Oxford University Cave Club
On the whole the year has been one of progress from the point of view of work carried out in caves, though not in all other aspects. At the last AGM I pointed out that no original work had been done by the club since its formation: shortly after this, a concentrated digging effort in Paradise Regained at Swildon's hole bought R. Clarke, D. Faver and myself down into a rift which we named Oxford Chamber. This is the lowest point in Paradise Regained and aiming for the unknown sections of the mainstream. Unfortunately the way on was too choked without a good deal of work being put into it, and the trip was rather a disappointment.
During the early part of the Easter vacation whilst exploring some roof passages above ghost rift in Giants hole, Derbyshire, G. Dale and myself managed to push a low crawl past the point of previous exploration. This was found to lead into the roof of a climbable fissure which dropped steeply down to the head of a vertical pitch. The latter has since been descended using 16 feet of ladder into a moderate sized chamber which led immediately down to further climbable drops before finally petering out in a tight fissure after a total drop of 45 feet. Once again we were disappointed just as things began to look interesting.
Travelling yet further northwards to the land of the potholes, our Yorkshire meet in the long vac. saw the first exploration of Black Reef cave. The bulk of the survey of this was commenced afterwards by G R Sunderland and his friends, continued later by myself- and completed last vacation by Sunderland and myself. The bits have since been stuck together giving just under 2000 feet and the reduced survey has been sent in for publication with a write-up.
Last November, a night trip down Swildon's brought us once again to the Paradise Regained armed with excavating implements (or perhaps I should call a spade a spade). Unfortunately when the third man, Bob Christian was a short way down shatter pot, which is just above our former dig, a series of boulders began breaking away from the wall of the pitch which is, in fact, one end of a large mass of fault breccia keyed at the top to form an overhang. As there was some possibility of the whole lot coming down, with disastrous consequences to the owner of our transport, all the men were brought back up. We returned to the surface after a quick glance at a possible future alternative route.
A Derbyshire meet this Christmas vacation was cursed by dampish weather and most of our original aims were not carried out.
During the year we have had six talks by visitors to the club. Attendances at these ranged from 13 to 21. As these meetings are often expensive to run it is hoped that the gradual rise in support noted will be continued.
There has been a gradual decrease in the support of the day trips by coach. This lack of support has resulted in increased cost per head, which has in turn resulted in even poorer support on subsequent trips. Thus we may compare the first coach trip of the club to G. B. Swallet at which 31 of our members attended, with the first trip of this term at which only eleven attended and the fare had to be subsidised at 2/6 a head, and with the second trip this term to Derbyshire, which, if it had been held, would have cost upwards of two pounds per head. It will be a pity if these coach trips have to be excluded from our programmes as they offer the best initiation to caving for newcomers and are generally more convenient than our other types of meet.
With regard to the club's tackle, there has been no improvement to this important item since this time last year. We have been unable to dig anything out of the University chest and at present our funds will not stand the initial cost. There are signs that the purchase of materials will be made in the not too distant future but it is still too early to say just when.
As this concludes my term of office I would like to say a warm "Thank you" to all those whose loyal support has kept the club going since its formation in 1957 and trust your new Hon. Sec. will enjoy the job and friendship as much as I have.
P W Crabtree