A member of the community contributed one of their poems about Round Oak Steel Works.


The Silk Scarf

A poem by Jan Yorke

Our dad used to work there
Once when burning ingots rolled along the factory floor
Slowly moving onward without rush

Our dad used to work there
When tapped out furnace fires
Gave the sky a glory glow
And filled the clouds with dust

Our dad used to work there
When heat and sulphur filled
His lungs with every breath
And clinker clung like sweat

Our dad used to work there
When men of steel spilled through the gates
And filled the pub to quench their heavy thirst

Our dad used to work there
A flash of white silk scarf around his neck
At his dirty filthy worst

Our dad used to work there
Upon the fiery hill of Brierley town

Our dad used to work there
And then they closed it down

More on Round Oak Steel Works…

The Brierley Hill Civic Society and Brendan Hawthorne – A Collective Poem

The Civic Society contributed memories, thoughts and poetic descriptions about Brierley Hill past, present and future in a two-hour workshop. These ideas were forged into a poem by Brendan Hawthorne.

Brendan Hawthorne from Jonathan Lee on Vimeo.

Watch children and a governor from Holly Hall School perform the Civic Society poem.

Brierley Hillness

Past ‘I’

 I wait awhile

as lock-gate sentinels

stand in silence

They observe

my tow path history

that laid the foundations

of wealth and respect

Those same guardians

once counted freight

to and fro

backwards and forwards

horse and engine

coal and steel


glass and forgings

along the eight

where traffic noise

is now strangely subdued

Extraneous sounds

are cushioned somewhere

Somewhere between

the seconds that recount

cutting fleeting glimpses

of boat and barge

For in this place

time stops

for momentary reflection

I see it all again

as if it was only yesterday

I was once a real town

with an urban council

art school and library

Gave opportunities for education

in a working class


I entertained at the Danilo

A silver screen

flicker for the population

A touch of glamour-to-go

There was of course

Marsh and Baxter’s

and the Piggy Bank

where statistics squealed

five thousand porkers

beforenine o’clock

Before a pint was sunk

And then the Royal glass cone

that stood regally alone

its’ blown belly

a cut glass marker

of lead facet perfection

Shops and services

grew along my streets

feeding and clothing the people

who lived within

these welcoming branch arms

of canals and trees

I stamped my authority

through courthouse principles

and sub and main post offices

with Saint Michael’s spire

and sanctuary overseeing

spiritual needs

planting seeds

of morals and

paradise memorials

that I kept close to my

medieval arterial heart

Those were the days

before change swept my face

removed my furnace core

and tore up the balance books

when themidnightsun

had set upon my tears

And the night

became bright

with street lights

and tower blocks

and traffic lights

Red and amber

and green

Where I find

this moment already gone

Recollections lie scattered

They are gems of my past

left to lie

wherever the winds

should take them

They chill my warmth

when I need comfort

They are the thorns

of this leeward

hill top Brier rose.

 Present – ‘You’

 You have people

around you

that still love you dearly

Young and elderly

retaining dignity and pride

The arts and the active

The sports and the social

Though some sadly remain

totally disenfranchised

you must accept change

become a renaissance town

because you can still give

You’re not on your own

When The Round Oak

forest of smoking stacks

was given the chop

it was a sign of the times

Emotive and grim

The pick of the crop

But the ins and the outs

and the ups and the downs

by day and by night

give locals and visitors

an experience to own

With markets and shops

 bingo and church

the pub on the corner

and all-day take-away

Buses bus shoppers

past parked rowan trees

past wildlife and birds

A nature unseen

alongside canals

to a library’s shelved words

If only people

would see what’s up

with this town

instead of what’s wrong

Beyond the shop front

and bus stop hub

the architecture and language

joints jacket architrave

to arch and pillar

Here industry can imitate nature

Now we see that you’re growing

more positive in stature.

