Exploration Club, The Belfry,
Editor: John Williams
1995 – 1996 Committee
Hon. Sec. Nigel
Treasurer Chris Smart
Caving Sec. Jeff Price
Hut Warden Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer Estelle Sandford
B.B. Editor John Williams
Disclaimer And Apology
Due to the facts that
computer is down and I’m using Dick-Freds on very short notice
I have to get this to the printers tonight or it won’t be out in time
have been in hospital all day and have bugger all time left. ..
there is no contents page ….
There is little other than the committee reports for you to
read in the small room
I can only apologise for the above.
I had wanted to do a decent sized issue but alas this is not
Hopefully the next issue and editor will make up for this.
Regards to all ……. Jingles.
So we reach the final BB of the club year – which follows
the last in quick succession due to the fact that I want to print the committee
reports and thus save hours of waffle at the AGM. (Well that’s the theory anyway).
Of note this time is the fact that Sean Chaffey and Sharon
Penney – have got married…. congratulations go to them, along with my
apologies for not making the festivities. This due to the fact that I was organising
Pete Mulholland’s stag night. Although not a BEC member Pete is known to
many of us through the Grampian connection. A strippagram was ordered for him at the Wessex …. Mike York
thoroughly enjoyed it!!
Best wishes to Pete and Myrna.
J-Rat, Jane, Babs & Jeff have been in the states at the
International Speleo symposium thingy, doubtless we’ll hear all about it upon
their return. As well as the planned
trip to Carlsbad Cavern.
On the digging front, Alex Gee continues to progress in
Wookey 22 up some godforsaken aven he’s happily been blasting the buggery out
of, he tells me its looking good.
There is still interest in upstream Wigmore from Blakey
& Co and there seems to have been quite a few Priddy Green – Swildon’s
round trips going on.
Brian Prewer tells me that the pumping station is now on
permanently so this will affect the water levels in Swildon’s Hole i.e. they
will now be low.
The tackle situation is a bit dicey at the moment (See also
Tacklemaster’s report) and I would appeal to any members who have club tackle
to please return it ASAP.
Can I remind you that I will need Dinner orders for the club
dinner as soon as possible in order to confirm numbers with the hostelry
management? The order forms were on the
back page of the last BB which you will have received a couple of weeks ago.
I can’t think of anything further at present save to say
that this is probably my last editorial – I’ll actually miss doing these
believe it or not!!
I don’t know if ‘Spike’ has anything further to say as he
hasn’t been in touch for a while. Maybe
he’ll give me something before I go to press.
Anyway regards to one and all, see you at the AGM.
Good Caving ……… Jingles.
Hut Engineers Report
We have attempted to have four working weekends this year.
The first one had five people turn up, and the hut was well
The second one was cancelled due to poor publicity and bad
The third one was a great success, 17 people turned up and
we managed to paint the main room, corridor and outside walls, fit two windows,
(almost in one piece!!), the washing bay (or patio!!) was finally concreted,
only a year later), the guest bunk-room door was temporarily repaired and the
place was generally tidied up. The
barbecue (organised by Mr N.) was much appreciated.
The fourth one was really well supported!! One non-member turned up in the morning and
fitted the new shower, (only two years after it was bought) – many thanks
Steve, and welcome to the club. A couple
of others helped after lunch to clean the hut up.
Many thanks to the 19 individuals who turned up to help on
the various working weekends, your work was much appreciated. (19 out of the total memberships not many is
There are still plenty of jobs that still need doing in the
The priorities are:
Treating & Painting the main
Treating or painting all the
Fixing the felt on the porch
Rear barge-boards (repair or
Replace the two fire-doors
Fit a ‘fence’ around the boiler
Tidy up workshop
Tidy up tackle shed
Fit new cistern for toilet by
Kitchen plumbing on gas rings
Fit the rest of the kitchens
surfaces with stainless steal
Some of these jobs really need doing this side of the
If anyone can supply any materials for any of the above
jobs, please let me or next years hut engineer know.
Just remember whose club it is, it doesn’t repair itself!
Membership Secretaries Report
Firstly I would like to thank all those members of the club
who have managed to excel themselves in paying late again this year, causing me
no end of irritation and headaches trying to get the membership list as
complete as it can be at the time the B.B. goes to press. Yet some of you who pay late then moan you
don’t get your B.B’s on time if at all. Oh dear, how sad, what a shame I say.
New membership cards were finally issued. It seems that the S.W.C.C will not be letting
anybody down O.F.D. if they are not a member of a recognised caving club so you
can show it to them if they don’t believe you. There are various other organisations you can claim exchange rights for
and a membership card should ease any dispute to this.
This year I was looking at changing the cut off date for
renewing your membership to the end of the year, only to find after consulting
the clubs constitution that it already had been reduced by a previous A.G.M.
and that in fact I had been allowing some of you to receive the clubs excellent
magazine many months after you should have. This won’t be happening again if I get re-elected. If you haven’t paid your subs by the end of
the year you will get no more B.B.’s after the Christmas issue.
