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  1. Hi Paul, as a kid who lived nearby we used to play in the caves in the 1950s, we used to climb down a dene hole above the cave, armed with matches, torches and firewood. We used ropes stored by a local civil defence chap in his garden shed, which we also used to make slide lines with using a washing line pully and some converted bike handlebars. Once inside we explored, and marked our way with chalk and ropes, it was pitch dark, but nice and warm. We often got chased out by the caretaker, who was actually a nice bloke who saw us all as a bit of fun to chase. Later in life, I went to parties in the caves and also saw the Animals and Who there. Between sets they used the local pub as a drink venue and mixed with the fans. The crowds coming from the nearby station were quite big, and it was something of an occassion for quiet Chislehurst.
    Over the last forty odd years we have treated our overseas guests to trips underground here too, most agree that it is much more fun than most london attractions.

    1. Great stuff, Ken. The caves are lit for visitors these days, as you know, but I imagine you were extremely brave young whippersnappers to go down into the deep pitch-black armed with only matches and torches. I’m amazed you didn’t get lost. It’s a crying shame the Chislehurst Caves are hardly publicised in London when they’re on its doorstep. All we can do is help spread the word. Many thanks for your comment.

  2. Dearl All,
    I am an Italian rock fan and gig collector of several rock band of the Seventies.
    Did you know also if LED ZEPPELIN and FREE played Chislehurst Caves in 1968 / 1969 ?
    Thanks

    Best Regards,
    Alessandro Borri
    Bologna
    ITALY

    1. Led Zeppelin certainly did play there in May 1974, Alessandro, using the Caves to launch their label,Swan Song Records. But Led Zepp and Free, to my knowledge, never played there in 1968/9.

      1. Rock fans in bowler hats? Whatever next. And what a unique experience banging away in ancient caves in the bobbing candle light. Good stuff, Derek. Hope your drumming arms and wrists are still up for it.

  3. i played drums with Ray Dell and the deacons in the early 60s, we had a fan following who would help us to carry our equipment down to the cave. I remember having to play a drum solo for ages when the electricity went off, the fans would then light up candles which they had mounted on their bowler hats, then would continue to dance around to the drum beat. hard to believe but true,

  4. Dvid Bowie also played as David Jones and the Manish boys.Jim Gardner’s whose family owned the Caves said the last I remember of him down there was David Bowie And The Buzz. He was booked for an evening – and didn’t turn up. There was a dispute about what they were going to get paid and it was more than we could afford, so I don’t think he played down there under that name again.
    I remember my older brother going there to watch the stones who after all were a local group coming from Dartford as wellas Hendrix. My mother was billoted there when she worked at the arsenal during the war.
    For me it lost its charm when they tarted it up. i still prefer the old tin hut and the old ladies making tea. i always liked the “stained glass windows” in the makeshift chapel. It had more character.

    1. Fascinating memories, Greg. If I’m not mistaken, the Mannish Boys were David’s second band. Feedback much appreciated.

    2. Only just come across your comment, Gregory. Apologies for not replying sooner. Did your mother actually live in the caves when working at the arsenal? Was this arsenal still at Woolwich? Unfortunately, I never got to see the caves until after they tarted them up. Still a very interesting place, mind you.

  5. Hi, I was the drummer in a group called INSPIRATION. We played the caves a few times in the mid/late 60’s. Thought you might be interested to see a poster from that time. How can I post it on here?

    1. Good to hear from you, Mick. If you send your poster jpeg (or whatever) to me at paulgmerry@gmail.com I should be able to drop it in article. Were you simply called Inspiration or did you have a prefix?

  6. Hi Paul,
    I was the drummer with a group called INSPIRATION. We played at the caves, a few times, in the latter part of the 60s. I have an original poster from one of our gigs there 50+years ago. I would be happy to upload it if you can let me know how.
    Best Regards
    Mick Parker

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