Salty Sam’s Fun Blog for Children

Number 206

Smokey Joes


Hello Everyone



lf you travel around in my part of the world, you will, sooner or later, come across a very particular sight in the landscape.


lt looks like an enormous chimney, but in fact it is the top of the workings that belong to an old mine.


They are affectionately called smokey joes.


Let me tell you about them, because their history is very interesting.


These mines were not used to dig coal out of the ground though. 


They were mines that were dug out to collect metal; metal that was found naturally in the ground.


Metals that are naturally occurring in the ground like tin and copper are called elements.  Metals that are man-made like steel and pewter are called alloys.  Alloys are made by mixing metals and maybe other elements together.


Certain metals could be found here in the southwest and nowhere else in Britain because of the type of rocks that formed in this area.


As the land was created many millions of years ago, splits in the granite rock opened up and more hot, molten (melted) rock was forced up into them from inside the Earth.


These new rocks contained many minerals and as they crystallized they formed deposits that contained tin, copper, zinc, lead, iron and even some silver.  These metals could be used in industry, for building materials, household items and jewellery.  (There are items in the Crown Jewels made from West Country silver). 


These are all metals that the Earth produces. 


These veins of metal were produced vertically and so the mines were this shape too.


Extraction of tin and copper has been going on in Cornwall and the west of Devon since the Bronze Age.  That is about 2000 BC. 


Tin added to molten copper makes bronze.  Bronze is an alloy.  Alloy means, if you remember, a man-made type of metal, rather than one that is formed naturally in rocks. 


The people who invented bronze found that it was easier to work but more hard-wearing than copper, so they started to make things out of it.  People as far away as the Mediterranean came to collect tin from Cornwall.  They liked to use bronze to make weapons and in those days there were lots of battles to use them in.


Much later in history, tin was used to make pewter as well.  This is a dull, silver-coloured metal used to make household items like tableware.


The mining industry started in earnest in Devon and Cornwall in the 1500s.  At this time open-cast mining was used.  That means that men would dig out rock from the surface of the ground with picks.


Then at the end of the 1600s, gunpowder was used to loosen the hard granite rock before men would start collecting the deposits.  This made the work a lot easier and quicker.


ln the 1700s, shafts were dug to get the miners down to deep underground.


When a coal mine is sunk, there is usually one shaft that goes down into the earth and then the miners dig outwards because the coal is in sedimentary deposits.  That means it is lying in flat plates of deposits, just like the shape of the bottom of a lake.


For the minerals in Cornwall to be mined, a shaft had to be dug down for each individual deposit discovered.  The mines were small and the miners accessed them via ladders.  lt could be a dangerous job working underground.


As the mine shafts were dug deeper and deeper they could start filling with underground water.  Huge pumps at the surface of the mine worked tirelessly to constantly pump water out of the mine. The water was brought up to the surface.


These engine houses were sturdily built and still exist today, even though the mines have long since closed.  The closer to sea level the mines were, the less the height the water needed to be pumped from, so that is why you will still see a lot of these buildings along the cliff tops near the sea.


The engines were powered by coal. Coal is not found in Cornwall so had to be brought in.  This was expensive to do; but the money people could get from the sale of the precious metals made it worthwhile.


ln the 1800s, mining made Cornwall a lot of money.  lt was one of the most important mining areas in the world.  At one time there were around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines. 


But the industry collapsed when foreign competition made the mining there unprofitable.  That means that it cost too much money to extract the metals compared to the price you could sell them for.


So without work, thousands of miners left to go to countries like Australia, North America and South Africa where their skills could be used in the developing mining districts there.


There are no working mines today in the West Country, but the South Crofty mine in Pool which started in 1592, closed as recently as 1998.  lt mined tin and copper for about 400 years.  lt was so rich in metal lodes (deposits) that it was dug out to be over 900m deep and two and a half miles across.


ln 2006, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape was declared a World Heritage Site.  The visitor centre at Heartland is the gateway to this site.


The most important mining today in the area is china clay but some granite and slate is still taken long distances for building projects too.  China clay is also sometimes called kaolin.  This is used in the production of porcelain, medicines, toiletries and even in light bulbs.


l think that l should also mention in this post as well, the Cornish pasty – yum, yum.  lt was originally used by miners as a convenient way to carry their meals underground.  There was a savoury meal at one end and a sweet dessert at the other – probably some kind of fruit.  There was a thick pastry crust around the edge that the miners could hold onto with their dirty hands – away from the food that they were going to eat.  Their wives may have put their husband’s initials on the pasty so that they would know whose was whose at lunch time.  Cornish fishermen too, would have had a meal like this.


Of course, the Cornish pasty we know today mostly has meat and vegetables in it.  And, if you go to a good shop to buy one, they can be enormous!



Bye bye everyone – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!


lf you like my blog, please support it by telling all your friends and followers about it.


Thank you!


And see you again next Fun Friday!


Love and kisses



Salty Sam





Bill and Bob’s Joke of the Weekjokejoke


Bob:  What’s the nearest thing to silver?


Bill:  l don’t know.  What is the nearest thing to silver?


