Voices from the Past

Extracts from a letter from Harry Bewes, one of
our honorary members.

Dear Friends,

let me apologise for not writing this before to thank you for the newsletters etc. Iím afraid I have joined the Gunners for a while. Gunner do this and gunner do that and not getting anything done. Reading them I realised how much things have changed since I was an active member, the number of members is one example. I can remember Ron Bliss, Jim Lyre, Jim Newton, Wilf Taylor, Roland Johnson, Pete Kitchen, Ken Pollit, Bill Leyland and myself were the most we could muster for quite a while. We had others come and go, one from the Barrow area came and went on to become a Buddhist and wrote about the caves out East. Equipment, ours would have had you probably in stitches. A wetsuit, this was a dry suit going through a watery crawl. Harnesses were left for the horses and ladders were wooden rungs on rope with a good support on either side. On using one with supports on one side of the rung only Jim Lyre told us to mind the first step, it was a big one. That was from about twenty foot down.

We used to catch the bus from Ingleton or Kirkby Lonsdale and then walk with the 50 foot coils on our backs. We thought nothing of it at the time, I donít think much of it now either!

We became associated with Bullpot Farm In a rather funny way. Going up to do some hole in Easegill we traveled to Kirkby Lonsdale on the Saturday afternoon and walked up (after a few drinks) to Gale Garth which at that time was used only as a fodder store for the sheep. We decided to kip down for the night in the warm hay. We were woken Sunday morning by a giant with a pitchfork, Walter Pearson from Bullpot. Someone must have been a very persuasive talker as he became a good friend of the club. Eventually he allowed us to use the back room at Bullpot and picking us up in the Land Rover from Kirkby Lonsdale.

Things improved as we slowly changed over to electron ladders, very light compared to rope and taking less space. As for lights, very technical, a 4.5V battery with two screw terminals wrapped in insulation tape and wired to the front piece of a cycle lamp fastened to your helmet by one and a half inch of elastic! The deluxe versions had a switch. Carbide lamps along with cold water were only used to help stop bodies sticking in tight passages (the threat usually being enough).Ron Bliss had a big impact on the photography side although it took time, five minutes for the photo and half an hour for the smoke to clear. I still have quite a few of Ronís 81W photos, mostly about forty years old but still good.

I probably will not get the chance to meet any of you as I had three heart attacks in four days last year shortly after being made redundant for the third time. Since I was greedy, not being satisfied with one attack, theyíve advised me not to drive, so I rely on my family when it comes to trips out, or the bus. May I take this opportunity to give my regards to all members and I hope the club carries on going from strength to strength.


Harry Bewes

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