CUCC Journal 1970 pp 6-16

A HISTORY OF THE CLUB: 1949 to 1969

Compiled by Pete Bowler

This history is being compiled as part of celebrations of the 21st anniversary of the founding of the club. Unfortunately documentation is very sparse. and time has restricted a large amount of research. The main (and for the most part, only) sources of information have been the minute books. A log book was started in the summer of 1965 giving fuller information on recent years. I have been unable to trace a copy of the first Journal produced by the club, but copies of the others (Vol.1, nos. 2, 3 and 4) are in the library, presumably a number 1 was produced, so if anyone reading this knows anything about, it could he please inform a member of the present committee in the hope that a copy can be traced and copied for posterity. I have also heard a rumour that there was a log book started before 1965. If this is so, we would also be very interested in such a document. Because of the material available it is unfortunate that the history will be biased towards the recent years, and so I feel I should apologise to our 'older readers'.

It is generally thought that we are an offshoot of the Mountaineering Club, but the account of the inaugural meeting makes no mention of this. It was held on 25th April 1949, and it seems that it was convened by four active cavers who were asked to form a temporary committee with the other four people there who had practical experience of the netherworld. Those founder members were active in Yorkshire, and their work there was described by Mr. J Myers in a lecture to the club eight years later. The first A.G.M. was held on 7th June, when 24 members were present. Mr M.C.Burkett was invited to be our founder president and R.S.Rushton to be vice-president. (This office is now known as Junior President). It was followed by a "lantern lecture" on the Formation of Yorkshire Potholes given by the Senior Treasurer, Dr. M.M.Sweeting. Caving meets in Ingleton and Mendip were held but no records were kept.


Our first full year (1949/50) seems to have been very active and by October a library containing 13 copies of the Yorkshire Ramblers' Club's Journal had been set up, and an application for membership of C.R.G. had been sent out. Unfortunately this membership has since lapsed. The distinguished list of lantern lecturers for the year include J.Myers (N.P.C.), Eric Hensler (W.C.C.) and R.E.Davies (C.D.G.). The latter meeting was held in Castleton and I hope that the opportunity for a quick nip underground was not missed. The chairman at the A.G.M. is reported to have said "...although so young we (the club) are fast becoming known as a go-ahead club likely to pop up anywhere. On the whole we have had a successful year, with several new discoveries to our credit." It was suggested that trips could be written up on loose leaf paper, but unfortunately none of these exists today.


The following year started badly when the vice-president didn't come up. Also one of the summer caving meets had fallen through due to lack of support. Alan Boak appears to have taken over the role of vice-president but no general meeting was held. Although the club was a lot weaker having lost many experienced members, it appears to have made a good recovery during the year. Several lantern lectures were held again, and a large proportion of the previous year's lecturers returned. The first recorded Christmas Vac. meet was held and the idea of a briefing meeting was introduced. It was more than ten years before the concept was really put to work in what is now a standard meeting before a trip. The now traditional ladder practice was also introduced and was held at the old lime kiln at Cherry Hinton. More active caving was done in the summer in Ingleton, where a dig was done on Ireby Fell, and on Mendip. Ben Moore went to Ireland with a friend - the first of our connections with that country. (I believe that Dr. Sweeting later made a geographical survey of the Galway Bay area). The year closed with 17 active members. Most of the active members returned in 1951/52 thus forming a good nucleus for a now established club. Dr. M. Black took over from Dr.Sweeting who was leaving Cambridge, as Senior Treasurer. The October committee saw another two ideas introduced. The first was a suggestion that an Indemnity Chit system should be introduced to protect the club against possible legal action following an accident. The problem was solved by introducing a clause into the constitution outlawing prosecution of the club. The other was that club funds could be swollen by writing articles for magazines about the club's work. Apparently this had already been done by the previous year's secretary, J.A.T.Boak. The proposals for the Christmas meet contains the first details of trips intended - these were Gaping Gill, Meregill, Lost Johns' and Sunset as a beginners' outing.

