Shelton Iron and Steel Co | Shelton Bar | Earl
also see photos taken on the last day.
April 28th 2000 Newspaper articles - from the Sentinel.
A family with steel in the blood
After 159 tears of steelmaking the death knell sounds for Shelton Bar
Families have been left devastated by the closure of Shelton Bar steelworks. Stoke-on-Trent has lost a local institution, an industry and a part of its history.
Almost 300 workers have lost jobs and a way of life.
They face the struggle of starting again after years of fighting against the inevitable.
SARAH CHAPMAN reports.
Redundant Shelton Bar worker Phil Malpass comes from a family with steel in its blood.
Mr Malpass, from Hanley, has followed the Potteries tradition of working in one of the industries which has been linked with the city for more than a century.
The 49-year-old downed tools on his final shift yesterday.
He said: ‘‘I started working at the steelworks 25 years ago as soon as I left school.
‘‘I left to do other jobs, but returned to the plant in 1986 and have stayed there ever since.
‘‘The steel industry means a lot to my family. My grandfather, Samuel Malpass, worked at Shelton Bar for 50 years, then my father, Harry, did a 30-year stint there.
‘‘I am saddened that its closure means my grandsons cannot follow in our footsteps as I had hoped.
‘‘I was a roll-turner so I spent my shifts rolling up the steel we had produced on site. I enjoyed the work and there was always a friendly atmosphere in the place.
‘‘I have made a lot of friends at Shelton Bar and I will miss them.
‘‘I will be returning to the plant to carry out dismantling work until July.
‘‘I am lucky compared with other workers. My children are in their 20s and have moved away from home. When I turn 50 in September I will receive a pension from Corus, so I won't be left in the lurch.
‘‘I feel more sorry for younger workers who have mortgages and children to support.''
A third of his life at Shelton
Father-of-two Christopher Gilbert has been left wondering what the future holds after the closure of Shelton Bar.
The 33-year-old from Kidsgrove has worked at the plant for 12 years and, like almost 300 colleagues, is being forced to start looking for work.
He is married to college lecturer Caroline, aged 32, and has two children - Jessica, aged four, and Robert, aged nine.
He said: ‘‘It is such a shame that Shelton Bar has come to an end and I had a good time working there.
‘‘The last day of production was surreal. It was as though everybody wanted to get out of there in a hurry.
‘‘I am concerned about the future and it will be strange adjusting. Because I have worked there for more than a third of my life, it will seem odd not to go through the routine of coming here every day.
‘‘I do not plan to do any training and am still considering what to do.
‘‘The Shelton Bar steelworkers have been offered the opportunity to go and work on other Corus sites, like the one in Scunthorpe. I have already visited it and am going to return on Saturday to have another look. It is very different there and does not compare with the Stoke-on-Trent plant, it is not as efficient or modern.
‘‘My family and I do not want to move from here to South Yorkshire. We don't like it there, so we are left with a lot to think about.''
Starting all over again for Edwin
Ex-Shelton Bar furnaceman Edwin Walker is about to rebuild his life after losing his job.
The 46-year-old from Tunstall has worked at the steel production plant for 23 years.
He said: ‘‘Everybody is devastated and angry about the closure. Working here has been a big part of my life and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have made friends and everybody always pulled together to help out.
‘‘Since we found out Corus was to close, the atmosphere became awful as we knew we would have to start looking for work which is something many of us have not done for years.
‘‘It is not as bad for younger workers, as they are much more employable. I am worried I won't be able to start again at my age. I am re-training as part of British Steel's initiative to help us all and I hope to become a forklift truck driver.
‘‘I am trying to be optimistic, but it is difficult when there is not much work about.
‘‘My wife Cynthia does temporary clerical work, which is a great help in the short term, but you need to know that you have something for the future.
‘‘Shelton Bar workers still feel a sense of disbelief as we never really thought we would lose the works.
‘‘Now the sad day has come, it is time to concentrate on the next stage, which is to start again.''
Not much hope of getting another job
John Cooke does not know what his future holds now an industry almost as synonymous with Stoke-on-Trent as pottery has ended.
The 49-year-old from Meir has lost the furnace job he has had for the last 23 years at the steelworks.
The father-of-two said: ‘‘The closure of Shelton Bar is a sad loss for the city and a sadder loss for the workers.
‘‘It is the end of an era and many people like me have nothing to go to.
