No 183 May 1963
Monthly Journal Of The Bristol Exploration Club
B Vol. XVII No. 5
Members have been subjected recently to a state of affairs in which the B.B. for April has not reached some of them until the middle of May! This is the worst lapse which has occurred in the publication of the B.B. for some time, and one for which the Editor is, unfortunately, responsible. The 'Powers that beâ€™ have decided that he must spend some of his time in heathen places in the far North, where they have been making him work. This has tended to upset arrangements for the B.B. but it is hoped that this phase is now over and we can get back to normal. The intention this month is to try to produce a twelve page B.B. but whether or not this occurs depends to soma extent on the amount of material received, which still remains depressingly scarce. Another innovation designed to speed up the delivery of the B.B. is the splitting of members into two lists - a postal list and a list for those who normally have their B.B. delivered by hand. If this means that occasionally someone who happens to be at club or at the Belfry cannot be given a B.B. because they are on the Postal List, it seems a small price to pay for prompter deliveries all round. Gifts of foolscap duplicating paper (13 x 8 inches) would be much appreciated as present supplies are beginning to fall off, and the only alternative would appear to be actually buying the stuff! "Alfie" _______________________________________________________________________________________
Letter To the Editor of the B.B. Dear Sir, JILL'S CAVE - WESTBURY-ON-TRYM. I should be very interested to hear from anyone who knows anything about this small cave, which seems quite unknown to local cavers. The cave was situated at the bottom of the quarry worked on the South East side of Charlton Road, and is now buried under about 100 feet of rubbish, so it is not possible to verify any details from inspection. A sketch map of its location is enclosed. My recollections of the cave are very vague, but I remember it as roughly circular, about 15 feet in diameter, and about three feet high. The entrance was approximately ten feet wide and inside it was necessary to crawl over a large pile of boulders, so that the actual height was at least double this. A short passage led off at the back. There was no stalactite formation or sign of water in. the cave. It might have been artificial, but the presence of the boulders and the fact that the quarrymen never made use of it suggest, that it was a natural cavity broken into during quarrying operations. I should be interested to know if anyone has any more definite information on this little cave, or on another said to exist on Troopers Hill, St. George, Bristol 5. Jill Rollason
Editor's Note: Jill is collecting information on all caves in the Bristol area as she is the registrar for this district in the Mendip Cave Registry so any information on Bristol Caves would be useful. _______________________________________________________________________________________
On the Hill (or T.W.T.M.T.W.) Once again, despite much research and travel, reports of other clubs are still few. Cerberus have held their A.G.M. and are still muddling along despite their new Constitution & Rules. A particular point to note for Treasurers and the like is that the ratio of their funds - (pounds/members) is 2/1. I see from the local press that Axbridge Caving Club and Archaeological Society are in exactly the reverse state to Cerberus regarding finance. They're having trouble renting their museum. Perhaps a transfer of capital (with suitable interest rates, of course) could be arranged. The obvious comment - with reference to a remark in a recent B.B. - is that a monthly magazine is proving more expensive than was thought! I hear a whisper of yet another caving club, namely the Severn Vale C.C. (News certainly does get around - I have just received a copy of their first newsletter - Ed.) Presumably they cave on the BristolCardiff railway line in the Severn Tunnel. This is an occupation that presumably won't be affected by redundancy and there are still as yet many unexplored railway tunnels. My forebodings of a stinking programme turned out by television with their suspense play "Pitch of Terror" were, in fact, only too true. Of course, they could not know that normal caves donâ€™t have synthetic rocks and I would definitely advocate to all club committees that if they can install a gradual changeover from present caves (located underground) to caves of expanded polystyrene (located in studios) the accident rate could be reduced no end. I am told that the B.E.C. turned up in force at Fairy Cave Quarry recently. Could this be a new suicide cult? Almost unusual event occurred there when Bob Bagshaw got clobbered, thus disproving the theory that you can't get blood out of a stone. Of course Bob always could.
Page 3 The cessation of (T.W.) 3 will be quite a blow to some of our more square-eyed members, particularly a certain editor who was observed sneaking away from the Hunters before closing time in order to speed its departure. He must now also buy a replacement to a rather famous beer mug (marked Gents) which came to grief recently. I hear tell of a splinter group, if I might borrow the term, meeting in a pub in Wells on Saturday lunchtime. One of the group tells me that more work is done there than at meetings. Obviously more beer is drunk. Thought for the month: To write an article for the B.B. takes approximately one month's research, 90 minutes writing and only five minutes to read. Is it worth it? â€œStalagmiteâ€? _______________________________________________________________________________________
CLUB NEWS A Monthly Review of Club Activities Caving Meet The meet at Fairy Cave Quarry held on the 28th April was literally a knockout, as Bob Bagshaw will assure anyone. There was a grand attendance of approximately thirty members, some new and some old. The assembly was more or less complete by 1.30 pm as arranged and those wishing to explore Balch's Hole or Hilliers went off with their respective leaders. Fernhill was also laddered for those who wanted something to cool off on. A point for leaders of any caving trip to note became evident during this meet. It was that particular care in the spacing of people ascending ladders should be taken, to ensure that any falling objects - be they rock or caver - do not have any injurious effect on the person/persons below. Several of the leaders remarked that large parties in such relatively small systems were hardly practicable. This should also be noted for future occasions of this nature. All those present seemed quite agreed that the meet was a success, everyone having enjoyed themselves. The quarry was still in one piece when everyone had left by 6 pm, much to the relief of the inspecting eye of Mr. Garlick. Michael Palmer. Junior Section A Junior Section of the B.E.C. is being run, the main purpose of which is to encourage and arrange caving trips for members of the B.E.C. under 20. A preliminary list of trips has already been arranged and if it is found that these are successful, further and more extensive trips will follow. For further information about the Section and the trips, please contact Kevin Abbey at 15 Gypsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke, Bristol. The trips are as follow:16th June 23rd June 30th June 6th July 14th July
G.B. Meet at Young's Barn at 12 noon. Eastwater - Twin Verticals. Meet at Belfry at 12 noon. Swildons IV. Meet at the Belfry at 10.30 a.m. Stoke Lane. Meet at Cooks Farm at 1 pm. Lamb Leer. Meet at cave at 1pm.
General Topics The Hut Warden has added up the bed-nights so far this year and we are amazed to learn that the thousand mark has already been passed. It looks as though yet another record number is on its way this year. Any bright ideas for things, to do after the dinner this year will be appreciated by the committee. Some people feel that a change from the very successful photographic and song competitions would be a good
Page 4 thing this year, but the feelings of club members would be most helpful here. Get in touch with ANY committee member if you have a bright idea or any strong feelings about the dinner and entertainments. Barbecue The usual midsummer barbecue will be held this year on Sat. June 22nd and all Mendip cavers and friends are invited. The cost per head will be six shillings and this should be sent to Kevin Abbey, 15 Gypsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke, Bristol who will be in the Waggon & Horses on Thursdays and the Hunters on Saturdays. Please don't leave it until the last minute, and in any case, book at least a week before the event, as arrangements for food and drink have to be made in advance. _______________________________________________________________________________________
On the Naming of Caves This article is partly the result of lack of other, and more suitable material for this month's B.B., and partly because, to the best of my knowledge (whatever that may mean in my case!) I have never yet heard of an article being written on this subject before. I expect that a number of things may well be at variance with other people's thoughts on this subject, but this article is not intended to be a laying down of the law on the subject so much as to show one person's viewpoint. The recently proposed name of Easter Hole for a new cave (yes, yet another one) in Fairy Cave Quarry has shown that we are in some danger of repeating ourselves if we are not careful on Mendip. There is another Easter Hole, of some years standing, at Hillgrove. Duplication of cave names is not a good thing, as this means that at best the name has to be followed by the area in which it is located, and at worst would lead to a lot of misunderstanding, such as half a trip turning up at the wrong hole. We have, in fact, used up all the holidays on Mendip, as we have Easter, Whitsun, August and Christmas holes and further extensions of this particular method of naming holes (Boxing Hole, Maundy Thursday Hole etc) would soon get out of hand. Likewise, the general method of referring to the date of discovery such as the November the something grotto in Swildons - tend to be difficult to remember and too alike for easy remembering. Another method widely used on Mendip for naming caves is to associate the cave with remains found usually while digging it out. Thus we have Badger, Bone, Bos, Cow, Fox's, Hyena, Pig's, Rhino, Sow's, Toad’s and finally Zoo. This system could again be extended to cover other types of remains which could result in Bicycle Hole, Bedstead Hole, Boot Hole - to name but one. Again, this system would seem to be largely played cut. The practice of naming holes according to local geography is, on the other hand, an excellent one in theory but one which can again go astray in practice, a cave called, say, Pen Hill Swallet situated reasonably near that geographical feature is excellent until somebody discovers another cave even closer to Pen Hill, whereupon it becomes necessary to explain that Pen Hill Swallet is the one of a pair which is furthest from the hill itself. This is, admittedly, not likely to occur often, but should be watched if the cave is to be called after some geography which is not specific enough. Otherwise, it becomes necessary to subdivide the caves as in Banwell Bone Cave; Banwell Ochre Cave and Banwell Stalactite Cave. At first sight, the use of discoverer’s initials, even with the two letters or "G.B." variety seem to have the advantage of variety, with 676 possible combinations and 17,576 if three letters are employed, but again, this is largely illusory. Even now, with only three such names on Mendip (or two if you belong, as I do, to the Midway Blocker School of thought) it has been known for confusion to arise between G.B. and G.G. The trouble is that two many letters of the English language end with the sound ‘ee’. People's names, on the other hand, although frowned on by many, do have the advantage of not confusing people, even if they reveal nothing useful about the cave concerned. If I appear to have an axe to grind here,
Page 5 this is not really so, as the name of a small cave near Hunters Hole was intended by the rest of the digging party to be facetious at the time, and the stubborn refusal of this cave to get any larger is probably the result! In general, I would say that it would be reasonable to try a more descriptive name and only resort to this form of cave naming if all else fails, or if there is some special reason, such as the need to butter up the local landowner &c. Turning now to internal cave naming, we enter an even more difficult and controversial field, and again, no system wants, pushing too far. For instance, the 'tying together' of names in one part of a cave is excellent up to a point (e.g. Traverse and Upper Traverse Chambers in Cuthbert’s) but should be stopped before they read like a description of a caving trip. We should never reach the stage of Upper Chamber South West Extension Passage and the like. While I am all in favour of the sort of descriptive name for a difficult cave feature - nobody, for instance, would mistake the general idea behind names like the Keyholes, The Nutmeg Grater, the Vice and the Sausage Machine - they do seem a bit confined to conveying the idea of tightness. We seem much worse off if we want to convey the idea of exposure, instability or how wet the caver gets as distinct from how much water flows through the passage in question, incidentally, we have two Letter Boxes on Mendip as well as two Sewers. At this stage, it may well be wondered if I am actually in favour of anything. In fact, it is not as bad as this would suggest, as I am mainly endeavouring to point cut the dangers of letting any of the basically sound systems get out of hand. Of course, I have my own preferences, in common with most people. One of these is for what I call imaginative naming - places like the Oubliette Pitch in Cuthbert’s Sentry Passage, Tor Chamber, The Throne Room, and so on. Another idea which appeals to me is the practice of naming parts of a cave series with connected names, like Damascus in the St. Pauls Series or the Trafalgar Chamber Victory Passage - Strand association of ideas in Cuthbert’s September Series. This, by another association of ideas reminds me that we have two Pillar Chambers on Mendip. The other one (in Fairy Cave) is a good illustration of the next point. How do you name a bit of a cave anyway? In the case of a cave like Cuthbert’s, the method is quite easy. The discoverers have a natter; decide on a name, get it agreed to by the Leaders Meeting and it goes into the records. In cases however where different clubs use the same cave with little contact with each other, the same places get different names. For instance, the B.E.C. always refer to the Wet Way, the Long Dry Way and the Short Dry Way in upper Swildons, but the Wessex call them the Wet Way, the Pretty Way and the Middle Way respectively. The surveyor usually has the final decision in many cases, although sometimes things get changed by common usage - like Rod's Pot. In the early days, St. Cuthbert’s was often referred to as St. Cuthbert’s Pot (rather than Swallet) and I will back the chances of the form Balch's Hole to eventually beat the official designation of Balch Cave. The question of how much naming you go in for, as distinct from what you call things anyway, is another controversial question but should surely be a function of the amount of attention paid to any particular part of a cave. Where intensive work of some sort is going on, names tend to proliferate as the heed to pinpoint places in the cave increases. Good examples of this occurred during the phase of intensive photography in Balch's Hole recently, when some much photographed individual groups of stal, such as the Golf Clubs or even single pendants, like Baker's Erratic, got names. While the need to use such names is usually transitory, they do have a use in future studies in drawing attention to a large amount of work done in the part of the cave concerned. An example here in G.B. is the Upper Grotto – Elephant’s orifice - Double Passage - Loch Lomond - Letter Box - Ten Foot Pot and Devil's Elbow, all within a hundred feet or so of passage. In contrast, The White Passage - much longer and bigger with no names until you get right to the end. To sum up. While I think that most of the naming on Mendip is good, many of the systems used cannot be pushed much further without running into some difficulty, the future thus appears to call for a greater degree of ingenuity. “Alfie” P.S. Please don't call any new cave Hawthorn Hole! Apart from the fact that it is a bad name as there are ‘n’ depressions on Mendip with Hawthorn Trees in them, there is a special reason for this request!
