It is with deep regret that we record the death of John Wallington, a caver from Bristol who died whilst acting as a sherpa on the Cave Diving Group’s recent operations in Swildons on the seventeenth of January. To his family and friends we offer our sincere condolences.
Editorial When the Belfry was first opened in 1947, it was agreed that the basic charge per member per night would be one shilling. Over twelve years have passed since then, during which the prices of many everyday articles have doubled, and we can thus take pride in the fact that the basic Belfry charge is still a shilling and seems likely to remain so. This has only been possible because of the large number of people using the Belfry – a figure greater than that of any other caving club on Mendip. The figures for 1958, which have just been completed, show that all records have been broken by a handsome margin and an astronomical total of 1,416 bed nights have been record for the year. This represents an increase of 334 over 1957, which itself was a record year. Although factors such as the exceptionally bad summer played a part in boosting the 1958 figure to this size, the indications are that it would have exceeded 1957 in any case. If we can keep the bed night total high, we shall be able to continue to provide ourselves with the best facilities on Mendip at the lowest cost. “Alfie” _______________________________________________________________________________________
At the January meeting of the Committee, Colin Smith was elected to membership of the club. Other business dealt with included the progress on renovations to the Belfry kitchen, the state of the club tackle, the new building, arrangements for the provision of mains water, the club tent, the club stretcher, the possibility of providing club car or motorcycle badges and ties, and repairs to the Belfry. _______________________________________________________________________________________
CUTHBERT’S MAP St. Cuthbert’s Swallet is undoubtedly the most complex system yet discovered on Mendip, and new portions are being added continually to the known cave. Owing to the complexity and for various other reasons, it will be some time before a full survey can be published and meanwhile, it is hoped that readers will find the ‘tube map’ on the next two pages useful in placing new discoveries and connections as they are found in the future. To draw such a plan, which is only designed to show the routes through the cave, some liberties have had to be taken with the relative position of some parts. The plan does show however, the order in which places are visited on any particular route through the system. The map was prepared form an analysis of all the published information on the cave system, and checked with members who are especially conversant with some of the lesser known series. We are especially indebted to Roy Bennett (Rocky Boulder Series and Coral Series) Chris Falshaw Rabbit Warren Extension and Catgut) ‘Kangy’ King (Maypole Series) and ‘Prew’ (September Series). No indication is given on the plan as to the relative sizes or difficulty of any of the passages shown. The dotted line on the Rabbit Warren Extension side of the plan is the probable stream connection. The other dotted lines are places where connection is visual but should not be travelled over.
Most members will have read accounts in the national press of the recent Swildons trip in which a Bristol caver lost his life. Some of theses accounts were inaccurate in detail, and it is felt that members who were not on Mendip at the time would appreciate an account in the B.B. The following general account has been obtained from various club members taking part in the trip and subsequent rescue operations.
SWILDONS The C.D.G. operation started in the morning when the sherpa parties and the diving party entered the cave. After they had gone down, heavy rain added to the effect of a sudden thaw and the stream rose considerably. In the afternoon, the parties down the cave realized that it would be impracticable to attempt the diving operation (which was to get a party of divers into Swildons VI) and began to make their way out. Meanwhile, on the surface, it was thought that the caving party might need some assistance and in consequence the M.R.O arranged for cavers to stand by in readiness. In the early evening, the first members of the sherpa parties emerged from the cave and reported that the journey out, although severe, was quite practicable and that the remainder of the members of the sherpa parties were coming out in good order. It was thought that the diving party was also on the way out (which was, in fact, not the case) although the first cavers to emerge were not in a position to confirm this. At this point, it was decided to send a rescue party into the cave with the object of rendering any assistance which might be necessary at the later stage of the trip. Several members of the diving and sherpa parties experienced difficulty on the ladder at the Forty owing to cold hands which had lost their grip on the ladder rungs and also due to the force of the waterfall. One man, with a sprained wrist, required help and two others (one of whom was Wallington) were suffering from the cold and wet conditions; came off the ladder and were held by the lifeline. In Wallington’s case, he caught a foot in the ladder and had to be freed from below. Other members of the diving and sherpa parties, coming out one by one, kept rescue workers higher up in the cave and on the surface continually informed of the situation at the Forty. As it became apparent that further assistance might become necessary, more cavers who had been standing by in readiness were sent down to reinforce those already helping. By this time, John Wallington had been assisted up the Forty and was in the hands of the first rescue party at the top. The water was subsiding but, as his helpers were about to take him through to dryer surroundings, cold and exhaustion took effect, and he died. Although a high percentage of the more experienced and active Mendip cavers were in the cave for the diving operation the rescue arrangements on the surface worked smoothly and the transport of fresh cavers to Priddy was rapidly organized. The first of these was ready to descend when the first members of the diving and sherpa parties started coming out of the cave. Adequate supplies of caving equipment were available and the widespread use of exposure suits, as well as greatly increasing the comfort and effectiveness of those wearing them, made it possible for later rescuers to use kit which members of the diving and sherpa parties had taken off. A fire and supply of hot drinks were ready at Maine’s Barn in time for the first arrivals from the cave and a continuous check was kept on the whereabouts of all members of the diving, sherpa and rescue parties. Wallington’s body was brought to the top of Jacob’s ladder at which point later parties took over, bring it to the surface at about 11 pm, by which time all the rest of the diving and sherpa parties had emerged safely from the cave.
Personal Congratulations to Tony Johnson and his wife, Mary, on the birth of their son, David Anthony. SPECIAL MESSAGE to Terry Marston of the Bradford Pothole Club – ‘You’re a member of the B.E.C. now, Terry!’ What’s this we hear about E.T.B.C.O.M.? _______________________________________________________________________________________
NOTICES The club are prepared to by Kodachrome and supply it to any photographer who will take cave pictures for the club slides. We would prefer complete reels, but arrangements can be made for anyone who will take ‘one for himself and one for the club’. Arrangements for payment for flashbulbs will also be considered. For details see Bob Bagshaw. KEN DAWE, Exploration Secretary of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club, is organizing a coach trip to Yorkshire at Easter. Cost will be approximately £2. Make your own arrangements for food and shelter. All B.E.C. members welcome. Ken’s address will be printed in next month’s B.B., but meanwhile write to Bob Bagshaw. _______________________________________________________________________________________
This Month’s Sonnet
What was it that produced a total great (One thousand and for hundred and sixteen) Of bods who stayed in 1958 Within the Belfry? What makes them so keen? Perhaps it is the great Romesse stove Which in the winter glows red-hot with coke (The bills for which are sometimes known to roam And all get paid in by some other bloke!) At any rate, the Shepton Mallet lot Are putting in a paraffin affair And rumours that, at Hilgrove cavers plot To have their own Romesse, fill the air. The Belfry for the summer now must cater And be the first with a refrigerator. _______________________________________________________________________________________
Maybe you have noticed a certain ‘sameness’ about the contents of this month’s SIX (now 5) PAGE Belfry Bulletin? That is because the whole thing has had to be written by one bloke (me). If YOU wrote for the B.B. as well, that would make two of us! _______________________________________________________________________________________ Would YOU buy a car or bike badge or a club tie if you could? How much (or little) would you be prepared to pay for it? Let any member of the committee know your views on this, so that they can get at least some clue! _______________________________________________________________________________________ The Belfry Bulletin. Secretary, R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4 Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8