1983 poem by A. Billingham on the closure of Round Oak #NationalPoetryDay

Round Oak Steelworks
Images courtesy of 68Cardon

In the late seventies and early eighties Brierley Hill witnessed the collapse of its local industries. With Marsh & Baxter, Round Oak, Baldwins and others – factories which had stood for over a hundred years – disappearing it was a time of terrible change. As the industry disappeared the social networks associated with them went too.

This poem, by A. Billingham, appeared in the Black Country Bugle in January 1983. I think it captures the mood of the time very well.

Th’Earl’s – Gone West
By A. Billingham

At six an two, an then at ten
Yoe’d ’ear et blow ter tell the men,
Ess time ter change the shift again
Yoe woe ’ear it no moower.

Ah’m on about th’Earl’s bull, yoe know
Et yewsta goo, cum rain, cum snow,
An them fiery ingots orl aglow
Yoe woe see them no moower.

Ef yoe goo by now, the gaetes am shit
On a notice, R.I.P. they’ve put,
Tried ’ard they have ter keep et, but
They woe open them no moower.

Iss like a graveyard, quiet an’ still
Ther’s no sparks a flyin’ in the mill,
Iss another piece uv Bri’ley ’Ill
As woe be used no moower.

Stacks a stonden, tall en proud
Spew forth a red oxide cloude,
Soon ter be covered in a rusting shroud
Fer they woe smoke no moower.

The powers that be, ’ow con they sleep
Orl them men, et meks yer weep,
Chock the lot on the scrap-heap
We doe want them no moower.

An now et’s gone wi’ great regret
Ter get Macgregor out uv debt,
Er monewment to toil an’ sweat
Et woe cum back now moower.

This famous town once Industry’s lap
Like the muffler en cloth cap,
Slowly being rubbed right off the map
Et woe be known no moower.

Baldwin’s en Marsh en Baxters am done
Woolworths the co-ope, and Boots ’ave gone,
The shaps am close, one by one
Never to cum back no moower.

Bri’ley ill’s lost most uv it’s pride, alas
But at least we’ver gorrer touch of class,
We’ve still got Royal Brierley Glass
That wull goo on some moower.

Men round ’eer am bred ter werk
Evolved through tryanny, toil an murk,
Ess in their blood, the never shirk
Why cor they work some moower.

Tossed on the slag heap, ter fall apart
Orl on the dole, left in the cart,
A shocken crime, et breaks yer eart
Et ay our world no moower.

Round Oak Steelworks RIP

Memories of Round Oak – fantastic video

Round OakThis is a fantastic video of Round Oak steelworks, taken in 1984, not long before it was demolished to make way for the Waterfront Business Park.

The video is embedded from The Only Way Is Dudley Facebook site, and may take a second or two to load. It is worth the wait.

The video appears to be taken from a vehicle travelling along Dudley Road and then turning into Level Street.

It has already had over 50,000 views on The Only Way Is Dudley Facebook page and there’s lots of comments reminiscing about the works underneath.

[facebook_embedded_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10201608008777073&set=vb.199947026715649&type=2&theater”]

Lost Cricket and Football Clubs and Grounds in the south of the Black Country – Terry Church Book Launch

Wallheath based author Terry Church launched his latest book “Lost Cricket and Football Clubs…” at Stourbridge Cricket Club on Saturday (9th November).  The book recalls over 100 clubs now lost to the area, including many in Brierley Hill including:

  • IMG_0687Brierley Hill Grammar School Cricket Club
  • Wordsley hospital cricket ground
  • Stuart Crystal sports club
  • E.J. and J. Pearson Ltd cricket ground (behind the Birch Tree Public House)
  • Jury Hollow-ware Cricket Club – on Thorns Road
  • Brierley Hill Alliance (now ASDA in Brierley Hill)
  • Marsh and Baxter – now at least still a sports ground with Dudley Social occupying the High Ercal site
  • Richard and Thomas Badwin (Cookley)
  • Round Oak Steel Works (now the privately owned David Lloyd Leisure Centre.

The list reads like a roll call of lost industries too.

The grounds of Marsh and Baxter, Richard Thomas and Baldwin’s and Round Oak were provided by the three major employers of labour in the town of Brierley Hill…The employment and wealth generated by these three companies was immense and at one time (they) would have employed…close on five thousand people

It was more than jobs that were lost when the old industries closed, mainly in the late seventies and early nineties.  A whole social infrastructure was lost too.

The book tells the story of the clubs and makes fascinating reading.Terry’s website is www.wallheath.org.uk.

The Brierley Hill Alliance football ground
The Brierley Hill Alliance football ground – now ASDA carpark
Round Oak Ground
Round Oak football ground. Now the site of the David Lloyd Centre