There was an Extraordinary General Meeting held in February 1952 at which alterations to the constitution were made implementing the clause banning prosecutions and imposing a meet fee of 10/-. The first mention of tackle also occurred at this meeting, and the cost (quoted as £8 for 25ft of rope ladder) was deplored. A commission was set up to enquire into this. The Easter vac. appears to have been very busy with a 10 day meet in Ingleton and a week-end meet on Mendip, where some digging was done.


Tackle was to become an important item over the next few years, especially with the arrival of O.C.Wells in October 1952, who is well-known in caving circles for his early work on electron tackle. The A.G.M. held in May decided to construct some rope ladder immediately, and expressed an intention to follow it up with alloy ladders. The former were constructed during the year and by the following A.G.M. we had 77' of rope ladder and 180' of manila rope. The following October, a business meeting expressed a preference for alloy ladders during a discussion on tackle construction. (Presumably from the experience with rope ones!) No more was made on this for four years, then at a committee meeting in the October C.J.W.Lunster was made tackle secretary and instructed to enquire into the possibilities and costs of constructing electron ladder. This estimate, presented a fortnight later, was less than £7 for 100ft and so a decision to go ahead was made.

Another idea was introduced in 1952/53 - that of the inauguration meet to introduce freshers to the ideas and organisation of the club. The format of the meeting appears to have changed little over the years, and topics for the quick talks included 'caving areas', 'clothing and equipment' and 'photography'. However, it does not appear to have been a great success.

Summer meets were also held in both places, and a dig in Lamb Leer was suggested at the A.G.M.


This year saw the opening of a savings account at Lloyds bank, but although a fair amount of money had accumulated (over £13) no lectures were held and a general meeting decided that the financial position was so healthy that the sub could be cut from 7/6 to 3/- per year. As far as I know this is the only time that such a remarkable position existed and it has been much more usual for money to be 'tight' in the club. However, up until 1968, virtually no income was received from outside the club membership. Despite the lack of 'open-cast' meets, caving continued strongly and members visited South Wales for the first recorded time.

1954. Enthusiasm.

At the A.G.M. Olly Wells was elected Junior President, and the following year saw a big drive to increase the activity of the club. After the original nucleus of founder members had left, the liveliness of the club tended to drop off over the years until the new group led by Olly Wells started things moving again. This impulse lasted for several years, but finally lost its momentum. Indeed this seems to happen every few years and is, of course, caused by the rapid turnover of members. The pattern seems to be that a nucleus of cavers who are quite experienced before going up to Cambridge is required to set things in motion. Once such a nucleus is in existence there are opportunities and the necessary experience to attract and train novices. The whole movement usually take years to die away, but has never, up to the present day, found a way to perpetuate its enthusiasm indefinitely. This particular boom started with several bright suggestions made at a committee meeting in October, and it is recorded that "It was decided to make an all out effort to make it a successful year. To attract new members 2 lectures were to be arranged, all freshmen were to be circularised, an article was to be put in Varsity, a dinner was to be arranged, the number of caving meets (5 vac and 3 weekend meets in the previous year) were to be increased and helmets were to be sold. (At 4/- each, the club still making a small profit)." These ambitious plans appear to have been carried out and in particular the first club dinner was held on 12th November in the Red Cow. Unfortunately no mention is made of the rest of the year's activities except for a lecture on cave diving (this has been a popular topic for lectures since the earliest years) and a mention of a successful meet in Derbyshire.


The amount of documentation decreases even further for the next year as the only meeting recorded is a committee meeting in October which made ambitious plans for the Michaelmas term. The next 3 pages of the minutes book have obviously been cut out at some time, and what these recorded can only be guessed at. The reason and the culprit for this vandalism will presumably remain unknown.


The events of the following year up to the A.G.M. are summarised on a single page, but still give the impression of an active club. Caving meets were organised in Yorkshire and South Wales over Christmas, but an Easter meet on Mendip fell through. The first recorded overseas expedition by the club had taken place during the summer to Svartisen in Norway (unfortunately the only record of this is that a lecture was given on it in November '57) and another was actively planned for summer 1957. At the A.G.M. £5 of club money was put towards the cost of the expedition. Slides were taken on both expeditions, on the first one by Dick Kirkland, Mike Duerden and Olly Wells, the main objects of the trip being Lapphullet and Larshullet (the main caves of the area). It would be surprising if important work wasn't done as Norway was speleologically very primitive at this time, and Corbel is the only person I know to have been there previously. Expeditions did not start in large numbers until 1962 when SWETC and later others made some very big discoveries. Another expedition was mounted to the area ....... in '58 and from the write up of a lecture on it, it appears that the members were so hard that they caved in bathing costumes! The slides were taken by Dave Jenkins, Keith Renwick and Gordon Peckham who also appears to have done most of the posing.

