Caustic Comment

At the time that I am writing this brief note for inclusion in the BB we are lucky to have a very fine meeting place in Old Market. But there is some doubt as to the future. I should like to point out to certain persons that it is totally unneccessary for them to prove that they can walk on the newly painted walls; that we are all aware that the peculiar protuberance in the stairs will, if moved control the stairs lights, and that acting like a ten, year old child is not in the best interests of the club. It is no doubt amusing to do these things, but why not keep them for home or would Mummy smack ?

It is indeed a pity that so much of the comment that I send to the BB is of this nature but I feel that it is in the best interests of the organisation that such things are nipped in the bud, and we still keep our room, than the childishness of a very small minority closes the place to us.

Old Timer

Good News comes from Penguin Books

They have published “Ten Years under the Earth”, Casteret’s classic.  The number is 846T and the price is 2/6.  This places the book within the reach of all and, for those who haven’t read it, I advise you to dive into your pocket and invest in a copy.


Whilst on the subject, there are three more books in the Club Library.

Cave Science No. 20.  April 1952.

Underground Adventure by Gemmel and Myers (Recently reviewed by Pongo).

Cave Hunting by Boyd Dawkins.



No!  You’re wrong!  It’s the ‘British Caver’.  Vol. 23 of this unique cave Journal is to be published this month.  The cost is 7/6 or a ream of 10×8 paper.  From: – G. Platten, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants.

Committee Ballot.

All nomination forms MUST reach Assist. Hon. Sec. BEFORE Dec. 1st. 1952.  Items for inclusion in the Agenda for the Annual General Meeting are asked for.  This is the time that the lads with bright ideas usually fold their tents and steal away.  This year let the club have the benefit of your ideas.  It is your club and welcomes any ideas that you may have for its betterment.

Heard in Swildons Old Grotto!

Lady Caver, (Novice): ‘This is the first time I’ve had such a wet backside since I was four years old’.

Noises Off

I was sitting in the Hunters the other Friday Night having a nogging and chatting with a few locals when I commented that I was surprised that nobody had ever complained about motor transport arriving noisily and late at the Belfry and other such noisy goings-on.  To which one of the locals replied that he, maintain that a nod is as good as a wink, and Belfry users would do well to respect the tolerance with which we get treated.


More Belfry Birds

By Unknown Observer.

Though I am not exactly an authority on the subject of wild bird life, there are a few varieties of the semi-domesticated birds which I feel have escaped the notice of Mr. Hannam.  This being so, I will endeavour to bring these interesting fact to the wandering attention of the long-suffering readers of the Belfry bulletin.

As with Mr. Hannam, I find that these birds can roughly be divided into four groups.  i.e.:-

·         Permanent Residents;

·         Summer Residents;

·         Winter Residents;

·         Passage Migrants;

Having the least to say about the Passage Migrants (and the least said, the better) I will start with this group.

Passage Migrants generally arrive in hordes or droves usually about the months of June to August, and are easily identified by their shrill chatter and their exceedingly industrious habits.  One very prominent part in the life of these birds is the strange way in which they march in single file to the Mineries Pool, where they display their ungainly bodies with contortions quite unbelievable to most people, and at the same time utter short sharp barks of utter joy.

They are often to be found making great preparations for underground explorations, sport of which they seem inordinately fond.  They always take enormous quantities of equipment with them on these journeys; one family of these birds was even suspected of taking a calor-gas stove, but I am not prepared to corroborate this statement.

Now to Summer Residents.  There is a charming and bewildering assortment of birds in this category.

Number one on our list is the Hairy-Legged Horror, which is notable for its habit of standing on the edge of the Mineries Pool and thrusting one foot into the water, at the same time emitting a particular raucous scream.  These birds have even been known to get into the water and swim.

There is also a species known as the Rosy-Rumped Snooper, which only comes out when there is no one around and discards all its plumage whilst in the water.  Several well known varieties in this group are the Observant Stroller and the Watcher-from-the-Bushes.  This last named has a peculiar whistle easily mistaken for that of the Lone-wolf, which is also a Summer Resident.  There is no need to be more explicit about this bird!

There are not so many Winter Residents for obvious reasons.  One of these, however, which is of great interest, is the Mountain Messer.  This bird migrates during the summer to more mountainous districts, but comes home to the Belfry during most of the winter.  It sometimes gets an urge to see another mountain about Christmas time, and usually a small school of these birds disappear for about a week and return refreshed in time for the New Year.  This bird can easily be recognised by his extremely large feet, which have nail-like protuberances on the soles.  He likes to smoke a pipe, and often has a furry collar about his neck like a vulture.

Another Winter Resident is the Huddle-Bird.  This bird has a complaining, high-pitched whine, and screams continuously if the door is left open.

The last bird I would like to name in this category is the Brimstone-Heller.  This is an inquisitive bird.  As no-one, has ever seen it, I cannot describe it; neither can I repeat the other names I have heard it called by less particular bird-watchers.  Its main fault lies in the habit it has of transferring blankets from one nest to another.  (Usually its own).

