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QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Record

With the list of candidates for the committee election finally closing at sixteen, a record number of nominees has been clocked up.  It will be very interesting to see what effect this very large number has on the voting.

Opinions

When any members who keep their ear to the ground comment on an aspect of the way the club runs its affairs, I always find it interesting, because it is not often that the feelings of club members get into print in spite of the fact that some members hold strong views on these subjects.

This observation follows my reading of 'Fifth Column' for this month.  Contrary to popular opinion, the editor does occasionally read the B.B. Whatever the merits or demerits of our particular system of electing officers and committee members by allowing the elected committee to pick its own team (a parallel with parliamentary general elections?)  I feel that the 'birds' have a very valid point to make in that all candidates for the B.E.C. election should have to declare what they would or would not be prepared to do if they got elected.  Currently, many members feel that committee members should be prepared to accept any job that wants doing.

As I understand the philosophy behind our present system, we elect nine people who we then charge with the responsibility of running the club on our behalf. Some of these people will be 'naturals' for particular jobs.  Others will not.  In extreme cases, the committee might even have to look elsewhere for the right person for a particular job.  Again, it is often argued that, as part of their commitment to the club, committee members should be prepared to step into the vacancies even at some degree of personal inconvenience.

However, the subject is a large one, and (as the 'birds' say) contentious.  It is certainly too large to warrant snap judgements either in this column or indeed, from the sort of debate we normally get at an A.G.M. Perhaps a full enquiry into the system might be a good thing.  Even if it does not result in any major change, it will at least bring all the various viewpoints into the open.

Meanwhile, club voters have still to construct a committee from the 16 candidates in such a manner that the successful nine will not be landed with a difficult – or impossible – ballot amongst themselves for the various named officers of the club.


 

Letters

22 Parkfield Rank,
Pucklechurch,
Bristol.
28th July 1977.

Dear Sire,

I well enjoyed G.W-J's article on how to make a 330 foot descent last as long as possible!

I appreciate that half the reason for tackling the job with S.R.T. was for the sheer hell of it, but it seems that there are lessons to be learned about the suiting of techniques to requirements.

With hindsight, would Graham agree that ladders would have been more useful in this situation?  They are a very adaptable tool, easy to use and they provide regular belay point!  They are easy to grip for handling awkward items and their usefulness in this respect should not be forgotten in cave rescue.

Viewing things from my armchair, I think I would have put a ladder down and used that instead of using the mighty Acrow to disturb the equilibrium of the sides of the well. Rapid transport could still be provided by the rope.

Incidentally, how was this well dug?  Was Martel involved?  Any clues, G.W-J?

Thanks for the interesting story,

Cheers~ Kangy.

Editor's Note:

I know nothing about this well, but I was recently involved in an abortive attempt to make my fortune by investigating the well at Beeston Castle in Cheshire.  This well is over 360 feet deep (although at present the bottom cannot be reached owing to the stones chuckled in by every visitor to the castle).  It was dug in the Eleventh Century through hard sandstone of the sort that many churches in the district are made of.  The first two hundred feet or so are lined with masonry and the well is about six feet in diameter.  It was due out entirely by hand tools!  It took about two years to dig.

It seems that the B.E.C. are not the only people who do things to excess.


 

Club Officer’s Reports 1977

These reports by club officers for the Annual General Meeting have been approved for publication by the committee.

1.   HON SECRETARY' S REPORT

Of the many duties required from the club Secretary, the hardest thing that I find must be done is to compile and present the annual 'state of the nation' report which must be factual yet carefully collated so as not to steal the thunder of my fellow officers. Ideally, it should report the club's progress during the year and decide whether or not the year has been, good or bad for the club.  This is a most difficult decision because what may appear good to one group of members could appear equally bad to another group.  However, if the criterion is in membership then the club must have had a reasonable year.

We have, as you will know, invoked the constitution to disbar any members who have not paid their subs by 30 April.  Additionally, the subscription rate has risen to £3.00 and £4.25 for full and joint membership.  Although we have lost one or two members due to this (particularly from joint membership) we have claimed 17 new members and we have persuaded one or two older ones to rejoin the fold.  The present club membership is 198 (individual members) of whom 58 are Life Members.

