Wookey Hole Caves are considered to be the birthplace of British cave diving.
Until 1935, Chamber 3 represented the limit of cave exploration on foot. Chamber 4 had been flooded by the mill leat and raised sluice gates since the 1850s, and nobody had penetrated further in recent times.
In 1935 two courageous divers, led by Graham Balcombe, walked along the river bed from Chamber 3 to Chamber 4.
The heavy and cumbersome deep sea diving equipment was not at all suitable for exploring caves. In spite of this, Balcombe reached Chamber 7 later that year. And in 1948, using oxygen equipment developed during the 2nd World War, he and his colleagues reached Chamber 9, now known as Cathedral Cave.
High on one wall is a beautiful “curtain” stalactite. And, most valuable of all for the divers, there is a wide curve of mud bank above the green water, enough for men and supplies to remain dry.
This is one of the most famous caverns in the history of cave diving. It is 30m high, its green water 20m deep, its vast walls red with iron oxide and shining with “flowstone” stalactite formations.
Chamber 9 was to become a forward diving base for all the explorations to follow over the next 30 years. The blasting of a manmade tunnel, and advances in modern diving technology have now allowed divers to explore as far as Chamber 25.
On the 29th of Sept 2004 John Volanthen and Rick Stanton with their dedicated team reached a depth of over 249 feet (76m) setting a new record.