Jack Jarvis (1916-2010)
John Jervis died on Wednesday April 14th at the Camborne-Redruth
Community Hospital. He was born during the Great War into a mining family. His
father was a decorated soldier in that conflict and when the war was over he
returned to find little work in Cornish mining and so headed for South Wales,
where he found employment. He soon returned to Cornwall with the Welsh company
given the task of sinking New Dolcoath's Roskear Shaft. When he was still a
teenager Jack followed his father into mining, starting at South Crofty in 1933.
In 1934, when he was just 17 years old, he suffered a horrific accident when
falling down an underhand stope into a boxhole. Mark Hosking, the contractor and
Jack were clearing the loose ore from the point-bench they were about to drill,
when Captain Arthur Stephens arrived and borrowed Jack's life-line. Jack was
asked to pass Stephens a long drill steel and as he did so the youngster slipped
and fell about 23 feet into the box-hole at the bottom the of the stope. He was
seriously injured with a piece of rock stuck into his skull and several other
serious injuries to his legs and lower body. He was half buried with tons of
recently blasted rock hanging over him. There followed a heroic rescue of the
young miner. Within 6 months Jack was back at Crofty, working in the tinyard and
within another year he was back underground.
Between 1936 and 1939 Jack learned his trade as a skilled hard-rock miner. During the long and bitter strike for more money and better working conditions, which broke out in 1939, he was one of its most solid supporters. The battles between the strikers and the police and the strikers and the New Cooks men who wouldn't join them, are legendary. The strike ended with the outbreak of war, and Jack gave up mining to assist in reconstruction work up-country. Millions of homes needed repair and the country had to be kept going.
At the end of the conflict Jack returned to Crofty, but after a while he decided to try his hand in Africa and he worked as a miner in Central and West Africa for several years. Once again he worked hard to develop new skills and better techniques. When he returned to Crofty he was credited with introducing new methods to the old mine. In 1970 Jack became a shift-boss on 360fm level, and it was in that capacity that most of us remember him. He remained as Shift-boss till his retirement in 1980. Jack was held in high esteem by his fellow miners. They not only respected him as a miner and shift-boss, but also as a friend and one who showed great kindness and understanding to his men. Jack Jervis will be sorely missed by his family and friends and also by his many former work mates. The 93 years he lived saw extraordinary changes in the world, in mining and in the way we live. His life was also extraordinary for he worked in many places and experienced far more than most. He was a strong man and a great survivor.
(photo is about the mid 60's the other miner was Peter Nancarrow).