Carnagie Citations on Visit Consett Website to 9 men re the 1st July 1950 Accident at the Consett Steelworks + Family Memories

Please find below the citations for the 9 men recognised by Carnegie Hero Fund Trust. 

Do take a look at this page on the Visit Consett Website if you have a memory to share please do let the HCSW project know and we will arrange for it to be added to this page and also to the HCSW website and Facebook group/pages


Last Miners at Eden Pit (which at one time was owned by CIC) by Michael Murphy + Leadgate Coal Company

I was one of the last coal miners to work at Leadgate Coal Company when it closed in 1991.

I also have a couple of photos of the last miner’s to work there. Would they be of any interest for your website

Regards Michael Murphy

Photos of the last miners to work at the Eden Pit That’s me in the blue t shirt, Ian Hamilton on his knees with the shovel, forgot the name’s of the others but if there members of this website I am sure they will let me know.

My uncle John Murphy (deputy) and his Father and my grandfather Patrick Murphy also worked there along with my great uncle Lawrence Steel.

The other photo is the steam winder decommissioned when NCB Closed the colliery.

Hope you can use them

Michael Murphy.

Also we were in separate working and everything was hand balled, you had to get 12 one ton tubs out to cover your days wages and every tub after that was £5 bonus, averaging 15 – 17 tubs per day, it was hard work but i was fit as a flea

A comment on Alan’s latest story

John LeeI can remember those days well Alan.

As you comment steel making is a 24/7 process, not stopping to sleep or have have a day off.

This photograph shows the Steel Pant lab chemists on Christmas day c. 1976. From the left, Shift Chemist, Alan Thew; Sample Preparer, Billy Osbourne; Pig Iron Chemist, John Lee and Slag Chemist Paul Rutherford.

Happy days indeed.

Thanks to John Lee for sharing this picture Steel Pant lab chemists on Christmas day c. 1976.

Life at Steelworks – Oxygen Steelplant by Alan Swinburne

The Oxygen Steelplant opened in 1964,replacing the Open Hearth Steel Plant which had been in operation since 1920’s.

Originally it operated with two 20 ton Kaldo Vessels and two 120 ton LD Vessels,becoming the first steel making plant in the world to operate Kaldo and LD processes simultaneously.

It was soon realised that the Kaldo was more expensive to operate and that all Consett steel could be made by the LD process so a another 120 ton LD vessel soon replaced one of the Kaldo vessels and in 1968 a 160 ton LD converter,the largest in the Uk,replaced the remaining Kaldo vessel. 

A typical heat of 153 average ingots tons of ordinary quality steel could be produced in 39 minutes, this would have consisted of a charge of approximately 120 tons of hot metal and 50 tons of scrap.   

Consett was renowned for its development of new “special” steels to meet demands of industry  especially for the nuclear power stations and produced the  shell plates for the first nuclear power station in Britain at Calder Hall,followed by plates for Chapel Cross and Bradwell,the Italians used the same steel in their nuclear plant in Latina.

This was just one of the many steels developed at Consett all of which included CON in their name i.e Simoncon,Loycon,Nicon.Conlo

 I spent several months of my training in the Steel Plant was a two storey building with  spectrographic analysis carried downstairs and  a “wet” chemical analysis laboratory on the upper floor .It was manned on a shift system by 4 chemists.

Your training start in the “wet” laboratory and you progressed to assistant  chemist in spectrographic  lab .(See photograph 1965).

The spectrographic lab carried out full chemical analysis of solid metal  “bath” and “pit” samples from each cast and the upstairs lab carried out analysis of Blast Furnace metal and slags using wet analysis.

A bath sample was a sample taken before the furnace was tapped  to check the specification had been met and pit samples were taken during the teeming process to give the final analysis of the steel. 

You worked a shift system,initially this was seven shifts of either 6-2,2-10 or 10-6,this later changed to a 2-2-3 continental system with quick returns which involved finishing one shift and starting again 8 hours later.

When working seven of the same shift I once got up for 6-2 ,complained that my bait wasn’t ready ,to be told by my mother it was my day off,my body clock had got so used to getting up at 5 a.m.!!!.

Also when we worked  a quick return from finishing at 10 p.m. and staring back at 6 a.m. one of my colleagues brought a change of clothes to work,went to Bottos Night Club until went back to work,slept in the lab and started work at 6 a.m

As we were staff we didn’t clock on but couldn’t go home until your “buddy” came in,if he didn’t turn in you had to stay until a day shift chemist could replace you or on nightshift or weekends sometime work a double shift. 