There was no election to the 1976/77 committee, the only nomination received by the time of the AGM being that of Paul Christie who was therefore automatically elected.  The further vacancy - that due to the Climbing Secretary vanishing up north - was filled by Russell Jenkins who was co-opted and agreed to act as climbing secretary.  The committee, to the date of this report has met ten times, one meeting was voided due to the quorum being on holiday.  Attendance by committee members has been quite reasonable and there has been little trouble in managing a quorum.  Alfie, Barrie and Tim managed a 100% attendance.  Mike and Chris managed 90%; Paul and Graham managed 80%, Russ at 70% and John at 60%.

One of the major considerations of the committee this past year has been that of the Central Heating of the Belfry which was passed on by the membership at the AGM.  Much discussion took place on this, at all meetings, and quotations were obtained from a variety of experts in this field. Generally, the out¬come seemed to be that the feasibility of installation was OK, but the expense and practicality (at a time when the configuration of the Belfry looked like changing) not so good.  We were unfortunate on one occasion that a system which was removed from a building in Bristol was missed due to there not being any transport or effort available at the right time to make a collection - ¬there was effort available later but by this time the system was scrapped.  Perhaps it is a sign of the times that effort is no longer as readily available as it was in past years.

The Belfry has again been subjected to criticism of its facilities and there was a proposal put to the club (via the BB, by the Engineer) to remove the library facility in favour of enlarging the changing and shower area.  Once again though, there has been no effort available to this work and to some extent it could be thought due to the irregularity of the BB issue.  However, only one formal working weekend has been called during the year and this was not well attended.  I hesitate to sound off as criticising the Engineer on these matters as there is, I’m sure all will appreciate, a multitude of 'minor' tasks needing to be done each week just to keep the Belfry ticking over and it would be unfair to expect the Engineer to carry out all the work without any assistance from the membership. Nevertheless, I would like to see the activity of Working Weekends becoming a routine led by the Engineer. After all we all saw what a great deal was accomplished in a short time when the Belfry 'Christmassers' wanted to eat their meal in reasonable cleanliness.

On the Caving side, the club has enjoyed a quiet year with brief bursts of sudden activity especially during the period of (or breakthrough into) Tynings Farm Swallet. This was a combined club effort with others including the Grampian well to the fore.  BEC cavers were well represented in this venture though and an early article appeared in the BB.  A further early appearance was Dave Turner who requested that Sandpit became an 'official' BEC dig and much more recently, Nigel Taylor has requested that Wigmore Swallet also be made official - thus we are in the happy state of having two official digs under way though action is quiet on the Sandpit front. Apart from these activities, the membership has been quite active in Cuthbert’s (on a tourist basis) and our cavers are making regular trips both on and off Mendip.  A 'mixed.' club Friday night caving is very regular and my only complaint is that for some reason there is a reluctance to complete the Caving Log thus spoiling much useful BB material.

Probably enough has been said of the BB elsewhere but with luck it should be rapidly returning to its true course and although no doubt it will arise at the AGM as a topic for discussion I feel secure in saying that the team seems to be successful and, if the machine holds out, we are in a reasonable position for the future.

Clearly, Climbers are on the up.  Russ Jenkins seems to have breathed a slice of life back into the section which is still, unfortunately, very small.  Still, small or not they are active and their exploits are being regularly reported in the BB.  Russ has spent a lot of time on the administrative aspects and one result of this is the decision that the clubs be again affil¬iated to the BMA on an associate basis.

The Belfry continues to be well used but once again the malaise of the age ¬inflation - has affected things there and it was decided that there should be an increase in fees to both members and non-members.  On this occasion it was decided that we should attempt to make it more beneficial to the club members and the differential was widened to give a more economic deal to our¬selves.  Chris has worked hard again during the year and has come to several decisions concerning the amount of work he is prepared to do.  One of these ideas meant that the cooking utensil are to be removed and he hopes that this will result in more washing up being done by those who make the items dirty in the first place.  It is an unfortunate event but Chris has, I believe, also decided that he no longer wishes to be our Hut Warden.  He has done the job now for two years and although he is still keen to be involved with the running of the club, he has decided enough is enough.

