A Tyne Tees Televsion documentary on the steel-making community of Consett looking at the effects of total unemployment after the steel works was closed down. The film puts the Consett closure in the context of a country with three million unemployed people. Title: Tyne Tees TV logo. Opening views show a mixture of a mass protest led by a brass band intercut with general views of steel making, and aerial views of the Consett steelworks. A view of part of the steel plant is obscured by a wall which is spray painted with the words, ‘Stuff the Tories’. General views follow of other parts of the steel plant and, in commentary, a former employee states the grievances of his co-workers. From aerial views of the plant, the film moves to a union members’ press conference outlining the reasoning behind the union decision not to continue industrial action. More aerial views are followed by one of the union members at the press conference explaining in more detail the actions of the union members. Another member of the panel takes up the narrative. General views follow of the steel plant and local streets. An employee standing outside the works explains on camera what he believes to be the actions of the employers and the consequent action of the workforce. A close-up follows of a ladle pouring molten steel. A cameraman films the last batch of steel to be poured at Consett, ending steelmaking which began in 1840. A workman takes a sample of the steel, two men shake hands in front of a cascade of molten metal. A view shows the ladle moving for the last time into an upright position after the pouring has finished. In the street, an older employee speaks on camera and is sympathetic towards the plight of the younger workers who will find it difficult to find employment after the closure. General views show traffic leaving the plant. Some other workers get off a bus and walk up the road. Over this, a redundancy notice is read by the commentator. The notice is addressed to one of the workers, Martin Carney, one of the workers pictured along with his son Tom who is now also redundant. We follow Tom to his home at York Place in Consett. His wife is in the kitchen and one of their children sits on a workbench next to the cooker. Tom gives his wife his last pay packet, with its accompanying redundancy notice. Men fish in Derwent reservoir. A number of cuttings from newspapers report on the steelworks closure and its aftermath. The first one reads: ‘Consett: North-East consortium offers £20m’. Another reads: ‘Save Consett plan unveiled’ and another ‘Shadow men on verge of £3m bid for Consett’ A mechanical shovel tips coal (or general debris) into a coal wagon, one of a train of wagons which stand on a railway at the steelworks. Lorries arrive at the plant to aid the stripping out of workshops and offices. They leave loaded with a variety of items, from ingot moulds to office furniture. Men sit on office chairs on the back of a flatbed truck as it leaves the steelworks. A general view follows of a blast furnace, which was kept hot pending the sale of the works as a going cocern but with no reponse from the consortium that was expected to buy into the works, British Steel quenched the blast furnaces and coke ovens with thousands of gallons of water. Views show the quenching process on one of the furnaces. One of the workers (Martin Carney seen earlier) sits at home reading a copy of the Consett Guardian in front of the fire. The headline reads ‘We’ve Been Conned’. He gets up and walks out of his front door. In voiceover he expresses bitter disappointment at what has happened at the steelworks. He walks down the garden path and out onto the street, closing the garden gate behind him. General view of the steelworks in the landscape with the works looming over houses in the town. Martin continues to talk on camera about the predicament of the town and its working population. He continues his walk along a track on one of the hills overlooking Consett. Martin’s son Tom and his wife are at home. His wife is helping pack his bags to attend a degree course at Teesside Polytechnic, with a view to enhancing his abilty to find work. His wife speaks to camera and is quite hopeful, although she is concerned that his absence during the week may affect the children and herself. Tom also expresses his reservations about the new lifestyle he is adopting. The film cuts to Tom leaving the family home, and saying goodbye to his wife and children. Tom walks off down the street. A man arrives at the council offices building in Consett. He is economist John Carney (no relation) who takes up the new post of industrial development officer at Derwentside District Council. He speaks to camera of the enormous task in creating 7000 new jobs over five years. A crane lifts steel with an electro-magnetic grab as demoliton work is carried out on the last coal mine to work in the area. Men are studying in a classroom