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No. 116

September 1957

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EDITORIAL In the Belfry Bulletin for July, the extensive efforts which is being made in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet by club members was commented on, and recent numbers of the Belfry Bulletin have reflected this work by the large amount of Cuthbert’s news published. Last month, even greater efforts have resulted in enough news form Cuthbert’s alone to fill an ordinary size B.B. and so for September we are presenting a twelve page B.B. (twice the ‘official; size) nearly all of which is taken up by the month’s report on Cuthbert’s. Since the exploration work described by this report is very recent, we decided not to keep any of it back so that cavers could be informed of the latest discoveries. Because of this, we must apologise both to those whose articles will thus have to be put back a month and also to those members whose interests are not predominantly of a caving nature – our archaeologists, climbers and the like. Naturally, as the journal of a caving club, the B.B. should contain a high proportion of space devoted to the club’s caving activities but in doing this, a balance must be maintained to include other types of articles. This normally restricts the average monthly quota of space available in the B.B. – an arrangement which has been set aside this month to enable the whole of the Cuthbert’s report to be included. If this effort and its associated reporting continues – and we are sure that all cavers hope that it will – we shall be in the happy position of having more caving to report than the facilities of the Belfry Bulletin can handle. The solution, in our opinion, is to publish the ‘highlights’ of new work in the B.B. and the full details from time to time in Caving Reports. “Alfie” _______________________________________________________________________________________

GENERAL NEWS August Committee Meeting In addition to the usual items being dealt with by the committee, the renovation of the club projector and slides and the organizing of winter lantern talks was discussed. The redecoration of the Belfry continuous, together with the other projects being dealt with by the committee. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * New Members. We should like to welcome Steve Tuck, George Honey, Alan Nash, Pete Miller and Daphne Clague - all of whom have recently been elected to membership of the club. P e r s o n a l . . . . . .. We hear that Dave England and Janet, also Keith Gardner and Ann are getting married in the 7th of September. We should like to wish them every happiness for the future. We also hear that “Pongo” Wallis is now a proud father and offer our congratulations. Mervyn Hannam and Sago are next on the matrimonial list we understand. Tom and “Rusty” Neil are now back from Canada and are hoping to settle on Mendip. John Lamb, Tony Rich and “Neddy” are now over in Canada. “Prew” is now back from Malaya and on Mendip again.


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NOTICES & REMINDERS Annual Dinner. The time is coming round when the committee have to book up for the Annual dinner. They have not yet decided on the place, for the Annual Dinner. They have not yet decided on the place, the price, or any of the arrangements. NOW is the time to tell committee members of YOUR preferences. Do you want the dinner in Bristol or on Mendip? What do you want to do after dinner? It will be no use grumbling next January. NOW is the time to act! * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Members Addresses Some of these will be found on page 9. A complete list of member’s names and addresses will be published in the Christmas number which will be out on December 5th, in plenty of time for addressing Christmas Cards. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Special Notice. Owing to a change in the printing staff, readers will find pages three to five of this issue rather faint. We apologise. This is due to technical reasons which we hope will be soon under control. Because of the reprinting of pages one, two and four, the B.B. will be out one week late this month. Again, our apologies to all readers. _______________________________________________________________________________________

CAVING REPORT July – August 1957. Once again a very active and profitable month’s caving in St. Cuthbert’s. Seven trips to date. The main work has been in the Rabbit Warren Extension (to help follow the reports, a rough sketch map of this section of the cave is inclined on page 4) and in fixing up a traverse wire to bypass the Stalagmite Pitch, just below the Dining Room. In addition, the new section of the cave, beyond what was the sump, was investigated with disappointing results. The climax of the month was probably the findings of the six inch long horizontal helictite in Erratic Chamber. Members are probably wondering why so little is reported of other caving apart from Cuthbert’s. People apparently do go down other holes, but unless they write them up in the Club Log – or even report it to the Caving Sec. – no mention can be made in the monthly report in the B.B. A volunteer is required to lead a full Stoke Lane, as a number of members would like to visit it. A full report is also required. How about you Roy? D.A. Coase. _______________________________________________________________________________________

St. CUTHBERT’S Sunday, 21st July. A party descended to the Rabbit warren and continued to remove boulders from the partially choked passage at the top of Continuation Chamber. After an initial enthusiastic outburst, Chris Falshaw sustained injuries to a finger and retired from the fray. The rest, accompanied by shouts of “ON man, on!” from Jean Campbell and Chris, fell to manfully and removed a fair amount of debris. The passage has now been opened for four feet and from the general trend it seems that it may possibly join up with the T Junction Passage. It has therefore been decided tom leave the dig along until a centre line survey has been done. Since digging operations were started a small trickle of water has appeared in the dig. However, no corresponding trickle can be found in the T Junction Passage.