‘‘All I know is working in the steel industry and Shelton Bar was like another world with a lot of comradeship.
‘‘There used to be such a good atmosphere, but the last few months have been depressing as we came to terms with not having a future there.
‘‘It is almost a relief it has come to an end because everyone was so glum.
‘‘Most of us left the site early and we won't be coming back here in a hurry. I don't know what I will be doing in the long term. When I turn 50 soon I will receive a pension, but I don't hold out much hope of being employed again.
‘‘It gets more difficult to get a job as you get older. I am not going to take part in the re-training schemes as they are no use to me.
‘‘It is the men who have young children and mortgages that I feel sorry for in particular.''
Meltdown ends a way of life
It is more than the meltdown of a steel plant...it marks the end of a way of Potteries life.
Yesterday another traditional Stoke-on-Trent industry ground to a halt when furnacemen, roll-turners and drivers at Shelton Bar finished their final shifts.
Almost 300 steelworkers who had done the same work as their fathers and grandfathers lost their jobs in an industry which North Staffordshire has lost forever.
Shelton Bar steelworks has spent 159 years in the hearts and minds of generations of Stoke-on-Trent families.
The judder of the rolling mill which provided background noise to the city for so long has finally fallen silent.
The only sound now to come out of Shelton Bar will be the crash of demolition work.
During its heyday the works stretched across Etruria Valley to what is now Festival Park in Hanley.
It had a 10,000-strong workforce, five coalmines, steelworks and rolling mills, a coking plant, blast furnaces and a bi-products factory.
The first blast furnaces were built at Shelton Bar in 1841. During the Industrial Revolution it was the best location for a steel plant because of its coal and iron deposits, canals and good transport links.
The first mill was installed 10 years later and the Shelton Bar Iron Company, as it was known then, won the silver medal for wrought iron quality in the Great Exhibition in Paris.
The works were progressively cut back after the nationalisation programme which created British Steel in 1967.
Within 11 years, the final blast furnace closed and eight years later the site was cleared.
British Steel was privatised in 1989 and a general decline followed with the loss of thousands of jobs.
Dutch firm Hoogovens bought the company last year and it became Corus.
The closure announcement soon followed.
The late Ted Smith, former leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, forged his political career in the workers' fight to save steel production at Shelton Bar.
Former trade union official Bob Lamond spent most of the 1970s and 1980s in London with Ted Smith trying to rescue the plant.
The 73-year-old from Stone said: ‘‘All unions rallied round to do what we could, but we lost the battle.
‘‘We received so much support from people and it is sad steel production has ended.''
Mr Lamond has organised a remembrance service to mark the death of the steel industry in Stoke-on-Trent next month.
It will take place at St Mark's Church, Shelton on Sunday, May 7 at 3.30pm and is open to workers past and present and their families.
Manufacturing should stay on site - MP
Shetlon Bar works once stretched up to Hanley and has increasingly reduced since the decline of British Steel.
Now production has stopped at the 100-acre plant, the future of the site is a focal point for speculation.
The 159-year-old plant is being dismantled during the next few days. It could be converted to a 21st century industry by the company which closed Shelton Bar down.
An offshoot of Corus has agreed to try to rebuild the North Staffordshire company.
It could mean millions of pounds being invested in fledgling companies and hundreds of jobs created.
The initiative has been put forward by British Steel (Industry), a subsidiary of the former British Steel .It will mean cash will be made available to new firms or growing existing companies.
The aim of the scheme, designed by steel union ISTC and Staffordshire Training and Enterprise Council, is to provide practical help to areas hit by steel plant closures.
The company has successfully helped create jobs in other areas, including South Yorkshire and Teeside.
A Corus spokesman said: ‘‘The company is helping workers who have been made redundant to find new employment. Some have been transferred to other sites and 95 former workers will start retraining for other jobs.
‘‘We are discussing options for the site with various developers for a mixed scheme involving adjoining land. It's in the early stages but there are various ideas being discussed with the developers of the site at the moment.
‘‘It is early days to talk about what might happen with the building and the land.''
Stoke-on-Trent South MP George Stevenson said the future of the site depends on a move with the times.
‘‘The tragic irony of Shelton Bar steelworks is that it was profitable and both the steel union and local MPs fought to do all they could to save it. It is vital manufacturing continues on the site. Things need to be made there as they have done for more than a hundred years to reflect the skills of North Staffordshire people.''
also see photos taken on the last day.
questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks