120 Years: Kents Cavern Invites Visitors to Share Their Stories
We're celebrating 120 years of guided tours, and we'd like to hear your stories of your experience with Kents Cavern! Are you a former tour guide? Did you visit when you were a child? Do you have a connection to the Powes? Get in touch!
Underneath Torquay, one of the most iconic prehistoric caves in the UK, Kents Cavern, is celebrating its 120th anniversary. On the 23rd of April 2023, the attraction marks 120 years since the cave was bought by Francis Powe and guided tours began, kicking off a journey that has spanned five generations and welcomed over 10 million visitors.
Since Francis Powe's acquisition of Kents Cavern in 1903, the Powe family has worked tirelessly to preserve the site's geological and historical importance while also making it accessible to the public. Today, Kents Cavern is an award-winning attraction, popular with families, school groups, and tourists from all over the world who come to experience the unique beauty of the cave and learn about its rich history.
To celebrate the historic milestone, Kents Cavern is planning to relive the memories and create new ones.
A series of exciting new events have been planned throughout the year, including Dungeons & Dragons in a Cave and Coastal Foraging, as well as bringing back crowd favourites like Yoga in a Cave and Cave Cinema.
The team at Kents Cavern are also reaching out to past visitors and staff to share their stories of the caves over the last century. The Kents Cavern “Tribe” are keen to hear from anyone who has visited the site, worked there, or has a connection to the Powe family. These stories will be collected and curated into a special exhibition that will showcase the rich history of Kents Cavern and its place in the local community. The exhibition will be a testament to the enduring legacy of this iconic site and how it has touched the lives of so many people throughout its 120-year history.
Kents Cavern is excited to connect with past visitors and staff and invites them to get in touch via the website, social media channels or to add their written accounts to a guestbook in the visitor centre and share their stories to be a part of this special anniversary celebration.
Nick Powe, the current custodian, and the fifth Powe to look after the cave:
"We are incredibly proud to be celebrating 120 years of Kents Cavern. It has been an extraordinary journey for our family, and we are excited to share this special anniversary with our visitors, staff and supporters and hear everyone’s stories."
James Hull, General Manager said:
"I am lucky enough to have been part of the Kents Cavern journey for 20 years, and am excited at what this momentous year will hold. Kents Cavern is a remarkable place that people from all walks of life enjoy, and we hope these new events and stories from the past will inspire a new generation of explorers to discover the magic of Kents Cavern.”
Elliot Ling, the attraction's Education Officer said:
"We are thrilled to be celebrating 120 years of Kents Cavern. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Powe family, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this important site is preserved for future generations to enjoy. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Kents Cavern to share their stories, enjoy our celebrations and experience the magic of this incredible place."
Although the team are celebrating 120 years, the caves have been an important part of Torquay for far longer. In fact, Kents Cavern has a special place in the history of human evolution, having been inhabited by prehistoric humans for over 500,000 years. It has also played a significant role in scientific research, with important discoveries made within its walls, including some of the oldest human remains ever found in Britain. In 1927 a jawbone was uncovered in the stalagmite floor which was subsequently dated to 40,000 years old, making it the oldest human fossil found in the UK.
Today, visitors can see evidence of its fascinating history through guided tours that take them on a journey through time. They can explore the chambers and passageways where early humans once lived, and marvel at the intricate formations that have been created over centuries by the dripping water that permeates the cave.
Over the years, Kents Cavern has won numerous awards for its commitment to providing an outstanding visitor experience, including Winners of Winners in the 2022 Devon Tourism Awards, alongside Gold for Large Visitor Attraction and Tourism Event of the Year for Cave Cinema.
Kents Cavern's year-long 120th-anniversary celebrations are set to be a memorable occasion, and visitors are encouraged to follow the attraction on social media as they share the stories of the past.