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Kangy and Chris investigated a loose passage above the entrance to the Continuation Chamber. Some obstructing scenery was removed, but the passage tightened after a five foot drop. This passage is vertically above the point where the smallest stream enters Continuation Chamber. Following the recent rain the main stream in this part of the cave has risen amazingly during the preceding week. A sump existed where before had been the merest trickle. On the way out, running water could be heard in Chain Chamber. C.F. Falshaw. Saturday, July 27th.

Rabbit Warren and Extension

During a four hour trip, Coase, Etough, Falshaw and King tidied up some further loose ends in the Rabbit Warren Extension proper, which commences at the flat out crawl on a damp stalagmite floor immediately before the point where one squeezes past a shelf of stalagmite a foot wide and two feet above the floor, a small crawl was noticed at floor level. This went straight along the strike for twenty five feet, being relatively roomy after the initial squeeze, then turned down dip and was choked with sand and gravel. A possible dig through it leads to the region of Plantation junction. The Rabbit Warren Extension, through the stalagmite crawl, follows a descending passage past some nice gours with raised rims one inch high. Then a tight squeeze leads to Chain Chamber. This small chamber is interesting as it is formed by the intersection of two small passages. The low level passage by which the chamber is entered and its continuation straight ahead goes until the roof dips steeply and is choked by the stal. floor. At this point the sound of running water has been heard, probably the so called Plantation Stream. The stal. is somewhat eroded and should yield to work with a sledgehammer and crowbar. A worthwhile point of attack which should help to clear up the mystery of the Plantation Stream. The other passage is on a high level, at right angles to the entrance passage. The right hand section is known as Helictite Passage, and to the left the continuation leads to the far reaches of the Rabbit Warren Extension. Helictite Passage has, at the beginning of the right wall, a fine display of threadlike erratics, a larger one of which resembles Cinderella’s glass slipper stuck by the toe to the wall. Beyond this, the passage descends steeply and there are three dry gour barriers, spanning the passage. The first is nearly six feet high. The route is somewhat lower under the gour rim by a hands and knees crawl into the Soapflake Pool where the passage breaks into a fifteen feet high rift with quite an amount of stal. flow. The ‘soapflakes’ are in fact a film of calcite forming on the surface of the pool, then sinking under its own weight to the bottom when another film forms and so on ad infinitum. At the beginning of the pool the flakes are several inches deep. Looking closely at the surface of the pool with a light reflected at grazing incidence, new flakes can be seen forming. Coase has a theory the ‘soapflakes’ only form when there is a strong draught, producing rapid evaporation, so a close look was made at the far end, where it was noted that the rift did not end after ten feet. The apparent end is formed by a big mass of stalagmite almost sealing the rift, but a 42” wide hole admitted the expected draught through which it was possible to see the pool and rift continuing for at least another fifteen feet, until it curved out of sight. The only way of getting beyond might be at times of drought, when it is possible the pool, eighteen inches deep at this point, may dry up and there may be a chance of squeezing under the stal. mass which does not appear to completely reach the bottom of the pool. Again it is possible that the Plantation Stream causes the draught. The upstream continuation of Helictite Passage is reached by climbing up a steep ten foot stal. bank from the Chain Chamber, the climbing being assisted by a short length of chain as a hand hold. On the left is a nice group of stalactites, the finest of which was two feet long and had erratic growing out of it. Unfortunately is was broken recently by careless members of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. A short distance up this passage on the left is a very fine white stal. flow with a glimpse past a lovely white curtain to a crystal pool. Again some careless individual has planted a very muddy handprint right in the middle of the flow. Further along the passage on the right is a low undercut arch with a small muddy pool in it. Rather surprisingly (should one be surprised at anything in a cave) this leads into a fifteen foot high narrow chimney with a foot wide rift leading off at the top parallel to the main passage and separate from it by only two feet of rock. Kangy, supported by Etough, forced this for some forty to fifty feet gradually climbing until the rift split in two and became too narrow.


