Film ID:
YFA 4900

YOUNG EMPLOYEE SERVICES BRITISH STEEL PARKGATE ROTHERHAM

1969

Visitor Tabs

Description

Parkgate Iron and Steel Works, near Rotherham, was one of the main employers of the area employing many young workers and creating a fellowship among the workers of many different generations.  Interested in the social side of its employees’ lives, the steel works also set up a youth programme in partnership with the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme.  This film focuses on the Youth Organization at Parkgate and the activities available for its participants including contributing to an annual Pantomime production. 

The beginning of the film is damaged and starts abruptly with shots of the steel mills.  The commentary speaks about the change in industry and the importance of security and reasonable pay and conditions for all workers at the mill as it can be hard and dangerous work.  Sparks fly as molten steel is poured and shaped.  The commentary states that shift work impacts on the social lives of the employees, and while the manual labour is difficult, it creates a fellowship among the workers.  Different steel making processes are shown, and long planks of steel are rolled into shape.  Many of the boys who live in the area will go onto work at the pit or forge directly from school, having little choice or other opportunity.  However, some of the town and industry is changing, and there is footage of the demolition of old terraced housing and new flats.  The commentary notes that while the new flats offer better living conditions, they are much further from work.  The city centre is also changing.  There is a new shopping centre, various pubs, and a bingo hall.  There is footage of the city centre including buses to Rotherham and beyond, as well as pedestrians and shoppers making their way along the sidewalks. 

A bus arrives at the front gates of Parkgate Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.  The commentary notes that the young workers look for different types of entertainment, and teenagers are shown playing arcade games and pinball.  The Park Gate Youth Service has set up facilities which include an entertainment space complete with snooker, table tennis, and its own minibar.  A girl brings a tray of drink to a table where her friends wait, and elsewhere at the club, two boys play a game of chess.  The commentary notes that the Duke of Edinburg’s Award Scheme is at the centre of Parkgate’s efforts for the young.  There is more footage of the teenagers playing games and chatting. 

Fred Smith, the man in charge of the organization, comes into the club to make an announcement.  This year they will be putting on a Pantomime which will be Aladdin and his Wonderful Schemes.  Though he notes it will not be a typical Panto first because it’s not the right time of year for the performance and it will involve some unusual characters such as Daleks and a Dragon.  Not entirely convinced, some of the teenagers joke around with Smith.  The show’s producer and director are with Smith and call out all the rolls for Aladdin including stage crew, design, and advertising.   He also notes that members of the retired community and young children from the school will also be involved in the production. 

A week later, the club members are painting, sewing, and getting ready for the play with the assistance of adults from the company.   A few of the boys work at a screen printer, making posters advertising the event.  Miss Mercer, one of the office workers, is also a skilled cake decorator.  She takes a sample cake from the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet and instructs a girl on how to ice and decorate a prop cake.  She then shows another girl how to make different types of floral arrangements. 

The commentary notes that transport maintenance is a must, and a few boys work together to fix a motorbike which will be used to get around, helping in the preparation of the production.  Next, Peter Andrews, a photographer, teaches two boys how to create a portrait.  In the photography studio, one of the girls volunteers as a model while Andrews instructs the boys on how to take light readings, set the camera to the correct aperture setting, and how to make the model relax and feel at ease in order to get the best pictures.  Andrews also works at a manager at Park Gate, and there is some footage of him at the factory in that role. 

Newcomers tend to begin in the mailroom, and some of them are sorting out the post.  The commentary notes that there is not a formal sports ground available to the club, so instead they use a small field at the side of the factory.  A few of the younger workers sprint up and down the field working on their times.  Members participate in other sorts of physical activity, and the next scene features boys in a gym, some climbing ropes.  The boys are part of the Milton School, Swinton, which specializes in students with learning difficulties and physical handicaps.  The commentary notes that some of these students have won the Bronze Award as part of the Duke of Edinburg Scheme. 

The commentary notes that success to these boys is very important given their previous struggles.  The boys are in woodwork class, some in art class, and others in science where they play with a mouse.  Along with some of the older boys from Park Gate, the students help to build various set pieces for the upcoming Panto.  Meanwhile, the girls work with some of the youngest students, teaching them a song for the play as well as accompanying movements. 

Smith is also in charge of the induction course at Park Gate, and information about the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme is part of that introduction.  He believes it gives them something different to look forward to and a way to be involved in community life.  However, it’s likely that only 10% of the original members will remain, and the loss of potential upsets Smith. 

The Youth Club has a barn in Crookstone, Derbyshire, and the surrounding countryside can be seen.  As it is winter, the first thing they must do is get the generator started, key to being able to cook hot food for all those on the excursion.  Everyone contributes, and after the meal, club members and chaperones relax in the lounge.  The commentary notes that this is a forum where anything and everything can be discussed.  The group chats and has a good laugh.  Tomorrow some of the boys will go on a hike, and in preparation, they go over their journey’s track with the aid of a large map on the wall.  As it’s an early start in the morning, the group make their way to bed.  The boys sleep in bunk beds and joke around a bit before going to sleep.

The next morning they begin the hike.  The newcomers work with some of the older members to pitch a tent near the barn while others make their way through the snow-covered countryside.  The group at the tent also takes out cooking utensils for a meal.  Four boys hike across a snow pocket and slide down the hill.  There is more footage taken at the tent, and Smith is there to oversee and advise on the work.  The boys hiking have made their way further into the countryside, and while out and about, they have a snowball fight.  Following that, they continue the hike near some rocks. 

Finishing touches are being put together for the Panto which will soon premiere.  The stage is being set, and some boys roll up the curtain.  The piano is moved into place, stage swept, and props put into place.  The commentary states that the labels which may have been placed on people fall away in this setting as everyone comes together to work on the play.  There are people at a costume table trying on different outfits followed by footage of more set dressing before rehearsals.  Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, and the younger children start to get ready.

Opening night: There is a close up of the piano before the curtain opens to reveal a full stage.  The auditorium is full, and the audience laughs at and applauds the performance.  One of the actors holds up lyrics to the song allowing the audience to participate in the performance. 

During different scenes of the pantomime, the film flashes back showing actors at different parts of the film participating in various activities provided by Parkgate Duke of Edinburgh Scheme.  Back in the factory, sparks fly, the steel is moulded into form, and many factory workers are shown.  Many of these workers appear in the chorus.  The group perform the final number of the Pantomime, and the curtain closes on a successful production as the audience applauds.   

Title – The producers thank all those who so generously gave their time and talents to make this film possible.    
Title – A Rank Organisation Special Features Production for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.  Executive Producer George Grafton Green