As most of you are aware, there has been mounting speculation regarding the size, nature and usage of a proposed extension to Godre Pentre. It has come to my attention during the latter part of this year that some Club members have been given the impression that we are close to commencing work on its construction. To put the record straight, this is not the case. However considerable thought and background work has been conducted towards this end.
We are a medium sized caving Club with a widespread membership. Since the purchase of Godre Pentre we have become more and more focused on South Wales Caving. Having successfully renovated the property to a standard that exceeds many cavers expectations, the accommodation we enjoy is sought after by many Clubs and groups visiting the area. This has provided valuable income, and has encouraged good communications with others in the caving scene. We have also established a reasonable social calendar of barbecues, fireworks events, and the Annual Dinner, all of which tend to attract a high proportion of the Club. It is therefore, perhaps no surprise that the kitchen becomes overcrowded, particularly if there are people queuing to use the washroom facilities.
It is quite clear to those of us that visit Godre Pentre at these times that building an extension could make life at the cottage very much more comfortable and sanitary than at present. However we need to think very carefully about how this might affect the future of the club and its aims.
The Club was formed primarily to encourage and promote caving. Upon securing a run-down farmhouse for accommodation in the name of Pen Father the Club has increasingly been involved in the South Wales caving scene, particularly in the Ystradfellte area. When we had to leave this rented accommodation Selwyn, the landlord of The New Inn, offered us the use of a barn which Club members fitted out to suit our needs. This was available to the club on 12 weekends a year for a nominal rent. This arrangement worked well for some 10 years at which point we found ourselves again seeking alternative accommodation.
At this time the Clubs membership level was quite low and the decision to go ahead with the purchase and renovation of Godre Pentre was not taken lightly. I well remember the hut warden asking for a show of hands at an AGM in order to judge how many members would be prepared to assist in the renovation work, only to see those actually getting involved dwindle over the months and years. A lot of time and hard work, that could have been spent caving, digging etc. has been invested in the property. However the gamble paid off and Godre Pentre has probably been responsible for our current healthy position.
If we are to now proceed with an extension it will certainly require a lot of hard work again. Even if we can eventually find the finance to have an extension built for us, it is likely that we will have to complete all internal works ourselves. Current funds, whilst healthy, fall well short of the likely cost of the construction of the shell and roof the proposed structure. Clearly, significant further funding will be needed for the project to succeed.
However, on the positive side, the initial approaches made to the BBNP for planning approval have been encouraging, possible internal arrangements are being discussed at length within the Club, and a Godre Pentre extension account has been established for which any Club members are welcome to raise funds.
We are perhaps at a point where we need to establish a small group within the Club who are specifically interested in pushing forward with the design, funding, and construction of an extension that will meet the Clubs needs for the next few generations. We may only get the opportunity to extend Godre Pentre once and should not compromises in its specification. This should be considered a medium to long term project, that requires care and consideration at all stages if it is to be a success.
I hope that future generations of Croydon cavers will be able to look upon it and feel that we got the job done well, and enhanced what is already a very desirable caving accommodation.