Stop 33: Chislehurst Caves

Bickley Arms
The Bickley Arms at the bottom of Old Hill
As it is today...

Chislehurst caves are not natural caves, but man-made for mining chalk and flint. They worked until the late 19th century, and in the early 1900s the caves they became a popular tourist attraction (look here...), as they remain today. During the First World War, they were used as an ammunition depot associated with the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, and in the 1930s they were used for mushroom cultivation.

After the bombing of London began in 1940 the caves were used as an air raid shelter and became an underground city with an estimated 15,000 inhabitants at its peak, with electric lighting, a chapel and a hospital. In the 1960s, the caves were used as a music venue. David Bowie, Status Quo, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd are all believed to have performed there. The caves have appeared in several television programmes including the BBC programme Doctor Who from 1972 titled 'The Mutants'.

The Bickley, formerly the Bickley Arms/Hotel, was at one time called Ye Olde Stationmaster, as the original station stood at the foot of Old Hill. Old photographs show the two horse brake outside the then Bickley Hotel running to Bromley for market day on a Thursday, the fare was 6d (old pennies) return in the early 1900s.

At one time it was possible to enter the caves through the hotel gardens, but now the area between The Bickley and the caves is well developed with housing.
Turn left into Station Approach to Chislehurst Station, and the end of this tour.