South Crofty Mine Underground 4: There was so much luck for me to get down South Crofty. The place where I stayed the owner knew the mine secretary. She put me in touch with the Geology Department where I pleaded my case for access.
There is very little skill in these images but a large amount of luck. It was luck the film was ok, luck the camera was going to fire. luck the flash was going to fire, luck I was still conscious in the heat, luck I was underground in the first place. Finally the luck that got me a few good friends from South Crofty Mine. The story did not end there. All the films needed developing and then printing.
Today (2019) I am still reprinting these unique images.
In this page I have tried to show some of the tools of the trade, and miners doing different tasks during their working days.
Every working level in the mine had access to an ore pass. This was where the mined rock dumped so it could be fed into the main crusher. In the crusher it was reduced in size to sub 150mm. This made transporting the ore up the shaft to grass more efficient. Over each ore pass was a grid of iron bars known as a Grizzly. This was in place to stop over sized boulders from entering the crusher because they could jam it or cause damage. Often there was a dedicated Grizzly man whose job it was to break these large boulders up with a sledge hammer, or in some cases explosives. Mostly in South Crofty the job was done by the miners themselves.
The next few images are of a miner working on the Grizzly, once again this was a very dangerous place to be.
The next few images were taken on one of my trips with Dr Nick Leboutillier. The location was on Pryce’s Lode 295 Fathom, Sub Level 600ME.
The next images are of a “Tamrock” Drilling Machine. This was a machine that could drill several holes simultaneously, it was used widely on lode drives where the work was needed to be completed in a hurry. Several were in use underground I believe at least two are still down there.
The next three images are of another “Tamrock” machine in another part of the mine. These were incredible things to watch in action. This one is mounted on tyres as opposed to being track mounted.
In mining, a Raise is a vertical or inclined shaft that connects two levels. These were important in many ways. They increased the air flow around the workings. Between levels they were often laddered to provide an emergency access in case of a collapse. Also used in conjunction with Longhole Stoping where the stope was mined away from sublevels.
It was hot and dangerous work for the miners, the raise could often go for 100’s of feet with very little available ventilation and the constant risk of a fall of ground.
Kenny German ex South Crofty Miner 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 understood the dangers, but we loved it. We were and still are very proud to say we were Cornish Tin Miners .