Arthur Harkness – the Consett Steelworks Brickworks and meeting the love of his life

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’.

By Jason, Aston, Evie, Tyne & Aleksandra

Shared with kind permission of Building Self Belief CIO and Delves Lane Primary School

Building Self Belief CIO amd Delves Lane Primary School Display at CDHi Exhibition held at the HEART Centre in Consett Oct 2021

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