Letters to the Editor

Merstham Mines - Chaldon Bottom

During the course of this last year, a number of changes have taken place in the workings as a few small roof and pillar collapses have occured due to heavy rain. All persons using the mines should be aware that there is a continual slow deterioration of the pillars, stone and wooden props or other supports. There has also been some movement of the boulder choke near No 8 entrance such that the crawl into the small chamber is now a tight squeeze. WCMS intend to put out warning notices on either side of the choke. However there is a longer term decision to be made in respect of the collapsing choke, and there are two options available; either to remove rocks from the middle of the choke until a route over the top is clear, or to continue the bypass that was started some 18 months ago by WCMS. This would involve digging through some 15 to 20 metres of backfill and could be dug from both ends. Anyone interested in being involved in this worthwhile local project should contact either myself or Mathew Clark of WCMS.

Don Wood

Cottage News and Plans for 1994

It is hoped to complete the installation of an oil fired central heating system by the end of the summer. Oil has been chosen as it is currently the cheapest available fuel and the system will cost virtually nothing to put in. Work has already started with the siting of the oil tank donated by Allan Ockenden. The boiler, which is being donated by Colin Grange, will hopefully be located where the gas bottles are (these will be moved to where the wood is stored) so that it can be connected to the existing system with relative ease. All of the pumps/controls have already been obtained and an electronic timer will be used to run the boiler for one or two hours at a time. This has proved effective in other caving huts and avoids fuel being wasted when people are out. There will also be a 7 day timer so that the boiler can be set to come on at say 8pm on Fridays in the winter. The coal fired boiler will be retained as a back up.

Two new bunk mattresses have been bought as part of the replacement program. I am also looking at the possibility of buying fitted sheets to cover the other bunk mattresses as this would greatly reduce the wear and tear on them and would also improve the appearance of the bunk rooms. If anyone knows of a cheap source of supply, please let me know (they need to be 2'6" in width and dark in colour). Pillows and pillow cases are also required as some of the existing ones are starting to look very grimy.

It is intended to organise the usual week in Wales at the end of May or beginning of June. This year will hopefully provide a chance to get back into Ogof Igam Ogam to continue attempts to pass sump 4. Now that an electric drill is available, it may be possible to reduce the water levels in the sumps to make it easier to get in. Some maintenance work will also be needed on the cottage, mostly painting/spring cleaning, but nothing like the last three years.

There are some plans to build a temporary outside toilet/shower in the form of a lean to. We have most of the parts for this, but nothing has so far been done, mostly due to lack of time, but also because the area has recently been crawling with local authority planning people associated with the attempt to build opposite. This is still ongoing. The application has apparently been revised to two houses with access from the side road by the New Inn, which I suppose is an improvement on the previous plan.

Other items required include small saucepans, trees/shrubs to replace the ones that were 'pruned', spades (not shovels), a long handled axe, a replacement wheel barrow (the handle has broken off the current one), more cheerful curtains and a microwave oven.

Some other caving huts have apparently started to make a loss recently due to reduced demand from visitors. This trend may also have started to affect Godre Pentre as there were very few bookings last July to September. This was however offset by a doubling in mid-week bookings, but these do not often repeat the following year. Student bookings are also thought to be under threat as grants are reduced, and there is already some evidence to support this. There is therefore a need for members to promote the cottage to potential visitors whenever the opportunity arises. It also emphasises the need to maintain the competitiveness of the cottage in terms of facilities and appearance (ie. keeping the grot at bay!).

Chris Crowley