Brendan Hawthorne was employed to run three Round Oak Reminiscence days at Artspace. Fourteen ex-workers took part, and shared their memories and stories about the steel works.
These oral history recordings form an important part of the social history of Brierley Hill and are now deposited in Dudley Archives. They are also being used to inspire the design of a memorial sculpture to Round Oak.
Find out more about methodologies used for this oral history work.
Below are some extracts from the oral history recordings and images contributed by former workers at Round Oak.
Ex-colleagues at Round Oak, contributed by John Timmins.
“I can remember the queues of lorries queuing up to get into Round Oak, the scrap wagons on the main outside… All the way down the road they was always there and I tell you what the queues of those scrap lorries was nearly as long as the queues of wives collecting the pay packets from their husbands on a Friday dinner when they obviously clocked out. That was to make sure that they never spent all their brass in the local drinking houses.”
Robert Hamilton Cooper, former worker at Round Oak Steel Works. (Reminiscence session)
Ex-colleagues at Round Oak, contributed by Dennis Horton.
“Thinking back it was a great place to work it really was. It was very much family orientated and I think it’s only right if it were possible to put some monument up… something in a prominent position for Brierley Hill ‘cos that’s what Round Oak was, Brierley Hill.”
David Vale, former worker at Round Oak Steel Works. (Reminiscence session)
Round Oak casting. Images contributed by John Timmins.
“The enjoyable part of working at Round Oak was that people were a part of a family. We all knew each other. We were all aware of people even if we didn’t know the workman’s name they knew us. They always spoke to us. I never knew anybody who was unhappy there looking back”.
June Bowen, former worker at Round Oak Steel Works. (Reminiscence session)
Open Hearth Furnace construction. Image contibuted by John Timmins.
“Rumble of furnaces, hissing of the trains, bells of the trains, the crackings and banging of the scrap being loaded. Smell mainly of burning that was one of the things you could always smell.”
Michael Minton, former worker at Round Oak Steel Works. (Reminiscence session)
Some other Round Oak memories…
Look at images from the Round Oak exhibition, curated by Steve Field from the Public Art Unit at Dudley MBC.
Memories about Brierley Hill…
Have you got memories of the town you’d like to share?
Please reply below and add these to the site.