The Society is administered by a committee of 9 elected members, who are also Management Trustees of the charity. The committee has the power to co-opt additional personnel to fill vacant places and does so as and when there is a need. Officers of the Society comprise Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Meets Secretary, Social Secretary, Editor, Tackle Master, Librarian. Some of the posts have assistants.
The CSS was originally formed in 1956 as the Cerberus Caving Club, but the following year changed it's name to the existing one which was felt more suited to the scientific leanings of the group. Towards the end of the 1950s the club took on the responsibility for access control to all caves discovered in Fairy Cave Quarry, and the use of the cottages on quarry property as a headquarters and hostel was arranged.
The cottage at Fairy Cave Quarry remained the Societys headquarters for over thirty years, until 1987 when circumstances dictated that alternative premises were found. A search located a site nearby at Midway and over the next year, Larkshall, a purpose designed headquarters and hostel was built. This was formally opened in August 1988.
The club is very active and a full member of the British Caving Association, the Council of Southern Caving Clubs, the British Cave Research Association, the British Mountaineering Council and a shareholder in the Charterhouse Caving Company Ltd. It is also a Registered Charity No 274126.
3. CHARITABLE STATUS
As a direct result of the work in respect of Fairy Cave Quarry, the Charity Commission registered the Society as a Charity in 1977. Charitable status has a number of advantages including the possibility of applying to grant making Trusts for financial aid towards specific projects, exemption from certain taxes, and the facility to accept subscriptions as 'Gift Aid'.
Gift Aid is of great financial benefits to the Society. By completing a simple form agreeing to pay a specified figure annually, the Society can reclaim from the Inland Revenue the tax paid on the sum before deduction of income tax. This currently amounts to a financial gain of 28p for every £1 paid. The agreement is not legally binding so there is no commitment to continue paying. All members are therefore asked to complete these forms.
4. ACCESS TO CAVES
The Society controls access to all cave and archaeological sites within the Harridge Wood area nature reserves owned by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. Permits are essential and are available for issue to members and guest.
The Society also controls access, along with other clubs in the Charterhouse Caving Company, to caves on land owned by Somerset Wildlife Trust and Bristol Water in the Charterhouse area. Keys to certain other restricted access caves are also held.
Cave keys held by the Society are available to all members subject to the relevant entry restrictions. They are stored at Larkshall and issued by the Duty Warden.
Keys held: Longwood/August, Rhino Rift, G.B. Cavern, Singing River Mine, Cuckoo Cleeves, Maesbury Swallet (club dig), Timber Hole (club dig), Larkshall Slocker (club dig), Little London Slocker (club dig).
All visitors to caves in the Charterhouse area and the Harridge Wood reserves must be in possession of a valid permit. Annual permits are issued to members. Guests are issued with Temporary Permits, valid for 14 days for Charterhouse caves and for a weekend for Harridge Wood. There is a small charge for a temporary permit. It is the responsibility of the trip leader to ensure that all members of the party have a current permit with them at the time of the visit.
Cave keys are available for loan to non members upon payment of a deposit and trip fee.
In addition to the caves listed above, trips can also be arranged into others with restricted access. The Society has leaders for St Cuthberts Swallet, Charterhouse Cave, Reservoir Hole, Grebe Swallet, Loxton Cavern, Ogof Fynnon Ddu I, and Dan-Yr-Ogof. As a member club of the British Caving Association bookings can also be made for all caves controlled by the Council of Northern Caving Clubs. This should normally be done through the Meets Secretary.
Information on procedures for access to many caves can be found on the caveinfo web site. The Secretary and the Meets Secretary are always willing to advise members in case of difficulty.
5. MOUNTAINEERING SECTION
The Society has a strong Mountaineering Section which is a member of the British Mountaineering Club (BMC). To become a member of the section an additional membership fee is payable. There are a number of benefits of joining the Section including liability insurance cover, individual copy of the BMC magazine, use of various climbing huts around the country etc.
6. ORGANISED TRIPS
Generally there is little need to arrange 'official' caving trips as members staying at the cottage find it easier to organise their own, and there is usually someone to go caving with. However an irregular programme of weekend meets to other areas is arranged, and details of these are published in the Societys' Journal and NewsSheet. All members are welcome to attend these and if interested should contact the relevant person.
