First Made of Steel Workshops

Made of Steel

Wednesday November 28 2012

Today First informal workshops at Colour Your Life at the Lodge in the Consett/Blackill Park.

Nice venue and the two groups were really nice: positive with interesting stories. A great source of oral history.

Here is a random selection of comments:

I worked in Quality Control, checking the quality of the steel… I had to go to night classes to know the make-up of the materials…it was very hot work. I’ve still got the scars off the hot metal. When the Works closed it was very difficult initially but it’s better now.

I worked in the Brick Works… about two hundred men worked there in three shifts…they used the ‘shapes’ (bricks) for lining the furnaces in the Steel Works…
I left the area and by the time I came back the whole place was gone…it was the heart of the community.

Nobody left Consett. I remember one lad went down to London for another job and after a fortnight in London he came home and asked for his job back…The Works was like a family.

An uncle was killed in the Works…there was eight of them and they were buried in lead coffins…they didn’t know (at the time) what impact burying them after they had been gassed would have. They’ve got headstones paid for by The Works.

Red Dust: I remember walking home with me eyes closed and not being able to see a thing…I tapped me hand against the railings so I knew where I was going….

After the Works closed it was hard for about ten years and lots of lads I knew moved away….. now it’s a nice place to live.

I came on a school visit to Consett and I thought it was like Hell. It’s different now. I moved here from Newcastle and I love to see the moors.

I’m looking forward to the next session on Tuesday December 11th


Made of Steel

Made of Steel is a project me (Tom Kelly) and Andrew Hagan are now working on. I will be adding up-dates on our progress.

Consett has a great story to tell and I’m looking forward to hearing people’s stories.

And here is some information on the project:

Leisureworks invite anyone with a story, memory, photos or archive about Consett Steelworks to get in touch!

Colour Your Life at Leisureworks is delighted to be working with the people of Consett to share stories and memories, past and present about life around Consett Steelworks before they are lost!

Leisureworks have been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a brand new heritage project with lots of creative twists…

Cheryl Gavin, Project Manager said “Made of Steel came about from a conversation with local artist Andy Hagan, following from a similar project on North and South Tyneside. We will be working with Andy (Photographer/Film-maker) and Tom Kelly (Creative Writer) to deliver public conversations and creative workshops to celebrate the heritage of Consett Steelworks as told by the people themselves.

I am constantly intrigued by the memories that have been passed on through the generations. I am excited about the use of the digital realm to maximise the reach of this project so we can bring traditional archives to life for the younger generation today.”

Consett steelworks dominated the area for 140 years from 1864 when Consett Iron Company was established. The Steelworks was closed down in October 1980 and devastated the community…Made of Steel now wants to capture and tell the stories and share the archives of the people that worked at the Steelworks, their families and wider community.

This is one of the last chances to chronicle first hand experiences and remember storied from past generations and celebrate the historical importance of the area and its people, particularly for younger generations.

Made of Steel will produce an especially commissioned film representing all the rich memories archived during the project; this will be premiered along with live music representing the authentic voices of those involved.

This project will also culminate in a soundtrack, digital scrap book, performance, exhibition, educational resource and other creative products to form a unique digital archive collection. This project will run from November to late Spring 2013. It will entail a number of public workshops; group conversations; reminiscence workshops; community digitising and archiving opportunities as well as some supported visits around Consett.

Made of Steel is managed by Leisureworks and funded by Heritage Lottery fund. This forms part of the County Durham Colour Your Life, Arts on Prescription programme funded by NHS County Durham.

Public events:

Mondays 1—3pm

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

The Lodge in Consett & Blackhill Park
Guided park walk on 18 February 2013.

Dedicated workshops will take place with various community groups in Consett,.
Get in touch if you would like us to visit to capture your story!

Performances: May 2013

Contact Cheryl Gavin, Colour Your Life, Programme Manager for general or press enquiries 01207218852 or email

About the partners:

Colour Your Life
Colour Your Life is an Arts on Prescription service which is delivered by a unique partnership involving Leisureworks alongside the Pioneering Care Partnership and Jack Drum Arts and is funded by NHS County Durham. This County-wide service aims to provide access to a range of creative activities which contribute to the prevention and improvement of mental health whilst developing emotional resilience for individuals through developing new and brushing up on existing skills.