Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.Helen Keller
In our early days in London, we always wondered where we could go for a quick day trip without having the luxury of a car then. We then stumbled upon Chislehurst caves in Bromley, South east England – which meant it was just an hour journey by train and very feasible.
Chislehurst caves are a 22 mile long series of man-made tunnels. Yes, exactly they are man-made and shouldn’t exactly be coined as caves. These were used as Chalk and Flint mines essentially. In World War I, they were used as an ammunition depot associated with the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich and also were used for mushroom cultivation in the 1930s.
During World War II, when the aerial bombardment of London began in September 1940, the caves were used as an air raid shelter. Soon they became an underground city of some 15,000 inhabitants with electric lighting, a chapel and a hospital. Shortly after VE Day the shelter was officially closed.
- Postcode: BR7 5NL
- Free Car parking at site
- Price – 6£ per adult (No prior booking required)
- All entrances to the caves are through Guided tours only.
- All Guided tours leave every hour starting at 10AM and last at 4PM.
At the entrance, we were handed out lanterns and our guide walked us into the darkness. Absolute pitch darkness. What made this experience worthwhile is the excellent guide who explained all about the use of these caves. At one point he took the lantern away from us to leave us in pitch darkness and he replicated the noise of bombs dropping on the caves to give us an idea of what it must have been during the war. If you are not comfortable staying in total darkness, you can stay away with your lanterns. The tour lasts for almost an hour and the ground is quite uneven. It was well worth an afternoon spend.
The caves have also been used as a music venue to the likes of David Bowie, Rolling stones, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd.
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