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The Bristol Exploration Club were founded in 1935 by one Harry Stanbury who had tried to join the Wessex but they turned him down so he started his own club. Their early years were disrupted by the war but their first major discovery was Stoke Lane II in June 1947. St Cuthberts Swallet was discovered in 1953 and they built their first hut, the Belfry, near the entrance, appointing the SMCC, whose hut was nearby, official tea makers during the building. Alfie was Alfie Collins, Mendips prolific song writer, Zot only wrote one poem which can not be repeated here, Earwig was Dave Irwin, Mike Palmer really did cave with Balch while Barry Lane often slept at the Shepton hut with the Shepton sheep! Roger Stenner spent much of his time around the mineries catching adders and usually came up to Mendip with several young girls who seduced innocent young BEC members! J-Rat (Tony Jarratt) was legend amongst the caving fraternity nationwide who was especially famed for his digging exploits and his beer capacity. Knowing he was about to die he arranged for a special bottling of Potholer beer which he labeled Rats Piss. Stuart is Stuart Lyndsey who is still digging. Mad-Fi is one of the more recent tigresses who is really into poles while Macanus has cleared bars and both he and R.A. have been long renowned for what emanates from their nether regions.
The BEC had stickers printed with their bat logo and proclaiming that "The BEC get everywhere". A certain Royal Marine (possibly SBS) BEC member we nicknamed "Killer" Ross was captured when the Argentinians invaded South Georgia. On the voyage back to Argentina in a corvette, Ross claims to have placed a sticker under the rim of a WC on board but the Argentinian bum is purely my imagination. John Manchip did record the first Glasgow to London high speed train ride with a sticker under a British Rail WC rim!
The local hunt did buy the land behind the Belfry but decided to keep the hounds at Chewton Mendip, much to the regret of the BEC BBQ'ers. This song was written in 2010 for the dinner to celebrate 75 years of the BEC. Below is the full score as heard on the mp3 file at the top of the page.
A Bristol boy called Stanbury thought caving would be fun,|
So to the Wessex Cave club up on Mendip he did run,
"can I come underground with you", he said in plaintive tones,
"fuck off" they said "we don't want your sort playing with our bones".
So Stanbury decided to start a caving club,
He cast around the 'areal', he looked in every pub,
He drank a lot of beer and soon his search was a success,
He found a lot of blokes who also did things to excess.
The Bristol Exploration Club became a caving force,
When into Stoke Lane II they went with Balcombe and Don Coase,
And when they found St. Cuthberts and built the old Belfry,
The Shepton Mallet Caving Club were proud to make them tea.
With Hunters Hole discovered, while drinking hard and long
And Alfie with his banjo balls, recording it in song,
With exploits of the Belfryites sung in the Hunters pub,
So even Wessex members all queued up to join the club.
"I wonder where brave Earwig is" the poet Zot once said,
"Mike Palmer caved with Balch and Barry Lane took sheep to bed,
Rog Stenner catches adders, the Stenner girls catch men,
We need some caving diggers to find some caves again.
Along came Tony J-Rat, a digger like a mole,
If he wasn't drinking Rats Piss he was up or down a hole,
His cry was "keep on digging", while working on his thirst,
"You bet we will" said Stuart, "but drinking tea comes first.
"This digging lark's a waste of time" said blondie bird Mad-Fi,
"The way to find more cave is to climb maypoles way up high,
Pole climbing champion of the world, it is my aim I stress,
Pole dancing, anything with poles, I do it to excess".
In days gone by, to cave, you needed fitness, strength and balls,
And women cavers, goodness me, the idea just appalls,
But now the BEC has many harder girls than blokes,
And horny Belfryites go underground to get their pokes!
We have a tackle mistress, of that we are quite sad,
'cos we were taught in younger days that mistresses were bad,
They write the Belfry Bulletin and that is surely fitting,
While blokes sit round the Belfry and talk about their knitting!
Macanus farts can clear a bar but Rat Arse goes for class,
He waits 'till Cuthberts entrance rift before he vents his gas,
The BEC get everywhere on mountain top and pass,
We've even seen a bat stuck on an Argentinians ass!
When land behind the Belfry was purchased by the hunt,
The howling of the huntsman's dogs could well have been a bother,
But meat meant for the dogs could then be BBQ'd al fresco,
With much reduced expenditure at the check out down at Tesco.
It's five and seventy years since the formation of our club,
For many Mendip publicans we're the saviour's of their pub,
So raise your tankards high my friends and drink to our success,
Whatever was worth doing we have done it to excess.