Since this is the Secretary's report I suppose that it is only proper that I report my own lack of achievement during the year.  Amongst the catastrophes I count the 1976 Dinner and I think that least said about that the better.  Still, it did force our hand into a referendum and it is to be hoped that this year we shall fare better than last.  The venue for the Dinner is the Cliff Hotel at Cheddar (recently under new management) and apart from the Dinner we have a welcome return of the Dramatist's Art. Other things not done by yours truly during the year include any attendance at the various political associa¬tions.  However the club has been extremely well represented (by our Chair¬man of Committee, Caving Secretary etc) and these meetings I'm sure would have been no better for the attendance of a one time caver.

Finally, on a Secretarial level, I have decided that the only post in which I can make any contribution to the club is that of Secretary.  However, the success of a candidate in the election to committee does not carry any guarantee of tenure of post with it and this could be my last report to the club as an officer of the committee.  If this is the case I should like to take this opportunity to thank the membership for its assistance in making my job as secretary so easy to manage.  I cheer you on the way by stating that, in my opinion, the BEC is alive and well and can look forward to 1978.


 

2.   BELFRY ENGINEER'S REPORT.

The usual maintenance and repairs to the Belfry and site have once again been accomplished by the few, including the Christmas spruce-up when the majority of the building was scrubbed; painted with fungicidal paint and then emulsioned.  Unfortunately, during the winter months the groups staying at the hut insisted on keeping all the windows shut and consequently all our painting efforts were to no avail and the mould was with us after a period of two months.

Plans have been put before the club for alterations to the central core of the hut (see February B.B.). There has been very little feedback from members except for a few unintelligent arguments after the pub.

With the spasmodic printing of the B.B. it was not really practicable to organise any planned working weekends.  This became apparent during the early part of the year when notification for assistance was published in one case a week before and in another on the same weekend as the working weekend.  If the alterations are to be started and hopefully completed, it will be necessary to have an up to date B.B, of some form or another, even if it has to be printed on a duplicator.

3.   CAVING SECRETARY'S REPORT

Yet another year passes, the highlight of which would appear to be the members involvement in the discovery of Tynings Barrow Swallet.  This occupied about a dozen members during the winter months.  Subsequently the survey was completed by Dave Irwin.

On the digging scene, Waldegrave Swallet was abandoned and filled, but recently work commenced at Wigmore Swallet.  Several dives have taken place at Wookey Hole involving members, but so far the cave has not been extended. Members have been active in all the major caving areas with about a dozen trips to Yorkshire.  I have heard rumours that a certain infamous duo has visited Giants Hole

As many will already know, Dave Irwin has written an interesting book on Mendip caves, more from the sporting angle than as a purely reference work.  This has involved him and his helpers visiting many of the local caves.  An off shoot of this has been the surveying of the stone mines in the Bath district.  It’s hoped to publish a report on these in the future.

Cuthbert’s has received an increase in the number of tourist trips and a continued rise in interest from prospective leaders.  It is hoped that the high standards of cave preservation so far obtained will be continued by the new leaders.

Some people may feel that a formal caving programme should be published each year.  In the past I have done so but the response has been very poor.  What the caving secretary can do is to provide information on access, accommodation etc.  Should there be sufficient demand for a caving programme, then on could be arranged. Of course, this depends on a regular B.B.  Most of the caving referred to in this report can be attributed to a small percentage of members.  What are the rest of you doing?  With a club of our size, I feel that more members should take an active part.  It would be nice if more activity took place in digging and in the scientific fields.  A club of our standing needs to project a responsible attitude in the light of outside pressures on the caving world.  I hope that next year will prove even better than this.

3. BELFRY BULLETIN REPORT

The considerable difficulties due to the breakdown of the printing machine earlier in the year have already been reported in detail, both at committee meetings and to club members via the B.B. itself, so there seems no need to repeat everything in this report except to note that the effectiveness of the team set up at the last A.G.M. in accordance with my recommendation last year has been inevitably reduced.