At a committee meeting at the end of 1956/57 further new ideas were introduced, viz. a stall at the Societies Fair and a newsletter. The first of these appears to have continued ever since and is at present the main initial contact with freshers. It is usually organised by a sub-committee or an individual and notable features have been photographs and a 50ft electron ladder from the balcony. Displays have also included stuffed wet suits and psychodelic posters. J. Stokes was the first editor of the newsletter which was intended to report on past meets. The newsletter and later the journal, have had a chequered history, but the former has become an invaluable method of spreading information concerning future events.

The stall at the Societies Fair got the year 1957/58 off to a flying start with 20 new members enrolling at the first lecture which was given by Mr.J.O.Myers. This was also the year of the feasibility report on electron ladders by C.J.C.Whimster and the apparent eventual construction of a hundred feet. By end of the Michaelmas term the usual magazine sickness had struck - lack of articles - and so it became a yearly publication. The first weekend in November was planned as a caving meet, but as usual no comment is made on the outcome; however, active caving was done in Mendip and Yorkshire in the Christmas vac. A new Senior president was elected towards the end of the year - he was Dr. Hey of Sedgwick Museum although Dr. Black, the Senior Treasurer was originally proposed. The A.G.M. also defined the 'Club Meet' as "A meet organised under the auspices of the club or one which uses club tackle". As usual there was a reason for making such a definition - a meet fee of 5/- was introduced immediately afterwards. The subscription was also increased at the same time. These money raising decisions were no doubt made necessary by the construction of the ladder - since then one of the largest items of club expenditure. The year ended as it had started with more new ideas - caving films and a membership card. Again both ideas have become a part of club tradition although the original intention to list the year's programme on the card had to be abandoned due to the practical difficulty of fixing a programme before the end of the Easter term.


By October, however, the new committee had changed both in membership (R.W.Tudway resigned as secretary and was replaced by J.P.Smith) and in ideas - the membership cards were discarded due to the expense, and the new meet fee was abandoned. It was also decided to get up to date with the C.R.G. subscriptions (these have lapsed again since). These decisions were confirmed by a technically illegal E.G.M. when tackle fees were described as improper. The following term Professor Tratman (USSS) gave an account of the discoveries made in County Clare, Eire, over the previous four years. (This is in the area that has interested the club for the last couple of years). The summer saw foreign expeditions - the first to Jugoslavia where slides of magnificent cave in a very fine countryside were shown by S.Tovey to the 1959 inaugural meeting. The other was to Libya where club tackle was used by members assisting in a Libyan government survey of their underground drainage.


More moves were made concerning the construction of tackle during this year and it was agreed to make two 20ft lengths and belays up to £6. A librarian (S.Tovey) was also appointed during this year. The first films shown to the club appeared at a joint meeting with the C.U.U.E.G. (the divers) on 2nd March 1960. Two caving films and two diving films, all from the French Institute, were shown and the one on Pierre St. Martin was particularly liked. These years around 1960 show a decline in club activity again, as a quorum could not be raised for the A.G.M.

Early 1961 showed the start of new enthusiasm with the introduction of the idea of official term-time meets. As undergraduates had become more mobile, private meets had started happening when individuals with cars had filled them and disappeared for a weekend. The new proposal was to hire a dormobile for a day (for Derbyshire) or a weekend (for Mendip). The first meet held under this plan sounds like a "hard men only" meet. It is probably significant that the recruiting was done at another new type of meeting - the beer party. The intended cavers left Cambridge at 10.30 on the morning of Saturday 4th March, but didn't arrive on Mendip till 6 o'clock. Swildons was entered at 8.30 and ... waited at the top of the forty for ¾ hour. (For the modern caver, this forty was a very wet and nasty 33ft pitch immediately after the Swildons dry series rejoins the main streamway. A bypass was opened during the floods of July 1968. Wet suits were unheard of in 1961 for caving and only two members at the forty were wearing exposure suits). The party got as far as the mud sump. It was 1.30 by the time they reached the surface again but this didn't stop them leaving for Cambridge at 10am on the Sunday morning after spending the night in Mains's barn. One of the biggest reasons for this revival must have been the presence at Cambridge of three men who were later to become well known in caving circles. They were David Heap, Trevor Faulkner and Bob Pike. Dave is well known for his expedition work in Norway which started when he was in Cambridge and for his excellent book on Potholing in the Pennines. He has also done a lot of work with Kendal Caving Club. Trevor has been one of the leading lights of S.W.E.T.C. for the past few years and was specially involved with the discovery of North - West Stream passage in Swildons, whilst becoming a leading member of the Wessex Caving Club on Mendip.

This new life got into the last committee meeting of the year and an ambitious plan of meets was drawn up. This was:

Swildons to sump IV
Agen Allwedd
Magnetometer or Hammer Pot
St. Cuthbert's
A meet in Derbyshire

Vac. meets were also proposed, the Christmas one being in Yorkshire. Other ideas were an annual Dinner, Membership cards and publicity. It was also agreed that the entry in Varsity handbook should be altered to reflect the term - time caving meets; also in this connection caving had become a sport rather than a hobby!

During the summer an expedition was held to Svartisen, Norway, which apparently produced 200ft of ladder and some rope for our tackle store. A talk was given on this trip as the first meeting of 1961/62 which was concluded with one of the very few cultured activities recorded in the minutes book - the drinking of a strange brew of 'a strange brand of scented China tea' in the treasurer's rooms! The first full term of caving meets seems to have been a great success with 8 people reaching Swildons IV, seven 'did' Summertime in Agen Allwedd with 13 others reaching North-West Junction. These are grouped under the heading of 'outdoor meets'. At the end of the term 9 members attacked Dow/Prov but were defeated by route finding and lack of light (this is apparently the start of our vendetta with the system). It was during a successful Christmas meet in Yorkshire that we really made our presence felt on the caving world at large - by burning down the Headquarters of the B.P.C. (We are now regular users of their new Headquarters). This year was one of highlights of our sporting caving and the Lent term saw St. Cuthbert's, Longwood and (our first victory) Dow/Prov. being conquered. Over Easter they attempted what was then the supreme challenge in Britain: Pen-y-ghent pot, in conjunction with Kendal. The first party (with David Heap) laddered the pot all right, but the weather broke and it appears that the only Cambridge man to bottom the pot was Barry Barnes who helped to deladder it later with K.C.C. Simpsons Pot and Heron Pot were also bottomed by the club at a private meet at Whitsun. The 1962 A.G.M. saw two major changes to our organisation - the introduction of the posts of Editor/Librarian and Tackle Master as members of the committee and the suggestion that meet leaders should be appointed for each meet. The year was again rounded off with an expedition - this time to Greece when Provatina was investigated.


The mid-term trips continued through 1962/63, but the trips attempted were less dramatic than the previous year. The Christmas meet was held in South Wales at the then newly renovated cottages at Penwyllt belonging to the S.W.C.C. The dinner and beer party occurred again, but the most disturbing thing is a report in the last committee meeting of the year that 192ft of ladder and some wire belays were missing. Apparently 120ft of this was replaced by Barry Barnes. Successful summer meets were held in the Pyrenees and North Norway.


