1893: Cook’s Kitchen Mine


J. C. Burrow: Above The 406, Cook’s Kitchen Mine (1893) (source)

Commissioned by its owner to showcase new mining technology, J.C. Burrow’s photographs of the Cook’s Kitchen Mine in Cornwall are some of the earliest examples of flash photography.  “The bottom of the shaft in Cook’s Kitchen Mine was a difficult subject,” writes Burrow. “The temperature there was 100° F. The miners work nearly naked. The camera was attached to the ladder and tilted at an angle of 45°. Water dropped everywhere and came from the foot-wall in a steady stream. Heat, water, and vapour, combined with the peculiar setting of the camera, made the work tedious
and difficult.”

“Tradition says that a tinner named Cook once upon a time discovered a kindly lode and commenced to work thereon with excellent results,” explains William Thomas in an explanation of the photos. “To all friends who inquired how things were going at the mine, Cook, it is said, invariably replied favourably, and added ‘the lode is as wide as my kitchen.’ Hence the rather curious name, ‘Cook’s Kitchen,’ by which the oldest, and second deepest, Cornish mine is known. No one knows when the mine was first started. It has certainly been working without a day’s suspension for 150 to 200 years.”

The caption to the picture above reads as follows:

In this instance the hanging-wall is very weak, and, while the method of supporting it is the same as that adopted at Blue Hills, the props, or pieces, required for the purpose are more numerous. The lode underlies at an angle of about 45°. At and about the 406 the hanging-wall has been very troublesome. It has occasioned two or three rather large ‘runs,’ and, unfortunately, some fatal accidents have been caused by falls of the hanging-wall, a fruitful source of serious accident in all mining operations.

Burrow, J. C., and William Thomas. ‘Mongst Mines and Miners; or Underground Scenes by Flash-Light. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent &, Limited, 1893. (Full text here.)

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