However, I do not think that the events of this year should be regarded as being against the idea of a team.  It is true that, through no fault of their own, Andy Alan and Tony have not been able to help as much as they would have liked, but in contrast, Mike Wheadon has been invaluable in taking on much of the preparation of plates, together with some editing while Barrie has provided covers, organised all the stationery and has finally come up with a cheap supply of paper - the last being a very difficult thing to do in these hard times.  In addition, Brenda and Maureen have provided much material for the B.B. while the Wiltons have been doing the B.B. distribution and the Wheadons some of the stapling and collation.  I would therefore like to record special thanks to the Wiltons and the Wheadons.

Those who have been following the current series in the B.B. on the Growth of B.E.C. will not, perhaps, be surprised to learn that an adequate club journal turns out to be one of the most - if THE most - important factor in keeping members of club satisfied. Now that this has been shown to be the case, it becomes doubly important that an adequate B. B. is maintained in the future.  A single keen club member doing everything may be very efficient, but the effect on the club if he or she suddenly falls ill or leaves the area has been very great in the past and must not he allowed to occur again.  Thus the idea of a team becomes the only really sensible solution.

What we should try to achieve next year is absolute regularity.  I am sure that this can be done and that the lessons we have learned this year can show us how to do it.  Firstly, the material which various people have produced, if maintained, will mean that we do not run short of things to print.  Secondly, the work which Mike Wheadon has been doing means that there will always be enough printed plates ready to make up the next B.B.  From then on, we have got to improve matters, and I suggest that I make the B.B. printing date a fortnight before each committee, meeting.  I will then contact out servicing expert and through him, find a firm who will guarantee to do back up printing from our plates at a week's notice.  Thus, if the machine breaks down, we will have time to shunt the plates to this firm and still get them back in time for the B.B. to appear regularly at each monthly committee meeting, where it can be taken away for collation, stapling and distribution.

If this can be achieved, and I see no reason why it should not be, then we shall have a regular B.B. on which the club, and the other club officers, can rely.


 

The Growth of the B.E.C.

PART 5 - THE RECENT PAST

The fifth article in our series on the growth of the club, which takes the story up to the present day.

The period of time covered by this instalment is that stretching from 1962 to the end of the survey, in 1975.  This is the longest stretch covered in our review, and the graph is shown below….

It appears to reveal a very slowly growing club, with a few more bumps than we have generally found so far. If we were being lazy, we could well leave it at that, and conclude that at last the club had settled down to the sort of steady but slow growth that we might well expect.  However, all is not that simple.  To start with, quite unlike the previous periods of time, when the number of new members arriving was very steady, this period has been one in which they have fluctuated considerably, from a maximum of 39 in 1963 to a minimum of 19 in 1966.  If we want to find out what has really been happening over this period, we have first to remove the effects of this fluctuation.  If this is done, then the result becomes like the curve shown below….

…..which now reveals two pronounced dips in 1974 and 1967.  If the figures are now examined, the dips can be shown to be the result of what I have, called 'frighteners' - which are things which have suddenly upset the members for short periods of time.  What a frightener does is to frighten away all those members who were wondering whether to stay with the club for another year, or to leave.  They are things which represent the 'last straw' and provide the reason for leaving amongst members who were a bit undecided anyway.  This causes the sudden dip.  After a frightener, very few people leave during the next year, because those who were not frightened were going to stay anyway.  Thus a frightener compresses all the leavers for two or three years into a single year.  Total membership thus recovers but there is an overall loss as explained some time ago because the loss of an older member does not balance the gain of a younger one in terms of future subs.

We can now go a stage further and remove the effect of these frighteners and this will give the curve as shown below.

………which may be compared with the rate of increase at this stage of the club's life as predicted by the average model used for earlier predictions and which is shown on the graph above as a dashed line.  We can see that the rate of increase over the period of time being considered is, in fact, what we would have expected in the first place.  Thus, although the period has been a confusing one because the rate of new arrivals each year has been very erratic and the frighteners have further complicated matters, as far as the basic satisfaction of members with their club is concerned, all is well - or was well up to 1975.

