South Crofty Mine Underground 5: The ride in the cage down Cooks Shaft was always an adventure. By the time the cage reached the 400 Fathom level my guts were usually about half way down. Sadly, not a good thing to do when hung over from the night before. I never knew where I was going unless it was a specifically planned day to old parts of the mine. The more I could see the better.
This page covers the important task of Rock Bolting, this was required when the structure of the rock had been weakened or fractured. The main method of Rock Bolting used at South Crofty was “Mechanically Anchored Bolts” The bolts were usually 1.8m split sets. So a 1.8m hole was drilled the bolt inserted. It was then tensioned up using the drill. Thick mesh as seen in the image below was often used in conjunction, in order to physically hold the loose surface together.
The remaining images on this page were taken in Dolcoath South 340 Fathom Level. I went here during one of my trips Nick Le Boutillier. The pillars here were packed full of Tin and I managed to get a few samples. The miners here were Malcolm Harris and Billy (Cowboy) Bettison. Billy has told me since that he remembered this drive clearly, because it was very unsafe and unstable. Making it a very dangerous place to be.
Billy Bettison has kindly written some lines on the life of a Development Miner. He has my thanks, a great addition to to the page and the history on here.
The normal day in a Development Miners Life. Firstly have a crack with the boys waiting for the cage to go underground. Arrive at your level, then walk to your end or grab a loco and drive along the track. Collect your powder or explosives from the underground magazines and head off for the day.
The first job would be go to the face and wash down after previous days blast. Once all the dust is damped down go and look at the ground. If necessary go in with a pinch bar, bar any loose material down to make safe for mucking out. Start the mucking out, usually with a Eimco or a Copco back mucker which loads the wagons behind. Once the wagons are loaded drive down the tracks to the grizzle area, tip the wagons and then carry on until the face is cleaned out.
If needed you would have to lay track which was the hardest part of the job. Blowing out the ground with a blowpipe to fit the sleepers in. Also you would have to put your services in, water and air pipes. When this has been done, set up to drill. Two of you would be drilling, helping each other to colour your holes off. Every instruction because of the noise was done by your cap lamp. Once drilling has been completed we would charge the face with Anfo if dry. If the conditions were wet normal sticks of dynamite were used, then bang and off she goes.
During the drilling you can use various cuts depending on ground conditions: 5, 6, 7 or 9 hole. Also if you want to throw the dirt back you would use a wedge cut. When charging the face the lowest number would be in the middle of the cut. You would fire the cut first making the small hole bigger from the inside and time the holes from inside to out. So, the cut would go first then the box and diamond, stripping holes, eassers, side holes ,top holes then last of all the bottom holes the lifters. Then do it all again the next day.
As a rule a development end is mined on waste parallel to the load /seam. Draw points are mined to the base of the lode where the lode is then stopped out in benches. However if it is mined on lode the old method of Cousin Jack timber ore chutes were put in to remove the broken ore. After the shift all out on the cage, shower in the dry and home.