As part of the County Durham Arts on Prescription progamme, the Made of Steel project chronicled first hand experiences, remembered past generations and celebrated the historical importance of Consett and its people, particularly for younger generations.

This Heritage Lottery funded project, managed by Cheryl Gavin of Leisureworks, who worked with filmmaker/photographer Andrew Hagan and writer Tom Kelly, to creatively capture community tales that culminated in a film with soundtrack; performances of songs and stories and an exhibition.

This project ran from November to July 2013, where a number of reminiscence workshops, public community digitising and archiving opportunities were available.

Now this blog will no longer be ‘live’ but is a record of the MADE OF STEEL project.

We would like to thank the people of Consett for all their help and support.

Cheryl Gavin
Andrew Hagan
Tom Kelly

For future information please email colouryourlife@leisureworks.net and visit www.colouryourlife.org.uk where the films and photographs will be archived later this year.”

Alf O’Brien

Alf O’Brien

Someone came to the site looking for information on Alf O’Brien.
When I writing of Consett artist Phil Bartle I made reference to South Shields artist and one-time painter and decorator Alf O’Brien.

Alf had a number of exhibitions in the north east and I recall one in particular at the Bede Gallery, Jarrow, in the mid-to-late 1970s. He painted what he knew so well, (like Phil and Consett) and that what his home town of South Shields.

His work sold well and I remember taking one of paintings to London to a well-known London based Geordie who had bought one of Alf’s gloriously lovely back-lanes.

Below is a link to one of his paintings which you can find at South Shields Museum Ocean Road. Make a visit and then head down ‘Curry Road’ (Ocean Road) to taste the curry delights. Incidentally ‘The Anglo Asian’ was the first curry restaurant opened in the north-east 1958.

Alf O’Brien: A lovely man and painter.


History of Iron and Steel Industry

Someone came to the site looking for a history of the Iron and Steel Industry, this link to the Valuation Office Agency site may well help.

Hope it does.


And another very readable look at the process.


Stanhope and Tyne Railway

This line is closed. It was famous for the trains running from Tyne Dock to and from the Consett iron and steel works. Short sections remain open at Washington and Tyne Dock.

I remember well the trains leaving Tyne Dock heading up hill to Consett.
And I know lots of people (we have had over three and a half thousand ‘hits’) look at the site for any reference to railways.

And here is a link to a site with lots of railway memories!



Hownsgill Plate Mill

Hownsgill Plate Mill 1959
An important film on the construction of the Mill.
The film is broken-up into three parts

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Durham Mining Museum

Here is another example of the key information that is available at the Durham Mining Museum

Ref: ND/De 47
‘No case for closure’ , a reply by the Joint Trade Unions of Consett Steel Works, to the British Steel Corporation ‘s document, ‘The Case for Consett Closure’, 7 July 1980
(9 papers)

And here is a link to the site:


Further analysis of the reasoning behind the closure of Consett can be found in
‘The International Steel Industry: Restructuring, State Policies and Localities’
By Raymond Hudson, David Sadler

Sample pages of the book can be found here:


And here is a Masters dissertation from Durham University

Changing employment relations in a local labour market:
Consett after the closure

Wray, David (1993) Masters thesis, Durham University

And the link:

Another close look at the decline of two of our heavy industries in the north east.

‘A tale of two industries the contraction of coal and steel in the north east of England.’

And (again) here is the link.


Made of Steel Shows @ The Lodge

Some photos of our MADE OF STEEL shows at the Lodge in Blackhill & Consett Park. Our next shows are at Consett Junior School on Wednesday June 5th.