The History of Consett Steelworks project team would like to ask all to consider subscribing to our website blog
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Will help with future funding applications and discussions with partners if we can show a viewable figure of interactors/interested parties
We would also welcome contributions for the Blog from anyone who worked at the Steelworks who might want to share their memories like for example Alan Swinburne. Steve Shields and Philip Brown have done
Also an invite to local heritage groups to do a guest blog
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Heather Thompson (daughter) has agreed for the following to be shared
Announce death of (red) Ray Thompson of Castleside.
He started at CIC as an apprentice electrician around 1946 when he was 14, working alongside many women who continued their wartime service at the works in the years immediately after the end of World War 2.
Apart from a period of broken service in the 1960s while he built his beloved house at Castleside, he worked at British Steel till the closure in 1979, serving as electricians’ convenor and Union rep for the EEPTU.
A staunch socialist, Ray could be uncompromising and sometimes did not see eye to eye even with other union men, especially if he felt their views were not aligned with the will of the people, from whence he derived his mandate.
Ray retained his socialist principles to the end, preferring to die at home rather than unnecessarily costing his beloved NHS the unnecessary expense of an ambulance.
Despite multiple serious illnesses, blindness and deafness he never once complained. And he fought bravely to the last.
He spent his last minutes with his daughters and grandchildren, finally at peace and pain free – a good death for a good man.
Image taken by Peter Brabban
Val Boyle wrote the following on the HCSW Facebook group and has agreed for it to be added to this post
What a wonderful man he was. I feel lucky to have met him and privileged to have worked with him on Tales of Derwentdale.
If it wasn’t for Ray, I’d never have found out about J.W.Fawcett, and his campaign to get a gravestone for one of his heroes was typical of this lovely, principled, clever, funny man.
Ray, you’re a hero of mine too.
on reply to me asking if ok to share
Yes, of course, thank-you Richard. It’s an honour to be associated with him at all.
Here’s another photo from the speech he gave at the launch of the book in the Lodge at Blackhill Park.
Ray at a Book Launch- Here’s another photo from the speech he gave at the launch of the book in the Lodge at Blackhill Park. shared by agreement thanks to Val Boyle
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