Progress at Babysitters'

May Day Bank Holiday 98

by Clark Friend

Photo by Chris Grimmett

Pwll Meillionen (ex-Babysitters' Dig) AGM weekend 1998.

(Is that Welsh for 'Millenium Proof?' Ed.)

This year the weather was very amenable to digging. The problem was how to get the dig operational after the torrents of rain that had filled the bottom with more than a drop of water - some 13 feet to be exact. The exercise started in fettling one of the gas pumps to run by venting to the surface. The modifications, based upon the successful winch exhaust, were carried out. These mods involved brazing a piece of bent copper gas pipe onto an appropriate connector and inserting this lengthened exhaust into the outlet. The route to the surface was to be via some suitable rubber hose using the principle that the winch exhaust is so cool you can hold it. Ha, ha. The kit was duly transported in triumph to the dig in the back of SA's vehicle.

There was less water than we had envisaged and the pump and gas fuel bottle were duly inserted down the hole, hanging on various bits of string. The pump was started and primed, but it only managed to lift to about 10 feet before it reached equilibrium and gave up. So, those that had assured us that it could lift water over the cottages were not entirely truthful. The exhaust on the surface was a great success, for a time, but at the connection the rubber hose was getting rather warm and the pressure eventually blew it off the rather warm copper pipe. So much for comparisons with the winch - OK, so it is steel and less conductive. Also, very strange smelling white smoke was issuing at the surface. Ummmmm ....... back to the drawing board.

It was decided that pumps were a washout and we resorted to the nominal 34 litre Grimmett buckets to haul the water out conventionally on the Sunday. After c. 140 buckets the bottom was dry and real digging was started - one token bucket. The collapse at the western end of a large rock flake (intentionally not interfered with) was not as bad as it might have been. The way was prepared for a good bash. The Monday saw CG and CF off at the crack of dawn to commence operations. They managed to attack the largest portions with Bosch technology and then to glare at it sufficiently sternly for it to shatter into bits. Certainly not a silent process as the proprietary name would suggest. There was than a short hiatus while the atmosphere became a little less heady in which time more help arrived in the form of SA and GC to be joined later by BC. It was not long before the chunks into which the boulders had been persuaded were lifted out by the winch and more buckets of spoil were on the way up.

Now that the whole of the floor has been cleared of debris it is simply (!?) a matter of commencing progress downwards. The calculations from previous efforts still seem to be acceptable:

The general dip of the limestone in the area is about 13 to the SSW and the observed base of the Carboniferous Limestone is at c. 460m, on the tramroad. The location of the dig topographically is at c. 500m and some 180 - 200 m horizontally away from the position of the boundary. The vertical depth of limestone under the dig is, therefore, some 81.6 m. As we are down just over 12 m, there is still great potential - (witness Steel Drum dig)!