Mites and Tites

The Chairman’s moving vocal rendition at the Annual Dinner awoke memories of a former time when matters musical (?) were an essential accompaniment to a Croydon Caving Club gathering. We hear rumours of hymn sheets being issued at the next dinner and compulsory choir practice at the Plough & Harrow.

For those in search of the more esoteric underground sites a trip to Aberystwyth may repay investigation. During the Second World War the National Library of Wales became host to collections from evacuated from various cultural institutions, museums and galleries across Britain, housing the treasures in an underground excavation built for the purpose. An illustrated account of this “cave” can be found on the BBC’s website at

Martin Hatton’s paper in this issue of Pelobates prompted some delving into the archives which produced a couple of curioisities. A letter from Lord Hylton to the editor of “Country Life” was not sufficient to deter later generations of Croydon Caving Club and others:

“Sir, The letter in your issue of September 9th headed “Caves in Surrey” induces me, in the interest of public safety, to warn other trespassers against the danger to life and limb incurred by persons entering the old quarry workings near Merstham. Two unfortunate individuals lost their lives recently owing to sudden falls of stones in the Cheddar Gorge. A similar fate might easily have been met by the two boys who were rescued from the Merstham quarries some years ago. Your correspondent’s mentality must be peculiar in “having decided to dig open an entrance” which had been closed in order to protect the public so far as possible. It woud be interesting to know how Miss Mayhew would view the arrival of a party of unauthorised strangers in her garden and subsequent excavations therin on their part.

In 1977 the Club received a communication offering some thoughts on some of the more curious and mysterious finds in the quarries at Merstham, which the Club had displayed at that year’s BCRA National Caving Conference. The notes were accompanied by a letter explaining

“My delay in sending the enclosed notes to you was necessitated by my need to assure myself that the information, such as it is, would not be looked upon as the divulgence of information which I should have kept secret. There appears to be no harm done by this small amount of information becoming disseminated but I would ask two things of those of your members who are involved:

  1. That they treat any evidence which they may find to support the theories of the use of the mines for occult rites with an objective attitude
  2. That they DO NOT undertake any passing study of occult practices, ask for the names or addresses of any contact with regard to such study, or make up and carry out any foolish playing at performing rites using any artifacts which may be found.” As far as can be ascertained, this guidance was heeded by all subsequent generations of Croydon cavers. Although.....

The X Factor - If you have it, your prose could soon be appearing on the pages of Pelobates. Comments on this issue and items for the next issue, due out in the spring, are urgently needed. Trip reports, reviews, humour(?), news - nothing is too trivial for this organ.