Tell Your Story

Here’s a reminder of when you are able to come along and tell your story about Consett.

Mondays 1—3pm

7 January 2013
14 January 2013
21 January 2013
28 January 2013

The Lodge in Consett & Blackhill Park

There is also a guided park walk on 18 February 2013.

My Time at Consett

I started at Consett works on the 3rd of September 1979, as an
apprentice plater (I have photos of the intake). Although there was
always rumours of the works closing, we were all very up-beat and
grateful that we had managed to get a job in a very difficult jobs
market.

The early days were also complicated by the national steel
strike which took place early in 1980. We, as apprentices, did not have to go out on strike, but we had to walk through the lines of pickets every morning stood at the entrance gates.

Soon after the end of the strike it was announced the Consett works would close and we went through a period of great uncertainty, wondering if we had a job and what the future held for us. Eventually we found out that our intake would be kept on, and transferred to a rolling mill at Jarrow to complete the remaining time of our apprenticeship.

We stayed at Consett for a while after production had ceased, and got to travel around the works and see the place in its sad shut down state. Living and going out in Consett brought mixed emotions as many of our friends who had work at Consett in production jobs , now were buying new cars, holidays and had pockets full of cash with their redundancy while we were still apprentices earning about £25 a week!

We then transferred to Jarrow to complete our apprenticeship (have photos of last day at Consett) and from then I transferred to Teesside, where I am today, still making Steel.

This is a very brief insight, feel free to ring me and I can give more detail.

Gerard Smith sent via email.

Contribution of Miners

Thanks Tom, great stuff, I’ll follow it with interest but don’t forget the Miners contribution to the making of Steel and Consett.

Cheers Bill Douglas.

And Bill’s is not the first to say that we must not forget the impact of the miners in the development of Consett.

Tuesday December 11th: More Stories

Another good day talking to people in Consett with a real pride and love of the area.

First up was Clair and Brian Harrison.

Brian runs the Consett & District Heritage Initiative Group
and they are on facebook with over two and half thousand members!
Underlining the interest in local history in the area. .

Here’s their link:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/213017885386150?id=238695299485075&notif_t=group_activity

And they are well worth a look.
We talked at length about Consett, the Works, its rise and fall and other people that we really need to speak to in the area that have great stories to tell.

We then went onto meet the Reminisce Group which is run by Shelley O’ Brien.

A nice bunch of people who have just completed a CD called ‘Christmas Reminisce’ telling of their past times at Christmas with musical contributions from the children of St Pius Tenth RC Primary and Consett Brass with the lovely Christmas Carols, Silent Night and Away In a Manger.

When I asked about their stories about Consett the stories flowed and here are a few snippets:

When I came to Consett from London. My daughter had a beautiful white hat and when she came home it was pink. I didn’t know about the Consett’s red dust. I asked someone why all the houses have been painted red. It was the famous Consett Red Dust.

Saint Mary’s Church at Blackhill was built through the workers at the Steel Works giving part of their wages to the building of the church.

I came on a school visit: it was like going to hell. We went to the Works canteen and had to cross a gantry with the works underneath. I was terrified.

Me Grandafather cried when the works closed.

It was our heritage and it was devastating when it was shut. It was like being told we have no use for you after one hundred and forty years.

Men of Steel

While researching Consett and the Steel Works I found these interviews, carried-out by a friend of mine Steve Thompson in 1999. They are really strong: humorous and informative.
Steve interviewed the men prior to staging STEEL TOWN at the Consett Empire in 2000.
I wrote the show with Steve.

And here’s a link to the title track STEEL TOWN

http://stmedia.bandcamp.com/track/steel-town

In the film there are also some great archive shots of the plant supplied by Castleside History Society.

More Stories

More and more stories on ‘The Company’ or ‘The Work’s’ as The Steel Works was known are emerging.

Cheryl was talking about the MADE OF STEEL project and people started telling their stories and sometimes that’s the way it is, ad hoc, in the street, in the pub or at one of our public events. The more the merrier I say. Every story has a value.
Here is a little of this Consett workers tale:
He worked at the Plate Mill/Test House (still exists down Villa Real),

– The Company got took over by British Steel, but was still known as “The Company”

You had to have a Tests (entrance exam) at school to get onto a Steelworks apprenticeship (5 years low paid, had to finish it in Redcar when it closed)
– He passed but wanted to be a junior operative as you got paid then

It started when Shotley Bridge made swords and then branched out and made more steel products