Unfortunately we had another spot of bother with members
going beyond what the committee feel to be the level of decent behaviour and
the committee had to suspend three members of the club, one of whom was a
probationer. One of those suspensions
has now been removed, the other two sill being in force until they present
themselves before the committee. I am
happy to report that one of the suspensions from last year has been removed
earlier than its expiry date because of the good conduct of the member
In general I suppose membership things have been quiet, we
had a bit of a blitz with six new members joining the club in the first two
months of the year and one more joining at the August committee meeting so I
hope you will extend a warm welcome to them all. Yet we have an overall drop in membership
because there have been more lapses in renewal than new membership
applications. At the time of writing
this report we have 148 paid up and Life members.
I am still looking for a computerised database package which
will ease the handling of name and address details and the production of
membership lists, so if any of you computer buffs out there have any ideas
please let me know I am always open to suggestions.
I will close now with many apologies for the length of this
report and my thanks to J-Rat for the sterling job he does in distributing the
B.B,’s for free reducing the overall cost to the club of the production of each
issue. See you at the A.G.M.
(Dick-Fred) Membership Secretary.
1996 Tacklemaster’s Report
This year has not been any different from previous
years. There is still a chronic
shortfall on ladder availability. See
Generally very little ladder construction has taken
place. This has been due to personal
problems as well as a lack of funds and our low rung stock. I am trying to rectify the situation with a
bulk cheap purchase.
Next year we hope to build six more ladders (this will
exhaust the existing rung stock) and possibly some fixed steel ladders for
digging purposes. These will be 5′ X
9″ (sod the metric system) boltable std sections.
All three survey kits have been well used this year. 2 kits are in fair condition while one
requires some cleaning and reconditioning.
I personally intend to run for the Committee this year
whether as Tacklemaster or not depends on general opinion.
It would be good to see you members taking an interest in
the running and goodwill of the club.
With regards to the change of access in the tackle store,
perhaps the AGM could discuss the issue.
I feel that initially there was a general improvement, but
this situation has tailed off in recent months.
Now for the facts
11 accounted for
10 accounted for
12 accounted for
6 ladders in stock
5 booked out
3 in stock
7 booked out
2 in stock
2 booked out
8 in various ‘digs’
It seems that the average per month is 11 missing or being
held wittingly or unwittingly by club members. This is sad as the majority of members do book kit in and out.
As an addendum can I say that I feel the club ought to put
its past differences behind it and move forward cavers and diggers together to
make this club strong and vibrant again.
Total previous ladders 19
Total scrapped 3
New manufactured 4
1 spare added 1
Total 1996 21
August stock count
Accounted for 8
8 spreaders and 5 belays missing.
Stock rope count
N.B. Missing means not in tackle
Stock ladders 1
1 transferred to tackle store.
Tackle bags 6
Rope protectors 4
Survey kits 3 (1 under repair)
The spare expedition store ladder will be moved across to
the Belfry tackle store and labelled ‘for St Cuthberts use only’.
—Let’s hope it survives the Idiot users.
1995/96 Hut Warden’s Report
Officer: Ivan Sandford
I hereby submit the annual Hut Warden’s report to the
members of the Bristol Exploration Club.
This report has been compiled to review hut income and
discuss the club’s progress during 1995/96 and prospects for future years.
The schedule attached illustrates the income received from the
hut, together with details of other revenues that have been collected from the
Belfry safe. The 1996 figures relate to
the year ended 7 August 1996, whilst the comparatives relate to the year ended
7 August 1995.
Note: These dates do not fall in line with the club’s
accounting period and therefore will not agree with the disclosure in the
From the table it is immediately apparent that the Belfry
has suffered a bad year on the hill. The
number of guests staying at the hut has plummeted by 35%. This can be attributed to three factors.
1. Reduction in visitors to Mendip.
We are not the only club to be faced with a marked decline
in the number of people visiting Mendip. Student groups account for a high proportion of the guest fees. The student caving clubs are increasingly
feeling the financial pressures of restricted grants and reduction in sports
club funding. In addition to this, other
caving areas have increased in prominence. The discovery and continued exploration and extension of Ogof Draenan
has increased interest in South Wales in particular.
2. Competition from other club huts
We are meeting increasing competition from other clubs,
especially the Wessex. The Wessex have
undertaken extensive work on their country club in the past year, including
installation of a stainless steel kitchen (yuk!). Admirable work has been undertaken on the
Belfry in the past few months by Estelle et al. This work has covered some much needed maintenance and made the hut a
more pleasant place, but it has not substantially improved the service that the
Belfry offers. With a reduced market the
Belfry can no longer afford to be complacent. It must form a strategy on how to compete, or it may become a liability
and constant drain on resources better spent elsewhere.
3. Reduction in Hut policing
Due to pressure of house & work etc, I have not been
able to give as much time to my post as I would have liked, nor been able to
chase after people who have forgotten to, or not been willing to, pay their hut
fees. In my opinion, it is up to every
member who stays at the club to ensure that all occupants have documented their
visit. Every bed night that an
individual stays in the hut without paying is costing the club £1.50 or
£3.00. This soon adds up and reduces the
funds available for the important things in life, like equipment.
