IN THE USA
old iron mine had been abandoned for decades. Its entry shaft, a gaping
maw some 300 feet (91 meters) straight down, was a hazard the town of
Iron Mountain, Michigan, didn't want to live with any longer. So plans
were laid in 1992: Tons upon tons of dirt would be dumped to fill the
hole that had been cut by hard-rock miners as much as a century before.
Then they found bats.
local caver, Steve Smith, wanted to explore the old mine before it was
permanently sealed. What he and his friends found was seemingly endless
thousands of bats clinging to the mine's walls and ceilings. Little
brown and big brown bats (Myotis lucifugus and Eptesicus
fuscus) had formed one of the largest hibernating bat populations in
America, and they were about to be trapped inside the Millie Hill Mine.
Smith called Bat Conservation International.
is a prime example of local conservation in action. The location
may have been in Michigan, but it could just as easily have been a
conservation project in Sussex, England. The world over, cave
societies play an important part in preserving local areas of interest.
LOCAL CAVING - THE WEALDEN CAVE & MINE SOCIETY
The Wealden Cave & Mine Society is a registered charity (
and was founded in 1967 as Unit Two Cave Research &
Exploration to research and explore all manner of
WCMS differs from the majority of caving groups because it is also
interested in mines and underground stone quarries, an interest the
WCMS shares with Steve Smith from Michigan.
The society is a member of the following organisations and
WCM society has its own constitution
which sets out the aims of the society and defines the ground rules
as to how the society conducts its business.
The WCMS publishes regular newsletters and an annual journal,
that between them contain trip reports, write ups on original
explorations and digs for new caves, technical articles, news of the
society and caves and mines in general.
Full training can be given to novices on a progressive basis
whilst actually caving, and all trips are tailored to suit the
capabilities of the group. Members can normally lend gear to
newcomers on their first few trips, until they feel committed to the
sport enough to buy their own personal gear. Advice on equipment is readily available from
The group has the exclusive use of a cabin in the Mendip Hills in
Somerset. This cabin has a
bunkhouse which sleeps 12, living room, kitchen, toilet and hot
shower. There is enough tackle kept at the cabin to be able to reach
the bottom of most Mendip caves. When visiting other areas, we
generally stay at other caving groups' cottages which have similar
Prospective members are encouraged to join in on a few trips
before applying for membership.
The full membership fee (currently £10.00 pa)
covers publications, third party insurance, tackle and general
administration costs. There is a reduced fee for those under 16 and
The WCMS are actively involved in all form of
underground exploration in the North Surrey area and as such are
probably the best source of information on the subject. If you have any
questions regarding underground or associated sites in the area then
please do ask us and we will try to answer your question.
Perhaps you have come across one of the many existing caves in the area,
or seen lots of strangely clad people disappearing into a remote
woodland corner and want to know more, it could be that you have found a
new site and would like us to investigate it, or find out about caves
beneath your property. Maybe you just want to make a routine enquiry
about membership, or find out more about an advertised club activity or
you are old enough to remember any of the mines being worked, or details
of childhood explorations or past excavations then we would also be very
keen to speak to you. The memories of local residents are a valuable
source of information which we make full use of.
We also have a considerable archive of historical information
relating to mining in the area for sand, firestone and hearthstone, the
Surrey Iron Railway and many other aspects of our industrial
archaeological heritage. Naturally we are more than happy to share this
information, all you have to do is ask!
If you are the sociable type then why not join us for our monthly
'anti-social' at the 'Railway Arms' in Merstham on the first Wednesday
of each month from about 9:30pm onwards. More information about WCMS and its activities can be obtained from the
note the operators of this website are not affiliated with the Wealden
Cave and Mine Society. Nor are we members. We provide
information of activities and events in the Wealden area as a free
information service to the public and to promote interesting
conservation and sporting activities locally.
CAVE & MINE LINKS:
Century of British Caving
A year by year list of major caving events and happenings since
1900. Also lists all UK fatalities, interesting to note that so many
well known sites have had people get themselves killed in there
either by falling or drowning. Cave divers are also listed!
own FAQ page
Most insurance questions and issues have been covered. Policy
details and forms are also available...
Cave Rescue Council The
Representative body for voluntary underground rescue in the British
Cave Research Association
The BCRA is a registered charity whose object is to promote the
study of caves and associated phenomena.
