwell, Chew Stoke Somt. 63, Callington Road, Brislington, Bristol 23, Uplands Road, Fishponds, Bristol 6, Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol 24, Bannerman Road, Easton, Bristol 32, Cogberg Road, Montpellier, Bristol 4, Compton Drive, Sea Mills Park, Bristol. 9. 14 Vivian Terrace, Clifton, Bristol.

************************** NOTES ON THE COLLECTING OF CAVE FLORA. (Extracted from the American National Speleological Societie’s ‘Bulletin’ No.6 p.48, and submitted by D.A. Coase) Cave Flora may contain representatives of the four major groups of plants, viz: - Thallophytes (Fungi & allies); Bryophytes (Mossess & their allies); Pteriodophytes (Ferns & their allies) and Spermatophytes (Flowering Plants). Each of these groups represents a special problem in collecting. The THALLOPHYTES, in this group are the Bacteria, Algae and Fungi. You will probably not see Bacteria and for the time being it would be best to disregard them. Algae should be collected in screw top phial of water, preferably the water in which they are found growing. Fungi will be plants most commonly found in caves, especially in zones of total darkness. The fleshy fruiting bodies of many fungi such as mushrooms, etc., should be collected in bottles of weak 5pc formaldehyde solution. Woody specimens which will not dry out too much may be collected in boxes or similar containers. Filamentous fungi, i.e. the mould like forms should be scraped into sterile screw top containers. The BRYOPHYTES contain liverwort and mosses. They are most likely to be found near cave entrances band in zones of partial darkness. LIVERWORTS are usually quite succulent and should be collected in 5pc formaldehyde solution. MOSSES will revive sufficiently to be recognised even after having dried out, so they may be collected in match-boxes or similar containers. When possible collect a small clump of the moss including the organic upon which it is growing. The PTERIDOPHYTES include the FERNS and their allies. These too will most likely be found near the entrance and in the areas of partial darkness. Probably the best way to collect these plants is to spread the fronds out flat between the pages of a note book if the plants are small enough. Larger plants may be brought out of the cave and spread out between folded newspapers or the pages of an old book to dry. When the plants are abundant, collect the whole plant, root and all. When only a few are present, collect only a single frond. Be sure to collect the frond that has the brown fruiting bodies on the undersides or margins of the fronds whenever they are present. The last group the SPERMATOPHYTES, contains the seed plants. Whenever possible the whole plant should be collected; when this is not possible, collect a part or branch of the plant with several leaves. These specimens wil1 probably be very succulent and fragile, so for the time being it would seen best to preserve them in a 5 pc formaldehyde or a 30 pc alcohol solution.


BB15/2 All of these suggestions are merely suggestions and will probably be modified as we become more familiar with plant life in caves. Be sure to include a complete label with your specimens giving name of cave, location in cave, and name of collector. Also include any notes of interest about the specimen, such as its abundance; and since preserving solutions remove colour, be sure to note any colour which may be present in the specimen when collected. C.E. Cox The following has been added by Brig. E.A. Glennie of C.R.G.: The only group of importance to collect is Thallophytes well inside the cave. Of the other classes you will get them only in the threshold and get only what botanist might expect to find in any shady cranny. This is surface flora only and of no special speleological interest. Enquiry by me at Kew some time ago; produced the following information: - Fungi in caves in total darkness will go on vegetatively, i.e., developing mycelium, almost indefinitely without fruiting and in that form cannot be identified. The only way to collect them is to collect them into jars, or between damp paper and grow them under more favourable conditions until they fruit. This requires expert treatment. They did not consider specimens collected in formalin useful. The Mycological Institute is interested in fungi found growing on insects. Bacteria of course is a job for an expert, but very much wants tackling. E.A.G. *********************** ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING As usual the Annual General Meeting will be held early in December the actual date being announced later. The existing committee consisting of T.H. Stanbury, D.H. Hassell, D.A. Coase, J.C. Weekes, and I.M. Innes, and co-opted member, R.A. Setterington will resign in accordance with our constitution. Members are asked to send in nominations for the 1949 committee by October 9th at latest. It is pointed out that a committee man is eligible for re-election on the new committee providing that he is nominated in the normal way. *********************** CONGRATULATIONS to the ‘Bristo1 Quads’ (Messrs. Weekes, Innes, Woodbridgc & Needs) to their Nurse (Mrs. Iris Stanbury) and to their driver (our Hon. Sec.) for their effort in both raising a laugh and £2 for the club funds by winning the first prize in their class in Bude Carnival. The Quads were dressed in long white nighties and bonnets and were sat in a trailer; they all had dummies, a feeding bottle and a Guinness bottle. The Nurse kept them in order with a mallet and their nappies and a very necessary utensil hung from a clothes line suspended above the car, which was decorated with flags. The police controlling the crowds were greeted with cries of ‘Da-da’ from the babes and a good time was had by all. Photographs may be inspected at HQ.

WARNING

*********************** FLOODING OF STOKE LANE SWALLET!!!

On Saturday 21st. August, Coase, Setterington, Wallis and a visitor went down Stoke Lane Swallet at 2.0pm. There had been a fine drizzle since about 10am and the weather the preceding week had been fairly wet. The stream itself was not noticeably increased although Coase, who knows the cave fairly well, declared that the water was higher than usual. At the sump, Wallis turned back and explored various side passages, eventually reaching the surface at 5.0pm, where it was still raining, although there was again no noticeable increase in the volume of the stream. The others had been photographing in the Throne Room and Bone Chamber and returning to the Main Chamber at about 6.0pm., the stream was found to be increased considerably and to be extremely muddy. At the Sump the level had risen by at least 3 inches, and a large stream was flowing down Browne’s Passage, which from the Cairn Chamber to the Nut-meg Grater was flooded about 1 foot deep. Most of the water was entering from a small rift just below the Nut-meg Grater, but a small stream was flowing down the passage from just before the Pool Chamber, which was naturally full.


