The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

1995 - 1996 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Ivan Sandford
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Estelle Sandford
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Hilary Wilson


Disclaimer And Apology

Due to the facts that

a)       my computer is down and I'm using Dick-Freds on very short notice

b)       that I have to get this to the printers tonight or it won't be out in time

c)       I 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 to be.

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 Engineer’s Report

We have attempted to have four working weekends this year.

The first one had five people turn up, and the hut was well spring cleaned.

The second one was cancelled due to poor publicity and bad timing .

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 it??)

There are still plenty of jobs that still need doing in the Belfry.

The priorities are:

Treating & Painting the main room floor

Treating or painting all the woodwork

Fixing the felt on the porch

Rear barge-boards (repair or replace)

Rear guttering

Replace the two fire-doors

Fit a 'fence' around the boiler

Tidy up workshop

Tidy up tackle shed

Fit new cistern for toilet by font door

Kitchen plumbing on gas rings needs replacing

Fit the rest of the kitchens surfaces with stainless steal

Some of these jobs really need doing this side of the winter.

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!

Estelle Sandford


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 concerned.

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.

Richard Stephens (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 inventory.

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

12 missing

3 in stock

7 booked out

13 missing

2 in stock

2 booked out

8 in various 'digs'

11 missing

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.

Mike Wilson.


Total previous ladders                 19

Total scrapped                            3

New manufactured                      4

1 spare added                             1

Total 1996                                 21

August stock count…..

Accounted for                             8

Missing                                      9


Spreaders                                  4

Belays                                       6


8 spreaders and 5 belays missing.

Stock rope count August……..

1X75'     dyn


1X75' dyn

1X120' dyn

N.B. Missing means not in tackle log.

Exploration stock 1996.  

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 Cuthbert’s 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 accounts.

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


Hut Usage


% of Hut Total income

% (Decrease)/Increase























































 Hut Totals









 Hut fees as %

 of total income








 Other Income









 Cuthbert’s Fees









 CCC Permits









 Cuthbert’s   Reports













































 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 I’m afraid I have little sympathy.  If you want BBs ... pay your subs!!!

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 time voluntarily.

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 editor’s post requires much time commitment and I don't know if I'll be able to do it this year.

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 I’m 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 right reasons.

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.