In addition to the normal caving trips to other areas of Britain, a foreign expedition is often arranged. This can either take the form of a serious expedition, or simply a holiday; and in the past has included trips to Morocco, Czechoslovakia and France. Further details are available from the Meets Secretary.
Digging for new caves, or to extend existing ones, is an important and integral part of caving. It is especially important when it is realised that there would be very few accessible caves for people to visit if it were not for a number of cavers who dedicate much of their time to this activity.
As with most clubs the Society is active in this field, and members are currently working at various sites including Stout Slocker, Beacon Slocker West, Larkshall Slocker, Maesbury Swallet, Pang Slocker, Timber Hole, Little London, Withybrook Slocker and a number of sites in Ashwick Valley. Most digs are labour intensive and involve a considerable amount of work. Members are encouraged to take an interest in club digs and offer their assistance whenever possible. There are regular digging trips evenings midweek and also at weekends. Enquire for further details.
8. RESCUE TEAM
The Society has a Rescue Team, consisting of members local to Mendip, and organised by the Rescue Team Leader. An annual rescue practice is carried out whenever possible and all members are encouraged to attend this to gain experience in, and understanding of, rescue techniques.
The Society maintains a store of tackle primarily of rope and ladder. This is available for loan to all members. Enough equipment for normal Mendip trips is kept at the cottage and issued during weekends by the Duty Warden. Members wishing to borrow larger amounts of gear, or keep any for an extended period, should contact the Tackle Master. Members are expected to replace lost or damaged tackle.
A considerable amount of S.R.T. rope is also owned by the club, but due to the particular problems related to the care and maintenance of this, it is not available for general loan. The rope is generally used only on official expeditions and Yorkshire meets, and only where one of the 'Rope Wardens", appointed by the committee, is present. All members participating in these trips are required to pay a tackle fee as a contribution towards the cost of replacement of rope.
10. HEADQUARTERS / HOSTEL
The club headquarters, Larkshall, is situated at Midway not far from Fairy Cave Quarry. This is available for use by members and guests with few restrictions, providing the Rules are adhered to. Anyone intending to bring a large party is asked to book in advance to avoid overcrowding.
The Society provides third party Public Liability Insurance through the BCA which also includes member to member cover. The insurance offers the necessary protection to landowners and is essential for access to many caves nationally. It also indemnifies landowners with whom we have access agreements such as Bristol Water and the Somerset Wildlife Trust. Cover is provided for caving and all directly related activities.
Members of the Mountaineering Section also have liability cover when engaged in climbing, walking, mountaineering activities.
As no form of personal insurance cover is given, members are advised to seek their own. Policies of this sort are widely available and the Secretary is willing to advise in case of difficulty.
12. JOURNAL / NEWS SHEET
The Society publishes a high quality Journal. This is supplied free to members. The object of the Journal is to keep the membership informed of all club and general caving news, and to publish general and scientific articles of interest to cavers. All members are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to submit articles to the Editor for publication. As well as the Journal an irregular News Sheet is also published.
13. OTHER PUBLICATIONS
In addition to the Journal, the Society also publishes an irregular series of special publications entitled Occasional Publication and Occasional Bulletin. All those published to date are currently available and additional ones are in preparation. The committee is willing to consider publishing any material written by members, and welcomes any suggestions in this respect.
The Society maintains a library which is situated at Larkshall. The library is not large and consists mainly of other club journals, newsletters etc. Through necessity items are not normally available for loan since in the past less than 50% have been returned. The Librarian is however willing to photocopy any specifically requested articles at cost price. Should a particular item not be available, the Librarian would be glad to offer advice on where it might be obtained or viewed.
The major source of library material is from publication exchanges with other clubs. We have also been fortunate in the past to receive a number of donations and members are encouraged to give unwanted material to the library.
Members may access the library catalogue online.
15. SOCIAL EVENTS
Regular social events are arranged. These are wide ranging and varied, in the past having included ceilidhs, discos, skittle evenings, barbecues and an annual dinner. These events bring a large number of members together and assist in people getting to know one another. Details of forthcoming events can also be found in the Journal and Newssheet..
16. SERVICES TO MEMBERS
In addition to the normal services to members as listed above, the Society also offers various items for sale at times. These have included badges, sweatshirts, equipment, surveys and publications.
Finally, the committee is always willing to consider, and if possible, implement, suggestions that will be of benefit to members.
Last updated 260907
Return to Home Page