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The Caves are a 22-mile-long series of tunnels carved in the hills under Chislehurst. Much of their long history is clouded in mystery.
In 1903, an eccentric antiquarian, Dr William Nicholls, published two papers where he declared that one set of caves had been dug by the Saxons, another by the Romans and that the third set had been excavated by the Druids. Although there is no evidence that they were used by the Druids, it is possible that they were first worked as a chalk mine in Roman times, which continued right up to the end of the 19th Century. The chalk was used in lime burning and brick-making and roads for the building of London, also for flints for the tinderboxes and flintlock guns of years ago.
In the First World War, the caves were used by Woolwich Arsenal to store high explosives. Boxes of TNT and Picric Acid could be taken underground by small trains on narrow gauge track pulled by battery powered trains.
Between the Wars the caves were used for mushroom growing. In the Second World War the caves were a safe refuge from Hitler's bombing campaign and they became one of the largest underground air-raid shelters in the country with over 14,000 Londoners a night sheltering from the blitz.
Also see remains of a rock (literally) stage and bar used when Jimi Hendrix, The Who, the Yardbirds, the Stones and many others played subterranean gigs here and the caves were used in several episodes of Doctor Who.
The SCI-RSC visit will begin with a 90 minute guided tour of the caves - followed by a buffet dinner in the Caves Restaurant.
This is a walking tour, The caves floor is uneven in places. So wear good walking shoes. The temperature in the caves is a constant 10°C - dress warmly.
The tour may not be suitable for those of a very nervous disposition or with an acute fear of darkness.
Please arrive by 17:30. The tour commences promptly at 18:00
Caveside Close, Old Hill,
SCI Communications Team
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7598 1513
Tickets cost £20 for SCI/RSC Members and their guests.
Please note that RSC members who are not also SCI members will first need to sign in/register with an SCI Guest Account to be able to register themselves and accompanying guests for this event.
Limited number — please register early
Tickets include tour fee and buffet dinner.
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