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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.