A Club Meet.

A club photograph - it had never been done before; would it be a historic document, or Just the few keen members turning up?

So I stood at the entrance shaft of Lancaster Hole trying to remember how to tie a bowline - it had been 14 years since I was last underground! Now S.R.T. ropes were down with the ladders, and their users descent was much swifter than mine. Jim Newton was determined that I should not fall off, and my cries of “Slack”, “Slack” went unheeded. Paul (my son) followed, he also had the same difficulties, we have since realised that 7-8 stone cavers don’t pull on the line, like the rest of you able bodied men. (Where were they? Ed.)
As Paul had never seen the Colonnades, Pete Llewellyn and Bernard Taylor escorted us, for him to inspect the epoxy resin joint. Then back to the slow moving column, many of whom I had been drinking with the night before at the Monster Raving party. It might have been the late night, or the excesses of alcohol, but some of the party were very slow moving and perspired just a little.

We stopped at Bob’s Boss for me to be Jim’s photographic model, and to allow Tony Tanner to lay down and rest. Many of the climbs were very greasy and slippery and this caused a few holdups. The estimated time of arrival of 2 o’clock at Stop Pot was certainly underestimated - by about two hours. But as the camera man, Ron Bliss was in our party we knew nothing would happen until we arrived.

Cheer and jeer of “What kept you” and “Why are we waiting” greeted us as we joined the ‘early birds’. After exchanging friendly abuse, we grouped together hoping that our combined weight would not cause a land slide. To light the chamber and all the posers, Ron had brought 1/2 a bottle of flash powder - it was to be a great Victorian snapshot. A quick count by Tom Sykes totaled at least 41 bodies: some had even paid their subs. At last Jim and a dehydrated president arrived, and we were all asked to turn our lights out.
FLASH  A loud cheer and excited chatter as all realised that we had taken part in a very unique event. A cloud of smoke slowly crept across the roof towards us, and we made a mad rush for the stream and a swift exit.

Tom Sykes had decided to cave in his running shoes, and had no problems with the mud on the way in. He also did rather well on the way out except fort missing the turning and started up the Snake to Oxford Pot entrance. A slight diversion. But soon we were smelling the sweet fresh air, and we sat at the entrance of County Pot as bodies popped out of the shaft like rabbits out of a hat. Chaz Frankland led some more members down the gill, they had used the Wretched Rabbit entrance.

It had been a club meet to end all club meets, a fitting climax for 40 years of the Red Rose.

Sandra Wilkinson.

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