Vernon Penpraise:The Miners Dilemma!

Looking up from the closing cage,Vernon composed himself from the motion sickness that he always felt from the descent of the cage.Of course,he had mechanisms to hide these affects because,as the foreman,it wasn’t acceptable for Vernon to show weakness to his men in the mine.Vernon Penpraise was aware of his responsibility as a leader of men,but somehow of late,he felt that they had lost a little of the respect that he used to command.It wasn’t that he worked less than them,it was just that with Morwena appearing to be so aloof these days,and her insistence on her interest with the “Votes for women movement”,Vernon had noticed cracks in the seams of respect that the Penpraise family had always commanded in the South Crofty mining community.

To reach the face of the mine,South Crofty men in this part of the shaft walked together to the edge of the seam where they were extracting the tin.Trenbath,Henwood,Bullock,and Trehewy were talking about the amount of water leakage coming in through the shaft and there was growling coming ncern that the mine props were showing signs of weakness.Vernon knew that the mining manager Bill Penhaligan had been informed a month ago but as yet,nothing had been done.As things stood,Vernon Trenbath,Henwood and co now thought that a delegation to Penhaligan was now their only choice as mining accidents were proliferating in the vicinity .Vernon had a level of anxiety that meant he really needed to talk about it to someone.As Morwena couldn’t ever bring herself to entertain any talk about the mine since her dads tragic death,he kept his own counsel at home.Really,the men were a close knit bunch really,but it was like as if Vernon was torn between his loyalty to his men,and to his wife’s dad memory.

As the shift continued the men worked so hard and achieved the highest output of ore that had been produced for over a year,but the world price of tin dictated that the mine was still running at a loss.With bonuses cut,the morale was at an all time low.Vernon felt that atmosphere acutely and knew that a showdown with Penhligan was now inevitable.

Bill Penhaligan was the new breed of manager’s.He was fond of his working class roots,but ruthless in achieving targets for the owners of the mine.In truth ,Vernon felt intimidated by Bill’s ability to tie him up in knots with his choice of words and his way of getting what he wanted.However,Vernon was coming around to the idea that a group of miners might have a greater affect .He knew that the workforce was working at full capacity and that maintenance work on the main shaft was badly deficient.There were serious issues that affected his men’s ability to work in safety now and all these problems mulled around in his head.As he th ught,the great Potallack mining disaster ,when 35 men,great miners all of them,lost their lives,and the foremost men of them all ,Alfie Pengelly,father of Morwena Penpraise,nee Pengelly.


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