Mining Database A
general and fairly comprehensive set of links to all things mining
related including other societies.
Caving Council The
national association for caving in Wales, represents the interests
of caving clubs or similar organisations in Wales, The Marches and
the Forest of Dean.
Diggers An impressive
international caving forum, covers just about everthing...
Directory A large
collection of caving related links, all aspects of the sport and
study of caves.
Shops Places to go and
buy your caving gear; A list of current equipment suppliers...
Inside we have Descent magazine, Caving Clubs, Caver Directory,
Caving Diary, UK Caving Shops, Cave Photography, UK Weather, Cave
Art, UK Showcaves, Caving Notice Board, Cave Rescue, Cave
Conservation, Caver Pubs, Caving Links, Caver Accommodation,
Novices, Lost and Found, For Sale and Wanted and anything else we,
or you, happen to think of...
of Northern Caving Clubs (Technical Group)
A technical review of various caving fixings and equipment.
of Southern Caving Clubs
An association of caving clubs whose main interests lie in the
Mendip Hills of Somerset.
Pothole Club Official
site of the Craven Pothole Club, Skipton North Yorkshire. gives
detailed information on our annual Gaping Gill winch meet and
descriptions of the system
Darkplaces was created so like minded people can chat, meet,
share stories and pictures about exploring Urban and Underground
places of Interest. We explore Quarrys, Mines, Bunkers, Abandoned
Buildings and anything else with history. Darkplaces is a founder
member of the (UUEG).
Magazine The Descent
shop. Binders, back issues, order forms, subcsriptions, merchandise,
Gill Winch Meet Every
year, non-cavers have the chance to see a truly awe- inspiring
underground scene; the Main Chamber of Gaping Gill, Britain's
biggest known cave chamber. Descending the 105m Main Shaft
(Britain's deepest shaft) is an experience never forgotten, and many
visitors return year after year, becoming familiar faces to be
welcomed back as old friends.
Cave Rescue Communication System
The HeyPhone is a communication system - known colloquially as a
cave radio - which has been designed for use by cave rescue teams.
It is named after John Hey (who designed the electronics) and is the
result of a project managed jointly by the British Cave Rescue
Council (BCRC) and the Cave Radio &Electronics Group (CREG) of
the British Cave Research Association (BCRA).
2004 Conference was
held in the old mining village of Coniston, in the heart of the
English Lake District 23rd - 25th July 2004
2005 Conference This is
being organised by WCMS, KURG and CSS. It is still in its planning
stages but will go ahead 8-10th July, 2005 at Juniper Hall, Boxhill,
near Dorking, Surrey
Association of Mining History Organisations
The national body for mining history in the UK and Ireland.
There are now over 50 member organisations, including societies,
museums, firms, etc.
Caving Association This
site was undergoing major reconstruction at the time of writing
this. It seems to be 're-badging' itself as the British Caving
East Regional Industrial Archaeology Conference
SERIAC is a loose grouping of Industrial Archaeology societies
and related societies in the South East of England. Since 1983, a
member society has organised this annual day conference. The 2003
conference was hosted by the Greater London Industrial Archaeology
Britannica A society
devoted to the study and investigation of man-made and man-used
Kent Kent has many
underground features that date back centuries, from Iron Age
earthworks, through to seventeenth century smuggling tunnels to the
defence of Britain right up to the atomic age.
There is also an »open
discussion forum with many caving related topics.
Cave and Mine Society
Caving club covers Surrey and the Southeast. Hold on a minute,
Mines Preservation Trust
The Welsh Mines Preservation Trust was formed in 1992, by
members of the Welsh Mines Society out of need for a recognised
'charitable' body which was able to secure funding for, and provide
advise upon, the conservation &preservation of mining remains in
Wales and the Welsh Borders. (Their Secretary is also a WCMS member,
Mines Society The Welsh
Mines Society arose in June 1979 out of an informal meeting of
subscribers to David Bicks' (WMS President) Old Metal Mines of
Mid-Wales. From the start our ambitions have been modest enough - we
never set out to do anything in particular, and, judging by
attendance's (to our twice yearly field meets), we have succeeded
HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGY LINKS:
Making of the High Weald Sussex
Archaeological Society The
in Sussex Classis
IF YOU WANT YOUR CLUB ADDED TO THE ABOVE LINKS PLEASE EMAIL US*