It has already been explained that the figures can show us what happened in some detail and whether any increase in total membership was due to more people arriving or to fewer people leaving.  We still have to make some deductions as to why the satisfaction of members with the club has varied - and it is this sort of thing which can give analysis a bad name. People say that anything can be proved by figures.

What they mean is that anything can appear to be proved by figures.  One has to be very careful at this stage as to how one interprets the figures.  To take an example, the rate of increase in the period 1957 to 1963 was not quite as great as that from 1945 to 1949.  It would be easy to conclude that members were not quite as keen on staying during the later period as they had been in the earlier one.  The figures would apparently 'prove' this.

As a matter of fact, they do not.  The reverse is, in fact, true.  Before we go on to the final part of this series and try to determine just what caused the changes during the lifetime of the club, it is thus necessary to narrow down the field of speculation as far as possible.  To this end, the model we have used for prediction, based on average values throughout the life of the club is not accurate enough.  A new model has thus been made which fits the real curve in eleven places (the old one fitted in only four places) and with the aid of this more realistic model, it should be possible to come to the right conclusions in the next and final article of this series on the Growth of the B.E.C.


 

Election Candidates

Voting Forms will, of course, be sent to each paid up member, but making some spare space in this B.B., we are appending a list of the sixteen candidates for reference purposes. Those who are members of the present committee are printed in capital letters, and the jobs which people are currently doing are also printed.  In some past years, we have printed a short synopsis of what the various candidates have done in the past, and what their current interests are, but it has not proved possible to get round to such a long list of members and obtain a fair and balanced account of each candidate.  Hence, the short amount of information.

THE CANDIDATES  (In alphabetical order)

1.         CHRIS BATSTONE                    Present Hut Warden.

2.         Martin Bishop.

3.         PAUL CHRISTIE                        Present Assistant Sec.

4.         ALFIE COLLINS                         Present Chairman & B.B. Editor.

5.         Bob Cross.

6.         Colin Dooley.

7.         JOHN DUKES                           Present Belfry Engineer.

8.         Martin Grass.

9.         Dave Irwin                                 Present Hon. Librarian.

10.        RUSS JENKINS                         Present Climbing Sec.

11.        TIM LARGE                              Present Caving Sec.

12.        Nigel Taylor.

13.        MIKE WHEADON                      Present Hon. Sec.

14.        Maureen Wheadon.

15.        BARRIE WILTON                      Present Hon. Treasurer.

16.        GRAHAM WILTON-JONES         Present Tacklemaster & Editor, Caving Pubs.


 

Fifth Column – A Birds’ Eye View of Mendip

August in the club year seems to coincide with the 'silly season' of the newspaper, but us birds are more fortunate because, since we are a group, we can eavesdrop in all sorts of unexpected places.  It could even be that you're not safe even when you are on holiday.  One of our group was list¬ening in to a conversation at the Hunters the other day, when Tom Gage (who does NOT qualify for our MCP award this month) was saying that there is beginning to be a regular gathering taking place once again every Thursday at the Seven Stars.  Amongst those attending are Nigel Jago and a few lapsed members.  The editor (an MCP if there ever was one) has sabotaged our efforts yet again by actually getting out an issue of the B.B. on time.  The speed between the July and the August issue were so fast that we did not have time to draw breath and really observe the scene.  After all, a fortnight  is not a very long time, even for Mendip, so we had nothing really to report for, the August issue.  Besides, most sensible folk were away watching the rain at the seaside.

Preparations for the A.G.M. and dinner seem to be progressing apace.  Recently, Peter Franklin was ‘scene’ at the hunters and, although he seemed to have left his casting couch at home, he was getting lots of offers to appear in his latest dramatic epic.  There certainly seems to be lots of talent of offer for this show. Nominations for the committee are rolling in.  We see from the last B.B. that the present lot are all prepared to stand again and, on disbandment of this year’s committee we have decided that they should be given our MCP award for the month (nem. con.)  Anyway, the election should provide some fun, as so far ther are thirteen candidates (unlucky for some?) and the A.G.M. will have to be quicker than its usual six hours.  After all, the B.B. seems to have finally got to grips with the printing situation and the Hut Engineering surely can’t take up too much time.  The only ‘burning issue’ seems to be our continued lack of central heating.  Perhaps we can expect Mike to be contentious as usual.

