South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5: This page looks at the preserved 80″ Pumping Engine housed at Robinson’s Shaft. It was purchased by South Crofty in 1903 for £375. A new house was constructed by J and W Gay at a cost of £1,222, by November 1906 the engine had been erected in its new home..
The engine house has three storeys, on the top floor is the Beam, the first floor contains the top of the cylinder and the associated valve gear, the ground floor has the cylinder and driver’s controls. The engine was built in 1854 by The Copperhouse Foundry in Hayle, and was designed by Samuel Grouse. During its life it worked at several mines the final being Tregurtha Downs Mine in Marazion, the original purchase price was £3,400 so South Crofty picked a bargain.
The engine worked for over 100 years and was the last Cornish Pump employed draining a mine in Cornwall, it finally worked its last stroke on 1st May 1955 when electric pumps replaced it. This wonderful piece of engineering was then greased up and mothballed.
I was lucky enough to have a tour of the interior of the house in 1996, in 2003 there was an incident of vandalism and many parts of the interior were damaged. Today the engine house forms the centre piece of the Heartlands Project.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.1 – The top floor is the home of the huge 30ft long beam of the Robinson’s Shaft Engine, it weighs 38 tons, the grease coating to preserve it can be clearly seen.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.2 – The end of the beam, the timbering is supporting some of the massive weight whilst mothballed.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.3 – This is the bracket supporting the weight is balanced on two steel uprights.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.4 – An image of the top of the Robinson’s Shaft Engine cylinder, showing the piston and the attached arms. When decommissioned, the engine was drawing water up the shaft from a depth of 337 fathoms below the adit level. It would work at around 5 strokes per minute, during that time it would draw up around 310 gallons, the engine worked here for over 50 years, that’s a lot of water.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.5 – A view of the ornate cylinder head and valve gear.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.6 – And from the other side, the internal floors were rotten, in some places we had to climb on the engine to avoid falling through.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.7 – The top of the cylinder and the rod, in the background are the steps going up to the next level.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.8 – When it was working the engine would have been kept spotlessly clean, the walls would have been whitewashed with flowers on the window ledges. This image of the cylinder head shows one of the lifting points for use when the head had to be removed.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.9 – The top of the cylinder showing the piston, in the background the turned balusters that are a stark contrast to the massive engine. Apart from being functional the engine house had to look good, it was always the centre piece of the mine.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.10 – It was a privilege to have had the chance to see this engine, how amazing it would have been to have seen and heard it working.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.11 – Intricate workmanship, these valves would have controlled the inlet and the exhaust gases.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.12 – The more delicate parts of the engine.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.13 – Like a giant jigsaw puzzle this engine had been moved several times during its working life, putting it together must have been fun.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.14 – Part of the detailed valve gear on the engine.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.15 – The craftsmanship in all the components is remarkable.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.16 – Steam pipes behind the drivers position.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.17 – The driver was stationed here, the various ornate handles would be used to control the engine speed and steam pressure.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.18 – A more detailed image of the driver’s area, the square box is a counter for the number of strokes the engine completed.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.19 – A closeup of the Robinson’s Shaft Engine counter, showing 9,029,925 strokes.
South Crofty Robinsons Shaft 5.20 – Close to the driver’s position was the main steam pressure gauge for the Robinson’s Shaft Engine.
As always at South Crofty this was a flying visit and time was short. I would have loved to have been able to set up careful multiple flash shots and show the engine in all its glory. I think the results are pretty good.
I hope I have done this amazing piece of machinery the justice it deserves.
South Crofty Mine Robinson’s Shaft 2016