at the local technical college, where they study a range of topics from basic maths to welding and catering. These classes are funded by British Steel’s redundancy programme for a year. A tutor helps a group of men through a maths problem. A comedian performs on stage in a crowded working men’s club. A member of the audience talks to camera about his redundancy experience when he was so close to retirement. Views follow of people dancing to the music of a duo on stage. A man reverses a car out from the top deck of a car transporter. In the show room, the manager of a garage has been helping workers made redundant to buy cars, in order to help them seek work further afield. Heavy traffic drives along the High Stret. The manager outlines how sales of new cars has increased, since the steel works closed. Traffic makes its way down the main street in Consett, with the steel works in the distance. Other views show terraced streets overshadowed by cooling towers. Ken and Janice Hobson are in their living room. Ken places a record on a new music centre, their children sitting nearby. Janice outlines the various items the couple have bought with their redundancy money. They explain on camera their thoughts for their immediate future. Schoolboys are walking up a hilly street, one pushing his bicycle. Tom Carney is in a hospital where he is recuperating from an operaion on a stomach ulcer. A nurse takes his blood pressure. His wife and his father come to visit. In commentary, Tom reflects on how his illness is probably related to the stress he’s experienced since losing his job. His wife updates him on life at home. Tom reflects on how behind he now is in his new course at Teesside Polytechnic. A general view follows of the remaining steelworks buildings looking bleak after a fall of snow. Snow covers the rooftops of terraced houses. People in the street carry bags of shopping. As Christmas approaches, children look hopefully at some of the toys and games which are in the shops. Janice Hobson explains how this Christmas will be celebrated, but is anxious about future years. Tom’s parents celebrate a new arrival in the family, as their daughter in law shows off their fourth grandchild, Rebecca. Some young men play pool in a pub. A man in the pub outlines the lengths some of the redundant men will go to for work. One group went to Leeds to follow some vacancies, but they were turned away from applying for the work. Cars and pedestrians leave through factory gates at the end of the working day in the new year. The factory belongs to Ransom, Hoffman and Pollard, a roller bearing manufacturer, and they are closing their factory with a loss of over 1200 jobs. Still of the interior of the factory. Next, there’s a shot of a model railway and a new company from the south who specialise in model locomotives. Various shots focus on the work done by the employees, using fine tools on small pieces of metal, for many workers a complete contrast to the heavy work they used to do. The proprietor is hopeful that the business will expand. A cooling tower is demolished. A boardroom media conference takes place when a new cooperative group has been established by former workers. One of the group explains that they hope to get some work in demolishing the remaining steelwork buildings. A general view shows the steelworks as a commentary explains that they fail in this endeavour when the company with whom they made the joint tender for the work went bankrupt. A young girl walks up a street holding a doll. Next, in the living room of Tom Carney and his wife sits on a sofa next to one of his children and completes a newspaper crossword. He explains that other issues regarding his health mean that he has only been to university for one week so far. His wife explains that she is expecting another child. Sir Keith Joseph the secretary of state for industry is making a visit and faces a picket line. Over a loud hailer an announcement is made that the secretary of state will meet senior shop stewards. The arrival of the vehicles carrying the minister and his entourage attract boos and catcalls. A noticeboard outlines opportunities for businesses on a new factory site. Vehicles turn into an access road for the new factory site. In voiceover and on camera Sir Keith explains what the new initiative might mean for the area. New factory buildings can be seen as a travelling shot shows site development. Ken Hobson takes his dog for a walk in local woods near a river. At home, Janice Hobson stokes the living room fire. She explains that filling in time for both of them can be a challenge . She explains that she goes to Newcastle more often and reads avidly, and that Ken is becoming restless after being out of work for so long. Piles of books occupy a shelf. In voiceover with Ken walking his dog next to a busy road, he explains that he hopes to find work soon although it is difficult. A general view follows