Permanent Residents.  At last we come to that noble though oft despised bird the Speed Fiend.  This naturally ugly bird is always to be found at any time of the year, in and around the Belfry area of the Mendips.  He has an uncommonly hard head, a terrifically thick skin, and belongs to the same family as the Mountain Messer previously mentioned.  He flies at a tremendous speed around the countryside with a predatory gleam in his large glassy eyes.  His arm always spread out motionless before him, the ragged ends of which resemble outstretched hands.  (On closer inspection it will be observed that they are outstretched hands).  These birds have been described as a menace to the community; they don’t mean any harm, however, they just like to scare the lives out of people for a bit of fun.

The Snogger is the next bird I will describe.  The habits of the Snogger are well known to you all.  These birds roam in pairs, especially on dark nights, and, like the Stonechat in Mr. Hannam’s article, frequently nest among the gorse bushes on North Hill.

Two kinds of bird who are very well known in the Hunters Lodge area are the Late Songster and the Tippler; the harsh but not untuneful call of these birds is probably familiar to all visitors to the Hunters Lodge Inn.

The Songster, once heard, is quite unforgettable; his songs, however are quite unrepeatable.  The Tippler sits quietly and morosely, hovering over his beer, alternating the songs of the Late Songster with a low-pitched rumble of appreciation.  These fine specimens are to be found around the Belfry.

Being a coward as well as a bird watcher, I prefer to remain anonymous, therefore I sign myself,

Unknown Observer.

Building a Belfry

By Tony Johnson.

Part 2.

In searching for a new site one is always after something more convenient than the last, but compromises are inevitable.  In our case a fine new site is found 100 yards from the old one as the crow flies, but in the wrong direction, i.e. towards Eastwater and away from the Hunters Lodge.  As the journey appears to be about 10 miles by road, a tractor and trailer are wooed with pint pots and the thing becomes a practical proposition practically.  But, before moving house, the constitution of the new site must be explored. Careful analysis showed this to be: -tufts of grass 20 p.c.; mud, ditto; bog 40 p.c., with one ditch – tractors, for the falling in of, and a population of 2.5 frogs per sq. yard.

As the bulk transport and assembly of pre-fab. homes was then all the rage, it was decided to move with the times, and, accordingly, the hut was sawn into lengths for easy transport.  Unfortunately, the large mobile crane did not materialise and the sections were loaded with dexterous use of oil drums and scaffold poles.  We were blessed the day with a lady driver which probably accounts for the valiant attempts by two motor coaches from John O’Groats via Abermule, to climb the roadside wall in their excitement. Of the re-erection, suffice it to say that the three sections were slid off and shunted into position, to be tied together temporarily with wire, as will be seen to the present day.

About this time a calor-gas cooker appears slowly on the scene, prompted by an alarming increase in fatalities due to primus explosions as a rate of 2.68 fires a week.  But, the more spacious site didn’t really ease our overcrowding difficulties, and a large abode was really needed.  So what did we do?  No!  We didn’t buy the Skylon.  Instead we bribed the Stanbury Spy Service with petrol coupons, and an unwanted army hut appeared at Plymouth.  Here some bright bod covered himself in glory, for the first report was so detailed that it was possible for the foundations to be ready for the hut before it was even bought.  (That was Angus.  Ed,).  If I may digress a moment on the subject of foundations; the initial requirements are for a series of symmetrical pillars built level on concrete bases.  Actually what one gets is a series of haphazard dollops of ‘concrete’ puddled into place by George Lucy and our venerable Hut Warden, who were both in their element.  On these dollops are erected a series of rough towers a la Pisa, built of bricks from derelict and not so derelict buildings.

The actual dismantling and transport of the new hut is a closed book to yours truly, but one hears rumours of a certain person falling into a water tank 50ft. in the air, plus a lot of glib talk about sheep and pressurised stoves, so perhaps the truth may leak out yet.  Suffice to say that the thing was tipped in bits on to the site along with certain bodies.

(to be continued)

Part three will be included in the Xmas number if it is received in time.  Ed.


R.J. BAGSHAW,        Hon. Gen. Sec. 56, Ponsford  Road, Bristol. 4.
K. DOBBS,                Hon. Assist. Gen. Sec. 55, Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4.
J.W. Ifold,                   Hon. Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.
M. Hamam,                Caving Sec. 14. Vyvyan Terrace, Bristo1.8.
A. Setterington,          Hut Warden, 21, Priorswood Road, Taunton, Somt.
P. Ifold,                      Climbing Sec., 60, Ashley Down Road, Bristol. 7.
T.H. Stanbury,            Hon, Editor, B.B.  74, Woodleigh Gardens, Whitchurch, Bristol.


Please send contributions, large of small, to the Hon. Editor at the address above, or hand them in to any committee man.


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registered in England and Wales as a co-operative society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered no. 4934.