Film ID:
YFA 4954

STEEL TOWN

1958

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a promotional documentary on the steelworks of Samuel Fox & Co at Stocksbridge, part of United Steel Companies Ltd..  It gives an in depth view of the workings of the factory, leisure activities of the employees and its relation to Stocksbridge, showing and naming some of the key workers at that time.  The United Steel Companies were a steelmaking, engineering, coal mining and coal by-product group based in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Title – A United Steel Production

The film begins following a van with SCWW written on it as it travels along the Sheffield to Manchester road, arriving at Stocksbridge.  It then shows the steel factory from above and a lorry belonging to Samuel Fox & Co. which is carrying scrap metal through the town to the steel works. The narrator states that almost every family in Stocksbridge is connected to the steelworks, which has been making specialist steel for over 100 years.  Some of the old steel streets, such as Gentleman’s Row – which housed the factory foremen – are shown.  It then shows the workers walking to work, and many arriving in red buses.  The narrator states that it has a workforce of around 7,000, half of which live in Stocksbridge. The narrator also states that local pride is strong: those who live in Barnsley are known as foreigners. 

Scrap metal is unloaded off railway wagons by a magnetic crane and placed onto a large pile.  A new young employee is starting, Roy Westwood, who is being shown the yard.  The commentary states that he went Stocksbridge Secondary Modern School.  The film then shows children in the playground of the school, and also in the classroom.  The narrator states that, “the chances are most of them will become steelworkers like Roy, or marry them.”  The class are all doing paintings of the factory.

At Belmont, the Works training centre, older boys are working at workbenches to become either craftsmen or production workers.  They are also shown training in advanced machine work.  Following this is footage of the new workshop, nicknamed ‘Bagnel’s Cathedral’, after Frank Bagnel, the manager.  Inside the works there is a large arc furnace.  One of the production workers, Reg Siddons, the first hand smelter, is operating the furnace.

Reg is outside work, walking in the local countryside with his daughter Maureen.  Back at the furnace he is talking with Frank Bagnel.  Extra lime is being added to the furnace.  The alloy is being tested in an electronic machine.  Reg estimates the right time to tap the furnace and molten metal is poured into a container.  In a classroom apprentices are being taught some of the basics of the steelmaking process.  The red hot metal bars are transported to the rolling mill.  This is operated by a team, led by Arthur Eastwood, ‘the screwer.’  He is assisted by Tom Cheeo (?) who operates other aspects of the process.  The men are on bonus payments.  Negotiations are taking place of the production bonuses, with local the union representatives putting their position and management replying.  Back on the shop floor, the ‘screwer,’ Tom, and ‘manipulator,’ Harry Rogers, are then replaced having worked an hour.  Also there is Harry Day, responsible for all the rolling.  They are rolling a new alloy.

Back at home, Mrs Day is peeling onions for her husband’s meal for when he gets home.  They live in “a comfortable semi-detached house on the Stubbins Estate”.  Mrs Day leaves the house on a snowy day and walks to the shops.  Here she joins other housewives looking around the market.

Back in the rolling mill the steel is progressively thinned out.  Harry checks the size.  Then there is the Works Council in progress, where Mr Morley answers a question about the supervision of new young recruits.

Stan Collins, an electrician, is welding power cables.  In another room there are a large number of electric motors laid out on the ground.  A machine is at work in the engineering shop, slicing a thin layer off a block of steel.  In the canteen workers are looking at the Works magazine, Reveille – with scantily clad women on the front and back covers, and four pages of weddings.  Following this, men are being treated in the physiotherapy unit.  Later, a group of women go into the Works where they operate machines for making umbrella frames.  Two of the women, Joan and Jean, are testing the frames.  Christine is among a workroom full of women making small springs for instruments and watches.

In the Holorith Department, women punch facts and figures onto cards.  In another machine shop tough steel is being rolled for use in motor cars and razor blades.  Pam Buxton and John Kay work the machines.  John is then seen playing with the works brass band.  The film also highlights other leisure activities including fishing, archery, and pigeon fancying.  Back at the works, the rolling mills are being closed down for the day.

The film switches to a meeting of the Town Council, where they are discussing housing problems.  Back in the Day household the family sit around the dining table playing Monopoly.  Rehearsals are taking place by the local theatre group, followed by ballroom dancing to swing music.  Back at the factory steel rings are being loaded onto a lorry, and again the brass band can be seen in action, and there are men playing snooker possibly in the local workingmen’s club.  Men are drinking beer in a pub, and one of the men downs a pint.  The film ends with a lorry leaving the factory with a delivery of steel off at night time. 

End Credits:
Photography W Suschitsky
Operator R Larrabeiti
Production Manager Ron Genders
Recording George Newberry
Ian Struthers
Music Eric Rogers
Commentary Micheal Goodliffe
Editing Vivienne Collins
Produced by A Frank Bundy
Written and Directed By Bill Mason
A Wallace Production

The United Steel Companies Ltd.