South Crofty Mine Underground 3: The photographic equipment I used underground was all 35mm. The cameras were a mixture of Olympus Trips, sadly broken Om1’s and old Pentax Spotmatics. The older the camera the better as there were so few electronics to go wrong. The meters did not need to work because it was all point and shoot flash photography. However condensation in the lenses from the heat was a constant nightmare. Flashguns would regularly die, sometimes quietly, other times with a noisy bang. Once the moisture got in there short circuits would occur very quickly.
All in all I am surprised I managed to get any negatives to print at all.
This and the next page look at the different activities that went on in the mine.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.1 – James Pettett from the Ventilation Department taking readings of the air. The readings were taken because the radon levels required constant monitoring. This was taken in the adit system near to Robinson’s Shaft Complex.
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.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.2 – In another part of the mine. This is James Pettett removing the planks from a ventilation door.
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). 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.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.3 – A second image of the same. These were in place to direct fresh air around the mine system.
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 Fathom. (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.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.4 – More air readings being taken by James Pettett .
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: 3.5 – Monitoring the air quality was a very important task in order to clear the workings of dangerous fumes.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.6 – 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.
The next set of images on this page are of Andy Seager and Andy Staples (Mine Surveyors). They are taking readings on a optical theodolite in a newly mined passage.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.7 – Andy Seager (L) and Senior Surveyor Andy Staples (R) surveying a drive, in the foreground a Rocker Shovel. This was an important part of the mine, maps and diagrams had to be accurate or lives could be lost. In this image they are checking the vertical by hanging a plumb bob from the roof of the drive.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.8 – Using an optical theodolite the drive could be accurately measured and mapped on to the mine plans. Here Andy is sighting up the newly mined passage.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.9 – Surveyors usually worked in pairs so the measurements could be checked and easily recorded.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.10 – In order to check the distance old fashioned tape measures were used.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.11 – A final image of Andy Seager hard at work. Sadly but (usually hung over) as I was when I stayed a week with him. Thanks Andy! I still can’t remember much of the evenings. In the foreground is the rear end of a LM56 Rocker Shovel. The drive chain for the bucket can be clearly seen.
The next set of images were taken in a small shrink stope where the surveyors were measuring up. I think it’s a cracking series of photographs, sometimes the cameras and the flashguns worked well, this was one of those occasions. I have asked Allan Reynolds the location and he seems to think it was 360 Fathom No8 Lode. These date back to one of my last visits at the mine before closure.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.12 – From left to right: Mickey Roberts (Miner), Robin Boon (Chief Surveyor) and Allan Reynolds (Mine Surveyor).
Keith Russ who is still employed at the mine has kindly written out a few notes for the page:
Mine surveying is one of the most important aspects of modern mining. However it is often overlooked. If a surveyor does their job correctly no one notices – but if done incorrectly no one ever forgets !
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.13 – Very often in a shrink stope the miners were paid for the amount of rock moved. In order for the miners to be paid correctly, the stope had to be accurately measured. Mickey Roberts has the tape in his hand, Allan has his back to the camera and Robin is in the background.
Without surveys, the miners would not know where the various drives, sub-levels etc were in relation to each other. This can be very important from a safety point of view, especially when old workings are involved. In fact the survey is the skeleton upon which all other information can be based. Plans have to be kept by law and must be continually updated.
South Crofty Mine Underground: 3.14 – Development Miner Merv Randlesome is holding the tape measure up to the stope roof.
Modern surveys use digital theodolites, and lasers to measure distances. Traditional surveys used optical theodolites, such as the Carl Zeiss and Wild T2 used by South Crofty, and steel tapes to measure distances. Open and closed traverses are used to create the centre lines for the shafts and drives. This has not really changed in 100 years, only the equipment used to do so. The surveyors also measured the amount of rock broken so that the miners could be paid.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.15 – The guys heading down into the tunnel. I do remember it was very hot here. The area had been recently mined out so the ventilation had not been extended into the working area.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.16 – Looking up from the tunnel into the Shrink Stope.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.17 – Back on the ore pile, watching the South Crofty men continuing their measurements.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.18 – A good image of the guys at work. A large layer of the roof had been mined away. This was a small shrink stope where the miners would drill upwards. This was an efficient method of mining where the lode was rich.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.19 – The next few images are all quite similar, but also different. From left to right: Mickey Roberts, Robin Boon and Allan Reynolds.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.20 – From left to right: Mickey Roberts, Merv Randlesome, Robin Boon and Allan Reynolds.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.21 – From left to right: Mickey Roberts, Robin Boon, Merv Randlesome, and Allan Reynolds.
It was a rare opportunity for me to get the surveyors at work in such a confined area, I therefore made the most of it.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.22 – There was always time for a laugh and a joke. From left to right: Mickey Roberts, Robin Boon, Merv Randlesome, and Allan Reynolds.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.23 – Merv Randlesome holding the end of the tape against the roof. The structure here much have been unstable as there is an old roof bolt hanging down.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.24 – Allan Reynolds and Mickey Roberts measuring up the stope.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.25 – A second image of Allan Reynolds and Mickey Roberts. This was such a good set of images, sometimes in confined areas there was too much flash bouncing around, here is worked out perfectly.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.26 – Allan Reynolds (Mine Surveyor) at work in the stope, behind is Merv Randlesome holding the other end of the tape measure.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.27 – The final image in this set of prints. This image was a bugger to print, it took over an hour but with the reflection I think it was worth the effort.
The mine fitters, electricians and engineers were the men that kept the mine going. Always repairing and checking the equipment. I met a few but they often worked in the shadows or on the late shifts where they could get on with their work without disturbing the miners.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.28 – A mine fitter in the process of repairing a Cavo Rocker Shovel.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.29 – A pair of miners watch as the fitter does his work.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.30 – This is mine fitter Billy Palmer doing maintenance. In the background is the grizzler above the main crusher.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.31 – A second image of Billy Palmer.
Cornish Mine Images Underground: 3.32 – A final image of of the mine fitter, behind him is the ore pass where the skips would be loaded to be hoisted up the shaft.
South Crofty Mine Underground 4