Future ‘We’

We want to conserve

We want to preserve

We want new bricks and old

Aspirations we’re told

We want tradition

and association

Meet and greet

Old friends and new

We want to be active

We want to be approachable

Not isolationist and reproachable

We want new link communities

Inspired planning

lead this post industrial development

from a regional panning

We’ll move from steel grey

to village green

be proud of our heritage

Be proud to be seen

We’ve been guilty in the past

of opportunities lost

losing our focus

by just counting the cost

We want to think on

beyond window box

Step out from the sink

Get out of the blocks

We’re inside out

We’re back to front

We want more clout

Without being too blunt

We’ve marginalised growth

with centralised decay

We have got vision

and plenty to say

We want to build networks

Build business link chains

Host festivals and events

Let’s look at the gains

Regain pubs and clubs

We need to work together

Build a new economic age

Inspire youth

and bring ideas from the page

We’re honest hard workers

Chock full of fun

A vibrant cast

when there’s work to be done

We’re all still smiling

Our spirit is willing

Watch this space

because change will be coming

And please remember

beneath this shell

our people are proud

we’re show and tell

and all double yolkers

we’re thoroughly good eggs

and witty jokers

As Brierley Hill blossoms

let’s get this show on the road

A town of convenience

stepping out from the crowd.

The Brierley Hill Project presents… Brierley Hillness

Emma Purshouse ran two, two-hour writing workshops with young people and volunteers at The Brierley Hill Project. A selection of their work was then performed by some of the participants at an evening event at Artspace.

Below are the poems which were written with Brierley Hillness in mind.

If Brierley Hill could talk, what would it say to future developers?

The Brierley Hill Project members

(Collective poem)

From God we need a gift

Let’s be honest

We need a face lift


Put some spark

Into the parks


Leave it the same

I’d still complain


Brierley Hill

A proper dive

Noone gets

Outta here alive


Don’t take my library

I want books for free


Gimme some clubs

Where I can practice me dubz!


Brierley Hill

I think it’s great

I’m not sure

It’s such a state


I’m still stacking Pasta

But hopefully soon

We’ll have George

At Asda


Brierley Hill

Enter at your will.

Brierley Hillness is…

Written by Malcom Hickman

Recorded at live performance event at Artspace in March 2011.

Malcolm reading his poem from Jonathan Lee on Vimeo.

Brierley Hillness is…

Written by Malcolm Hickman

A rabbit hole

It’s a garden gnome in the grand scale of things

Once you get in you can’t get out

Hedged all about

It’s a fantasy in a larger truth

It’s Alice falling

It’s a five way looking glass

It’s the red queen flying on the dragon’s back

Its cattle going to different places

It’s a funnel

It’s greyness that doesn’t offer a smile

And I sit inside and wonder why

It’s tall

It’s bigger than a house

It’s my habitat

It’s where I think, it’s where I’m at

It’s the hatter and the hare

It’s the teapot thrown in the air

It’s the grace of the White Queen as she sees into eternity

Its patience in the darkness but Alice knows they are blessed

Is it better to be first or last?

Is it better to be feared than loved?

Does it work living in the past?blockquote

Brierley Hillness is…

Written by Steve Hall

 Brettall Lane long and loud.

A long line of cars held up by traffic lights.

It’s tall boxes called homes

Where inhabitants are trapped.

It’s chip shops selling chips

That are cooked at dinner time

And sold for evening meals.

It’s young men selling the next shot of pain

To anyone willing to pay the price.

It’s care homes where someone’s Mom or Dad

Sits and sleeps all day long with nothing to do except wait to die.

Have you written poetry inspired by Brierley Hill?

Why not reply sending a poem and add it to the site!


2 Responses to Poetry

  1. Bob Hill says:

    anyone know of Hills Shop the bottom of Fenton St, my Uncle Len, had two lorries in fifties. Bob Hill

  2. Pingback: Brierley Hillness presents… | Brierley Hill Blog

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