South Crofty Mine Underground 18: The first few images on this page are of the extensive adit system of the mine which I was lucky enough to visit.
The adits were critical to the mines operation because they would carry the drainage water from the workings. The water was never pumped to surface due to this being a waste of time and effort. It was usually pumped to adit level which was the lowest level of the mine above the water table. From here it would flow to an outlet.
Many of these narrow tunnels were several hundreds of years old. Dug by men with hand tools and a candle on their head. All the adits were regularly checked to ensure the water did not flow back into the workings.
Every level in the mine was connected by a ladder way. These were in place to aid ventilation and provide a second way out in case of emergency. Climbing them in the heat and humidity was brutal. Trying to negotiate a large camera bag through small gaps was a constant nightmare. The next few images show how confining they could be.
During the 1980’s the decision was made to mine a sub decline to deepen the mine and hopefully exploit new deeper lodes. At this time the bottom of Cooks Kitchen Shaft was on the 380 fathom level. In the years to come this would be deepened to 400 fathom with the shaft sump on 420 fathom level.
There were actually two declines. North was from 380 to 420 Fathom, the west was from 420 to 470 Fathom. Both had been mined on a 1 in 4 incline. On one side was a conveyor belt for bringing the ore up from the lower levels. Whilst on the other were rails on which a wagon was pulled up by a winder at the top, each had its own small electric winder.
The remaining images on the page are of the sub declines, they are probably a bit mixed up because I cannot remember the locations correctly. Consequently walking up here after a few hours underground was always exhausting.
These following final images were difficult to print because of all the light and dark areas. Once again the effort in the darkroom was worth it. I will give an idea of the technicalities of Black and White printing. Due to different densities, the centre areas needed only 30 seconds exposure, the area to the left took around a minute, the roof took about 40 seconds. However, the light areas in the front and to the right of the image took between two and three minutes.