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Proceeding up the main passage for thirty to forty feet, a climb up a passage to the left leads to the high irregular Octopus Chamber. To the right of the entrance a gravel choked passage would be another point of attack if anyone has any surplus energy. This is now called Dig II. It was here that one of the Sandhurst people climbed up into the roof and couldn’t get down again.


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Continuing up the main passage one is soon confronted by an evil squeeze – the Vice - - where it is necessary to climb up eight feet into a narrow rift, squeeze sideways into a V-shaped opening and drop down the other side. Beyond the vice is a flat out area on stal. which is liberally supplied with a film of water. The roof gradually rises and it is possible to stand up again. On the left is a small passage partially choked (Dig!!). Not far beyond this point, T-Junction is reached. From the passage on the right running water can be heard. At the junction, the floor is covered in an imposing array of small gours unfortunately thinly coated with mud but fortunately protected by a low roof over them. Following up the dip past a very nice stal. flow, pure white and six feet high, T-Junction passage finally finishes in a confused series of high rifts, all choked with gravel. Before any digging is done here it will pay to complete the survey of this part of the cave as Coase has the idea that this section may be the other side of the choke at the end of the Railway Tunnel. Turning right at T-Junction, and following the sound of running water, after thirty feet and awkward six foot drop, leads into Continuation Chamber, with the stream flowing through it. This chamber is so named as it is believed that the stream is the upstream continuation of the presumed Plantation Stream. Under the drop leading in, which is due to the undermining of a stal. flow, is a small tributary stream coming in through eroded stal. and small rocks. The chamber slopes down to the right, where the walls and roof close in and the stream goes flowing off in a low bedding plane passage. The stream has been followed down for some distance but the passage has not been forced as far as possible. Upstream, beyond where the chamber is almost divided into two, the stream rises in a small pool from under the rock wall. Coase thought this was the main Plantation Stream, but Falshaw and King state that the pool was dry several weeks ago, at the same time that the Plantation Stream was still running strongly, and that they got down some three feet until the way on was a narrow rift only six inches wide. To the left and beyond the rising the chamber ends in a rough semi-circular shape with several passages much too small to get into. At one point only is a possible passage, blocked with stones and stal. This is the point that Falshaw and King have been digging, but it looks like hard work. D.A. Coase Sunday. July 28th. Coase, Falshaw and King again descended the cave, together with Daphne Clague, Roger Stenner and Pete Miller. A 7 hour trip this time. Dining Room. On the previous day, still having some surplus energy, the cement Rich had carried down some months previously with a view to building a dam before the sump and since stored in the emergency food tin – much to the detriment of the emergency food, was found to be still in good condition, so it was made into concrete and used to form a level top to the Dining Room table. Daphne was now persuaded to use her skill as a sculptress and carved the club initials and date on the font edge. We now require someone with the necessary skill to line the lettering with, it is suggested, gold leaf. Stalagmite Pitch Traverse. For some time Coase has been toying with the idea of making a traverse across the stal. bank at the head of the Stalagmite Pitch to a point where it is possible to climb down to the stream twenty feet below and thus avoid the ladder pitch itself. The problem was a lack of handholds and the unpleasant exposure as the bank steepened and dropped over the pitch. So a rawlbolt was fitted to the top and a combination of wire rope and chain hung from it. This made it possible, by keeping close to the wall, to reach a small ‘annex’ and then drop down the slope to the opposite wall from which point it is an easy climb leads to the bottom of the pitch. Work still has to be done to complete the traverse. An additional bolt is needed to secure the middle of the wire and handgrips need fixing on the wire itself, but even in this incomplete state, it proved its worth later on returning from the sump, as it avoids the climbing up and down the Rabbit Warren. There is only one snag, the route to this traverse opens up – the Sewer – or rather the mud in the Sewer. A start was made to clear some of this out of the beaten path and a shovel has been left there. If each person who passes shovels a bit of mud away, it will soon be clear, and an obvious place exists for dumping the mud removed.


