A Painting by Philip Oliver

Peter Horsman shared a picture of the Steelworks and it made me want to find out more – Did you know or work with Philip?

So I emailed the artist and he kindly has replied

Thank you very much for your message and for your interest in the print. 

I only have the one illustration of Consett Steelworks, however I do plan do paint more in the near future if there is enough interest.  I formerly worked at the Steel Works, employed as a welder for five years. 

I have many memories of the Works. The large chimney being towed at the rear belonged to the Billet Mill, and I remember working inside it when it was erect. 

For your interest, I met my wife in the Company and my friend’s Wife, was the Company Director’s Private Secretary.  I hope this helps.

By all means, please feature or reference me in your blog and I will be delighted for you to share this also. 

Many Thanks 

Kind Regards,

Philip Oliver, Artist and Illustrator


Philip’s watercolour depiction of the former ‘Consett Iron Company’ in County Durham. It is 40 years this September since the closure of Consett steel works. The industry was Consett’s biggest employer with 3,700 workers directly employed and supporting another 7,000 jobs indirectly. Whilst County Durham had many coalfields, Consett was renowned for its steel production. The iron company was founded in 1840 to exploit the area’s natural resources of iron ore, coking coal and limestone. Consett’s Iron Company however began steel production in 1889, boasting the largest steel plate factory in the world.

A few years later in 1894, the town of Consett was said to be the largest manufacturer of steel in the world. Steel from Consett was used in the construction of Blackpool’s famous tower, ships and more recently, for nuclear submarines. Consett boomed and consequently, developed housing, a Hospital and a vast rail marshalling infrastructure. The Consett Iron Company peaked during World War Two when 12,000 workers were employed. During the 1960’s, the steelworks had been nationalised as British Steel.

Philip’s painting is set in the late 1960’s and it features a pair of AEC tractor haulage units arriving into the Steel Works with a long and heavy load.  The artist has captured the dramatic scene in the background of the many chimneys belching out red smoke. This was a result of the iron oxide, appearing rusty red in colour and fell across the Town as what was locally referred to as ‘red dust’.  On the 12th September 1980, the works closed, and steel production ceased, leaving a devestating impact upon the town. Not a trace of this scene remains today.

This is a high quality, giclee print. Only 750 produced and signed exclusively by the artist.

Thanks to Philip Oliver for his interaction and allowing us to share this print and a little of story behind it

Have you purchased one of the prints?

Richard Judd

Chair of the HCSW Project

Lanchester EP Steelworks Walk led by Rob Moran

Lanchester EP are doing a project on Consett Iron Company and on Thursday I took them on a tour of the site.

We visited the memorial of the brave men who lost their lives in 1950 and spoke of the story of that terrible night.

We had a map of where the building of the steelworks were with pictures of the cooling towers and the power station.

We looked at the slag ladles and went to the park where I told them of the Battle of the Blue Heaps.

We ended up at the steel circle where they found out that Consett steel made the Blackpool Tower, the first UK nuclear submarine HMS Resolution, Sydney Harbour Bridge and a few more.

The children were a credit to the school, they asked lots of questions and enjoyed themselves.

This is the first time History of Consett Steelworks group have done this.

Hopefully it’s the first of many visits in keeping our local history alive.

Rob Moran part of the HCSW Project team

May 2021

John Pears by his son Neil Pears

From the CIC Magazine

The picture of John Pears getting his pre wedding present got us thinking to see if we could find out more about him and even get some pictures of the wedding

Well after posting on Leadgate Old and New Photographs his son Neil commented and has provided some pictures and background

John Pears was born in Leadgate on 31st July 1943

He worked at the Steelworks Steel works 1959-75

So here are 3 photographs of the wedding of John and Valerie supplied by Neil .

The Wedding was on 3rd of October 1964 at Leadgate Methodist Church. Best man was Eric Macdonald

He was married to Mam for 32 years writes Neil

3 kids Alison 56 Me 55 & our Mark 46

Supplied by Neil – His best man was Eric Macdonald writes Neil
on the steps of Leeadgate Methodist Church-picture thanks to Neil Pears
Another picture John and Valerie with the Boys Brigade 1966 thanks to Neil Pears- do comment with names

Neil also enjoyed some active times with his dad too = he writes My dad & I, walking up Skiddaw August 1977

John went on to be a local councilor between 1979 and 1991

Member of the Leadgate Gleeman Choir

Also active with Derwentside singers and Consett theatre workshop

Loved to play golf 3 times a week and loved following Newcastle United

Was part of the Boys Brigade from 1955, captain 1970-79

Also involved in the local Methodist Church Council

John died 8th October 2011

Consett & District Heritage Initiative *CDHI

Consett & District Heritage Initiative are a voluntary organisation.

