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The Belfry Improvements

by Tim Large

At the last AGM members asked for the latest information regarding the improvements following publication in the BB prior to that meeting of plans which had been put forward for Planning Permission approval.  Over the last few years I have attempted to keep members informed via the BB of the latest position.  To dispel any uncertainty I have set out in the following lines the history of the developments,

At the 1979 AGM a members resolution by Roy Bennett and Dave Irwin proposed the setting up of a Belfry Improvement Fund as it was felt the Belfry needed bringing up to date.  This was passed by the meeting. The Committee subsequently set about organising various fund raising schemes and a Lottery Licence was obtained from Mendip District Council.  The Hut Fees were raised (Members from 30p - 50p Guests from 50p - £1) the extra increase being devoted to the fund.  Also at the AGM the subscription was raised from £5 to £8, in its calculation every aspect of the clubs expenditure was analysed, it included £1 per member for the fund.  These amounts have been transferred to the fund every year since.

At the 1980 AGM progress on the fund raising was detailed by the Treasurer.  The Hut Engineer in his report detailed the developments regarding the plans.  A planning meeting had been held on 16th May 1980 attended by 14 members.  At that meeting various ideas were discussed along with sketch plans by individuals of what would be desirable.  The meeting recommended that an architect be consulted for the best advice and to draw up suitable plans for submitting to the planning authorities. The report was approved by the AGM.

During the following year discussions were held with John Gwyther of Priddy a professional architect. Several 'on site' meetings took place.  Nigel Taylor and myself also visited Mendip District Council Planning Department in Glastonbury to obtain the relevant forms and to seek advice.  At the 1961 AGM the Hut Engineer (Nigel Taylor) again updated members of the latest progress.  There was not much to show but the plans were slowly being drawn up.

Final plans were submitted to the Committee on 6th August 1982.  These were approved and it was decided to submit them for the relevant permission with Mendip District Council.  At present these plans are still being considered and several queries are still being ironed out.  The estimated cost of the project is £12,000 with work being done by builders.  It has been necessary to work on builder’s costs as it is proposed to apply for grants from the Sports Council etc.  Any grants given will be based on such estimates.

Much thought went into the final plans the considerations were:-

1.       The Library is only a box room and does not give ideal storage for books.

2.       The Kitchen facilities are not ideally sited in the main room.

3.       The Showers and Chancing Room are not ideally sited or adequate.  Also there design should make for easy maintenance and maximum hygiene.

4.       There are no drying facilities. 

In the new proposals as publicised in the BB:-

  1. The Library is a room which can be used as a proper Library with space for tables and chairs, it will have adequate and proper storage space for books, maps etc.  Ventilation will be much improved providing for a better environment for the books etc.
  2. It was felt that a self contained kitchen would improve hygiene and release much space in the main room for lockers etc.
  3. The Showers and Changing Rooms both male and female will be better sited for ventilation and provide more room.  The main changing room will incorporate a dirty area entering the Belfry via the present women’s room external door.  Once caving kit has been removed members can go to a cleaner changing area which will include washbasins, toilet and showers.  A similar system will exist in the women’s changing area as can be seen on the plan.  Ventilation will be aided by extractor fans and floor to ceiling tiling and better drains are to be provided so that the area can be hosed down and kept to the necessary hygienic standards.
  4. The provision of a drying room leading off the main changing area was decided to be of utmost importance.  Ventilation will be provided by an extractor fan ducted to the outside wall.  Heating could be provided by under floor electric elements linked to the off peak meter.  This system is used at the Bradford Pothole Club and works very well.
  5. The new female bunkroom will still only cater for 6.  The space on the plan is at present shown to be flexible, but once a suitable size has been decided on the room a stud wall partition will be erected and any space left will be used for storage for the time being.  The vacant space will give us room to expand should the need arise.  One possibility for the vacant space would be an extension to the Library.

So the overall intention of the proposals is to improve the club’s facilities based on more or less the sane usage as at present.  But should usage increase at some time in the future then we will have the space to expand into and facilities designed a higher throughput of people.  Of great importance is that the design incorporates features that ensure easy maintenance and a higher degree of sanitation. Those few left at the end of the weekend can much more easily clear up after everyone else’s mess!!!

For those of you interested a larger scale plan as presented to the Mendip District Council is on display at The Belfry.