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The Song Of Steel

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The Song Of Steel
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27 Feb 2006

The Song of Steel

"this is the fire land where the sons of Vulcan toil"

The Decline of Sheffield & Rotherham's
steel industries

The Don Valley between Sheffield and Rotherham was once full of steelworks and many thousands of families relied on steel for their living. The Song of Steel offers a glimpse inside the lives of men and women who worked in the industry. In its heyday the city thumped to the sound of heavy drop forges working night and day, pub tables had guard rails to stop glasses vibrating onto the floor, and the air was black with dirt from the factory chimneys. Interviewer Vince Hunt talked to more than forty men and women who tell of hard shifts working alongside red-hot furnaces and the humour and stoicism that enabled them to survive such a world. Many of the stories are about the Steel, Peach and Tozer steelworks in Rotherham, pictured above circa 1947 by Sheffield artist Terry Gorman.

Steelos
(John Tams)
 
I 'ad no choice and if I 'ad I'd still 'av chosen steel
They can do their worst agenst us they'll not change the way we feel
Me father's father did it and I know it's all but gone
There were a 100,000 of us along the Rother and the Don.

Goin' down to Steelo's
Get mesen a start
Dunna ler it cobble
It'll tear the place apart
Catch it as it's comin'
Throw the bugger back
Keep your tongues upon the metal
And your eyes upon the track.

I got a start at Steelo's, Me dad put in a word
His dad 'ad done the same for 'im, That's how the work got shared
The mill roared like a dragon's den, the Tonguemen prove their power
Catchin' white-hot metal comin' 40 mile an hour.

Goin' down to Steelo's
Get mesen a start
Dunna ler it cobble
It'll tear the place apart
Catch it as it's comin'
Throw the bugger back
Keep your tongues upon the metal
And your eyes upon the track.

Publishing: Topic Records

Sung by John Tams and Barry Coope

Vulcan and Lucifer
(John Tams)

Vulcan sez to Lucifer, "Tha's fallen into t'neet
It's me as meks this valley ring and keeps these flames aleet".
Lucifer to Vulcan sez, "I'm still the gaffa here
I've signed up another demon and it's 'im you'll come to fear
So it's nowt to do wi' me owd lad." Vulcan sez "I know thee game
I bet Thatcher's got a hand in this." Sez Lucifer "For shame!"
"Come on Lucy, what's the beggar called?" He answered wi a grin
"Maggie sez his name's MacGregor. It wont be t'last you'll hear of 'im."

Publishing: Topic Records

Sung by Barry Coope

It's Curtains
(Ray Hearne)

Look at me curtains
I must wash me curtains
I must wash me curtains
Before he comes home

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe Road

He hates mucky curtains
He hates mucky curtains
He says mucky curtains
Means bugs in an 'ouse

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe Road

You can't keep 'em clean love
Wit' muck out o't chimneys
They're yellow wi sulphur
In two or three days

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe road

When we were first married
He'd laugh and he'd tease me
He'd swear he could see 'em
From Staniforth Road

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe road

I told him this morning
Just last thing this morning
I'll have 'em well fettled
By t'time you come home

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe Road

Look at me curtains
I must wash them curtains
I'll iron 'em and hang 'em
Before he comes home

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe road

But he's not coming home love
They've been from the mill love
A ladle of molten's
Gone all ovver t'men
He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe Road

He's covered in bruises
He bruises so easy
He's still black and blue
From that cobble last week

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe Road

What am I thinking?
What time is it now love?
I must wash my curtains
They'll need to be clean

He says mine are t'cleanest on Attercliffe Road

Publishing: Voice

Sung by Kate Rusby

Crane Driver
(Julie Matthews)

Me brother said I don't believe it still
They're taking on women at the rolling mill
So I went down and I put in me name
When I turned 18 I was a crane driver
Turned 18 I was a crane driver

With a gentle touch upon the wheel
Make no mistakes with red hot steel
12 hour shifts, me take home pay
9 a week for a crane driver
9 pay for a crane driver

In me black battle dress I was as plain as a mouse
So I sewed on buttons to match me blouse
Pink one day and blue the next
It's warm work for a crane driver
Warm work for a crane driver

I'd tap me foot to the drop hammer
Waiting for the whistle to move that steel
Way up here I'm the queen of the foundry
'Til the boys come home I'm a crane driver
The boys come home I'm a crane driver

Publishing: Circuit Music Ltd

Sung by Julie Matthews

Unity (Raise Your Banners)
(John Tams)

Bound together through the land
Stand up - stand up now
Brother sister make a stand
Stand up - stand up now

Keep the spirit keep the way
Stand up - stand up now
Unity will win the day
Stand up - stand up now

Those who stand against all strife
Stand up - stand up now
Fight to win a better life
Stand up - stand up now

Those who stand for liberty
Stand up - stand up now
Fight to keep the future free
Stand up - stand up now

Raise your banners high
Strength to strength and line by line
Unity must never die
Raise your banners high

Though the struggle brings you pain
Stand up - stand up now
Yours will be the final gain
Stand up - stand up now

Though the struggle brings you tears
Stand up - stand up now
You shall hear the victory cheers
Stand up - stand up now

Raise your banners high (etc)

Sung by John Tams

The pedigree for this song goes back to 1984 and the play "Six Men of Dorset", from whence it became an anthem for the striking miners at that time - "it got sung on the picket line, which I thought was about a big a tribute as could be paid to anybody, to be so incorporated - that was enough for me."
- John Tams

Templeborough by Terry Gorman

related internet links

an autobiography, illustrated.
with a concluding chapter

an early pioneer of steel

The Industrial revolution promoted
the world's first industrial and
consumer-oriented society in
Britain. Pat Hudson looks at the
forces that made Britain the workshop
of the world and explains why this
industrial dominance lasted such a
short time. from the BBC

"steel runs through these veins"

Legacies South Yorkshire

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