South Crofty Mine Underground 4: There was so much luck for me to get down South Crofty. The place where I stayed when I was in Cornwall, the owner knew the mine secretary. She put me in touch with the Geology Department where I pleaded my case for access.
Once I had my first visit to the mine I hoped it would carry on, it did. When underground the cameras needed to be lucky. It was luck the film was ok, luck the camera was going to fire. Luck the flash was going to fire, luck the lens had not steamed up, luck I was underground in the first place. Finally the luck that got me a few good friends from South Crofty Mine.
The story did not end there. All the films needed developing and then printing. I have discovered the real skill is found in the darkroom, it has been a long journey, but it has been worth all the effort. On this page I have tried to show some of the tools of the trade, and a continuation of miners doing different tasks during their working days.
The next few images are of miners working on the Grizzly, once again this was a very dangerous place to be.
Every working level in the mine had access to an ore pass. This was where the mined rock dumped so it could be fed into the main crusher. In the crusher it was reduced in size to sub 150mm. This made transporting the ore up the shaft to grass more efficient.
Over each ore pass was a grid of iron bars known as a Grizzly. This was in place to stop over sized boulders from entering the crusher because they could jam it or cause damage. Often there was a dedicated Grizzly man whose job it was to break these large boulders up with a sledge hammer, or in some cases explosives.
Mostly in South Crofty the job was done by the miners themselves.
The next few images were taken during one of my trips with Dr Nick Leboutillier. The location was on Pryce’s Lode 295 Fathom, Sub Level 600ME.
A different location, the following images were probably taken on the 445 Fathom Level Providence Lode Drive.
The next images are of “Tamrock” Drilling Machines. These were machines that could drill several holes simultaneously, it was used widely on lode drives where the work was needed to be completed in a hurry. Several were in use underground I believe at least two are still down there.
In mining, a Raise is a vertical or inclined shaft that connects two levels. These were important in many ways because they increased the air flow around the workings. Between levels they were often laddered to provide an emergency access in case of a collapse. Also used in conjunction with Longhole Stoping where the stope was mined away from sublevels.
It was hot and dangerous work for the miners, the raise could often go for 100’s of feet with very little available ventilation and the constant risk of a fall of ground.
Kenny German ex South Crofty Miner has kindly written a few words for the website.
Well at South Crofty my main job was raise mining. It could be very dangerous but also very rewarding, I had couple very close calls. One time I was up about 20mts, I set the platform ready for barring down. I started barring down when a massive rock came off the face and wiped out the platform I was standing on.
Luckily I had anticipated what was about to happen and positioned myself on one off the L bars keeping platform in place. So there I was, over 60 feet up stranded on a single 1 inch bar. I had to reach full length to get to the chain ladder and to relative safety.
Myself and most the others who worked underground understood the dangers, but we loved it. We were and still are very proud to say we were Cornish Tin Miners.
The next set of images are of a group of miners putting up ring supports in a drive. These were usually used when there was a major weakness or faulting in the rock of the roof. In circumstance where the roof was less fractured Rock Bolts would have been used with mesh to hold the loose stuff together.