Collectively, we are widely (or is it wildly?) experienced as a bunch and we are surprised at the democracy of our club election.  Whilst it is the major event in any democracy it seems weird that we, the membership, have to vote for nine bodies and still run the risk of getting a square peg in a round hole - or getting someone in a job they do not want to do.  In our experience of similar organisations, we remember that a person had to state his or her case and the post or posts to which they aspired.  We could then exercise our right to elect them to exclude them from these posts. This seems to be a particularly important point when considering the post of Hut Warden, where the person doing this job needs to be present on Mendip most (or preferably every) weekend. We have come to the conclusion that the reason why there have been so few nominees at recent elections is this very fear that they will be lumbered with a job on the committee they neither want nor are competent to do.  How's that for a bit of contention, folks?

It is clear from the Mendip scene at the moment that the universities have got rid of their students for the summer vacation, and we have seen one or two of the lesser-known drop outs around again.  For instance, Maryon Barlow was seen recently, as was Mark Shearman.  Then very briefly, there was Chris Greenall and Richard Barker and the UBS of Sandi.  Strange to say, the OCL has not been seen, but Barrie tells us that he's certainly the first with his dinner booking so we shall see him there.

The Bishops are back in residence after their trip to Spain.  (Liz slightly the poorer after contributing to HM Customs) where, from Martin's appearance, there was a slight shortage of sun.  Their reappearance serves to remind us that the Phippen and Co. are back - folk is running riot again and even Zot is getting to be a regular with his Stradivarius permanently tucked in his beard.

Last, but by no means least, a brief mention of the new daughters of Tony Corrigan and Dave Hatherley. Welcome!


 

Monthly Crossword Number 78

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Across (Passages)

1. Feature of two local ones found in pitches tackled generally.  (5)
4. Corks otherwise in caves? (5)
7. Rise, and the gear one might put on to go caving? (3-2)
8. Leave the main party, perhaps? (5)
9. Attempt. (3)
10. Once common in Mendip pubs – an unstable ruckle does now and then. (7)
12. Much visited pink spot on Mendip? (t)
14. Did ole English folk get as drunk as this? (3)
16. To be classed as this, a caver needs an A.1 leg….  (5)
18. …..and this part of the anatomy for G.B. (5)
19.  Thought at random. (5)
20. A cave with nasty ones might give a caver nasty ones. (5)

Down (Pitches)

1. Essential, easy to carry, caving requirement.  (5)
2. Colloquial Hunters song, perhaps. (5)
3. Climbers may find themselves this and cave photographers should be familiar with the word. (7)
4. Old Roman countryside? (3)
5. Oliver Lloyd, initially confused with artistic institution gives Cuthbert’s series. (5)
6. Mendip hole – sez I better pronounced. (5)
11. Cleft in Glastonbury hill?  More likely stream in flood. (7)
12. Deep rift, perhaps. (5)                              
13. Ways out of caves. (5)
14. Lesser known Mendip features of the type of 12 across. (5)
15. & 17. Part of Priddy if combined. (5 and 3)

Solution to No. 77

 

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Club Headquarters

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      M. Wheadon

Members           C. Batstone, P. Christie, J. Dukes, R. Jenkins T. Large, Barry Wilton, G. Wilton-Jones.

Officers Of The Club

Honorary Secretary             M. WHEADON, 91 The Oval, Englishcoombe, Bath.  Tel : BATH 713646

Honorary Treasurer             B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol. Tele : TEMPLE CLOUD 52072

Caving Secretary                TIM LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Climbing Secretary             R. JENKINS, 10 Amberley Close, Downend, Bristol.

Hut Warden                        C. BATSTONE, 8 Prospect Place, Bathford, Bath..

Belfry Engineer                   J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crescent, Southampton. SO1 6LE  Tele : (0703) 774649

Tacklemaster                     G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks. Tele : (024) 024 3534

B.B. Editor                         S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol.  Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor              C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                        BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

 

The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated.  The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal.