An 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.


A 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.  



This 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.







The Wealden Cave & Mine Society is a registered charity (No.1007972) and was founded in 1967 as Unit Two Cave Research & Exploration to research and explore all manner of underground sites. 


The 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 clubs:-





The 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 experienced members.


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 facilities.


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 for couples.

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 social event.


If 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 Secretary: 


Email: secretary(at)



Please 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.








  • A 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!

  • BCA's own FAQ page — Most insurance questions and issues have been covered. Policy details and forms are also available...

  • British Cave Rescue Council — The Representative body for voluntary underground rescue in the British Isles.

  • British Cave Research Association — The BCRA is a registered charity whose object is to promote the study of caves and associated phenomena.

  • British Mining Database — A general and fairly comprehensive set of links to all things mining related including other societies.

  • Cambrian 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.

  • Cave 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.

  • Caving Shops — Places to go and buy your caving gear; A list of current equipment suppliers...

  • Caving.UK — 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...

  • Council of Northern Caving Clubs (Technical Group) — A technical review of various caving fixings and equipment.

  • Council of Southern Caving Clubs — An association of caving clubs whose main interests lie in the Mendip Hills of Somerset.

  • Craven 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 — 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).

  • Descent Magazine — The Descent shop. Binders, back issues, order forms, subcsriptions, merchandise, etc.

  • Gaping 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.

  • Heyhone 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).

  • NAMHO 2004 Conference — was held in the old mining village of Coniston, in the heart of the English Lake District 23rd - 25th July 2004

  • NAMHO 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

  • National 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.

  • National 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 Association.

  • South 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 Society (GLIAS).

  • Subterranea Britannica — A society devoted to the study and investigation of man-made and man-used underground places.

  • Underground 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.

  • Wealden Cave and Mine Society — Caving club covers Surrey and the Southeast. Hold on a minute, that's us!

  • Welsh 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, Graham Levins)

  • Welsh 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 pretty well.







   The Making of the High Weald    Sussex Archaeological Society    The Sussex Weald

  CBA SouthEast    Romans in Sussex    Classis Britannica






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