South Crofty Roskear Underground: I was lucky enough on my visits to the mine to get to see this section on three occasions. It was not always a good trip, once a camera packed up, another where I had no time to hang around. On the third occasion I had around 30 minutes to myself. This was more than enough time for an explore and a few images to be taken. It was a very interesting area, the shaft was breath taking with living history all around. It’s so difficult to believe it is all underwater now.
South Crofty Roskear Underground – This is a cross section of the Roskear Shaft.
The sinking of Roskear Shaft was begun by the Dolcoath Company in 1923, after the closure of Dolcoath Mine in 1921, this was planned to be the focus of the “New Dolcoath Mine”.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 1: This is the drive on the approach to the shaft station.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 2: An impressive pillar still holds the roof up.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 3: The gated entrance to the new shaft station area, the shaft indicator for the winder status is hanging from the roof.
The circular, brick-lined, shaft was sunk by shaft sinkers from South Wales and eventually reached 2000 feet deep by late 1926. Levels at 1700, 1900 and 2000 feet intersected a number of lodes and some limited stoping was done on the Roskear Complex for Wolfram and Tin. Although some of the lodes showed promise the company ran out of capital and attempts to raise more failed. Operations ceased in December 1929 and the company went into receivership in April 1930.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 4: This is the first view of the shaft station.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 5: On the left of the image are the remains of a small pumping engine. Due to the limited stoping in the area this engine was more than capable of keeping the workings dry.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 6: Old electric cables were draped around the engine area.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 7: The final approach to the shaft itself.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 8: This is the 2000ft Station on New Roskear Shaft South Crofty, the brick arches to the shaft can be clearly seen. Photography here was interesting as there was a gale blowing from the ventilation fans on the surface. The chains support a bridge over the shaft.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 9: It was certainly an amazing sight to see.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 10: The brickwork in the shaft can be clearly seen. Also the chain bridge is in plain sight.
South Crofty acquired all the Dolcoath assets in 1936. Unbeknown to the Dolcoath miners, had they sunk the shaft a further 200 feet they would have discovered the Roskear and Dolcoath lodes that were such a major resource for South Crofty. The Roskear section was really developed from 1979 onwards after a major exploration drilling programme.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 11: This first image of the engine shows the connection to the rising main in the foreground.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 12: A second image of the same view.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 13: This image clearly shows the size of the engine area.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 14: There are so few details about this engine. I would imagine it was electric powered.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 15: Several parts were obviously missing from the engine.
The area became perhaps the most important ore zone in the mine up to its closure in 1998. Many of the lodes found in the 1920’s with depth became very rich. Had they been developed it is likely that Dolcoath would have persisted into the 1990’s and bought out South Crofty rather than the other way around – such is mining!
South Crofty Roskear Underground 16: The drive wheels made interesting images.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 17: This view of the wheels show staggered helical teeth on the one at the rear.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 18: It was a great shame that this could not have been preserved.
South Crofty Roskear Underground 19: A final image of the main drive wheel.
Once these lodes began to be exploited Roskear Shaft became a major updraught ventilation shaft with large fans at the collar. Many local people remember the plume of warm moist air that rose above the shaft in Winter, visible for miles.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 20: An image of the engine showing a bit more detail. It’s such a shame that this is now all under water, lost and forgotten.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 21: A second image of the workings of the engine. The cam shaft attached to the drive wheel can be clearly seen. I am not certain but these are the only images of the engine I have ever seen.
In the early 1990’s the shaft was deepened to the 400fm level and was refurbished with a new winder house. Also, a secondhand winder was purchased from Wheal Jane with the intention to become the mines secondary egress. This was after the condemnation of Robinson’s Shaft in 1994. Robinson’s Shaft was finally decommissioned in 1996, the changeover was completed on the 17th June that year.
(Notes courtesy of Dr Nick Le Boutillier)
Cornish Mine Images Underground 22: An image looking down the shaft which was 400 fathoms deep, the base of the cage guides can be seen. This had been deepend by South Crofty so the shaft reached the bottom working levels for the second way out.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 23: Another view down the shaft.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 24: An image of the bridge across the shaft, this was a suspended chain and timber bridge over a deep hole…..not frightening at all.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 25: My guide on this occasion was James Pettett, this is an image of him crossing the shaft and climbing up a chain ladder into the level.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 26: The disconnected rising main running up the shaft, the quality of the brickwork was amazing, and still in very good condition.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 27: This image is looking up the shaft to surface 2000ft away, the guides for the installed cage winder can be seen. The shaft was brick lined to surface, that must have been an amazing achievement.
As I have previously said all my trips were with those who had to work. This visit to Roskear was with James Pettett in order to take some air readings around the shaft area.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 28: This is James removing the planks from a ventilation door in the New Roskear Shaft section, these were used to control the flow of air around the mine.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 29: A second image of the ventilation door.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 30: Here James is taking air samples in the drive leading to the shaft. This was done to monitor the Radon Levels in the mine, and the quality of air movement around the workings.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 31: Another image of the air samples being taken.
On one of my visits to Roskear I had the chance to do some exploring. I crossed the shaft and went down the drive. There were some huge holes in the floor and some stopes on either side. These were dating from the 1920’s and it was an amazing experience, albeit a bit frightening. The remaining images on this page are of one of the stopes I investigated.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 32: When the cats away the mice will play. I was on my own for a while so I explored. I crossed the shaft into the “New Dolcoath Mine” for a shufty around. The ground was not good, with false floors long rotted through, I reached a small stope and had a chance to grab this image.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 33: Moving carefully into the collapsed drive.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 34: The timbering had most certainly seen better days.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 35: Most of the timber had collapsed in this section making it a very dangerous place to be.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 36: At the end of the drive the timberwork had all collapsed, the open stope was above, a big empty space that had been mined out.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 37: This is looking back down the drive to the main haulage route, the remains of a cousin jack chute can be seen on the left of the image.
Cornish Mine Images Underground 38: A final image of the drive showing the extent of the very nasty timber supports. There would have been an awful lot of weight supported here.
South Crofty Mine 2011