of the steelworks, and the entry to the coke works. The couple walk through the gates to sign on at a temporary dole office housed in an old canteen on the site. The film cuts to central London and views of the Houses of Parliament. David Watkins, the MP for Consett, speaks to camera. He talks of the government’s negativity in dealing with places like Consett. Other views show the Cenotaph in central London, and some modern office blocks. At a temporary job centre building next to the Parish Church, Consett, men study the vacancy cards on display in the job centre. A job centre advisor goes through the list of jobs available locally with a client. General view of the remains of some of the steelworks buildings. An old BSC workshop is the base for a new lawnmower repair workshop, started up by two former employees. Another employee used his redundancy money to turn his hobby of growing cacti into a family business. He and wife pot on some cactus plants in their large greenhouse. A van stands outside an old garage building with a new sign above the door, which reads ‘Consett Engineering Co. Ltd.’ The shop next door has a former steelworks employee plying his former trade as a cobbler. He works on some shoe repairs as, in voiceover, he outlines his background prior to starting his business. Aerial views follow of the steelworks showing some of the demolition work taking place. Men use gas torches to cut up piles of metal. The demolition firms bring in their own men to do the work leaving only lighter work for the local cooperative group of workers. Electro magnets attached to a crane hoist move tons of metal onto a truck. A man from the cooperative unscrews some bolts from pipework, others dismantle a large enclosed fan suspended from the roof. Martin Carney, Tom’s father, plays dominoes with friends in a pub. In voiceover he gives his views on the changes he has experienced and observed since being made redundant. He and his friends leave the Moorside pub. General views show people going about their business in the town centre. A man stands in a pub doorway with his pint of beer. Another man looks after a baby in a small buggy. General view of a covered conveyor belt, belonging to the Templetown Refractory brickworks, one of the few surviving industries associated with the brickworks. The film shows the canteen as men queue to be served at a counter. Janice Hobson has managed to secure a job at the canteen and serves meals to the workers. At home her husband Ken peels potatoes for the evening meal. He watches a cricket match on a nearby television as he prepares the meal. In voiceover he outlines his typical day at home. His son comes home from school and presents him with a picture he’s made. Janice makes her way home along the street. She speaks to a neighbor as she crosses the road. She explains that the long absence from work is affecting her husband’s temperament. Inside the house, Ken serves up the evening meal. On camera, the couple both outline the emotional difficulties for them with this new lifestyle. Tom Carney and his wife look for clothes for their new baby on the stalls at an open air market in Consett. Tom’s wife complains of the cost of some items. People shop and browse at other stalls. Various shots record pedestrians and shoppers in the town. A new bus station has been opened, the interior is decorated with items representing the steel working heritage of the town. An old still picture of the steel works follows. An aerial view shows the bus station. The commentary says that the steel roof is made of Italian steel. In a workshop, two men work on welding some items. In a new factory some industrial equipment occupies part of the floor space. Another worker uses a grinder on a piece of metal in a vice. John Carney, the town’s industrial officer, outlines progress in bringing new jobs to the town. The film shows some pipework being cut by a mechanical saw in a factory unit. General view of a large school. A group of children walk up a road, the steelworks on a hill in the background. The commentary outlines the lack of vacancies in the town for school leavers. Aerial views show the remaining buildings of the steelworks, where the commentary states that only two buildings will remain in production on the site, both operated by two different engineering enterprises. Over the next five years, the rest of the site will be demolished and landscaped. A bulldozer moves a mound of earth on part of the site. A landscraper levels another piece of land. The bulldozer pushes earth down a steep sided valley, as the camera pans left to show a housing estate. Janice and Ken Hobson speak about their future. Tom Carney outlines his plans, and his wife follows on with how she sees the future. Aerial views of the steelworks and the town with Janice Hobson’s in voiceover. David Watkins, MP sums up at the end of the film.
Source Yorkshire/North East Film Archive: