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Your present Editor, writing his penultimate notes for the B.B., is now on the run-down towards the hand over of the Club Journal to Mike Luckwill at the end of December. Producing a monthly Journal, such as ours is an extremely rewarding task;  this is even more so when material is freely available.  I might say that I have been lucky and that members have responded splendidly in this respect.  During the last two years articles have flown in at such a rate to keep the B.B. to its present size.  Obviously, too much material can be embarrassing which eventually produces long hold-ups and so helps to encourage members not to write and the other extreme can be equally bad when no material is available as the finished product does not encourage members to send in their articles as the Journal is just not writing for.  To keep the balance the Editor of any Journal must be fully aware of what is happening in the caving scene and select the widest possible material to retain reader’s interest; even if it means going outside the Club membership for specialised material.  It is to be hoped that members will co-operate with Mike when he takes over in the same way that they have been with me.  To assist Mike I will be acting as a clearing house and will accept any member’s material for him so that it can be given to him on his monthly visit to Mendip – this will be the Committee meeting weekend.  The one great advantage that a publication, such as ours has over many others is that it is monthly and so can be really up to date with the news. The greatest piece of news gathering during my ‘term of office’ was without doubt the great flood of 1968  the B.B. contained this news in detail months before any other Journal in the Mendip area; as a result Mendip Caver; C.R.G. Newsletter and British Caver reprinted the article.  One of our competitors also produced a similar article some six months later but although they had much more time to gather material (in our case two evenings before printing) the information contained was little more than that in the B.B.  By being topical also helps to sell the B.B. – keep your ears to the ground and send any information that is heard to Mike and keep it full of news; it may not be the ‘plush’ publication of the other club; neither does it set too high a standard that all its material has to be original work – it is essentially a Club Journal that is up to date and as far as other Clubs are concerned a force to reckon with!

The next lap

The destruction of a caving club headquarters would in many cases meant the end of the club.  Many people forecast that this was the end of the B.E.C. when they heard of the news of the Belfry and were rubbing their hands with glee.  But the destructive forces to break up a club the size of the B.E.C. is much greater than merely burning down of their headquarters and the survival factor of a club is such that the new building is no longer a dream but a reality and will be the pride of the B.E.C. sometime in 1970.  To overcome the immediate accommodation problem the Changing Room has been converted into a cosy 9 bunk headquarters complete with cooking facilities and fire.  Members wishing to stay should book their bunks with Jock Orr (the Hut Warden) well in advance to avoid having to turn people away at the last moment.

The Belfry itself has been demolished and the timber that was salvageable stacked to one side of the site in readiness for the arrival of the builders.  Not only is the Belfry site well advanced to receive the new permanent building but the club is very much back to normal though several other changes have taken place.  The Seven Stars is now our Thursday evening haunt in place of the Waggon and Horses. Our long stay at the Waggon certainly caused a wrench but the final evening there went with a bang!  A last minute phone call to the Police ensured that the party could continue.  Continue it did – until about 2am on the Friday morning!  We would like to offer our sincere thanks to Mrs Suter for putting up with us for so long – about 15 years as far as I can gather – and offer our warmest 80th Birthday greetings to her.

The A.G.M and Dinner were both a great success; the latter particularly so.  One guest has been able to sum up the Dinner success when he told Alfie “It’ll take some other dinner a great deal of effort to beat this one!” On the other hand to the outside this was a pay, pay and pay Dinner as various methods were employed to raise money for the new Hut Fund.  The money contributed by members was a tribute to them but unfortunately we still have a long way to go before meeting our target of £700.  Please don’t let the idea drop at this stage and keep sending your contributions to Bob Bagshaw.  Pete Franklin is looking into various money raising events and if you have any ideas on the subject please contact him as soon as possible.  Three years go, when the plans of the permanent building were being discussed it appeared to members, including myself, as ‘Castles in the Sky’ and some £3,000 to go; now its only £500 or so to raise.

As to Caving and Climbing – these are well back on their feet again and work is getting underway on the reports – St. Cuthbert’s Swallet and Roman Mine.  Dam building for the next years sump bash has started again; the survey work has extended its arm into the Rabbit Warren Extension and the Main Chambers and several other smaller projects are again under way in and around the Mendip area.  Away meets, particularly the Yorkshire meets organised by Martin Webster are continuing (an account of the bottoming of the formidable Black Shiver Pothole appears in this issue).  A new caving programme will be published in next months B.B. together with Climbing programme details from ‘Fred’ Atwell, the new Climbing Secretary.

A Mendip Centenary

It’s not often that we have a centenary to celebrate with the Mendip Caving scene.  This year on the 4th November is the centenary of the birth of a man no Mendip caver has not heard of – HERBERT BALCH.  His books are still read avidly by all who cave on Mendip and one still wonders how they and his teams managed with such primitive tackle, to attack the swallets of Eastwater and Swildons and achieve what has been well documented in many books.  This year the B.B. will contain a series of articles dealing with the many facets of the man – the first appears this month by Alan Thomas.