One day, when I was chatting with my neighbour, who has lived in Pinner for over three decades, she said “ Do you know you live just a few yards away from the chalk mines?” I was intrigued. My daughter who was playing nearby, overheard her and said “Mines! That’s so wonderful. I guess it will be just like the seven dwarfs digging up in the Snow White’s story!”
My neighbour said the chalk mines did have guided tours till some years ago, so I wanted to find out more. Well… my daughter was keen to know more, albeit in the fairytale of mines!
The mine is north of Uxbridge road, near the Montesoles Playing Fields. To get to the mine cage (which is protected by metal fencing), you need to reach the far end of the Montesoles Playing Fields where the ‘Grims Dyke’ is and then head for the first gap in the hedge. Quarrying was done through out the 1800s and the earliest lease document to be preserved is that of 1830.
Between late 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 1000 adults and 2000 young members of the Scout movement were taken to the mines on the guided tours. Unfortunately, The London Borough of Harrow, which owns the mines, does no longer allow visit to chalk mines for health and safety reasons.
My daughter and I were disappointed we couldn’t have the experience of exploring this ancient mine. But we were both glad to take a virtual tour on http://www.pinnerchalkmine.info/5.html. It shows the mine shaft, the main galleries, visitors, curious etchings on the walls by the miners and more. It is really breathtaking. The website is created and maintained by Ken Kirkman. He has imparted his wealth of knowledge and shared his experiences on this site. Don’t forget to go on a virtual tour of the mine!
(The photo of main gallery, on the homepage, is by Nick Catford)