Miner at East Pool Mine, Redruth
8th May 1907
St Day Road cemetery, Redruth
Thomas Plint was the third of four children born to Mark and Mary Ann Plint. Both parents were born in Camborne, and his father, Mark, was working as a Tin dresser (working at the surface to remove waste rock from the valuable tin ore) from at least the age of 17, when he appears in the 1881 Census as living with his parents at Foundry Row, Camborne. He married Mary Ann Brown in 1886, when he was 20 years old, and she was 18; their eldest child, James, was born in Camborne in 1887. A daughter, Florence, was born in 1890, followed by Thomas in 1895 and a fourth child, Ethel, in 1900. The family were living in Camborne in 1901, at Hugh Ville Street.
Perhaps the demands of an expanding family meant that Thomas' father needed to earn higher pay, or maybe a downturn in the tin price led to difficulties in getting work, but in 1898 and 1901, Thomas' father sailed from Southampton to Cape Town, South Africa, presumably to work in the developing mines there. He left the family in Cornwall. Sadly, his father died in South Africa in February 1902, when Thomas was seven years old, and his youngest sister not yet two.
In December 1904, when Thomas was nine, he, his mother, older brother and two sisters, all embarked on the 'Walmer Castle' ship from Southampton to Durban; presumably his eldest brother, James, aged 19, had prospects of work there. Late in 1905, Thomas, his mother and two sisters moved back to Cornwall, though his elder brother James must have stayed to work in South Africa. Thomas started work at East Pool Mine in early 1906.
Thomas Plint had just completed an eight hour shift at East Pool Mine in early May 1907, at the 380 fathom level - about 500m below surface - when tragedy struck. Thomas was leaning against a wagon, approximately 15 feet (3 m) away from the opening of the shaft, waiting for the skip to descend to carry he and his step-brother, James, up the surface. A loud cracking noise was heard, and Thomas was seen to fall to the floor, unconscious. It seems that as the skip moved in the shaft above them, it dislodged a rock about 4 m higher than the level Thomas was on, and it fell, bounced against the sides of the shaft, and struck Thomas on the head.
Thomas was quickly taken to surface and removed to Redruth Miners Hospital, less than a mile away at Barncoose, but sadly he died later that night.
His funeral was attended by many of his fellow miners: a local paper from that time, describes how 4 horse-drawn wagons were provided by East Pool Mine to transport the miners to Busveal, where his coffin was resting at his mother's house. The Captain of the mine, Captain Tamblyn, entered the house, and led the coffin out, and the miners, gathered four-deep around the door to sing a hymn before the procession set off on foot to the cemetery. Before entering the gates of the cemetery, another hymn was sung, then the coffin borne to the (now derelict) chapel in the centre of the burial ground for the service.
There are no records for Thomas' mother, or his sisters, after 1908 in Cornwall, so perhaps they moved to South Africa after Thomas' death, to be supported by his older brother James.
The accident that ended his life at only 23 years of age was sadly not unusual; another accident, also resulting in loss of life, happened at the same mine within a few days of Thomas' death - see Frederick Tucker. But the loss of this young man would have been felt keenly by his family, and the touching epitaph here gives some restrained indication of the sense of loss: 'We cannot Lord thy purpose see, But all is well that's done by thee'.