The group was founded in May 2010 with the goal to make the history of our area accessible to all.

We believe in education and have already given numerous school display’s and talks.

In the past 6 years we have also had numerous open days and seen 1000’s people through our doors.

Our Archives are growing at a steady rate with donation’s of photo’s, postcards, books and artefacts and we hope this continues.

Through archiving and sharing of information we hope to save our history for the future generations.

We are based in The Lodge, Blackhill & Consett Park where we have our office on the second floor.

The Lodge is located just up from the bottom gates on the left.

Our office is open every Wednesday from 10am -4pm for anyone interested in finding out more about our local history or to give help with your family history (Tuesday 10-12.30).- note currently closed due to the Covid Pandemic

Link to Facebook group


the History of Steelworks Project are delighted to partner with and work with CDHI. Did you go and see their display at Tesco in Sept 2020 for example. We look forward to supporting and promoting each others activities as we go forward

Heritage Trail by Project Genesis

Have you walked all or part of the Heritage Trial?

What are you thoughts?

Please do share any pictures

More about the Trail and a map on the #vistitconsett website

Description from the Visit Consett Website

The Heritage Trail project was conceived to create and enhance a footpath to celebrate Consett’s heritage and industrial history. In linking our tourism and heritage assets across the town to the stunning countryside, the Trail encourages both visitors and residents alike to explore North West Durham. 

Taking in existing footpaths and following parts of the C2C cycle route, the Heritage Trail has magnificent views across areas of outstanding natural beauty and as Consett is close to world-renowned tourist attractions such as Beamish Museum and Durham City, it is the perfect place to visit. 

The Project Genesis trust is known locally for developing the community assets across the town, including the Consett Urban Park, Fawcett Part, improvements to the C2C route and the Grove Ponds site. 

As the Trail is a circular route, walkers can start at any point. Consett town centre is linked to the Derwent River Valley, via the Hownsgill Viaduct and up through the Grove Ponds. All the footpaths have been improved or created with ample signage for locals and tourists to find out more about our Industrial Heritage.

Improvements to the car parks and the addition of picnic tables at specific points on the Trail, mean walkers can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the stunning countryside and access sites such as the former steelworks pumphouse and the Hownsgill Funicular Railway which had been lost to public access and awareness for several decades. 

Walking the Heritage Trail

Length of route: 6km (without detours)

Time to walk: approximately 3 hours

Parking is available adjacent to the Trail at Lydgetts Junction and at Pemberton Road. It is a short walk to the Trail from Allensford car park. There are dedicated Heritage Trail way markers throughout the walk. Follow orange arrows for a clockwise route, and green arrows for anticlockwise.

The Trail is unsuitable for cycles, except where it coincides with the National Cycle Routes 7 and 14. 

The paths have mostly been surfaced; unsurfaced paths may become muddy and therefore suitable footwear should be worn. Any steep sections of the trail are marked as such, but they are not very long. Please take care on sections of the Trail where the path narrows or becomes steep. 

Bench and seat down by the Pump House
Heritage Trail Map

Steelworks Walk for all ages

Delighted to hear that Rob Moran “local historian” had a great session and walk with a class from a local school

He will be doing a post about it in due course

n the meantime well done Rob I know you put alot of work into making it happen and research which held you in good stead for the number of questions asked

Rob and Peter Jack Shaw will be hosting a Steelworks Walk as part of the Closure Weekend in Sept 2021 watch out for more details in due course

This is building on the work the Community Steelworks Mapping group are doing and the research Rob has been doing

Also do join and follow Rob and Alfred the Dog’s Landmark travels on the group link below


An example of the Steelworks Walk researched and hosted by Rob Moran – this at Blackhill and Consett Park

Bedroom view of the Works-by Leslie Lowes

This slag-tipping operation used to light up my bedroom ceiling at night in Blackhill.

A rosy glow started as a glimmer on the distemper that swelled and grew until the bedroom flushed into a fiery pink that transformed it into an exotic boudoir just for a moment.

Alas it soon disappeared and returned me to a bleak white reality. But just for a moment it was transformed and made me look at things creatively.

Bedtimes were certainly interesting in Blackhill then.

picture shared by Stephen Bridgewater
Shared by Rob Moran and Alfred the dog

Health & Safety Focus in June 2021

Our next “Focus” will be in June on Health and Safety so if you have any related content, stories or memories please get in touch

Be good to speak to Union Health and Safety reps for example, anyone who worked in the infirmary

In due course once archives are back accessible at Durham, Beamish and Teesside we will be looking for content their including any Accident books

The Focus will build us up to the anniversary of the 1950 Accident- we would also like to “speak” to families to get their input

Please email the HCSW team on historyofconsettsteelworks@gmail.com