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Plantation Junction. It was noticed on this trip that the smooth stal. slope down which one slides when climbing from the Rabbit Warren had a six inch diameter hole in it. Investigation showed that most of this slope is just a thin crust with a six inch gap underneath, with some of the water from the rising flowing through it. Falshaw received quite a shock when breaking some of this crust away as the section on which he was kneeling collapsed and deposited him in the water. D.A. Coase. Bank Holiday Saturday, 3rd August 1957.. Tony Crawford, Chris Falshaw, Bob Knott and Steve Tuck investigated several of the old digs noted on the previous weekend. Rabbit Warren Extension. Dig. I. In the Chain Chamber, a hole was made in the stal. floor and a very tight waterlogged passage can be seen to continue a few feet. A more extended effort will be needed at this point. Dig. II. Octopus Chamber. The large loosely chocked passage on the right of the chamber was excavated. After an awkward right hand bend, an ascending and descending passage was entered also partly choked with gravel deposits. These still require clearing. Dig. III. This is beyond the Vice and is a small tributary passage. This was cleared of mud, stones etc. and was duly entered. On returning it was promptly named the Sausage Machine as cavers emerged from it carefully extruded in a smooth skin of mud. Beyond, and awkward ascending passage was entered and, after several loosely cemented stones were removed, followed for twelve feet. At this point, a large flake of rock projects from the right-hand wall and prevents further progress. The passage continues however and a black void can be noticed. This passage looks quite promising. C.P. Falshaw. Bank Holiday Sunday, 4th August 1957. Coase, Falshaw, Jack Browne, Cecil Thompson and two friends of his put in a six to seven hour trip. Stalagmite Pitch Traverse. Handholds were fitted to the wire and a bolt cemented in the slope to fix the middle of the wire. It was impossible to use a rawlbolt here as the stal. was too soft. Rabbit Warren. During similar explorations, a passage was entered in the Rabbit Warren that leads to a point in the roof over Plantation Junction. Not being sure where the start if this passage was located, recourse had to be made to entering it from the Plantation end to find the beginning. To get into it, it is necessary to climb up onto a wide shelf between the plantation and the main streams. The climb is made from the plantation side and is difficult until one thinks of using the opposite wall for a pressure hold. The entrance to Struggle Passage, as it is now known is cunningly hid round the corner of the shelf. Incidentally, another passage can be seen higher in the roof which has yet to be entered. Struggle Passage is itself quite straight and roomy rising all the way. Apart from a cross section giving no level floor and which is singularly free from holds. It is just nicely coated with damp clay. The reason for the name will probably be obvious. A narrow slot in the floor at one point leads back down to the Plantation Junction but is too narrow. After struggling for another twenty feet, the passage enters a small chamber via a hole in the stal. floor. Straight ahead, the passage is now of a respectable cross section, having a level floor and an arched roof. After a further twenty feet, a passage appears on the left. Straight ahead, a narrow squeeze over a dried up gour pool leads to a very small passage that doubles back to a higher level and a glimpse can be had into Erratic chamber but it is too tight to enter. This small chamber was located from the far side by means of a thick fug of tobacco smoke blown through it


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from Struggle Passage side, where quite a strong draught was noted. Returning for the moment to the descending passage, after ten feet, a four foot drop leads into a short passage straight ahead that connects within the main route through the Rabbit Warren. Also from the drop where there are some thread-like erratics, another passage, a crawl this time, loops to look into the main route again from a window six feet up in the wall. Keeping right through the Rabbit Warren, and entering the passage leading to Rabbit Warren Extension, the second entrance to Erratic Chamber is straight ahead, where a stal. flow can be seen. To the right, an impassable slot looks into the dried up gour pool. Erratic Chamber cannot at present be entered from here as there is not quite enough room but it is hoped to be able to open out this spot to make the chamber reasonably accessible. The reason for this is that, when approaching the chamber from the Struggle Passage side, there is an exceedingly fine erratic just by the entrance. Any attempt to enter from this side is almost certain to break this erratic, hence the need to open up the second entrance. Until this is done, no attempt should be made to enter the chamber. A further point is that it is impossible to photograph, or even to study the formation from the struggle Passage side. The erratic itself is nearly horizontal and measures something in the order of six inches or possibly more. A sketch from memory approximately full size is shown below: -

There is a smaller one several inches long in the roof at the junction of Struggle Passage and the ascending passage. It looked as if there was one or two more similar helictites at the far end of Erratic Chamber, but the writer’s lamp was getting dim and he could not swear to this. It would appear that the form of the erratic drawn is due to the draught blowing into the chamber but further work is needed to check whether this hypothesis is correct. Everyone will agree however on the need to protect such a unique formation as much as possible. D.A. Coase. 5th August 1957. A party descended to the sump on a semi-tourist trip. A bolt was cemented on the climb up from Beehive Chamber to Gour Hall. The party then adjourned to the Rabbit Warren where further abortive attempts were made to pass the construction in the Sausage Machine Passage. The way out was via the Railway Tunnel and Harem Passage. C.P Falshaw. 7th August 1957. Kangy and Chris ascended to the Rabbit Warren and did some more work on Digs II and II. The psychological squeeze in the Sausage Machine was passed after some strenuous gardening by Kangy. Further boulders were then removed and progress continued for another body length. This passage ascends steeply and now seems less promising than it did on first sight. More gravel was then removed from the ‘Hundred Foot a Day’ Passage in Octopus Chamber. Good progress should be possible at this point. C.P. Falshaw. _______________________________________________________________________________________ This month, I haven’t got the time To polish up a little rhyme. I didn’t think there’d be a place Where I could find an empty space But just to fill this corner gash I’m writing down this verbal hash To stop a blank appearing in September’s Belfry Bulletin.


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STEREO PHOTOGRAPHY …………………Continued from last month’s Belfry Bulletin. As has already been mentioned, the eyes are normally two and a half inches apart, and for normal scenes the separation between the two exposures should also be two and a half inches. Few cave subjects, however, come close to within this category, and as a general rule a separation less than normal will give better results. This separation should preferably be graded until, with very close up subjects at say one foot, a separation of only half an inch is sufficient. Too great a separation will lend unreality to they finished picture, as well as making it very difficult to view by reason of markedly different viewpoints, particularly when photographing close-ups (which often make the most effective stereos) attention should be given to ensure that objects at the edge of the frame are not missing in one of the two pictures, as this again gives a rather peculiar effect in the finished result. It is also advisable to ‘toe in’ the camera so that the main subject lies on the axis of the lens in each exposure. This helps in ensuring that the same objects are included in each exposure. Viewing the Stereograms. The Stereo pictures can be viewed in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of the picture. Pairs of prints are best placed in a proper viewer, which may consist of a pair of lenses such as will probably be familiar to most people, as sets of stereo pictures and viewers, dating from Victorian times are still quite common. The size of the pictures with this type of viewer cannot normally be more than two and a half inches as otherwise the eyes have to point outward while viewing and this is rather uncomfortable. Mirror type viewers can be obtained however and with these any size prints can be used. One advantage of using prints is that the views of the two pictures can be made identical by suitable masking during the printing, and in this way faults in the negative can be corrected. I have, in fact, met one photographer who took his stereo pictures with two cameras, having different focal lenses and adjusted the size of the image during printing. This is rather tedious but works at a pinch. For colour transparencies, stereo viewers using magnifying lenses can be obtained. Some of these have built-in illumination while others must be held up to the light. Alternatively, a pair of the simple single transparency viewers are available quite cheaply from a number of manufacturers will serve almost as well. With a little practice, it is possible to train the eyes to see stereo pairs without any viewer. This is fairly satisfactory for prints, but with 35mm transparencies, the image is rather too small for the result to be worth while when viewed in this way. Finally, transparencies can be projected onto a screen using either one of the special stereo projectors (priced at about the £100 mark!) or a pair of ordinary projectors such as the Aldis or any of the numerous makes now available. It is advisable that the projector lamps should be powerful, as the polariod filters which must be used absorb at least half the light, and a low power lamp limits the picture size if adequate brightness is to be obtained. R.M. Wallis. STOP PRESS. We have just received the following from “Pongo” (see also the general news on page 1). On 12th August, 1957 to Francis and Pongo Wallis, a caver, weight 7 lbs 8 oz (Henry Peter) To those with tight squeezes to explore in their new explorations, we are prepared to hire him out at an exorbitant fee but please wait a little until he gets in some caving practice. _______________________________________________________________________________________


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New member’s addresses and changes of address. As from 9th August, 1957.

Mr & Mrs John Hampton, Lulworth Cottage, Church Lane, Bardsey, East Keswick, LEEDS.

S.J.D. Tuck (382) 63 Westbury Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. Miss D.A. Clague (381) 38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3. _______________________________________________________________________________________ G.B. Guest Days. September 14-15 September 21-22 September 28-29 October 5-6 October 19-20 October 26-27 November 2-3

B.E.C. M.N.R.C. Wessex Westminster Axbridge B.E.C. M.N.R.C.

November 9-10 November 16-17 November 30 December 7-8 December 14-15 December 21-22 December 28-29

Wessex Westminster Axbridge B.E.C. M.N.R.C. Wessex. Westminster.

Belfry Bulletin Number 116  

In the Belfry Bulletin for July, the extensive efforts which is being made in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet by club members was commented on, and r...