Some Notes on My Diary

This is a word-for-word transcription of my Letts Diary for 1973. This was a ring bound notepad type diary with about one inch allowed for each day. To me it is an interesting record of day-to-day life while a trainee. It has been a struggle to read my own writing and quite often some of the sentence is unreadable or does not quite make sense !

Also, it will, I am sure, be quite boring reading for those with little interest in iron and steelmaking but nevertheless it does detail some of the daily events I witnessed or recorded during my forays into the works or while working in the blast furnace office.

I have left some non BSC bits in such as TV but I thought perhaps this would add a little to the memory of the time. I make no apologies if indeed it is mundane but at least it is a written record of sorts to be added to the overall history of the works.

The Journey To Work

Re-reading my diary for this website brought back a composite memory which was the morning journey to work, particularly in the winter time. Having been offered a job, one of the first questions was how do I get from Penn to Bilston and how long will it take ? The answer lay in two buses and an early start…


It is a cold and dark winter’s morning 1972/73. You are standing at the corner of the Penn Rd and Marston Rd waiting for the number 25, Circular, bus to arrive. Nearby are the lights of the offices of ‘Star Aluminium’ and Wolverhampton Die Casting. The cold is penetrating, it is damp and there is a hint of snow to come. You stamp your feet and strain to look beyond the lights of passing cars for a sign of the bus. Already you have travelled from Penn on the No.11 bus to change here, just up the road from the Midland Counties Dairy. Eventually, out of the gloom the bus glides up – a smart new one in blue and cream. With a quiet hiss the doors unfold and you get on, paying the driver – another novelty. You make your way upstairs into the warmth, fighting the inertia and holding on tight as the bus moves off. Immediately you are assailed by the pungent aroma of tobacco smoke which swirls around you as you find a seat, directly behind a working man in his fifties with closely cropped hair revealing a criss cross of ruddy creases. He lights his cigarette using the striker plate on the seat in front of him and more acrid smoke billows up. The windows are, as usual, opaque with condensation. You use your sleeve to wipe a semi circle off and peer out at the vaguely passing lights – good – we are at the top of Upper Villiers Street and turning left onto Goldthorn Hill Road. This is a far better bus than the number 11. It is a new Daimler Fleetline which is more spacious and much quieter – we simply seem to float along compared to the number 11, an old Guy Arab, which rattled, banged and shook its way up the Penn Road.

Eventually we make our way past the Birmingham New Road junction, along Parkfield Road through Fighting Cocks and then under the ‘John Thompson’ bridge and onto the Millfields Road. Then, up a rise over the canal bridge past E.N. Wrights and Tarmac and there it is ! The works in all its glory ! The blast furnace is all lit up in the distance and other lights become visible dotted all around as you try to survey the view from a wet bus window. Finally the bus gently pulls up opposite the main entrance and you alight. It is still cold and dark and you fasten your top button but there is a lightening in the sky to the east. As the bus moves away you cross the road and there is the big floodlit sign – white letters with that brilliant ‘split S’ logo on a deep blue background boldly pronounce:

British Steel Corporation Special Steels Division
Bilston Iron & Steelworks

You pause for a moment to look and then make your way once again through the entrance and past the guardhouse. You have arrived.