South Crofty Mine Underground 11: The working conditions were pretty grim in the mine it was hot and dangerous work. However, spare a thought for the miners of the nineteenth century who walked to work often a long distance. Then climbed down ladders to get to their work place in the mine with only the light of a candle to guide them.
This page contains more images of the drive development, which is a horizontal passage which follows the line of the lode. The holes were drilled then charged with explosives to advance the passage. Following the miners would be track layers for the machinery and services such as ventilation compressed air would be installed. It is a mixture of images of different areas and miners.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.1 – The first image on this page is of Vitek Urbanski (L) with Andrew Harvey (R) developing a drive.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.2 – The noise from the drill in such a small space was deafening.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.3 – Hot and wet, it was not an easy place to work.
Nick Le Boutillier has kindly written some notes on the method of drilling the holes in the drive.
There was no ‘standard’ drill pattern. If a lode was narrow and planar you could get away with 6 holes. These were 3 parallel holes up, and 3 down from a sublevel. If the lode was wider, or if you had a mineralised envelope, the miner would drill a fan of holes of differing length to capture as much as possible.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.4 – In this image Andrew Harvey is positioning the drill for Vitek.
If the lode had pinched or swelled, again you would drill a variable fan to get as much ore as possible. I saw rings with up to 20 holes in some of the more complex patterns. The longest holes could exceed 12m in depth. However more often than not they were 10m or less (less chance of the holes ‘wandering’) and in a fan some would only be 2-3m.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.5 – Holding the drill steady was a two man job, even with the telescopic leg.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.6 – A final image of Vitek and Andrew. The drill steels in the face are used to guide the driller to where the next hole goes.
It was always very difficult to keep the cameras clear of mist and moisture. THe next few images were once again taken at the end of a drive. Here the temperatures could soar because of the lack of ventilation.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.7 – Two South Crofty miners pushing a drive, the rails stop near the face. After blasting a Rocker Shovel would be used to move the blasted rock. The drilling then restarts for the next round of explosives.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.8 – After all the holes are drilled they will be charged with explosives.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.9 – The exhaust from the drill can be seen, however there is no indication of the tremendous noise that was assaulting the eardrums.
The next set of images on this page are of Underground Miner Vitek Urbanski. These were taken on the 445 Fathom Providence crosscut. I remember it clearly because Vitek asked me if I wanted to take some action shots of him drilling.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.10 – Underground Miner Vitek Urbanski drilling a hole for firing. He is using a compressed air drill with a hydraulic leg to hold it in position.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.11 – It was very hot in this drive,. The common sight of water on the floor added to the high humidity levels, also not good for photography.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.12 – Another image of Vitek Urbanski, as with a lot of miners I photographed, his eyes are closed when drilling.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.13 – A slightly wider view of Vitek drilling.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.14 – My favorite image on the page. Vitek was very friendly. Even though he was having a break he happily offered to fire up the drill so I could take some pictures. Like all the miners there as long as you did not get in their way they were quite happy to be the photographic model.
More images of another drive in another part of the mine. It was always very difficult to record the location details. All I ever did was ask permission of the miners to take their photographs.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.15 – Two miners at the end of a narrow drive struggling to work in the heat.
South Crofty Mine Underground 11.16 – Working in these conditions was a constant attack on the senses.
This and the rest of the images on this page were taken on the 390 fathom sub level in North Pool. This was a pair of overlapping structures. East was the NPQ “North Pool Quartz Lode” the west side was on the NPB2 “North Pool B2 Lode” vein system. These images were probably taken in 1997.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.17 – This image is of Dr Nick Le Boutillier, he is taking samples from the structure at the end of the drive.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.18 – The structure of the lode the drive follows can be seen clearly.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.19 – One of my favorites on this page. Also a nice crisp image of Nick Le Boutillier and Julian Collison.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.20 – The miners discussing the structures with the face of the drive.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.21 – Miner Julian Collison is positioning the bar. In the background is Miner Malcolm Harris talking to Nick Le Boutillier senior mine geologist.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.22 – The bar that Julian Collison is arranging will form the anchor point for the rock drills when in use.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.23 – Nick Le Boutillier is sampling the face of the drive before it is drilled over for the next blasting.
Nick Le Boutillier had finished his investigation of the drive face. The miners then begin to get ready to start the days work.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.24 – A closer image of Julian Collison nearer the camera and Malcolm Harris standing behind. Preparations to start the drilling are almost complete.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.25 – The miners are drilling the floor of the drive to anchor the ladders for drilling. This gave the telescopic leg of the SIG rock drill something to anchor against.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.26 – Preparation complete, Julian gets ready to drill. Malcolm is also positioning the drill for the first hole.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.27 – A rather nice image of the drill in use, because of the confined area the noise was deafening.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 11.28 – The final image on this page is of Julian Collison drilling. He is using is an Sig 29K rock drill. The lode structure in the face can clearly been seen.
South Crofty Mine Underground 12