This page focuses on the Robinson’s Shaft Winders. All the images on this page were taken while the site was still managed by South Crofty.
The Winder House was constructed in 1964 to house the new electric winder which replaced the original steam winder. This building was badly damaged by fire in June 1998, the roof was totally destroyed and the winder sat for many years with only a tarpaulin for protection against the weather.
The interior of the Electric Winder House, in the foreground part of the winder motor. The elevated drivers cabin is at the rear.
The shaft level indicator for the winder, this shows all the different levels in the shaft. The deepest here was the 380 Fathom.
A second image of the level indicators, more of the motor assembly can be seen.
The twin 12ft diameter rope drums, the braking arms can be seen with the tension bars.
The side of the winding drum, the rope is still attached to the cages in the shaft.
The winder drums from the front, the marks painted on the drum rim were for lining up the cages for maintenance.
On the inside of the winder drum is the anchor point for the wire rope.
A final image of the Robinson’s Shaft Winders, showing both the drums and the 330hp power unit. In the roof there is an overhead crane that was used for maintenance within the house.
The second of the Robinson’s Shaft Winders is the Capstan Engine, often called a Crab Winch due to the drive being at right angles to the cylinders. This was used for pitwork maintenance in the shaft and for the raising and lowering of heavy machinery. Originally powered by steam it was converted to compressed air when the new electric winder was installed. Built by Harvey and Co of Hayle in 1882 it is a rare survival being only one of two left in Cornwall. The flywheel was known as a Banana wheel due to the curved spokes within the rim.
The base of the headframe as seen from the Capstan Engine House, the drum for the wire rope is in the foreground.
The rope drum on its mounting, the rim on the right of the drum has the cogs which are driven by a conical worm drive directly underneath.
There is a lot to see in this image: behind the drum through the window the headframe steps can be seen, the cog drive on the cable drum can be seen clearly, one of the winder’s two cylinders can be seen along with the curved spokes of the “Banana Wheel”.
This image is taken infront of the engine cylinders, the one on the right is just in shot. The pipes originally brought the steam from the pumping engine boilers, in latter years this was powered by compressed air. The flywheel can be seen sitting between the two cylinders.
A closer image of the “Drivers Handle” used to control the rate of steam into the cylinders. The worm drive can be seen tucked under the drum. In the roof is the “knocker line” this was connected to a bell to communicate to the driver.
The graceful Banana Flywheel of the engine, the swivel camshaft mountings can be clearly seen.
A final view of the Crab Winch the cylinder drive to the flywheel camshaft can be clearly seen. This is an amazing piece of machinery that I was lucky to photograph before the site was abandoned.
Both of the Robinson’s Shaft Winders are now preserved by Heartlands, the electric winder house has been re-roofed, however the winder itself has received little attention. The crab winch has been preserved in situ, I was disappointed on my visit to Heartlands as this wonderful piece of machinery was difficult to find, tucked away in the dark and no explanations of its heritage or use.
South Crofty Mine Robinson’s Side 5