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B.E.C. Hut Engineer’s Report. 1990

Nigel Taylor

Since joining the B.E.C. nearly twenty years ago, I have undertaken three different committee posts. Hut Warden, Caving Sec, and Hut Engineer.  Though I cannot speak with any authority regarding the other committee posts.  I have always felt that the most challenging of all these positions is that of the 'Hut Engineer'.  So it was that I felt great trepidation in putting my head 'into the noose' for another year of Belfry maintenance and associated trauma!

Thus it is with great relief that I can report that, in my view, it has been a most rewarding year, made possible by both the firm support of this years committee and membership alike. Cries from the usual 'Doubting Thomas's' (Not Alan) to the effect of "It's no use having working weekends, no b----r will turn up for 'em" were definitely not true.

I decided that, in order to make a Belfry working-meet successful, certain basic criteria exist; to ensure sufficient tools and materials for the proposed tasks are assembled in time for the event (This is a prime requisite) to make a major event out of the meet and for it to last only one day of the weekend so that the keener cavers amongst us can get underground on the Sunday.  Further I reasoned that a 'Belfry Binder' of yester-year would round-off the working day, most especially if followed by some form of entertainment and perhaps a barrel!

So it was, that on Saturday 10th. March 1990, nearly twenty B.E.C. members, wives and girlfriends descended upon the Belfry and spent the rest or the day, in near perfect weather and harmony, completing the following jobs: -

Clear out of attic space, complete site clearance of waste and scrap and loading into two commercial waste skips and re-storage of useful items, full glass fibre insulation of loft space, insulation of water tanks and pipe work, repair of shower system and installation of thermostats and timers etc., replace broken sanitary-ware, cleanse toilets and shower areas in full, removal of old broken cattle-grid, refill with stone and build speed ramp and tarmac over, re-felt wood-store roof, re-point storm damaged main roof tiles and ridge, fix ridge tiles to carbide store, build carbide-store fire sand waterproof cover, general cleaning and much repainting of Belfry interior, clean-out Fair Lady Well stream and pond, fit new outside economy light switches, all of this and much, much more!

The end of the working day came at last, and a superb repast was prepared, cooked and served by Hon Sec's best, Glenys GRASS.  This was followed by ZOT's magnificent slides of pre-Argie Falklands.  Penguins etc. (With and without wrappers!). This in turn was followed by Chris SMART's "Antics on a Chinese bicycle" (I think that was the title), both slide shows accompanied by the usual banter!  The Belfry was packed.  After a brief respite at the Hunters, all returned to the hut and savoured barrels of further nectar.

The support for the event was excellent, though I have mentioned some names above I dare not mention more, for fear of ignoring someone from the list.  I was greatly impressed with the efforts made, especially by some of the ladies in cleaning the 'Bogs' etc.  Even flowers and a vase appeared in one!

As you will see from the Treasurer’s accounts, I had managed to inveigle from his clutches a very large sum of money for the hut and the basic necessary materials to effect certain non-recurring jobs.  The working weekend alone swallowed up in excess of £250, though the long overdue full insulation of the Belfry attic accounted for £144 of this sum.

Last October's A.G.M. directed a replacement fire to be installed, accordingly, in November we travelled to Wiltshire and purchased a fine new 'Arctic Stove’; this set the club back another £250+.  We then re-sited this in a far better position against the Library wall.  This not only gives more useable main room space but also adds heat through the wall to the library and books.  To offset an 'Anon member's' outstanding hut fees, a new wall surround was added.  The provision of a new chimney and flue to conform to new building regulations, as well as fire-safety risks, added nearly a further £300 to this expense.  I hope that the 1990 A.G.M. will agree however that this has proved to be monies well spent.

The A.G.M. may also care to note that the new stove and loft insulation partially negate any need for an expensive Central Heating system in the hut.  The night storage heaters combined with the extra insulation are now more efficient when allowed to work properly.  It is my personal view, based upon research into costing a system for the hut, that the expenditure is in excess of what this club can afford. Therefore, the proposal of last year's A.G.M. should, with this year's 1990 A.G.M., be voted to be held over for at least one further year, in order to monitor the revised state of the hut's heating and insulation system.  Regular Belfry stayer's have said to me that the hut can in fact be too warm on a weekend if the fire is going well.  I would welcome the direction of the A.G.M. upon this point, as I hope to stand again for Committee this October and should like to offer myself again for election to the post of Hut Engineer.

You may also have noted that new 'high-security' locks have been fitted to both the Library and changing room doors.  Your main Belfry key no longer fits the changing room door and I should like to explain the idea behind my thinking on this subject:- This ensures that guests given the special 'Guest Key' can enter the hut (via the changing room) but cannot gain access to the club's tackle.  The tackle-store key now being available to all members from the key box inside the front door, opened using your main Belfry key.

I should most especially like to thank Pat CRONIN and Stu (MAC) McMANUS, who have both worked hard, and freely given of their time, in installing the new 'Super-Shower' system.

Constant small jobs around the site have been tackled by members and myself this last year and the amount of time it involves cannot always be measured by outward appearances. For example, I have surprised myself in discovering that I have made over five dozen telephone calls to planning depts., rating depts., fire officers, lawyers, builders merchants etc., and driven over 720 miles upon Hut Engineer business this year.  If, as I suspect, these figures are matched by the other members of the outgoing committee.  I believe this is no mean feat and should be borne in mind by the very rare but sometimes vocal complainant within the club.  Usually this beast absents itself from any work or club effort!

I am indeed proud to have worked with a very active B.E.C. committee this year.  Much effort and work has been done and I believe this has most fittingly culminated in the signing this month (August 1990) of the "St. Cuthbert's Lease" after much effort by many past and present committee members.

I end in thanking you all, may the club continue to go from strength to strength, yours in caving and comradeship.

Mr. 'N'