As a child, Arthur was born in Templetown in 1937. He was the eldest of four children, went to Consett School and loved playing in the fields around his home as a child.
He worked at the steelworks for 10 years from 1953-1963. He started working at the steelworks at 16, as a bricklayer.
He put bricks in the massive blast furnaces to stop the metal heating up when it melted the steel.
Arthur also covered the coolers with bricks. He earnt £7-13 a week, which was a lot back then. In one year, he received around £1000 in total!
Although he only had a protective cap and mask, he loved his job there. He was just pleased he did not have to wear a uniform. Surprisingly, Arthur never felt claustrophobic in the tight spaces he worked in.
Arthur started working at the Steelworks three years after the 1950 disaster. It could be a dangerous job, one day at work someone poured liquid metal down one of the furnaces where he was working, burning both of his legs.
Arthur also lost two of his toes whilst working at the steel works. That just proves how dangerous working there really was!
His brother, father and uncles also worked at the steelworks. Arthur was never seriously affected by the red dust but it did irritate him, but others were not that lucky. For him, red dust was just normal, but he does remember the smell of sulphur in the air.
Arthur made many unforgettable and life-changing memories working at the steel works such as meeting the love of his life, his wife.
She worked at the steel works too, in an office as a typist, like many other women at the time. Arthur worked there for 10 years, for 8 hours a day, and his wife worked at the steelworks for 6 years.
Overall, Arthur loved working there, Arthur said “Even though some people hated the steelworks, I loved working there as the friendship and community spirit was great. I met many friends there’.
The Class 9F was the last in a series of standardised locomotive classes designed for British Railways during the 1950s, and was intended for use on fast, heavy freight trains over long distances. It was one of the most powerful steam locomotive types ever built for British Railways, and successfully performed its intended duties. The class was given the nickname of ‘Spaceships’, due to its size and shape.
At various times during the 1950s, the 9Fs worked passenger trains with great success, indicating the versatility of the design, sometimes considered to represent the ultimate in British steam development. Several experimental variants were constructed in an effort to reduce costs and maintenance, although these met with varying degrees of success. They were also capable of reaching speeds of up to 90 miles per hour (145 km/h).
The total number built was 251, production being shared between Swindon (53) and Crewe Works (198). The last of the class, 92220 Evening Star, was the final steam locomotive to be built by British Railways, in 1960. Withdrawals of the class began in 1964, with the final locomotives being withdrawn from service in 1968, the final year of steam traction on British Railways. Several examples have survived into the preservation era in varying states of repair, including Evening Star.
They were generally thought of as very successful locomotives, O S Nock stating “The ‘9F’ was unquestionably the most distinctive and original of all the British standard steam locomotives, and with little doubt the most successful. They were remarkable in their astonishing capacity for speed as well as their work in heavy freight haulage.
The original proposal was for a boiler from the BR Standard Class 7Britannia4-6-2, adapting it to a 2-8-2 wheel arrangement but Riddles eventually settled upon a 2-10-0 type because it had been used successfully on some of his previous Austerity locomotives. Distributing the adhesive weight over five axles gave a maximum axle load of only 15 tons, 10 cwt.
The driving wheels were 5 feet 0 inches (1.52 m) in diameter. However, in order to clear the rear coupled wheels, the grate had to be set higher, thus reducing firebox volume. There were many problems associated with locomotives of such a long wheelbase, but these were solved by the design team through a series of compromises.
The centre driving wheels had no flanges, and those on the second and fourth coupled wheels were reduced in depth. This enabled the locomotive to round curves of only 400 feet (120 m) radius. As on all other BR standard steam locomotives, the leading wheels were 3 feet 0 inches (0.91 m) in diameter.
Designed for British Railways by Robert Riddles, a total of two hundred and fifty one 9Fs were built originally for use on heavy freight trains. ten 9F locomotices, numbers 92060-92066 and 92097-92099 were modified, with the fitment of a pair of Westinghouse Air pumps, specifically to haul the the iron ore trains from Tyne Dock to Consett.
The 9Fs began duties on the ore trains in 1956 with the final 9F hauled train, named the Tyne Docker, running to Consett on 19 November 1966 behind a specially cleaned and adorned 92063.
A number of 9Fs have been saved for preservation, the most well known of which, Evening Star, is part of the National Collection.
Please get in touch if you have any pictures or memories of the 9F Steam Locomotives
Delves Lane Primary School | Consett Steelworks Heritage Project
In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the closure of Consett Steelworks we delivered a project where we looked back at the whole history of the town of Consett, and the huge influence the steelworks had on the local community.
We had guest speakers who talked about their lives working at the steelworks as well as inviting local people in to school to discuss the impact the closure had on the town.
The children felt that the project had given them a true appreciation of their local history and they gained a whole new sense of pride about the town where they live.
I’m just old enough that I remember the works in operation, seeing them every day from my bedroom window at Delves Terrace, but young enough that the picture above (and many other like it) where my playground as a youngster.
Big metal structures that where like huge monkey frames to climb on, old tires which we gleefully rolled down the sides of the slag heaps, holes and tunnels in the ground to climb into and explore.
From dawn until dusk we’d find somewhere to get up to mischief, and if it wasn’t on the steelworks site(s) then it was definitely the many railways lines, yards and buildings that where still scattered around waiting for their final demise.
We broke windows in the signal boxes, pulled cables out the ground and made bike ramps using the concrete slabs and bit’s of wood a plenty that we found lying around, it really was the best playground in the world, even if we didn’t really realise then what all the fuss about this place closing was.
We’d heard our parents and grandparents going on about where the kids would work in years to come, but we didn’t really care it was just too much fun getting chased by security guards back then, and yes… we did get chased by them, not like today where they just shout at you and then call the police. Back then we proper got chased, and if they caught you (which they sometimes did) you got taken home and your parents disciplined you!!
It didn’t stop us though, the next day we’d be roaming around again, to be fair how we didn’t damage ourselves (well seriously anyway) or ever worse kill ourselves is anyone’s guess, when you have a 10ft girder with a crane hook on a pully attached to it that slides along the girder, it makes for a brilliant tarzie swing.
I look back on those days quite often now and wish that the technology I have today in the form of my camera phone, I had back then, because the amount of photos and video I would have taken would have been unreal, some of it might have been taken for sensible reasons, but a lot of it would have been taken to show some of the utterly stupid stunts we got up to.
I do feel sad that I didn’t think to find ways to record what I saw for future prosperity, but thankfully others did, we found ways to make use of our towns heart in other more creative ways, ways that I’ll never forget and times that I’ll always cherish as the fun times I had with my friends before we grew into young adults and realized the gravity of our situation and the bleakness of our future.
After a post on the HCSW project Facebook group of a video of a Aerial Ropeway similar to the one that was operated to support the Consett Steelworks Dave Wallace has kindly got in touch with his own memory of the Ropeway
Richard, as a small child I was pushed in a pushchair down to Hardy’s Farm then along the Lydgetts.
On those Sunday walks I loved to watch the aerial ropeway and it’s tubs travelling high above my head then tipping their contents high up on a giant spoil heap. I then watched as the empty tub returned to the bottom possibly to the Brick Flats to my left.
I am unsure as to whether these tubs were in some way connected. In other words as one tub came down another went up, rather like telegraphiques (cable cars) in the mountainous regions of France.
This was around 1952.
This spoil heap was removed to allow the development of the Hownsgill Plate Mill.
This is my personal recollection… Dave Wallace
What are your memories of the Ropeway?
Any pictures or tech drawings of the Ropeway?
please comment or make contact with the HCSW project team we would be delighted to hear from you