LAST week we again featured Llanwern Steelworks and asked for your memories.
● Tom Edmunds, 74, from Risca, worked at the steelworks from 1962 until his retirement in 1994. He said: “ I was part of the works protection, which dealt with safety and security. When the Queen visited she came by rail and all the local children stood there waving flags. We had to cover parts of the works to ensure her safety.
“When I first started working there, there were more than 13,000 people working there between the workers and contractors. By the time I left there were just 3,000.”
● Joanne Marsh’s father, David Parrish, helped design the steelworks and worked as a chief engineer from 1960 to 1980. She said: “He and my mother moved to Cwmbran from Bridgend in 1959 to oversee the building of the works.
My father commissioned a miniature scale of the works, which was in Cardiff Museum for many years.
“My dad missed seeing the Queen as he was too busy making sure everything went smoothly!”
● Keith Sims, 71, from Newport, said: “I helped built the first roads in and out of the works. My job was driving the steel piles, and then I worked insulating the pipeline. In 1958 I was conscripted into the merchant navy and celebrated my 18th birthday in New Zealand. When I came back in 1960, I went to Llanwern and got a job working on the plant machinery. I worked there for five years, on and off.”
● Mr Price said: “I worked for McAlpine on the building of Llanwern steelworks and I remember the first lorries of shale being delivered to the plant in 1959.
McAlpine saw 26,000 men on their books, and it was during the same period that the pipeline from Severn Junction was laid. I remember the introductions to the Queen at the official opening very well. I went on to become area office manager for Carling, South Wales.”
● Tony Bishop (Elvis) of Newport said: “I started at the steelworks on August 8 1962, and I was the first labourer in the cold mill, annealing department. I remember well the time when the boys from the Valley steelworks, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar came down for work. I was a young lad at the time and my father-in-law made me an alarm clock so as not to be late for work.
“New Tarmac flooring was laid in the cold mill for the Queen’s visit and she was given a private caravan for her visit. We tasted caviar for the first time after she had left, and many of us acquired one of the tablecloths that had been used during the opening celebration.”
● David Brown said: “I was one of the first Ebbw Vale steelworkers that came down to Newport in 1962.
I worked in the cold mill in the annealing department and I remember having to get up at 5am to catch the 6am bus in order to work my 8am-4pm shift – that was an unbelievable journey. The cold mill at that time had no canteen or washing facilities.
“I was eventually allocated a house in Risca and early in 1963 my son was born, but the snow was so bad that we were unable to move down until April.
“I remember the Queen opening the plant in 1962, we left that day with her official tablecloths wrapped around our waists as they were all being thrown away.
“I eventually became the works representative for the cold mill C shift, and I can remember that we broke production records in 1967.
“I left in 1982 with many happy memories even though at that that time there were lots of job cuts due to a new works measurement incentive scheme.”
The story of Llanwern steelworks on film
The following are from a film made in the mid-60s telling the story of why Newport was the site chosen for the steelworks. It includes fascinating footgae of old Llanwern, the opening and building of the works and Newport scenes from the 60s.
NOW AND THEN: Send us your Llanwern Steelworks memories
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