The Belfry 1947 to 1980 – Part 3

by Andy Macgregor

Eds note: The following is the 3rd and final part of Andy’s article. It’s a pity that Andy could find no record of Belfry work since 1980. Can anyone put together a history from 1980 onwards?


The burning of the ruined Belfry: – Norman Petty, Garth Dell, Jock Orr, Alan Thomas, Hilary Thomas and taking the picture Andy Macgregor.


A final farewell. Norman Petty on right.

The builder was given the go ahead on Tuesday 11th November and work began on the 12th, to build the new Belfry. The reason for the delay was because they could not go ahead until they had a definite answer from the Pearl Insurance Co. regarding the claim on the old Belfry.

The fact that work had begun did not mean that they raised all the money needed, but the difference was guaranteed in the form of loans from certain members.


The outside of the new Belfry after the shell was completed.


Inside the main room of the new Belfry at time of the shell being completed.

Visitors to the Belfry site by February 1970, found a splendid looking new Belfry standing proudly on the site. That they should be in a position to start occupying the new Belfry within six months of that tragic day, when the blackened shell of the Belfry seemed to mark the lowest ebb of the club, is an achievement of which everyone took some pride.

The job of fitting out then proceeded. Norman Petty built the kitchen unit. Most of the old bunk frames were repaired and repainted.

On the ninth of May the new Belfry had been officially opened in reasonable B.E.C. fashion, for which event thanks are particularly due to the organisers, Pete and Joyce Franklin.

On Monday, the 15th of September 1969, the club was faced with the destruction of the Belfry and the necessity of finding a sum in excess of £3,000 very rapidly. The alternatives would have been to abandon a Mendip headquarters for some time, or to put up some new temporary building, and thus push the problem of getting the club properly established on Mendip, back for a long while.

By the ninth of May, two hundred and thirty six days after the fire, the club formally took possession of its new hut, and the formidable sum of money was raised.

In 1977, a proposal was made to make some changes to the Belfry, as outline below: –

Main Changing Room

  1. Move the library into the main room in strong lockers. The library is no longer large enough.
  2. Block existing door from library into main room.
  3. Build low wall as shown, install two shower heads and tile throughout.
  4. Remove part of wall between library and existing changing room. Install 2 metre concrete lintel.
  5. Build wall between existing changing room and existing shower unit.


Unliberated Persons Changing Room

  1. Remove wall at the back of individual shower unit.
  2. Build low wall as shown, install two shower heads and tile throughout.

In 1980, more proposals were put forward and 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 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 for 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.

Any further changes have not been documented in the BB.


The Belfry at the St. Cuthberts celebrations with some oldies in 2003. From left to right, Zot, Barry Wilton, Dave Irwin, Joan Bennett, unknown, Sett. unknown, Kangy, Andy Macgregor and Brian Prewer.



The 1980 Plan