South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20: This is the second page of Miners and people.
This is the final page of the new South Crofty Underground Series, and this is the last of the printable negatives from my collection.
It has been a labour of love with many 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.
Thank you.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.1 – This first image is of Mike Clothier Head of the Ventilation Department. James Pettett is on the right having a break before we headed for the surface. This had been a long trip, we had been underground virtually all day and covered a lot of ground. We started at 145 Fathom climbing down to 260 Fathom Level on the ladders. Along with a hell of a lot of walking.

James Pettett has kindly written a few lines about his role at South Crofty:
The ventilation was critical to operation of the mine, as it was the only way out for gases and dust. This included the post blasting fumes and radon. Consequently we had to make sure that the system was performing and how changes to the mine would affect it.
The air was directed using doors. These would ultimately force the fresh air to go the long way round or down to the return shaft (Roskear or Taylor’s).

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.2 – My favorite image on South Crofty Mine Underground Gallery 20, an image of Mike Clothier, if you take out the lamp and other modern bits, this could have been taken 100 years ago.

My job was to monitor and record the system, by checking airflow quantities and temperature in the airways and also recording conditions in the working areas, especially some of the development ends.
This information could then be used in planning and cost projections. I would carry out a full ventilation survey once per month on each of the levels from 290 to 445 (I never did work out how many km’s that was). Most months I’d start at the top and work my way down a level per day. We’d also look at any door repairs needed and we would typically visit an old working once a month, where I would go with Mike Clothier and occasionally bring in others if the area was really dodgy or poorly mapped. I would also cover for Mike in radon measurements and ran a dust sampling programme.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.3 – A relaxed James Pettett having a brew whilst waiting for the cage.

It was unusual for me to have a chance to capture miners ate 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

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.4 – This first is of image of Stevie Bowers and Adrian Mugford. Talking to John Usoro Mine Geologist.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

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

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.6 – This was a rare opportunity to get some great images.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.7 – There really was something about these images that made them very special.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.8 – A final image of the pair of South Crofty Miners, proud and brave men.

The next three images are of South Crofty Miner Clevie Williams. A powerful image of a proud man, an amazing addition to South Crofty page. This was taken a few months before closure, on one of my last trips into the mine. Most probably one of the best underground shots I have done.

Clevie sadly passed away earlier this month (October 2015), I had hoped to meet him again at a Miner’s Reunion at the end of the month. RIP Clevie.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.9 – The first image of Miner Clevie Williams.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.10 – Another image of Clevie, smoking underground was allowed due to the lack of dangerous gasses. Also if it had been stopped the miners would have probably rioted.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.11 – A final image of Clevie Williams.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

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

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.13 – Billy Palmer working on an ore pass.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.14 – A second image of Billy Palmer.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.15 – A final image of the mine fillter. In the background is the grizzler above the main crusher.

South Crofty Mine Underground 20

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.16 – John Usoro, Steve Roberts and Billy Palmer having a break on a croust seat.

My thanks go to Keith Russ for the information on Mine Ventilation.
During the last working years of the mine, Roskear was upcast as was Taylors – Only Cooks and Robinsons Shafts were downcast. The Ventilation Department had several tasks. The velocity and quantity of air were measured at fixed points throughout the mine. A vane anemometer was used to measure the flow, the temperature both dry and wet bulb were also measured too.

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine Underground 20.17 – Mike Clothier from the ventilation Department taking air readings, this was principally to monitor the Radon Levels in the mine. He is using the IWLM – Instant Working Level Meter.

Again the radon was measured at fixed locations at regular intervals maybe once a month, it was usual for the ventilation dept, to measure both airflow and radon at the same time. Much effort was spent in tracing the flow of air round the mine, especially in connection with old workings which were a source of radon, and leakage of air.

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine Underground Gallery 20.18 – A meeting of minds in South Crofty. John Usoro leads the discussion. From L to R Gary Dunn (Shift Boss), John, Clevie Williams and Dave Cunnick Underground Miners, the open stope is up the passage.

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine 20.19 – A badly damaged negative but worth seeing. From L to R, Chris Rogers, Paul Richards and Kelvin Gay.

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine 20.20 – I was so pleased with this image, there is slight negative damage due to the excessive heat on the 445 Fathom Level. 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 (Still Working not posing , which was unusual) On the right of the image is the end on a ventilation pipe that was pouring air into the drive in an effort to keep it cooler, it was not however working for me!

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine 20.21 – To complete this page an image I always wanted, the Croust Seat. This was the traditional name for the miners rest area. I recently found this image 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 Julian Collison for the location)

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine 20.22 – 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, too late now.

I believe this image sums up South Crofty Mine. A family of men who loved their work and the atmosphere of the job. A family that face danger beyond many peoples comprehension every time they went to work. Without doubt a cracking photograph.
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.

As always, I am indebted to Nick Le Boutillier for the names of the miners in the images (where he can remember them). Where his memory is a bit hazy Martin Wolstenholme has helped out with some names and technical details. My friend Paul “Winja” Coppinger has also come through with names that might have been forgotten.

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

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