By 1880 mechanical drilling machines were introduced to Cornish Mines.
The early rock drills created clouds of rock dust that seriously affected the health of the miners. Nearly 40years later water started to be used in the drilling process to stop the creation of dust. Modern drills spray out water to stop the dust flying in the air. The old drills were nicknamed ‘widow makers’ because the dust caused fatal chest problems.
An Holman ‘Silver 303’ rock drill was used to drill holes in the rock face when a tunnel was being driven. It drills holes straight ahead. A stoping drill was used to make holes in the roof. Both of these drills have an air leg; air is forced into the telescopic leg which presses the drill steel into the rock.
A Jumbo drilling rig was used until the 1970s. It had a wheeled ‘dandy’ running on tracks. This stopped the drill moving as the holes were drilled. It was replaced by the lighter air leg drill – the miners did not have to lay track and move the drill, so work was done more quickly.