South Crofty Mine Underground 5: The ride in the cage down Cooks Shaft was always an adventure. By the time the cage reached the 400 Fathom level my guts were usually about half way down. Sadly, not a good thing to do when hung over from the night before. I never knew where I was going unless it was a specifically planned day to old parts of the mine. The more I could see the better.
This page’s images covers the important task of Rock Bolting, this was required when the structure of the rock had been weakened or fractured. The main method of Rock Bolting used at South Crofty was “Mechanically Anchored Bolts” The bolts were usually 1.8m split sets. So a 1.8m hole was drilled the bolt inserted. It was then tensioned up using the drill. Thick mesh as seen in the image below was often used in conjunction, in order to physically hold the loose surface together.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.1 – South Crofty Miner Lee Williams preparing to mesh the roof of a drive. The telescopic leg on the drill is being extended.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.2 – The bolts with the large flat washers will hold the mesh in place.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.3 – Lee Williams and his mate Stevie Burrows (Elmer) drilling the holes for rock bolts in the roof of the drive. On the right is the ventilation tube carrying fresh air into the area.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.4 – The roof here would have been fractured or weakened making it a hazard. Behind the miners is a Clayton Loco.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.5 – The rock bolts were in place to add stability to the roof of the drive. The netting is to hold the rock together and prevent lumps falling out. The miner is working below a completed mesh section for safety.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.6 – Rock and debris fall from the roof as a hole is drilled.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.7 – Adjustments are made on the SIG rock drill. The drive here was quite wet, the water can be seen flowing freely on the floor.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.8 – Stevie Burrows looks on while Lee adjusts the drill.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.9 – Miner Paul Gallie is on the right, the passage starts to fill with vapour when the drill is working.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.10 – The pair of miners surveying their handiwork.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.11 – The final image of this set, another unposed photograph of the miners at work.
The remaining images on this page were taken in Dolcoath South 340 Fathom Level. I went here on one of my days with Nick Le Boutillier. The pillars here were packed full of Tin and I managed to get a few samples. The miners here were Malcolm Harris and Billy (Cowboy) Bettison. Billy has told me since that he remembered this drive clearly, it was very unsafe and unstable. Making it a very dangerous place to be.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.12 -Nick Le Boutillier and Malcolm Harris examining the face at the end of the drive.
Billy Bettison has kindly written some lines on the life of a Development Miner. He has my thanks, a great addition to to the page and the history on here.
The normal day in a Development Miners Life; First of all have the crack with the boys waiting for the cage to go underground. Arrive at your level, then walk to your end or grab a loco and drive along the track. Collect your powder or explosives from the underground magazines and head off for the day.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.13 – Billy supporting the length of pipe while Malcolm finds his tools.
The first job would be go to the face and wash down after previous days blast. Once all the dust is damped down go and look at the ground. If necessary go in with a pinch bar, bar any loose material down to make safe for mucking out. Start the mucking out, usually with a Eimco or a Copco back mucker which loads the wagons behind. Once the wagons are loaded drive down the tracks to the grizzle area, tip the wagons and then carry on until the face is cleaned out.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.14 – Billy and Malcolm attaching a length of compressed air line to the supply.
If needed you would have to lay track which was the hardest part of the job. Blowing out the ground with a blowpipe to fit the sleepers in. Also you would have to put your services in, water and air pipes. When this has been done, set up to drill. Two of you would be drilling, helping each other to colour your holes off. Every instruction because of the noise was done by your cap lamp. Once drilling has been completed we would charge the face with Anfo if dry. If the conditions were wet normal sticks of dynamite were used, then bang and off she goes.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.15 – The same miners from the passage the other side. Leaning against the wall is a “dropset”. This was a 3 metre length of parallel track welded together. Inside it could be fitted a “slider” which was a 3m length of track welded in such a way that the rails were turned on their side. The slider would fit inside the gauge of the main track. Then it was slid into the muckpile by pushing it with the bucket of the mucker, the pile could be cleared ready for the new track and services.
During the drilling you can use various cuts depending on ground conditions: 5, 6, 7 or 9 hole. Also if you want to throw the dirt back you would use a wedge cut. When charging the face the lowest number would be in the middle of the cut. You would fire the cut first making the small hole bigger from the inside and time the holes from inside to out. So, the cut would go first then the box and diamond, stripping holes, eassers, side holes ,top holes then last of all the bottom holes the lifters. Then do it all again the next day.
South Crofty Mine Underground 5.16 – Looking remarkably casual and probably showing off to the camera. Bill Bettison using the SIG Rockdrill one handed.
As a rule a development end is mined on waste parallel to the load /seam. Draw points are mined to the base of the lode where the lode is then stopped out in benches. However if it is mined on lode the old method of Cousin Jack timber ore chutes were put in to remove the broken ore. After the shift all out on the cage, shower in the dry and home.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.17 – Malcolm Harris holding the mesh in place whilst the bolts are tightened up.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.18 – A nicely balanced Malcolm Harris holding the mesh to the roof of the drive.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.19 – It was very hot and humid in this drive. It was very difficult keeping the camera clear of steam and mist.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.20 – Billy about to pull out the SIG rockdrill from a completed hole.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.21 – Drilling the hole for the next bolt. These were usually 1.8m deep, this would effectively hold the fractured rock together. The roof here was very dangerous.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.22 – Another image of the pair of miners drilling an anchor hole in the wall.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.23 – Changing the steel on the SIG rockdrill.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.24 – This image is nicely framed by the Rocker Shovel.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.25 – The condition of the rock here must have been bad as the mesh is being attached to the walls as well. A good one of Billy Bettison tightening the bolts.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.26 – Malcolm Harris having a breather while Billy continues with the drilling.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.27 – In this image Billy is tightening up the expanding bolt with the SIG Rockdrill.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 5.28 – The final and my favorite image on this gallery. The extent of the Rock Bolting can be seen covering most of the walls and roof.
South Crofty Mine Underground 6