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Belfry Bulletin BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB Vol. 3 No. 22

April 1949

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 506 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 supplies of oxygen, due to a faulty low meter become exhausted. The equipment he used was his own property and not the property of the C.D.G. At the inquest held 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 members of the Diving Group’. The party was complimented by the police at the time and at the inquest in 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 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 few more weeks. ***************************** Some French Caving Techniques by Pongo Wallis. I have recently been reading a French Caving Book –‘Underground Climbs’ by Pierre Chevalier, being an account of the exploration of the world’s deepest cave (2,458 ft.) – the Deau du Crolles system near Grenoble. It occurs to me that the majority of the technique worked out by Chevalier and his friends are not of great use to us in this country, they may none the less be of interest. Lightweight ladders consisting of steel rope sidelines and light alloy rungs were of course used. This is standard French practice, but it is essential under these conditions in any case, as fairly 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 saves 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 3ft. sections of iron piping, but latter 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 one man climbing up the ladder 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 and the pitch was laddered.


BB22/2 At one stage of the exploration, it was necessary to know exactly where the end of a passage (over half mile long) was in respect to 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 sometimes. 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 88(t-3) feet. I hope that a translation of chevalier’s exceptionally interesting book will eventually appear in the Club library. ***************************** Caving in Germany. Series I. By Roger W.C. Cantle. Report of a visit to the limestone area around Wuppertal. Iserlebn. 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 town. The Cave consists of about sixteen grottoes, and is about 400 metres long. The temperature is 59.6 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 Dechan from Bonn. The cave contains some really excellent formations among of which are many good curtains. Some of the finest ‘Organ Pipes’ I have seen were found in the fourth chamber named ‘Organcave’. In the tenth grotto called ‘Palamangrotte’, can be found a very fine formation from which the grotto gets his 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 wanted. ***************************** 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 a soup plate. ***************************** We received the following from Brian Coase, now in Northern Rhodesia: Extract from Exhibit Notices in the Livinstone-Rhodes memorial Museum, Livinstone, Northern Rhodesia. The Broken Hill Cave. It was in this historic cave, situated on the Broken Hill mine that in 1981 was found the remains of a new, extremely interesting type of man known later as Homo Rhodesiensia. The mine was at the time working the lead and systematically blasting away a Kopje known as No.2 Kopje, in which a cave long known to contain fossilised bones of animals and Stone Implements. The deposits in this cave had been 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 90ft. 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 from being pivoted more centrally on the neck. The man therefore must have carried himself more upright than the Neanderthal man and, largely on this account, he is considered to be a distinct species, Home Rhodesiensis.


BB22/3 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 deposits of red earth containing their tools was as much as 4ft. 6ins. 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 polished axes have been found and broken fragments of digging stick weights were also, presumably 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. Sec’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 Bechuanaland I noticed that the plain and desert were dotted with peculiarly alike flat-topped hills. It looked like sandstone 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 Victoria Falls is very interesting, they having been formed where basalt and sandstone meet. ********************************* Hon. Sec. has had a letter from John Adams 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. B. Moriarty of Meer Cottage, Bude. I bought this house 30 years ago and I was told thae exit the passage was in the corner of the garden. (The passage referred to is the other end of the Smuggler’s cave the Club are excavating at Bude. Ed.) ******************************** CAVE REASEARCH GROUP The C.R.G. General meeting will be held in Cardiff on 7th May in the National Museum of Wales. Will all those requiring accommodation please write to J. Davies, 32. Heol-y-deri, Rhiwhina, Cardiff at once. Further particulars of this meeting can be obtained from Hon. Sec. ******************************** IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM LONDON SECTION The Club has had a very generous offer from Dr. (Miss) C.M. Rendall of Poplar Hospital, East India Dock Road, London E.14. (Telephone East 1876). She will be travelling to Bristol and returning to London about one weekend every month. She will be delighted to fill her car with anyone who would like to come down for the weekend. Please ring Miss Rendall for further information. Her brother Oswald Rendall is already known to a large number of his fellow members. ********************************


BB22/4 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 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 August Bank Holiday. Each coming as he or she is able. There will an organised programme except that the Stoke Lane Survey will be proceeded with and that some digging will be done. W.J. Shorthose says that any suggestions about digging will be released. Also they shall be pleased 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 ground of cost. We have learned within 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 1/6. We should be glad if those would like one would write to the Hon. Sec. and let him know, so that we can 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, Rowfont Road, Balham, London S.W.17. D.H. Hassell, Hon. Editor Belfry Bulletin, 1. Stoke Hill Cottage, Chew Stoke, Somt. R. Wallace 32. Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol. 4. J.V. Morris Ye Olde Jolly Sailor Inn, Teigmouth, Devon J. Beer 9. Westfield Place, Clifton, Bristol S.C.W. Herman 34. Jubilee Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4. R.J. Bagshaw 11. Hillcrest, Knowle, Bristol. 4. (Life Member) G.H. Fern 22. 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, Bristol. 4. A.E. Baxter 92. Baywatch 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, Knowle, Bristol. 4. C.H. Kenney 5. Vicars Close, Wells, Somt. A.C. Johnson 48. The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol J.D. Pain ‘Bibury’, old West Town Lane, Brislington, Bristol. 4. D.A. Coase 18. Headington Road, Wandsworth, London. S.W.18. ************************


Belfry Bulletin Number 022  

BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB Vol. 3 No. 22 April 1949 BB22/2 From Mrs. B. Moriarty of Meer Cottage, Bude. I bought this house 30 years ago and I...

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