Whilst this looks like a large vice, it isn't.
"It is the frame for a horizontal milling machine or possibly a saw, hard to tell with the working head/cross slide removed)
In those bays are also the remains of quite a few pedestal drills, a lathe, the complete bed and frame assembly for it
and the box of gear wheels is also part of it.." Andy Belcher, of
Wealden Cave & Mine Society, who took the same tour of the caves with
Laurence at a later date.
We rejoined the central longitudinal tunnel and made our way out into the warm sunshine.
I’d always dismissed the shelter, thinking of it as just a small tunnel in the woods of Cane Hill. But I’d been
proved wrong - the tunnels are definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area.
With that, we pushed on up the hill. Laurence’s tour was over - and I welcomed the opportunity to document
a small part of the history of the tunnels. The various bits-and-pieces of machinery may not be weird contraptions from the
asylum, but the fact that they were used to grind and test lenses for telescopes is equally
Indeed, for a bit of history, then check
out this film
from the 1960s of the tunnels.
Speaking of hospitals, it was now time to
get back inside our favourite.
I received the following e-mail describing a lone infiltration to the tunnels. Just in case anyone fancied going alone!
"No one wanted to come 'out to play' so I gave my wife the NGR, arranged a
callout time, having located the hole in the roof the previous day and set off alone.
A little test for myself, 'Am I afraid of the dark?'
It was creepy. VERY creepy! I sat just inside for a while listening, I don't
believe in ghosts, there's nothing in life to be scared of except other
I gradually advanced. I was taking it steady as initially I had no idea of
the layout and didn't want to get lost so I was being fairly systematic and
went round in a generally a clockwise direction.
About halfway in I started to hear the occassional odd noise, just an echo.
Eventually I heard it again, this time when I was already standing dead
still and holding my breath listening. Definitely not me!! A low moan, and a
scuffling sound. The hairs rose on the back of my neck!
Forcing myself to remain calm (and therefore in control) I retraced my steps
back to the entrance resisting the urge to keep spinning round to stare
Eventually I got a grip, gave myself a stern talking to, and headed back in.
Finally I got to the end of the main drag and found the ventilator. A piece
of plastic blowing across the floor was making the noise.
Finally I circled right through the bunker having conquered my fear and now
certain that I am not scared of the dark per se.
I have a dodgy shoulder and have to be careful climbing at certain angles. I
decided the 'boost' out through the roof might be risky if my shoulder pops
out and I'm alone so I decided to go out through the South entrance. I am
very skinny, and managed to get my upper body out but then discovered I had
nothing to push my legs against or pull with my arms. I was stuck! Being
rescued is an embarrasing experience I don't want to have so I ended up
wriggling on my stomach muscles until I was able to get my hips through. I
won't do that again!