South Crofty Mine Underground 19: This is the first of two pages which looks at the people of the mine. These miners that worked underground in the heat and the danger were the life blood of Cornwall. Keeping alive a tradition that was 100’s of years old.
It was always difficult to capture images of the miners faces without getting in the way. Trying to be unobtrusive in such a confined atmosphere was almost impossible. However the fact that I did not get in the way, or stopped men working meant I could get many unique images.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.1 – This first image is of my good friend who sadly passed away in 2018. Dr Nick Le Boutillier Senior Mine Geologist. He is barring down in a stope to retrieve rock samples. This image was taken on 400 Fathom Providence Lode in 1996.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.2 – Nick attacking the roof from the other side. He is standing on freshly collapsed rocks.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.3 – Without Nick’s help these pages would never have happened. He was always upset I never had pictures of his face. Sadly he never got to see this one.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.4 – Rock sample snagged !
I came across the same miners time and time again. Many of the images on this page are of Cleve Williams, he always had a smile ready and never minded the camera.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.5 – This and the next few images are of Underground Miner Cleve Williams having a go at repairing a wagon in the fitters bay. I remember he was on a break and asked if I wanted some action shots.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.6 – With money at the mine so short, nothing was thrown away unless it was irreparable.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.7 – Similarly a Rocker Shovel being worked on. The equipment used in the mine was old and rarely replaced.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.8 – Another image of Cleve working on the Rocker Shovel.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.9 – A final image of Cleve Williams having a short break on a croust seat.
The next few images are of Mike Clothier Head of the Ventilation Department and James Pettett. This had been a long trip, we had been underground virtually all day and covered a lot of ground. We started at 145 Fathom climbing down to 260 Fathom Level on the ladders. Along with a hell of a lot of walking.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.10 – Mike Clothier (Left) andJames Pettett is on the right having a break before we headed for the surface. This is the 260 Fathom Shaft Station.
James Pettett has kindly written a few lines about his role at South Crofty:
The ventilation was critical to operation of the mine, as it was the only way out for gases and dust. This included the post blasting fumes and radon. Consequently we had to make sure that the system was performing and how changes to the mine would affect it.
The air was directed using doors. These would ultimately force the fresh air to go the long way round or down to the return shaft, Roskear or Taylor’s.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.11 – My favorite image on this page. An image of Mike Clothier, if you take out the lamp and other modern bits, this could have been taken 100 years ago.
My job was to monitor and record the system, by checking airflow quantities and temperature in the airways and also recording conditions in the working areas, especially some of the development ends.
This information could then be used in planning and cost projections. I would carry out a full ventilation survey once per month on each of the levels from 290 to 445 (I never did work out how many km’s that was). Most months I’d start at the top and work my way down a level per day. We’d also look at any door repairs needed and we would typically visit an old working once a month, where I would go with Mike Clothier and occasionally bring in others if the area was really dodgy or poorly mapped. I would also cover for Mike in radon measurements and ran a dust sampling programme.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.12 – A relaxed James Pettett having a brew whilst waiting for the cage.
South Crofty Mine Underground 19.13 – A final image of Mike Clothier from the ventilation Department taking air readings, this was principally to monitor the Radon Levels in the mine. He is using the IWLM – Instant Working Level Meter.
My thanks go to Keith Russ for some more information on Mine Ventilation.
During the last working years of the mine, Roskear was upcast as was Taylors – Only Cooks and Robinsons Shafts were downcast. The Ventilation Department had several tasks. The velocity and quantity of air were measured at fixed points throughout the mine. A vane anemometer was used to measure the flow, the temperature both dry and wet bulb were also measured too.
Again the radon was measured at fixed locations at regular intervals maybe once a month, it was usual for the ventilation dept, to measure both airflow and radon at the same time. Much effort was spent in tracing the flow of air round the mine, especially in connection with old workings which were a source of radon, and leakage of air.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.14 – Some of the drives and working faces had quite a lot of water on the floor. Due to this the humidity was always high, Tim Hocking and Mike Davis pictured here.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.15 – A second image of the pair of miners.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.16 – John Usoro Mine Geologist attaching a compressed air line to the main air feed.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.17 – John making sure the connection is tightened up correctly.
To me this next image captures the character of the men who worked at South Crofty Mine. The fog produced by the drills was known by the miners as funk, hence the phrase “Lets get funky” that was often used underground.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.18 – Hardly visible due to the fog from the drills. Two miners Cleve Williams and Dave Cunnick pose proudly in front of their Long Hole Stoping Drill.
The next three images are of South Crofty Miner Cleve Williams, and are worthy of mention. A powerful image of a proud man, an amazing addition to this page. These was taken just a few months before closure, on one of my last trips into the mine. Most probably one of the best underground portrait shots I have taken. Cleve sadly passed away in October 2015, I had hoped to meet him again at a Miner’s Reunion soon after. RIP Cleve.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.19 – The first image of Miner Cleve Williams, caught here having a break and a quiet smoke.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.20 – Another image of Cleve, smoking underground was allowed due to the lack of dangerous gasses. Also, if it had been stopped the miners would have probably rioted.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.21 – A final image of Cleve Williams, I was so lucky to get these pictures.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.22 – A badly damaged negative due to the heat underground, but still worth seeing. From L to R, Chris Rogers, Paul Richards and Kelvin Gay.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 19.23 – This final image I like to call, “One Man and his Loco”, in one of the few posed images. This is a picture of underground miner Vitek Urbanski with his Clayton electric locomotive.
South Crofty Mine Underground 20