The movements in other income show a good increase in
revenue from CCC permits. It seems that
this year most of my time at the Belfry has been spent filling in permits and
giving out keys. I suppose it serves me
right for living and working so conveniently close. However, it does help to emphasise that the
system of retaining the tackle store key in the key cupboard can easily
work. This protects the tackle in the
store whilst maintaining it’s accessibility by the nearest key being situated
at Glenview (Andy Cave, Angie Cave and Andy Sparrow’s ex-residence, sans
hangers) or Priddy Garage. Perhaps now
all the SRT rope can be moved into the store, where club members will have
better access to it.
One other point on permits. Maybe we should consider charging a nominal administration fee per
party, as does another club less than a rocket flight away!
Cuthbert’s fees have also increased mainly due to Chris
Castle, who must easily account for 70% of the fees received. Keep ’em coming Chris!
It can be seen from the table that the telephone revenue has
increased. However, the figures shown
have not been adjusted to reflect the lowest point of the year. At some point in June or July someone managed
to pick the lock on the telephone and stole the contents therein, amounting to
£62.60. It would be futile to accuse anyone of this act, as the suspects in all
fairness should include every member who holds a key to the Belfry. To avert a witch hunt, and as I feel so
guilty that there was so much money in the phone, it being my job to empty it,
I am donating £30 towards the phone bill. To ensure that this does not happen again, I shall see if I can
construct an additional brace for the telephone, to improve its security.
It has been one of those years. What is more, with demand for caving
accommodation on Mendip decreasing, we must find new ways of ensuring that the
Belfry stays on the map in the future. The BEC does not need to promote itself, but for the sake of its members
it must promote its hut. Already some
active cavers are threatening to join the Wessex, due to lack of tackle and
general support from their club. This
situation must stop, and with the help and guidance of the club’s members, both
old and new, it will.
Finally, thank you to the people who have made the hut a
more hospitable place. Well done Estelle
et al. My greatest thanks go to Becca
without whom my job would have been almost impossible.
BEC Income Summary
% of Hut Total income
Hut fees as %
of total income
Belfry Bulletin Editors Report.
This year has been an interesting one for me in my capacity
as editor and committee member.
I have had difficulty with the distribution of the BB for
various reasons to do with time and professional commitments. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr ‘N’ the Hon.
Sec. for taking on part of the distribution in addition to his own
responsibilities … Thank You Nigel.
I have done my best to catch up with the backlog, but if
anyone is missing copies, please let me know, I have a small stash of
spares. My thanks also go to Dick-Fred
for keeping me updated with the membership lists and to Tony Jarratt who has
once again done a sterling job distributing the local copies.
There has been a good response from the membership with
regard to articles, including much foreign stuff. As I have always said, it is YOUR bulletin
and it is only as good as the articles YOU write.
I have had a number of complaints from individuals who seem
to think they should receive the BB regardless of whether they pay subs or
not. Some of these have been quite
personal and although I do not wish to name people Im afraid I have little
sympathy. If you want BBs … pay your
As I have come to expect, I have come in for an amount of
criticism for the way I produce the journal and again have been surprised how
personal some people are prepared to make their comments. In one sense this is water off a duck’s back
but in another a little upsetting. It
seems that people forget that committee members don’t get paid but give their
There have also been the usual problems of members and
committee members assuming that I will tailor publication deadlines to suit
their ideas ….. dream on …. this is the real world and there are more
people in it than just you. (Unless I’ve got it wrong and the world really does
revolve around you …. but I don’t think so!)
What has really irked me this year, though, is the criticism
that has gone on behind my back from various souls. My answer is, if you think you can do better
– then put up or shut up! Well now is
your chance as I do not wish to edit the BB next year.
The main reason for this is that I do not know where my
personal and professional life is going to take me in the next twelve months
and I don’t want to take on the BB if I can’t guarantee providing the best
service I can. The editors post
requires much time commitment and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it this
Having said which, if there are no other viable takers I
would be prepared to give it a go rather than leave the club in the lurch. I also feel I would rather quit while Im
ahead, having held the post for three years and, in general, enjoyed doing
it. I am happy to stand for the
committee in another capacity, e.g. floating member, if the club sees fit to
vote this way …. guess that’s up to the membership.
I have had to do much soul searching on various committee
matters during the year, which has not been easy but I now know this goes with
the territory and will not complain about it.
Whatever the outcome of elections etc., it has been my
pleasure to serve the club these past three years and I will look back with
fond memories. I will hopefully continue
to enjoy many years of BEC membership, if not committee posts.
Thank you to all those who have helped me – even if only to
say you like what I do with the BB – encouragement goes a long way …. a lot
further than bitching!!!!
Finally I would like to thank my fellow committee members
for their support and friendship and in most cases, constructive criticism. We all have our reasons for taking on posts
and I think that the vast majority of this years’ committee were there for the
If I don’t serve next year I wish the ensuing committee all
the best and would help any future BB editor as best I can.