The first term of 1963/4 was probably the most disastrous in the clubs history. The first meet of the year was an introductory one for new members based on Penwyllt (S.Wales). The net result was that only one Cambridge party has stayed there since - and they were guests of one of the members of SWCC. A paragraph appears in no.2 of the journal under the heading "Deflation of a Legend" where it appears that the trouble resulted from one of the experienced members doing a solo trip. The rest of the party decided to return to Cambridge without him when he didn't reappear and asked the SWCC to look for him if he didn't come out. In fact a rescue was necessary as he had lost his spare light and his own light had gone out. I have heard that friction had been caused earlier in the weekend when a rescue was mounted because the same member had spent the evening in a pub and had not met his rescue deadline at Penwyllt. (There is a phone in the cottage expressly for this purpose.) In his editorial in the same journal, Trev Woodford writes;

'Whatever the reasons or the excuses for these rescues the fact remains that none of them should have take place. On no occasion was a rescue necessitated by an accident, either natural or human. The two rescues and one false alarm resulted from lack of foresight, errors of judgement and inadequate safety precautions.' and the following paragraphs condemn semi- experienced cavers who were then taking the sport too lightly. The other rescue to which Trev Woodford refers was as follows. Seven members formed a party which, it seems, was very weak for the cave - Dow/Prov. The route-finding in this cave is very difficult and it seems that several errors were made, with the result that the traversing was more difficult than need be. Despite a lot of energetic work by the leader progress got slower and ceased due to lack of light after thirteen hours underground! The Upper Warfedale Fell Rescue Association duly arrived, and everyone was out 6½ hours later. The most encouraging part of this story is that the lessons were fully learnt by the club. Several changes were made which, up to the present, seem to have stopped such follies being repeated. In practice the main change was in the term-time meets. Not all the changes have survived up to the present day. Each meet was under the control of a responsible leader (usually a committee member). The duties of the various people involved in the organisation of a term-time meet were defined at the committee meeting the following term. The driver is responsible for booking transport, and the secretary for collecting names and deposits, which are passed to the meet leader a week before the actual meet. The control of a meet was entirely in the hands of the leader, and it is he who sorts out parties and trip leaders, so that everyone gets a trip suitable to his experience. A new sort of meeting - the 'Pre-Mortem' - was introduced on a regular basis the following year, when all the arrangements for a trip were made. In general, a member's experience was known, but since the growth of active members over the past few years, a record of their experience has been kept by the secretary, to which any meet leader can refer.

Although we have so far eliminated the follies recorded above we have had other contacts with rescue. As recorded in no. 3 of the journal, members were active in three rescues (as rescuers) on the space of a few months. Richard Babb and Gareth Jones helped the MRO to search Swildons for an SWCC party which had lost its lights on a 'figure of eight' trip. Gareth was again involved in the rescue of an injured person from Pant Mawr. About the same time, Clive Westlake took an active part in the epic rescue of a cadet soldier from a sump in Carlswark Cavern. The end of 1967/8 saw two more rescues caused by the club - caused this time by accidents of natural and human origin. During an attempt on Pen-y-ghent in March 68, three members of the party were trapped below pitch four for several hours but were able to make their own way out when the water went down. The CRO had been called out and the incident reached the 1 O'Clock BBC news, but was not really serious. In June we had our only recorded injury when Phil Shields' belay for the first pitch in Stream Passage Pot slipped and he fell about 15 feet. He suffered some nasty facial cuts and a broken wrist, but was able to get himself out with the help of the rest of the party. We were lucky in having a 'medic' in the person of Gareth Jones with us. The lessons from these accidents - well for the first the Council of Northern Caving Clubs has set up a weather forecasting service, and for the second - experienced members should keep an eye on any belaying that's done. These incidents were written up in Vol 1 no. 4 of the club journal. Following the trend encouraged by the MRO, the club held a rescue practice at Easter 1969. A stretcher case was successfully carried from the sump to the top of the twenty under the supervision of MRO wardens Fred Davies and Roy Mansfield.

Returning to the stormy year of 1963/64, the next trouble to affect the club was worn tackle. At a committee meeting in the Lent term a ten foot ladder was reported to have a slipped rung and two other ladders had broken strands at the C-links. These were sent to Southampton University for repair, but the tackle secretary, Ed Ashcroft, had further trouble when wires broke on the 100 foot pitch in Marble Steps. Luckily (according to legend) he was a strong lad and pulled himself up (lifelined) the few rungs needed to get his feet on a rung. It was decided to test all the existing tackle and to construct another 125 feet the following year. At the A.G.M. a censure motion was passed on Paul Key for the unauthorised use of club tackle.


The following year saw a determined effort to put our mistakes behind us. We were lucky in having a remarkably active secretary in Frank Morland - his letters are still clogging up the club files. Perhaps it is significant that the first meeting included a showing of the UWFRA film 'Cave Rescue', which is about a rescue from Dow/Prov. However, safe term time caving was soon under way with big parties for all trips. The Cherry Hinton wall was used for a ladder practice before the Mendip meet when 20 members completed the round trip in Swildons, visiting the IV streamway by mistake. The Lent term was just as active, and ended with the first descent by the club of P8. (which was newly discovered and was then rated severe.) No 2 of the journal was produced at the end of the Lent term by Trevfor Woodford and, despite several mishaps, 217½ feet of ladder were built using the SWCC method. Frank appears to have been the leading light in this, and his write-up appears in No 3 of the journal and in the Wessex journals Nos 103, 104. The tackle was ready for the 'Post Tripos' meet in Yorkshire when Dow Cave was visited again and a Bar/Dis exchange successfully completed. Another of Frank's projects was to collect the methods used to finance other University Caving Clubs. The object of this work was to persuade college amalgamated clubs to give subscription rebates if they didn't already do so. All his work was to no avail, however. On the caving side we were very much strengthened by the arrival of several experienced cavers. Prominent among these was Clive Westlake who had taken part in the 1964 Berger expedition, helping to make a film for the BBC. Members had been abroad again over Easter, with the newly elected editor, Gareth Jones, promising another journal, and was rounded off with further foreign caving in the Dordogne, France.


Now that the club had an experienced core, caving became violent and several apparently lunatic trips were carried off successfully. The best example is probably the 3½ hour descent of Giants Hole at two o'clock on a Saturday morning. A blizzard was raging and this resulted in high floods in the cave. As Clive Westlake was a member of the Eldon Pothole Club several trips were held with them, including a New Year descent of Pen-y-ghent Pot to the main shaft. The party included three of our members. It was about this time that the recent advances in personal equipment were adopted by the club, wet suits and NiFe cell becoming standard for big trips. I'm sure that these helped in our training of inexperienced members, some of whom have reached an amazingly high standard during their three years at Cambridge. At Easter we again joined the Eldon in their traditional assault on Agen Allwedd. Tackle was increased again during the year and by the A.G.M. we possessed 350 foot of ladder and 637 foot of rope, and this was all in good condition. Two members reached the bottom of Pen-y-ghent over Easter in a party which include Dr. Oliver Lloyd - who graduated from Cambridge over 30 years ago! After the exams revenge was taken on another Yorkshire system - Dow/Prov - in a 6 hour trip.

The tradition of the P8 beginners' meet was started during the year. Its discovery is one of the best things that could have happened as far as CUCC is concerned, as it is by far the best cave in Derbyshire to introduce beginners to the sport. The trip is done in one day so that conscientious freshers do not have to miss lectures, and they see a good variety of cave including a pitch which is very good to start on. The only trouble is that other clubs have found these things out and the cave tends to be overcrowded.


The 1966 P8 meet suffered from high water which meant that only the hard people came into the club. Some social activities have been abandoned over the last few years (notably the dinner and the beer party) but a new one was introduced by Clive: the WOW lunch where bread and cheese was sold for the benefit of War On Want. As a social centre this weekly meeting has become very important. Our stomachs were further filled on the Mendip meet by a dinner cooked under the supervision of Kate Hughes. (Now Mrs Pretty). Pen-y-ghent was again visited by two members on New Year's Eve and a few days later ten members reached the end of the Kingsdale Master Cave via Simpson's Pot. Active caving proceeded in the Lent term despite Mike Richards failing to do the Giants - Oxlow exchange by getting stuck in the squeeze for two hours. The next trip saw six members strolling down to Swildons IV. Agen Allwedd was vigorously explored over Easter, but for the summer caving became strangely dead. However, tourist caving and a little work were carried out in County Clare again.


This was probably the most active in our history despite the outbreak of Foot and Mouth. We were snowed under by a large influx of inexperienced members, but it is noticeable that they were not the ones who caused us anxious moments. Gareth Jones finally produced No. 3 of the journal and Kate repeated the Mendip Christmas dinner, but unfortunately little caving was done before February because of Foot and Mouth. The University got round to setting up two bodies to give financial support to the smaller clubs - one body for sports and one for the rest. After a lot of discussion we decided that we were a scientific society and applied for finance to make 100 ft of ladder. This provided the precedent that we were after although our estimate of £15 proved rather too small. We were asked to provide a member for the committee of the Societies' Syndicate and the position was ably filled by Mike Ferraro. An attempt was made to reduce the heaviest burden on members, the cost of weekend meets. Prices had been increasing rapidly towards £2 per meet. The idea was that, as happens in other universities, the Societies Syndicate should provide free minibuses for the use of member clubs. Mike controlled an investigation into this, but no results ever appeared.

To return to caving, the club became a hive of underground activity from February onwards. No less than 14 members reached the Lost Johns' master cave, even if it did take nearly 12 hours. Three weeks later we had our next Pen-y-ghent epic. Easter saw us in South Wales when the OFD through trip was done, and then a few Mendip and Devon trips. Two more trips took place before the Tripos, but the main success of the year was the Post Tripos meet. In that week about 50 man/trips were done despite the unfortunate injury to Phil Shields. The main trips were Washfold and Swinsto, both of which went off with a remarkable smoothness. Also enjoyed during the week was the meal which was provided by Phil Shuttleworth's parents at their country house. The end of June saw a successful Mendip trip which ended with Clive Westlake and Mike Ferraro narrowly missing watching the great flood of Mendip from inside Stoke Lane. Clive and Pete Bowler went down Swildons the following Saturday on one of the first trips after the flood, and they were the first party to get through duck I. There is a description of the flood in No. 4 of the journal. Caving continued during the long vac.; Giants/Oxlow joined the list of defeated caves and Notts Pot and Marble Steps Pot were done in a single day. A working expedition to County Clare discovered about a thousand feet of passage (mainly in Poll Cloghaun) and were rather unlucky not to find rather more. This expedition is also mooted for the composition of a song 'The Wild Caver' on a rainy day and which was recorded for posterity in the log. (see p 23)


In 1968 P8 was less successful due to high water, but it did prove that with a team of reasonably experienced leaders it is possible to keep novices moving under these conditions. I.e. it is safe for novice meets. (The ladder practice was shown to be important as well.) Four members showed their fitness by doing an Oxlow/Giants double link during the night before P8. The main highlight of the year was, of course, the New Years Eve descent of Pen-y-ghent by an entirely CUCC party - it was led by Noel Williams, who was a novice when he first arrived at Cambridge and is a product of our novice training. This is perhaps the symbol of the big change in the club since its early years. Previously nearly all the active members had some experience when they came up. Over the past few years a system of training novices has been worked out by trial and error, and now the majority of active Cambridge cavers are people who had no, or little, experience before coming up and joining us.

A journal was produced during the Lent term despite the complete inactivity of the editor. This was mainly due to the activity and hard work of Phil Shuttleworth and his fiancée. The year was rounded off with another Oxlow/Giants double link, this time with a party of two and in record time. After the exams there was another successful Yorkshire Post-Tripos meet which included another descent of Washfold Pot and a Bar/Dis exchange which was noted by Jeff Parkinson nearly falling into South East Pot when trying to cave on an almost completely dead NiFe cell.


As a sporting club, we have reached our height in the last few years, but we have as yet produced little of interest in the speleological world. The best we have done is in the expeditions of the mid-fifties and early sixties, and it seems that the opportunities of the long vacation give us our only chance of future useful work. Life is made more difficult for us by the restrictions placed on members by this universities long vac terms which make long expeditions impossible.

An amazing fact that came to light after the survey conducted by Frank Morland when he was secretary in 1964 was that we were the second largest university club in the country; only Bristol had a larger membership. Considering our difficulties of exile in the midst of the fens and, until 1968, our complete lack of financial support, this in itself is a considerable achievement. And so I hope that, building on its present basis of safety, the CUCC will continue to keep its place among the leading university caving clubs.

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