“12 go to Reigate Caves” – Not the title of a new Enid Blyton Children’s adventure book(!) but the announcement that 12 of our Scouts, together with Leaders and some parents had a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting evening visiting the mines under Reigate Town Centre.
Friday, 29th May – With the 7th Crawley Scout Troop at Reigate Caves. A series of mine workings commenced in the 1820’s to dig out the sand for various uses and later, as a control centre during WW2.
We learnt the background of the saying “Happy as a sand boy”. “Boys” were employed to deliver sand to public houses, theatres and homes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Children were used in that trade, but most sandboys were adults. This use of ‘boy’ has frequently been used for low-status male workers, as in tea-boy, barrow-boy, house-boy etc. The use that the sand was put to was as a crude floor covering – a precursor to sawdust in what later became known as ‘spit and sawdust’ establishments – public spitting wasn’t then reviled as it is now. The “boys” were partly paid in beer. Well that would certainly make me VERY happy! lol
For further information about visiting the caves in Reigate why not visit the website of the Wealden Cave & Mine Society at http://www.wcms.org.uk/pages/club/reigate_caves.shtml