South Crofty Mine Underground 4

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.

South Crofty Mine Underground Gallery 4 .1

South Crofty Mine Underground 4.1 – One of the tools of the trade. The explosives used in South Crofty were emulsion based explosives and ANFO (Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil). These were a lot cheaper and safer to use than Gelatine based powder which was phased out in the late eighties/early nineties.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.2 – A close up of the explosives.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.3 – Two SIG-24K rockdrills having a rest. These machines were used widely in South Crofty. They weighed 25kg with a length of 650mm, the compressed air telescopic leg was essential in use to hold the drill steady. A simple image, but it works.

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.

Cornish Mining

South Crofty Mine Underground 4.4 – Lee Williams South Crofty Miner working on the grizzly after dumping a load of mined ore.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.5 – A second image of Lee Williams.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.6 – It’s very hard to see this happening today. Health and safety would never allow it.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.7 – This was hard manual labour. The rocks were broken up using a sledge hammer, on larger lumps a small amount of explosive would need to be used. Would modern Health and Safety allow the miner to do this now?

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.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.8 – Mickey Roberts (L) and Merv Randlesome (R) having a chat in a sub level.

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South Crofty Mine Underground Gallery 4.9 – It was very hot in here with little or no ventilation. In the background is a compressed air winch.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.10 – Break over, then it’s time to get on with it.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.11 – The compressed air winch being operated by Mickey Roberts.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.12 – Nick Le Boutillier at the other end of the winch, collecting samples.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.13 – In this image, Underground Miner Neil Hodges is mending a water hose. This and the next few images were probably taken on the 445 Fathom Level Providence Lode Drive.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.14 – Job nearly done, every miner needed to know how to look after and repair his tools.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.15 – Neil Hodges and his mate Irvin Uren (Elmer) still mending the water hose. I was pleased with this image, totally unposed it was just luck that I managed to capture the moment.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.16 – John Usoro Geologist examining the lode in the roof of a drive.

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.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.17 – One of the large “Tamrock” remote drilling rigs used in the mine, there are fitters are working on it. I believe this is still down there as it was considered uneconomical to remove.

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South Crofty Mine Underground 4.18 – A second image of the “Tamrock”. I believe it was used widely but had the habit of breaking down frequently.

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South Crofty Mine 4.19 – The “Tamrock” was not a popular machine. Apart from being unreliable it used a huge amount of compressed air to operate. Other miners in the same area had problems powering their own machines when it was running.

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South Crofty Mine 4.20 – Finally repaired by the mine fitters, this is Senior Mine Geologist Nick Leboutillier watching the “Tamrock” at work.

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.

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South Crofty Mine 4.21 –  “Tamrock Drill” in use. The noise in such a confined space was deafening. A miner watches the machine at work, he is making sure on of the drills does not jam.

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South Crofty Mine 4.22 – The business end of a “Tamrock” drilling machine.

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South Crofty Mine 4.23 – Two miners having a chat, on a Clayton Loco, to the left is a “Tamrock Drill”.

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.

South Crofty Mine Underground 4

South Crofty Mine 4.24 – Perched high on a wooden platform in a near vertical shaft this is South Crofty miner Mickey Roberts. He is mining a raise to a higher level to aid ventilation. The only way up was to climb the chain hanging down the centre of the image. It looks like the miner has fuses in his hand, preparing for a blast.

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 .

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South Crofty Mine 4.25 – The final image on this page is looking up the raise. This was hot and very dangerous work.

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