A place for people to leave open comments; please feel free to post, especially if you have memories to share since as time goes on fewer of us will be around so they are all precious.

21 thoughts on “Guestbook

  1. Mike Lynch

    Brilliant tribute. I remember cycling along the canals around Birmingham and the Black Country as a kid in the seventies and whist I never quite got to see Bilston Steelworks close up I always remember seeing it in the distance and thinking what a wonderful sight it was with all the smoke and steam blowing up into the air. The noise of industry and hard graft was always present down those waterways but now they all lie eerily silent. It’s a risky business when a country doesn’t make things, produce its own steel or mine it’s own fuel anymore and it makes you wonder just how educated and clever our politicians really are to have let all that go in just a few decades. Britain now is nothing more than a large housing estate peppered with shopping malls – how sad that there’s no more real work about anymore.

    1. Andrew Post author

      Thank you Mike for your evocative post with memories and thoughts on the works – and how things have changed. Messages like yours are what keeps the works in mind today although long gone. As always, any memories associated with the steelworks are very welcome.

  2. Simon Sage

    Although I never worked at British Steel, as i kid I grew up in Goldthorn Park and remember seeing the glow in the sky on dark nights from Elisabeth.
    Great to read your progress though various departments and sounds very similar to my experiences in the late 1970’s in a lock manufacturing company in Willenhall.
    Loved the comment above from Sean Traves about Why being a management question !

  3. Linda Ives

    Re the photo of the New Railway Bridge with the loco and 5 people, only 3 names given. The chap standing on the loco on the left of the photo is my husband, shunter Sid Ives. Sorry Sid doesn’t remember the name of the chap on the right.
    My dad and uncle (Ken and Lol Smith) were platelayers. My sister Kim was a cook in the canteen/restaurant. Various uncles and cousins worked there too. It was a family tradition. My grandad worked there until he died in 1953 and his father, grandfather etc before him from the 1850s when the family relocated to Bilston from Dudley and Netherton.

  4. Linda Reeves (nee Bowers)

    Hi there. This is a great site. Brings back so many memories for my husband and myself. I started working at British Steel in 1971 and worked in the Post Room first then I was ‘promoted’ to the Secretary’s Office where I worked with Letitia Nutting. I left when I was made redundant in about 1979. My husband Martin worked in the Cost Office and left in about 1981. He stayed on to help run the place down. We both have great memories of that time.

  5. Glynis Walker (nee Tilt)

    Hi. I worked at British Steel Bilston on the switchboard, remember the calls we received during the wages snatch, when they stole 70 thousand pounds from wages office that Friday morning. Also still have photos from steel news were I was on calendar in I think was 1978 or 1979, parents kept all pictures. All photos in steel news. One advertising safety socks. Things you do at 17 years old. Fantastic place to work, so many happy memories. Ended up marrying someone from British Steel.

  6. Andrew Post author

    Thank you Sean (and everyone) for leaving your thoughts and comments. I am always interested to hear from anyone associated with the steelworks.

  7. Sean Traves

    I was employed as a commercial apprentice and worked if you describe it as such for ,amongst others Harold Tart,Jack Bouckley and the training officer ,whose name I forget.I remember when challenging someone with my youthful zeal with the question “Why?” and being told “Why is a management question .So come back when you are a qualified manager and we will continue the discussion. ”
    When I look at pictures of the steelworks I think of the quote of Osymandias ” Ye mighty look on my works and despair. “

    1. Roger Deans

      Hello Sean, I have just read your comment and must admit it left me somewhat puzzled, I never heard of a commercial apprenticeship at the steel works, what department were you attached to and how long did the apprenticeship last ?
      As for the quote, I presume you despair at the demise of the works not on its appearance, after all it was, as inferred by the name a place of work not a show piece.

      1. Sean Traves

        Dear Roger,
        I was an apprentice and was given three options: Metallurgy, Buying and Accountancy. When I explained to the training officer that I did not like any of these. He said “How can you have an opinion something of which you know nothing? Go home and speak to your mom and if you still do not like them tomorrow you can get a job somewhere else.” This is exactly what I needed to hear. I later became chartered accountant.

        As far as the Ozymandius quote is concerned. The sense of awe, size and power is what I was alluding to. If you haven’t been in a melting shop you would not be able to imagine it. Great days.

        Sean Traves

  8. David Healey

    My father died earlier this year and I have been going through various items and came across an album of photos from the last days of the steelworks. I wish I had found this site while he was still alive. I will have a good look through when time allows. Feel free to contact me if you wish.

    1. Roger Deans

      Hello David, I was at the steel works during its final closure and had a colleague and friend called Les Healey, I am wondering if this was your father. I remember that Les did take a lot of photos so I would obviously be interested, not only in the album but also making contact.
      All the photos that I took are in the Wolverhampton archives so please consider getting in touch with them, the steel works history must be cataloged, also books are being written on the works so I can put you in touch with the authors.
      Look forward to hearing from you, Roger Deans.

      1. David Healey

        I have emailed you separately and will be in touch shortly, but you do now have my email address, so feel free to get in touch. Apologies for the brief reply here, but will be in touch again soon. Nice to hear that books are being written. You are quite correct that the history of the works should be catalogued. I’m sure that this will be the same Les Healey. He worked in the drawing office if that is the correct term!

  9. Andrew Post author

    From Debra Dickinson. 2 June 2019:

    This is a fabulous innovative website.
    I moved to Ettingshall and the wealth of folklore about “Elizabeth” is phenomenal!!!!
    I love that our recent past is being acknowledged and is providing us with a frame of reference about the people we are.
    The steelworks were the beating heart of Bilston; she was the fire in people’s very soul!!!
    I’d like every house that’s been built on the site to have a plaque… she was a member of the community, just like Dickens or Darwin!!!

  10. Stefan Curtis

    Very interesting website. My father who is now in his 80’s worked at the works in his late teens which would of been in the late 1950’s.
    He was one of the first generation poles to come to England after the war. I saw in one of the aerial photo’s there was a polish camp of huts beside the sports field.
    He worked in the rolling mills apparently & also in a part of the works where he was cutting red hot steel with a huge circular saw.
    Occasionally red hot lumps of swarf would fly off & whistle past his head! The window glass behind him was broken by the flying debris. On one occasion a lump of hot metal stuck in his face just below his eye but he was okay!
    I called my father & told him of this website. I will show him when I visit him next.

  11. Roger Deans

    I wonder if the steelworkers of today realise the sacrifice made in the 1970s ans 80s by the now, pensioners that are being asked to bail out their jobs. Bilston would have stayed in profit if it weren’t for the over capacity of the South Wales blast furnaces. I tend to think that it hasn’t crossed their minds. I hope that one of them may read this comment and say many thanks to the men of Bilston for their futures.

  12. Roger Deans

    I have just read an article on the 1980 strike in the steel industry. It’s hard to believe the absolute rubbish written on this catastrophe that wrecked not only the industry but also the lives of many steelworkers. Bilston was dragged into this fruitless attempt to extort money by the left wing party whose only thoughts was to ruin the country.
    The works was already under the threat of closure yet a nieve workforce egged on by red shop stewards voted to strike. For thirteen weeks they bravely, pointlessly picketed and were totally ignored by most drivers. At the end of the day we had to admit total defeat (no matter what people say about victory) crawl back, tails between our legs, thirteen weeks without pay and closure.
    Talk about giving management exactly what they wanted.
    While on the picket line I saw the best and the worst of steelworkers. The best being the comradeship, the worst being the violent flying pickets. We were criticised for not taking the strike seriously by shop stewards after we were seen kicking a football around and for joking with the police. Serious stuff eh.?

  13. Roger Deans

    Many thanks Andrew for the idea of this forum. Probably the best thing that anyone who worked at the steelworks will remember, are the friendships made whist working there. Hopefully this site may help old lost ‘mates’ get in touch. Also a chance to add memories that should not be lost.


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