BB15/3 As Coase was getting through the corkscrew, at the beginning of Browne’s Passage, a small trickle started to flow along the floor down the main passage. From the main sink in the old cave, the stream was overflowing down the passage and sinking again into two fissures. At the entrance, the water was overflowing from the main sink and pouring into the ‘Cavers’ entrance. It was still raining fairly hard and continued to do so for several hours. It wouldn’t have required a very great increase to have made Browne’s passage impassable. So take heed of this warning. Make sure the weather is reasonable settled before going down Stoke Lane. If it is raining when you go down, watch the water level and be prepared for a hasty retreat. The main danger is not from sudden thunderstorms, but when the ground is thoroughly sodden, and a continuous downpour sets in. During the winter especially, it may remain like this for several days or even weeks. Whilst discussing Stoke Lane, a further warning: The stream is heavily contaminated with a large percentage of organic matter, and any cuts or abrasions, however small are liable to suppurate (in B.E.C. language ‘to fester’) and should be treated as soon as possible with Dettol or similar germicide. (Dettol is generally to be found at the Belfry). D.A. Coase Editor’s notes on the above article. Those who know Stoke Lane need no further elaboration of the above which is the first report receive about the cave under flood, or rather the start of flooding conditions. To those who have not yet indulged, but are thinking of doing so, KEEP AWAY if the weather is doubtful, and let us know anyway whenever you go. There are signs in the cave that the majority of the ‘old’ cave is subject to complete flooding under bad conditions, as tins, branches etc. jammed in the roof out of reach testify. *********************** From our Roving Reporter in London It is learned that Frank Seward has recently become engaged to Miss Doris Sheridan, not a caver herself, but it is hoped that this will not prevent them from still visiting the Belfry from time to time. *********************** From the Hon. Sec’s Postbag. From our good friend and member Pongo Wallis. ‘As you may be aware a B.E.C. a Party have recently spent a week ‘potting’ in Yorkshire. We took a copy of ‘Pennine Underground’ with us and we feel that in light of our experience some further comments to my original criticism in BB are called for’. In a week we could not possible exhaustively test the book, but in our opinion the directions given for finding the pots are hopelessly inadequate. In most cases the maps were of more use than the text, but there are unfortunately numerous errors in them as well. We gathered from local ‘potters’ that the statements of tackle required were also frequently in error, but, all the ladders we climbed personally, were correctly stated. A good deal of searching around the position marked may be necessary to find a cave. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% From Tony Johnson recently on vacation at Cariehofa Hall, Llangymynach. The caves on the hills turned out to be very disappointing. Three that I got into are blocked by falls which I hadn’t the time to clear. I penetrated about 1,000 feet into an old lead/copper mine level but came to a blank end. The last hole I haven’t entered as a family of Badgers are firmly entrenched in the entrance chamber. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%


BB15/4 From John Hull at Suez. I blush to admit that I haven’t done any caving since I left England. I did try to investigate some holes in Camel hill, Haifa, but the Arabs or Jews were using them for their own purposes, and after two or three shots had whizzed over my head, I decided that caving has its limits and beat a hasty retreat. Here on the Gulf of Suez the thermometer is hovering around 106 degrees, but I’m pressing on regardless and dreaming of Stoke Lane. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% John Morris fully living up to his title of Menace has pioneered a new route up a face in Snowdonia. His letter didn’t make it clear which face it was. Lets have the details John. Congratulations to you and your companion. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Our Hon. Sec. has just returned from a fortnight’s stay in France. A week of which was spent, at the invitation of the Wessex Cave Club, in visiting the caves in the area of Valence. He tells me that he had a smashing time, and that he will write a brief resume of his travels. The second week was spent in the area of Grenoble, and excursions were made in and on top of busses besides using Shank’s pony. Incidentally, blame the Sec. for the BB being late this month; he arrived back in England too late to print it at the usual time. **************************** Several inquiries have been made recently about page 6, and the disappearance of the cartoons from it. What about it, Halfpint? Has the well of inspiration dried up? The BB needs articles, too. They are its lifeblood. Come on chaps, pick up your pens and write. Who knows, under that brute-like exterior may lurk a literary heart!!! **************************** Clifton Caving Club Recently a number of youngsters formed a new society, the Clifton Caving Club. They were inexperienced in many ways, but had the makings of good cavers. We were approached by their representative and they have now sunk their identity in our own. We are very pleased to welcome them to the B.E.C. ‘Family Circle’ and hope that they will spend many happy hours with us underground. **************************** News for the Somerset Section of The Cave Diving Group. (Note. All members of the Somt. Section of the C.D.G. are B.E.C. men, so I am sure that those not in the C.D.G. will excuse these few lines being devoted to diving). General instruction and practice will start, we hope at Bristol South Baths, by the middle of this Month again we hope. Each member will be notified personally when the final details are fixed up. Intending applicants for membership please note that there is a long waiting list of partly trained bods. Until those have been trained there is no hope of an applicant, even if he is accepted for membership, doing any diving. Things generally in the Somerset Section have been dormant during the summer for a multitude of reasons. We hope that we shall get back into trim as quickly again however and to start some at least of the diving jobs that want doing in this part of the world. T.H. Stanbury Hon. Sec. S.S., C.D.G. ****************************** The books listed as lost in the last BB together with the Tent etc., HAVE NOT YET BEEN RETURNED. Come on you bods. Cough em up. Surely the whole organisation hasn’t got to suffer because of the thoughtlessness of one or two?????


Belfry Bulletin Number 015