It was very close knit work force and not many out of the ordinary events happened but I remember on the occasion when we made the first cast of 9% Nickel steel in an Oxygen Converter there was a lot of interest and several senior management present to witness the anaylsis.

The nickel content had to be determined from metal drillings using wet analysis.We had obtained some special drills to drill the bath sample and told the sample preparer to carefully and slowly drill the sample

He tended to be heavy handed and broke every drill before we had the required amount of drillings.

So there was a slight panic,with a vessel full of high Nickel Steel waiting to be tapped,but one of the chemists saved the day by jumping in his car and going to the local D.I.Y shop and bought some tungsten tipped drills.

You’ve  got to smile when you think that the outcome  of an important and valuable cast of steel was saved by a trip to a D.I.Y shop – and yes we did hit the specification  first time!! 

If anyone worked or had a relative who worked in the Steelplant Lab in the early 1960’s I have set of photographs of some of the chemists and you are welcome to copy.       

Next stop is the Foundry

My beautiful picture
My beautiful picture
My beautiful picture

Phil Brown my Steelworks Story- part 2

In 1970 i had completed 12 months training at the apprentice training centre .

Also in this year our father had joined the steelworks as a timekeeper in the main time office and sometimes Templetown brickworks .

Our mother meanwhile had been working in the Laundry Department at Shotley Bridge Hospital.

As the Steel Plant was deemed dangerous for apprentices, i was sent to the Billet Mill for 3 months training.

The old millwrights passed on their knowledge to us and gave us certain jobs to do on our own as well as working with them. After 3 months , i had to go to the Fell Coke Works.

My training here covered working on the coal conveyors and screening plant, some Bi -products from making coke was Benzole , Naphaline, Gas, on the Battery top it was very hot and dusty, the coal was charged into the oven sections using a special machine which travelled the length of the battery top. lids were lifted to charge the coal into the oven , then replaced.

But sometimes , because of pressure inside the oven these lids could blow off.!!!

The coke works had its own canteen for hot meals etc., the meals were nice , but the old scrawny pigeons sitting in the rafters were a little off putting !!!

After working in the Benzole house or the Naphaline house , your clothes carried the smell for ages.

In March 1971 our mam died suddenly with a brain hemorrhage , she was only 42 years old. This was a massive blow to us and i was allowed 2 weeks off work

When i returned to work i should have gone to the Blast Furnaces , but they kept me at the Coke works for another 3 months.

During theses months i received a lot of support from the engineering staff and the other apprentices.

My next stop was back to the Training Centre for 6 months , this time we did advanced machine work and small project work.

In the summer shutdown 1971 i worked the fortnight at the Billet Mill, i helped with the maintenance of the Scarfing machine.

The Scarfer when used, was like a large deseamer.

It burnt off any piping or scaling on the large slabs using oxygen burners.

I also worked on building the cogging rollers up and other jobs.

Near the end of the second week , it was critical that the mill would be ready for the first day back production. So some fitters ,mates and riggers worked round the clock to finish everything off practically living there .

I must have been cheeky and set my lip up to a fitter , because i ended up with a black grease beard and full side burns ,another lesson learned !!!

After the shutdown it was back to the Training Centre .

One week i had to go on a residential training course at Beamish Hall in Stanley.

On this course there was some apprentices up from Teeside , the course was to promote team work and also to help reduce costs with material wastage.

An example was — if you went on a job and you took 12 bolts and nuts to use, but you only needed 8 , return the unused items back to the stores and don’t leave them lying around.

We also had lectures from the safety department. On the Thursday, Ted Wilkinson our training officer came to Beamish  with our £5 pays.

We didn’t get any sleep on that Thursday night , it was our last night there, our celebrations got out of hand and people were locking other peoples bedroom doors , so we had bad hangovers the next day.

My next port of call was the Engine Sheds , this involved working on maintaining the diesel loco’s , traxcavators , and the diesel generator at the Power Station.

In those days everything was repaired and made good for use again, this included gear wheels.

These wheels would have the gear teeth welded up, a fitter we called ” Harry the Nog ” this was some of the work he did, if you worked with him , he would be having a drink of tea and a tab while you had to grind  the gear teeth using a template to get the profile right.

At the Sheds , who could forget the shop labourer / crane driver , his name was Raymond.

Always smartly dressed ,if he had a light blue shirt on , he would have a matching woolly hat !!

Also on one collar would be the initial R , this he said stood for receptionist.

After 3 months at the Engine Sheds i had to go to the General Fitting shop.

