Remembering Round Oak Steelworks

Thursday 10th March saw a coming together of former Round Oak workers to share memories, listen to poetry and stories and to view the Round Oak exhibition at the Artspace shop in Mill Street Brierley Hill.

Brendan Hawthorne, Black Country poet read inspiring, moving and humorous poetry based around work, life and characters in the Black Country over the last fifty years.

The attendees were the treated to some recorded stories (to be archived for future generations to hear what it was like to work in the area) from ex workers at the large steel making plant.

The Blue Brick, Tandys, The Miners were all well frequented by the steel workers – and beer had been brought in daily to quench the thirst of those working in the dust, grime and heat of the furnances.  A queue of lorries would be forever waiting to deliver or pick up steel at the works (see congestion even then!) but ‘…the queue of wives on a Friday waiting to pick up their husbands wages was even longer’.

Nick names were the norm and many friendships were remembered…”…it was like being part of one big family where everyone looked out for each other.”  Humour was everywhere and there were tales of mischief amongst the staff.  I wonder if the management ever knew about the cricket playing in the company’s laboratory (sorry about the broken door)?

Borough artist Steve Field talked about the proposed Round Oak memorial.  His project proposals were warmly received and some suggestions to make it even better – by including reference to the rolling mills – were made.

Thanks to Suzanne Cartwright from English Heritage, Brendan Hawthorne, Steve Field and the workers from Round Oak for a tremendous evening.  Thanks too to Tata steel for sponsoring the event.

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