History of ‘Old Mateys’

A very brief History of ‘Old Mateys’

It all started in the early 1960s when a number of lads from Bristol Technical School took an interest in underground exploration.

Ken Higgs joined SVCC; Phil Kingston joined The BEC; the rest of us were just independent explorers.  We used to visit various places local to our school – at that time (if you knew where to look) there were a number of bombed out buildings with very interesting large underground basements – and other exciting places such as Redcliffe caves.  We used to explore these with a lit paraffin rag on a stick – as generally, at that time electric torches were feeble & unreliable…

We gave a Caving presentation to the School class & even had a bat (which we had obtained from the old mines at Dundry) to show everyone!

As time progressed – so did we & were soon making our own ladders & exploring the Caves at Burrington & Priddy.  Ken Higgs pointed out the way from Shatter towards Swildons 4 & a Trip to 4 was at the time quite hard.  We had no wet-suits – only carbide lamps and the forty foot pot to contend with… (Somehow, we survived a number of mishaps – & learned a lot from hard won experience..)

Some of us were in our own private Club (CIO) which had about 10 members. Having done many of the Mendip Caves & quite a few caves in Devon ; Wales; Derbyshire; Yorkshire – we progressed & in later years – Phil with his son’s Rob & Mark have visited many caves throughout UK, Europe & the US.

A few years ago:-  Rob introduced Andy Snook (was Wessex & Chelsea) to caving….

Now over 40 years later us caving friends : Ian,Dud & Phil are together again & now caving under our new club name:  ‘Old Matey’s Caving Club’.    Duds wife Sam also comes underground with us & takes most of the Clubs photographs.   Phils wife – Maureen;  a non-caver – is a further asset to the Club & usefully acts as surface support.

On some trips – guests Bob & Maurice and Ians lads Robert, Kieron and Mickey join us as well.  Photos: – Top : Rob & Mark (young – but already skilled cavers) in Yorkshire 1980s – and below – very wet – Meander cave South Wales.

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