For 3 months i operated the Edgewick lathe.

Mostly the jobs were small batches of pins , small shafts and skimming pipe flanges. At the fitting shop i was working a 3 shift system, 6/2 , 2/10, 10/6 .

On the nightshift week , we had the shift off before college the next day, but then we had to go nightshift on the night after college.

After 3 months on lathe work , i then had to go into the toolroom for 3 months .

In the Toolroom i operated the milling machine. The main work was milling keyways in shafts and milling machine tools. Also we learned how to sharpen drills on the grinding machine. The toolroom fitters taught us well , there was nothing of any trouble to them.

Then after 6 months in the Fitting shop , i finally made it to the Oxygen Steel Plant . In the Steel Plant , the Kaldo vessels had been removed and there was 3 L D vessels,

When the plant was built in the early sixties , Consett had the insight to try two new types of steel making using the Kaldo process and the L D process using oxygen.

After a while they realised the L D process was the best. L D ‘s 1 & 2 had a capacity of about 90 ton , L D 3 was 150 ton.

The Steel Plant was a large multi storey building with 5 floor levels in the main section. 

The plant ran from SOUTH To NORTH and EAST To WEST. The first section was the Charging Bay, the molten iron came from the Blast Furnaces in via the South end of the plant with the loco .

The small pots of iron were decanted into a large charging ladle , then poured into the vessel. Moving from East to west, the next section was the heart of the plant, this was where the vessels were , boilers , pumps , fans , pipework , conveyors , lime hoppers and fluorspar hoppers, oxygen lances, boiler control room, fume hood attendants office, etc.,

Travelling west the next section was the Casting Bay, after pouring the steel from the vessel into a large ladle , it was transferred to the Casting Bay.

In this bay the molten steel was teamed into the ingot molds then allowed to cool down.

The molds were on rail bogies, so after cooling down , a loco woul d transfer the ingots from the Casting Bay  and take them to the next westerly section, the Stripping Bay. On each mold there were lifting lugs, the stripping cranes would use special locating arms to hoist the mold off the bogie , when it was hoisted up the ingot would slide out of the mold.

Sometimes the ingot would stick inside the mold, in this case a large hydraulic ram on the crane would push the ingot out.

When all the ingots were all out , the loco would take the ingots on the bogies travelling south to the soaking pits. At the soaking pits another set of cranes would be used to transfer the ingots into the pits to be reheated before being rolled in the Billet mill.

Best Regards

Did you work with Phil? or have your own story to tell please do get in touch

Robert Hindson- Interview Request

I am interested in talking to former industrial workers who worked in industries such as coal mining, steel production and ship building from the 1950s to the 1990s, which went into steep decline during the 1980s and 1990s.

I have spoken with Richard Judd and Peter Shaw from the group and they were happy for me to post here.

There are a lot of people now in their 50s and upwards who lived through the last days of Britain’s great heavy industries and experienced their demise and the impact of this on local communities.

This is a vital piece of social history which should be recorded and disseminated to the population now as well as being a source of information for future generations. Could you pass on this message to people who you think may be interested in sharing their stories.

The aim of this work would be to publish a book.

I am interested in the following aspects of their lives amongst others.• Growing up in industrial communities as a child• Movement from school into that industry• Day to day life within that industry• Community activities linked to that industry• Relationship with unions• Strikes and industrial strife• Political beliefs and whether they have changed through time• How their involvement in the industry ended• Their life since leaving the industry• Any impacts on their health of working in the industry• How communities have changed since the industry closed down• How they think younger people in their community view their industry, and how do younger people themselves reflect on these industries which closed before they were born

You can contact me on

At the moment I would like to do phone or Zoom type meetings which I would record, or people could write down their thoughts in emails or old-fashioned mail.

I look forward to hearing from you.

The “Steelworks General Offices” call out for interior pictures and layout plans

The General offices were an iconic building within the works and its a real shame they were not “saved”

Several photographs of the outside are available but very few of the inside, the HCSW project team would like to ask for your help

  1. For any pictures of the interior
  2. Anyone who has any layout plans so that our Community Steelworks Mapping Group can use them to “model” a recreation of the offices

Please comment or email the team if you can help

Also please do consider following the blog by adding your email in the follow us box on the side of the front website page – this will also help with future funding applications

We would also welcome the same for other buildings like the infirmary, brickworks etc

Phil Brown my Steelworks Story part 1

Here is my Steelworks Story , i will split into different sections.

