Cornish Mines Underground 3: It is always quite difficult to take photographs underground, it’s not so much the conditions but its getting the equipment down there in the first place. Then after the trip it has to be carried out, often up a long rope. It is probably a good reason to change to digital, but I enjoy 35mm too much, the challenge is greater. At the end of the day the best way to learn is to get it wrong, learn by mistakes.
This page contains images of several sites entered at various times over the last few years, access is always dangerous and should never be attempted by the inexperienced.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.1- The first image on this page is of Dave above me descending a shaft that is around 260ft deep, daylight is just visible. This shaft is hard work to ascend as there is nowhere to rest and the exit keeps teasing you. Also, the internal dimensions are quite large which does not help the fear levels when you first get on the rope at the top!
Cornish Mines Underground 3.2- Dave nearing the bottom, the shaft is one of those drops that you think will never end.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.3- The passages on this level are full of delicate formations that can be easily broken, a slot for drainage can be seen on the right of the floor.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.4- The main pumping shaft of the mine is a short distance into the workings. It contains the “holy grail” of underground exploration, the shaft still contains rising main and pump rods. It is very rare to find such survivals underground as these were usually removed and sold when the mines closed. In this image Dave is standing beside a clack valve on the rising main. This was a device that allowed water to travel one way, it was lined with hide and when it worked a loud crack was heard, hence the name “Clack” Valve.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.5 – Stretching out over the pumping shaft and looking upwards I managed to get this image. The rising main is clearly seen with the pump rod which is in a state of collapse. When the shaft was open I have been told this was a great sight to see from the surface as long as somebody was holding onto your legs.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.6 – This was an amazing and rare sight to see, the pump rod has broken and is leaning on the side of the shaft.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.7 – This image is looking down the shaft from the shaft station. There is an obvious blockage in the shaft into which the rising main and pump rod disappear into.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.8 – A change of location, this is Dave and myself exploring various adits in the St Just area. Poking around in adits is always very dangerous and should not be attempted. Between us we have a total of 60 years experience of exploring underground, and we still get scared.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.9 – Wet tight and nasty, but always good fun, I send Dave in first as he is shorter I can see how wet I am likely to get.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.10 – We had to be very careful as the floor here was false which is why Dave is keeping close to the sides. I have learnt that this is all collapsed now, the timbering above Dave gave way blocking the chamber completely.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.11 – Another change of location, this adit was very confined and unstable, also very wet and nasty. Extensive bracing can be seen holding the roof up.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.12 – It gradually got wetter and tighter eventually leading to a collapse which was impassable, since we were in there it has totally collapsed.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.13 – This was a deep shaft around 300ft, to keep each other company we used two ropes. It was interesting with several levels coming off it. Rather than just being a shaft it was like dropping into an open stope as it had been mined away at either side. This is the deepest shaft on this page, the small slot of daylight can just be seen.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.14 – Dave, it’s a long way up! here Dave was trying to get some film of the shaft. This was before Go-Pro’s which have made life much easier.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.15 – This is Dave just starting up the long rope to the surface. The narrowness of the shaft can be clearly seen, typical of this area where the lodes are narrow.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.16 – A mine near Twelveheads showing part of a recent re-working in the 1980’s, this was an emergency exit and a main tramming level. This is the area around the shaft station. The shaft itself is on the right of the image, the whole area and the passages leading off are heavily braced to prevent roof falls.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.17 – The twin tracks can clearly be seen running down the passage. The whole area is heavily braced and reinforced, how long this passage will survive is uncertain, as the timber work gradually rots away it will become more and more unstable.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.18 – A final view of the drive in the mine showing the instability of the rock through which it was mined.
The next few images were taken around the Botallack Mine, St Just.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.19 – This image is taken looking down the famous Boscawen Diagonal Shaft, this inclines at thirty two and a half degrees for a distance of 2,500 feet reaching a vertical depth of 250 fathoms below the adit. Work started here in 1858 to gain access to the undersea rich sections of the mine far out underneath the Atlantic sea bed. In April 1863 this was the site of an accident when the chain attached to the gig used for hauling men broke on its way to the surface, eight men and a boy lost their lives.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.20 – This is taken looking up to the collar of Wheal Cock Pumping Engine Shaft, the Wheal Cock Section of Botallack Mine was the focus of much of the early 20th Century re-working.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.21 – A second image looking up to the collar.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.22 – The shaft has been heavily timbered.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.23 – Sadly the shaft is blocked, even though it looks safe bits of stone occasionally fell from the sides.
Cornish Mines Underground 3.24 – A more detailed image of the extensive timbering, this would date from the early 20th Century.
I must say again, NEVER enter old Mine Workings without the correct training, experience and equipment, the fact that the images are on the following pages DOES NOT infer access or permission. There are many groups in Cornwall active in underground exploration. Please check on the internet and go underground in safety with experienced explorers, never take risks, never just pop in for a look.
Cornish Mine Gallery Underground 4