Page 6 Extracts from the New & Complete
Englifh Traveller Written and compiled by a Society of Gentlemen and published byAilex. Hogg, November 22nd 1794. (This book has been loaned to the editor of the B.B. by Chris Hawkes, Editor of the Wessex Journal, to whom we are indebted for the following, which readers may, find amusing.....) .............This county (Somerset) is famous for its lead mines, the principal of which are situated among thofe mountains called Mendip-Hills. The ridges of thefe hills run in a confufed manner, but moftly in an Eaft and Weft direction, and are of a very unequal height. The foil is barren and the air cold, moift, thick and foggy. Frome is a large town, but the Streets are irregular and the houfes in general mean-------a band of profligate fellows in the reign of King William III built huts in the foreft adjoining to this town, where they coined money and paffed it off to the people of the neighbouring towns, but being difcovered, they were all apprehended and executed. Shepton Mallet is an ancient, large and prosperous town. The fituation of this town is exceedingly difagreeable, and the ftreets are narrow, irregular and ill-paved. Wells is pleafantly fituated on the borders of the Mendip-Hills on the little river Welve. It is a fmall well built city, the houfes are neat, many of them elegant, and the ftreets well paved and clean. Two miles from the city of Wells, and in the lower part of Mendip-Hill: is the famous triple grotto called Wokey' or Okey-Hole. It is the moft celebrated cavern in the Wrft of England, and therefore frequently vifited by ftrangers. You afcend the hill about thirty yards, to the cave’s mouth, before which there lies a prodigious ftone of an irregular figure. The entrance, which is not very narrow, is about fifteen or twenty feet long, and opens into a large cavern or vault refembling the body of a cathedral-church, the upper parts of which are very craggy and abound with pendant rocks which ftrike the fpectator with terror, efpecially as they appear by candle-light and by which they may very plainly be feen, notwithstanding what Mr. Camden fays to the contrary. From almoft every part of this roof, there is a continual dripping of apparently clear water, though it contains a large quantity of ftony particles, as is evident from feveral ftony cones which were here about thirty years ago. The bottom of this vault is extremely rough, flippery and rocky and abounds with irregular bafons of water, but there are none of thofe beautiful cones mentioned above, they having been taken away and prefented to the late Mr. Pope, of Twickenham, to decorate his artificial grotto. .....Not far from Chedder is a ftupendous chafm, quite through the body of the adjacent mountain. It appears is if the hill had been fplit afunder by fome dreadful convulfion of nature. We walked a confiderable diftance in this chafm, between the impending rocks on either fide which, to ftrangers, exhibit an awful appearance…………..near to this is another remarkable cavern, into which you enter by an afcent of fifty fathome among the rocks. This is not so large as Wokey-Hole, has no river flowing through it, nor does the water drop fo freely from the roof. We could go on quoting for ever from this fafcinating - sorry, fascinating book, but an observation on the inhabitants of Somerset seems a good place to end! We quote: The inhabitants of Somerfetfhire are, in general, plain, fimple and honeft; yet the lower fort in company with ftrangers are conftantly boafting of their fuperiority, and confider the people of other parts of the kingdom as greatly inferior to themselves. Thofe, however who have had a liberal education, and whofe minds have been enlerged by reading and converfation, are fenfible, polite, obliging and affable, very couirteous to ftrangers and eager to learn of the nature of trade in other parts of the of the island.
_______________________________________________________________________________________ Change of address. Garth Dell's new address will follow in next month's B.B. in the meantime, anyone who wants to get on touch with him may apply to Kevin Abbey, who has his present address.
_______________________________________________________________________________________ The Belfry Bulletin. Hon. Sec. R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Rd, Knowle, Bristol 4, Editor, S.J. Collins, 33 Richmond Terrace, Clifton, Bristol 8. Postal Department, R.S. King, 22 Parkfield Rank, Pucklechurch, Near Bristol.