South Crofty Mine Underground 20: This is the second page of Miners and the people of the mine. Also, this is the final page of the new South Crofty Underground Series, this is the last of the printable negatives from my collection.
It has been a labour of love with countless hours spent in the darkroom, but it was worth it. These pages are a historical reminder and a tribute to all those who have worked in Cornish Mines. I hope everyone who has taken the trouble to look at these images has enjoyed seeing them.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.1 – This and the next two images were taken at the 420 Fathom Substation. In the photograph are: Steve Smith, Paul Gunn and Keith Pankhurst.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.2 – It was always a good opportunity to record when the guys were taking a break. From right to left; Paul Gunn, Keith Pankhurst and Dave Bishop.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.3 – Dave Bishops looks on while “Sherpy” Steve Herbert has a laugh with his companions.
It was unusual for me to have a chance to capture miners at ease. These following images were taken on one of my trips with John Usoro. The location was a sublevel on No:4 Lode – 420 or 445 Fathom Level.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.4 – This first is of image of Adrian Mugford and Stevie Bowers. Talking to John Usoro Mine Geologist.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.5 – A second image of the same, it was always nice to capture these moments in time. The chains in the background were surrounding a drop in the floor to the level below.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.6 – This was a rare opportunity to get some great images.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.7 – There really was something about these images that made them very special.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.8 – A final image of the pair of South Crofty Miners, proud and brave men.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.9 – An image of Dave Buzza. He was the winder driver at the top of one of the sub declines.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.10 – Another closer view of the winder controls. As it was a metal mine smoking was not a hazard.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.11 – A final image of Dave Buzza.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.12 – This image is of Steve Roberts and Billy Palmer. Two very jolly looking Mine Fitters.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.13 – The same two fitters joined by another miner for a chat.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.14 – John Usoro, Steve Roberts and Billy Palmer having a break on a croust seat.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20.15 – A cracking image of Allen Buckley Mine Historian and well known author. This was taken on an inspection of the Mine’s Adit System.
The next set of images are of Underground Miner Kenny German and John Usoro discussing the days work. The location is not definite but John seems to think this is probably No 8 lode on the 445 Fathom level.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.16 – Kenny German and John Usoro, discussing the days work and the progress being made. The lighting was very atmospheric and these next images were a joy to print.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.17 – Kenny and John Usoro talking, Kenny was a specialist raise miner and very well respected.
Kenny German has kindly written a few words for the website.
Well at South Crofty my main job was raise mining. It could be very dangerous but also very rewarding, I had couple very close calls. One time I was up about 20mts, I set the platform ready for barring down. I started barring down when a massive rock came off the face and wiped out the platform I was standing on. Luckily I had anticipated what was about to happen and positioned myself on one off the L bars keeping platform in place. So there I was, over 60 feet up stranded on a single 1 inch bar. I had to reach full length to get to the chain ladder and to relative safety. Myself and most the others who worked underground fully understood the dangers, but we loved it. We were and still are very proud to say we were Cornish Tin Miners.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.18 – Kenny and John continue their discussions.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.19 – I particularly like the lighting on this photograph.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.20 – This image is without doubt one of my favorites from all the galleries. With the high heat and humidity the South Crofty Miners often worked wearing only a few clothes (1996). Probably one of the best portraits I managed in South Crofty.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.21 – John Usoro and Miner Steve Dadd talking at the end of 420 Fathom, Roskear A Lode.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.22 – A meeting of minds in South Crofty. John Usoro leads the discussion. From L to R Gary Dunn (Shift Boss), John, Cleve Williams and Dave Cunnick Underground Miners, the open stope is up the passage.
I believe these final images sum up my experiences in the working South Crofty Mine. This was a family of men who loved their work and the atmosphere of the job. A family that faced danger beyond many peoples comprehension every time they went to work. Without doubt a set of cracking photographs. I saved the best till last.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.23 – I was so pleased with this image. There is slight negative damage due to the excessive heat on the 445 Fathom Level which caused the emulsion to melt. However it printed well. From L-R Chris “Swampy” Rogers, Kelvin Gay (Diamond Drilling Foreman), Nathan Gay, John Wedlake, Paul “Snitcher” Richards and John Usoro.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.24 – To complete this page some images I always wanted, the Croust Seat. This was the traditional name for the miners rest area. I recently found these images on a filed set of negatives that I had written off. This is the main croust seat on 445 level. Just off of the west decline station and before the fitters bay. (Thanks to Julian Collison for the location)
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20.25 – The last image on the South Crofty Mine Underground pages is a second image of the croust seat. I wish I had more of these, because it’s too late now. In the left of the image are Mike Tregonning and Vitek Urbanski, nearest the camera on the right is Graham Thomas, Pat Hudd and David Laity is third from right
I am indebted to my dear friend, the late Dr Nick Le Boutillier for the names of the miners in the images and the many locations he could recall at a whim. Without his help and encouragement I would never have created these pages. When Nick’s memory was a bit hazy Martin Wolstenholme has helped out with some names and technical details. My friends Paul “Winja” Coppinger, Malcolm Harris and Neil Hodges have also come through with names that might have been forgotten. Many others including: James Pettet, Keith Russ, Bill Bettison and Kenny German have contributed to the pages.
I will never forget any of the time I spent in South Crofty. It’s over 20 years since the mine last worked. I hope my photographic memories on these pages has given everyone an insight into this amazing place and the people who worked there. As always I have tried to be accurate in my descriptions and comments.
Where I have not, please let me know.
South Crofty Mine Old Workings Gallery