Bob: The Lone Ranger’s bottom!



Salty Sam © Christina Sinclair 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this blog without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Links may be used to



Picture Gallery


A tin coin called a plantation token from 1688

It was used in the plantation colonies in the Carribbean

This was produced to help the tin mining industry at the time


Geevor Tin Mine


An old miner’s helmet had a place to secure a candle at the front


Pick axe







Well, we are well into the New Year now – did you make any resolutions at the beginning of it?

Have you kept them or have they fallen by the wayside?

I asked my family and my best friend Captain Jack if they had made any.

Bill and Bob said that their mum had made a resolution for them to keep their bedroom tidy but because it wasn’t their idea, their heart wasn’t in it.

Auntie Alice said that her life was more or less how she wanted it to be so she didn’t see the need to make any resolutions.

Captain Jack said that he had made two.

The first one was to eat less cake, but unfortunately the smell of freshly-made jammy doughnuts in Betty Clutterbuck’s Rocky Bay Tea Rooms on a cold winter’s afternoon was just too much temptation for any man and he was afraid that he had succumbed to it!



The other resolution he made was to start a new business enterprise this new tourist season.

At first he thought that he might start up a boating lake business, but there wasn’t anywhere really suitable for an idea like that in Rocky Bay.  There is a lake but it is a bit out of the way and not very big.  So he decided instead to start a boat trips business instead.

He has bought himself a second-hand – sorry, I mean pre-loved boat, and is, as I write, doing it up in his boat house; even though it is very cold in Rocky Bay this week.

The children asked if they could help, but he said at the moment he was stripping down the engine so it was best if they came to help later when they could help with the job of varnishing the woodwork.

He will be setting up trips around the lighthouse – so I expect I will be seeing a lot of him this summer, weather permitting.



And as for my resolution – well of course that is to keep writing my blog!


See you again next week.










Quick Quiz


This week, we have another of Bill and Bob’s gap-fill word quizzes for you.   They drew inspiration from the Olympic Games that will be held again next year.

This is a new kind of puzzle they have invented for you.

They have called it column words.

First, you have to draw a column of boxes.  The column should be three boxes across and twenty five boxes down.

Then answer the questions – just like in a crossword – and new words will form.

You will be able to see the answer as you read down the first letters of the words.


  1. to forbid
  2. a small carpet
  3. the first number
  4. a thing to help to catch fish
  5. a collection of animals
  6. a moose-like animal
  7. the brightest star in the sky
  8. an old-fashioned hotel
  9. an untruth
  10. a vehicle for delivering goods
  11. a tide flowing back to the sea
  12. a scrap of fabric
  13. a tiny insect with six legs
  14. a short sleep
  15. a family pet that barks
  16. weapon for shooting bullets
  17. opposite to new
  18. the top of a biscuit tin
  19. to sink or drop down
  20. a male human
  21. before or earlier
  22. a small spot
  23. an animal like a horse
  24. a thing or group of things up for sale in an auction
  25. drooping







Salty Sam fans can join in with their comments and share them with children all over the world. You will need permission if you are not an adult.

Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to my blog and receive new Salty Sam Blog Posts for free by e-mail every week. Your address will be kept private and will not be shared with any third party.

 Sign me up at the side bar 






lt’s the Weekend!




It looks like we are in for a spell of really cold weather, so you may like to make this hat to keep your head warm when you go out.  

This hat could not be easier to knit and if you make a contrasting colour pompom to sit on top or make it with rainbow yarn, your hat will look even more interesting.




Use 4mm knitting needles and dk yarn



Cast on 30 stitches

Knit 160 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Cast on 50 stitches

Knit 180 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Cast on 60 stitches

Knit 190 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Cast on 80 stitches

Knit 210 rows of garter stitch

Cast off



Put the piece of knitting around your head before you cast off – or measure your head with a tape measure to make sure your knitting is long enough to go around the circumference of your head.  Of course if the knitting is not big enough, you will have to knit a few more rows.


A pompom in a contrasting colour will really make your hat pop



Leave a length of about 50cm of yarn to sew up with when you cast off.


Sew up the back seam right sides together (choose which side looks neater)

Weave your knitter’s needle over two rows and under two rows of knitting up the top of the hat

Pull the yarn tight to pull the hat in and fasten off

Neaten ends


Turn right side out

Turn brim back



Please note that the material on this blog is for personal use and for use in classrooms only.

It is a copyright infringement and, therefore, illegal under international law to sell items made with these patterns.

Use of the toys and projects is at your own risk.

©Christina Sinclair Designs 2015sand



Quick Quiz Answers


  1. BAN
  2. RUG
  3. ONE
  4. NET
  5. ZOO
  6. ELK
  7. SUN
  8. lNN
  9. LlE
  10. VAN
  11. EBB
  12. RAG
  13. ANT
  14. NAP
  15. DOG
  16. GUN
  17. OLD
  18. LlD
  19. DlP
  20. MAN
  21. ERE
  22. DOT
  23. ASS
  24. LOT
  25. SAG





  • Gemma says:

    Is this like on Poldark Salty Sam?

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *