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.
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). 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.