© 1999 M.J. O'Connor
Author Mike O'Connor, OBE, says "'The Crowns' was a famous tin mine on the Cornish coast. Its main shaft was started in 1858. Unlike most shafts it sloped at an angle of about 45° leading to a labyrinth of about 60 miles of tunnels under the Atlantic. Men were carried up and down the shaft in a gig, a purpose-built wheeled box, which was also used to raise ore.
"The incident I describe is true. When the last shift came up, in 1914, all the families gathered at the pit head. Long before the wagon carrying the men came into sight their voices could be heard singing in harmony, the sound echoing up to the surface from beneath the ocean."
Gordon – Spanish guitar
When the Crowns closed
And the last shift returned from the shaft beneath the sea
We heard them first, for every man was singing
As each in turn rose to the sunset glow
On harmonies born from the gates of Hell
That even drowned the breakers on the granite far below
I asked the last man
What he remembered from his years beneath the ground
He said, at the end of shift when all was quiet
The drill was stopped, the pumps were far away
Before going to the shaft with all its singing
In silence he would listen and in silence he would pray
What did you hear?
"Seas braking over, close above the mine"
He'd catch the water from the tunnel roof
He'd taste for salt, then silently he'd pray
For all who worked 'neath ocean and 'neath granite
He said the sound of waves above would haunt him all his days
What of today?
Crown's engine-house is a silent, empty shell
The shaft is gone and all who sang so fine
I never felt the granite tremble 'neath the swell
But I heard the last shift rising to the sunlight
And I still remember singing out of the Gates of Hell
Last Shift at the Crowns is recorded on the album In Concert