Author Topic: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968  (Read 1293 times)

Offline The Old Ruminator

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The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« on: June 26, 2018, 09:43:59 am »
Well its 50 years come July that this happened and hopefully others can add their memories. Peter G has written an account for Descent and I may well come back with more.

To start here is our entry in the CSS log.

"Wedn  10/7/68
Pete G ,Nick Chip, Pete Rose visited the entrance of Downhead swallet and Bottlehead slocker ,then to Swildons Hole .Sat in the Queen Vic for the rain to stop, then went down Swildons at 2pm. Unrolled ladders  at the 40 foot, and looked at the stream to see if it was rising! Decided to exit -out by 3pm. It rained as soon as we got to Maines Barn. It rained all the way back home
footnote ….Wedn pm ...40 foot had disappeared. Swildons filled to the roof in the upper series. Straw everywhere in the roof. "

Offline tony from suffolk

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 10:04:22 am »
Sadly, none of us had the foresight to write logbooks in those days, but I do remember going down Swildon's on the Friday(?) afterwards. At the time we had no idea what had happened down the cave, but I can remember seeing all the staw dangling down from the roof of the Old Grotto (it stayed there for quite a while afterwards). The chap in front of me went around the corner at the junction with the Wet Way, and uttered a surprised shout. What had happened to the Water Rift? We were amazed, and followed the new passage down, not knowing if there was a way onwards. Another surprise as we found ourselves at the bottom of the old "Forty". Large sections of the streamway down to the sump were unrecognisable, and I nearly drowned when diving through - the bottom of the sump had been scoured away & I got caught up under an undercut on the far side. Pretty scary at the time.

There were many rumours about discoveries of gold coins and jewellery in the rubble created when the road in Velvet Bottom was washed away. We went to investigate (naturally), and I remember seeing what was to become Grebe Swallet looking like some giant plughole - it must have taken a hell of a lot of water.

The devastation this flood caused was quite astonishing, a remarkable event indeed.
"Aim low, achieve your goals, avoid disappointment"

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 10:18:54 am »
A friend of mine fell down the Forty and sustained serious injuries. No name as he is a prominent caver but I still have the press cutting. :halo:

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 10:23:00 am »
I think we were saved by divine intervention. :halo: There was no change in stream level that I remember and if there was a safe haven at Barnes Loop or the upper levels. In thousands of trips it was the only time I have abandoned a caving trip for no reason. I am convinced it was some sort of premonition. When I got home the flood level was by my mother's front gate. Never seen before.

Offline Laurie

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 10:37:50 am »
On my first ever caving trip to Mendip (with Martyn Beales) in the summer of '68 we attempted Swildons on Sunday morning only to find a person at the head of the Forty Foot instructing us to go no further.
Some weeks later we returned and descended via the Twenty Foot.
Sadly I don't remember the dates of either trip.
MNRC

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2018, 01:15:10 pm »
Odd that the Thailand rescue ended today. Its 50 years today that we just escaped from Swildons during the great Mendip storm. I have tried to get underground today but had no other takers. I actually went on my own last week but only to retrieve the drill battery down Vurley. This hot weather seems to be a great put off for caving.

I took this photo of my own village of Trull near Taunton on the day after the flood. Undeterred we were down Little Neath River Cave on the 13th July and OFD on the 14th.

image upload

Mr O' Doc has added his reminiscences in the forthcoming issue of Descent.

Offline mikem

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2018, 08:25:06 am »
Recent issues of Mendip Times have had various articles about the flood, including Phil Hendy's caving column:
http://mendiptimes.co.uk

The BEC logbook for 1968 seems to be missing, but someone was staying at the Wessex that night (& there are further reports on following pages):
http://www.mcra.org.uk/logbooks/index.php?display=Wessex%20Cave%20Club%2F1967-1969%2F061.jpg

Mike
« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 08:34:13 am by mikem »

Offline mikem

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2018, 09:10:45 am »
Chris Richards reported that Mr Tucker's grotto in the Upper Series wasn't inundated & Clive North took photos down there shortly after:
http://www.mcra.org.uk/logbooks/index.php?display=acg%2FBook%203%20-%20Jul%201968%20to%20Aug%201969%2FPage%20011.jpg

Mike
« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 09:23:51 am by mikem »

Offline martinr

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2018, 11:03:18 am »
Mendip Caving Group archive account of the Great Flood and discovery of the three flood swallets (upper, middle, lower) based on MCG Log Book entries and MCG Newsletters of the time.

http://mcgarchive.uk/sections/upperflood/history_02.html

http://mcgarchive.uk/sections/upperflood/history_03.html

A fuller version of the exploration of UFS edited by Charlie Allison can be found at http://mcgarchive.uk/sections/upperflood/occpub4.html

The MCG cottage was only a very short distance from Velvet Bottom, so although both the WCC (lead by Willie Stanton) and MCG (led by Malcolm Cotter) started the exploration of Upper Flood Swallet independently, MCG maintained a continuous interest in the dig thanks to the determination of Malcolm Cotter and made the major breakthroughs many years later

Offline mikem

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2018, 06:31:35 pm »
The MCG logbooks also record visits to Waterwheel (Middle Flood, although it was initially referred to as Upper Flood before UFS was discovered), Manor Farm, Cheddar Gorge and Longwood, as well as Swildons in the week after.

The entrance of Lower Flood (Grebe) was a pool until it suddenly drained, surprising a little Grebe that was swimming around in it...

Mike

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2018, 05:38:05 pm »
Mendip Caving Group archive account of the Great Flood and discovery of the three flood swallets (upper, middle, lower) based on MCG Log Book entries and MCG Newsletters of the time.

http://mcgarchive.uk/sections/upperflood/history_02.html

http://mcgarchive.uk/sections/upperflood/history_03.html

A fuller version of the exploration of UFS edited by Charlie Allison can be found at http://mcgarchive.uk/sections/upperflood/occpub4.html

The MCG cottage was only a very short distance from Velvet Bottom, so although both the WCC (lead by Willie Stanton) and MCG (led by Malcolm Cotter) started the exploration of Upper Flood Swallet independently, MCG maintained a continuous interest in the dig thanks to the determination of Malcolm Cotter and made the major breakthroughs many years later

We interviewed Willie Stanton prior to his death and his version of events is different! His methodical approach to digging resulted in him not being credited with one or two discoveries! I have the interview but it needs tidying up before it can be placed as an audio archive. The only section of the interview  I have placed in the archive is that describing how he crossed the Black Hole in Swildons for the first tie.

Offline martinr

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2018, 09:09:27 pm »


We interviewed Willie Stanton prior to his death and his version of events is different! His methodical approach to digging resulted in him not being credited with one or two discoveries! .....


I'm not disputing that.
MCG agree that the early breakthroughs were by WS and his Reservoir Hole team. I was saying MCG's continuous interest in Blackmoor/UFS from 1954 finally paid off many years later with the discovery of the mainstream by Tony Knibbs et al and then the big stuff beyond easySqueeze by Julie Hesketh et al

Offline mikem

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Re: The Great Mendip Flood of July 1968
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2018, 07:17:44 am »
The 1970 Wessex booklet on the flood is available 2nd hand, but most copies seem to be in USA currently...

Mike

Offline mikem

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