My name is Philip Brown , my parents were William &  Jean Brown . I was born in the Richard Murray Maternity Hospital in Blackhill on Coronation Day , 2nd June 1953.

My father at that time worked in Newcastle , so we lived in Winlaton Mill , Blaydon

My sister Joyce was born in 1956 at the Richard Murray Hospital. In 1959 we moved to Blackhill and lived in St . Mary’s Crescent, this brought us closer to other family.

I attended Benfieldside schools , from Infants , Juniors and Secondary Modern school.  My final year at the school was 1968 – 69.

After sitting our CSE exams we started to look at what type work we wanted to do on leaving. The schools jobs advice office at Benfield Hall didn’t have much to offer in the way of jobs. A few of us applied for apprenticeships with the local electricity company NEEB and the GPO telecoms section but we had no success.

So thoughts turned towards the steel works.

At this moment in time the old “addidge” to get a job there was , It wasn’t what you knew to get a job there , it was who you knew !!  Once again, a few of us applied for jobs as Junior Operatives  (  J I S O’s )

We hit lucky and got the jobs , so in June 1969 i left the school. After the two day
induction course i started in the Billet Mill ( SBBM ),

I had to work the 3 shift system — 6/2 , 2/10 , 10/6.

The job i had to do was paint the customers number on the billets after they had come off the hot banks and cooled down , also the billet ends were painted different colours. The billets were of different sizes  , about 2 -4 inch square and 15 – 20 feet long. After the hot banks the billets were lifted off in batches and put down in the bay to be inspected for faults. the faults could be scaling or piping, these faults were deseamed out using oxygen blow torches.

Out of each batch samples had to be taken for quality checks, so a piece of billet about 6 inches long was burnt off and sent to the TRD department for testing, these samples were called crop ends.

      One shift i was painting the billet ends with green paint, when i picked up the gallon paint tin it seemed heavy , an old hand asked me why i was struggling, he said it was a special lead paint and that’s why it was heavy. It was only later on that i discovered 2 crop ends in the bottom of the tin  — the joke was on me !!!

Another lesson i learned was when i was sent to the General Stores to get some supplies. The bay forman gave me a Materials Issue Ticket ( M I T ) I had to get a gallon of white spirit , 3 half gallon paint pots , 1 dozen leather gloves , 1 dozen large paint brushes and 1 dozen small paint brushes ( sash tools ) I went to the stores to get the supplies, when i returned to the mill there was nobody there, it was tea break. So i put the supplies down in the bay and went for a cuppa. When break time was over i went back to the bay only to find everything had disappeared !! The bay forman wasn’t to pleased and told me that you don’t leave anything new lying around.

When the summer shutdown came along, i had to work it. The job i was given with a few other lads was to work under the hot banks, we had to clean up all the scale , dirt , pieces of billet and any other debris.

It was a back breaking job and the forman wanted to see the brickwork floor when we had finished.

The next job in the second week was to go round painting the gantries and walkways.

In August 1969 i applied for an apprenticeship at the steelworks , i took the exam and managed to get an interview .

After the interview i was offered an apprenticeship as a Fitter & Turner , which i accepted. I worked as a Junior Opp. until September 1969, then i started my apprenticeship at the Training Centre.

I would be here for 1 year with day release for college. As a Junior Opp. i was getting paid about £16-20 per week , when i started my apprenticeship we got paid £5 per week.

As an apprentice Fitter / Turner i had to start 12 weeks basic fitting , then 6 weeks electrical work, then 6 weeks plating welding work .

During this time we got safety talks and we were shown how to wear breathing apparatus. Then i was shown how to operate all the various machines , lathes, milling machines, surface grinders,bench drills, shaping machines.

Then we had to make test pieces using the machines.

On day release we had to go to Consett Technical College , except for my year , we had to go to the colleges annex building which was in Medomsley ( an old school building down from the Hat & Feather pub ) This was a nice walk from Blackhill except in the winter time !!

After a year  at the Training Centre we were let loose on the plant. I had been selected to work in the Oxygen Steel Plant but in 1970 the Steel Plant was deemed to be dangerous for new apprentices , so i had to go to the Billet Mill for 3 months training.

I hope this is ok for the first  story, the next one will cover working in the various departments and coming out of my time in the Steel Plant.

Best Regards


Did you work with Phil?

Would you like to share your own story?

What Did you or Family Members do at the Consett Steelworks

Please comment or email us

Name, role/s and dates

If you have a now and then picture all the better

If not already in it we would like to add you to this album and due course on the website

We look forward to hearing from you

Richard Judd

Chair of the HCSW project