Letters to the Editor

When you wrote your editorial for Pelobates No 68, you doubtless expected a response from one of the Club's reactionary old farts. I am happy to oblige.

Whilst I welcome the fact that people from so many parts of the country have chosen to join Croydon Caving Club, I still see it as being essentially a south-east based club. I think your analysis based on 0171/0181 phone numbers is rather narrow. In these days of motorised mobility a more regional view is justified. My analysis of the 1995 membership list shows that 59% are based in the south-east. If you add in the four members who normally work in the south-east but have home addresses elsewhere, the proportion rises to over 64%. Admittedly, if one looks at the Committee it looks more like a 50:50 split. But again, adjusting for where people work it becomes 75:25 in favour of the south-east (and one of the three people who constitute the 25% is the South Wales Rep who lives, as one would expect, in the principality).

You also suggest that "the focus" (my emphasis) is now South Wales. People seem to have been saying this since Easter 1970 when the Club first became tenants of Pen Fathor Isaf. I am pleased to say that whilst South Wales may have become a focus for the Club's activities, we still retain a wide range of other interests. Evidence for this can be found in Pelobates 68: the Caving Diary lists 5 south-east mines meets, 4 South Wales meets and 4 meets to other parts of the country (Box, Devon, Mendip and Yorkshire). The articles show a similar wide geographical spread: 2 on south-east mines, 2 on France, 1 on Spain and a letter on Yorkshire compared to I article and 1 letter which both relate, obliquely in the ease of the article, to the same incident in South Wales.

Another point that I would make in favour of retaining the name Croydon Caving Club is that Croydon is a recognised centre for the South London/North Surrey area. Given the millions of people who live and/or work in this area, it should he able to sustain a caving club. The nearest alternatives of which I am aware are Wealden Cave & Mine Society, presumably representing an area which geography places primarily in Kent and East Sussex, and Westminster Spcleological Group and Chelsea Speleological Society, both of which are north of the Thames. I would contend therefore that if Croydon Caving Club ceased to exist, it would be necessary, at some future date, to recreate it.

Finally I would point out that, after 31 years with the same name, Croydon is fairly well known in caving circles. This "fame" extends beyond our caving exploits and provision of accommodation in South Wales. It includes discoveries in Ireland, Switzerland and Spain (where there is a plaque to CCC on a show cave first discovered by the Club). Some other cavers even know us because of the strangely named magazine that we produce!

Hence it seems to me that, whilst we must always be alive to changing circumstances, to give up the name Croydon Caving Club at this time would be about as sensible as changing the name of the Coldstream Guards just because their soldiering is no longer focused on the border town of that name.

Martin Hatton


Just a short note to give you sonic news - another breakthrough - about 700m long with a 20m pitch. Unfortunately most of it is less than 30cm wide! Well it's not quite that bad. The site is B8b at the southern end of Knockauras Mountain and was the end result of a lot of research and thought but only about 4 hours digging. I got into the entrance last October but stopped where the narrow canyon went round some severe bends. I went in again on Good Friday with Brian Judd. His light went out straight away so he couldn't see how bad the bends were and went round them! A couple more squeezes and we came to a small chamber with 5 ways leading off. The first half of the cave is reasonably sized but meanders incredibly and many of the meanders are inclined making for interesting caving. There are some fabulous curtains aswell. The second half is tight and then gets tighter and then starts meandering. Finally it cuts through a couple of chert beds and drops 20m in a big open pot that leads to a sump. It is very similar in many ways to PollOniega but the water goes south to Poll Cloghaun (not Oughdara as UBSS reckon).

The problem now is that I have to survey it or even find someone else to go/fit into it! But it was great excitement for a while and hopefully the start of a few more finds.

Colin Bunce