Published: 23/12/2010 12:00
Celebrating Christmases past at a snowy Round Oak
IT WAS only a generation or so ago that our part of the world boasted some of the true giants of heavy industry. A sign of just how big some of those firms were was the fact that they published their own company magazines; and they weren’t just a couple of flimsy sheets folded in half.
The artist, John Ambrose.One of the most impressive was Round Oak’s Acorn magazine, which varied over the years from a fairly thick but small-format journal to a much larger booklet.
But the photography, the standard of writing, and the print quality were top drawer throughout.
We’ve been given quite a few copies of the Acorn over the years, and we must thank Harold Hill of Halesowen for putting another little collection our way recently, passed to him from his sister Barbara Rose.
Just like the Bugle, the Acorn always did its best to make each edition as seasonal as possible at this time of year, and so we’ve dipped into our Acorn archive of Christmases past, to take a look at what the Round Oakers were up to a few decades back.
In 1959, the Staff Dinner and Dance was held at the Queen Mary Ballroom in the grounds of Dudley Castle.
Dancing Organised by Welfare Officer John Regan, the night was apparently a great success, with the reporter, “delighted to see plenty of both dignified and exuberant forms of dancing. Memorable moments are inclined to occur when people are off duty. Two worthy of mention: the speed of Dr Walker’s speech and George Elwell leading a conga line at full speed through the bar for the door, as if intent on taking the castle battlements.”
We reproduce a selection of photographs here, along with one from another Round Oak do of the same year; the Retired Employees Luncheon, which took place at the works’ own Social and Athletic Club.
Fast forward five years to 1964, and we discover an artist almost in the works’ midst. John Ambrose had a studio in Bent Street, just opposite Round Oak. The painting reproduced here, which adorned the front cover of the winter 1964 Acorn, was entitled ‘A View of Round Oak Steel Works from the Pedmore Road.’ Many more of his works apparently hung on the walls of local pubs, and Brierley Hill Council had bought paintings from him for their permanent collection.