TODAY marked the end of an era, as the final employees at Newport's Orb steelworks left the site for the final time.

People who worked at the plant attended the farewell and to give a final round of applause for the last 11 employees as the site was officially closed.

The Orb site has been in operation in Newport for 122 years. For half a century it was owned by Lysaght before eventually becoming part of British Steel and then European Electrical Steels in 1991. It became part of Tata's Cogent division in 2001.

Of late, the site has been the only producer of electrical steels in Britain. Last year the Orb site was put up for sale by Tata without any success with the business ceasing operations earlier this year.

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Of those who attended, Mark Spencer, 60 from Beechwood who worked at the site for 38 years said: “We’d all been hoping for something to come in and take over. It’s a sad day but it’s nice to see the boys coming here”.

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Tony Bunce who also worked at the site for 36 years, said his grandad, William Thomas Bunce, came over from Wolverhampton when it first opened – being transferred from the John Lysaght and Co base. He said it was a “sad day” for Newport.

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After the 11 staff members chatted with former employees and friends, they headed back into the site to finish their last and final shift.


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Jessica Morden MP, John Griffiths MS, Ruth Jones MP, and Jayne Bryant MS were also at the site to join the walkout.

Jessica Morden said: “I just think it’s a really sad day for all those who worked here and their families.

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“We have a massive proud tradition of steel making on this plant for 122 years and could have had a bright future, but the investment wasn’t there to be able to produce the electrical steels we need”.

Robert Edwards, regional secretery for the Community trade union, said: “It’s sad seeing the end of making steel on the site.

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“It’s been here since 1898 and is a long-standing establishment of the south Wales economy.

“We believed it had a future but unfortunately the company did not agree.

“The Transporter Bridge was built for this plant to transport steel along the Usk. It will be a legacy to everyone who worked on this plant”.

Alasdair McDiarmid, Operations Director at Community said: "This is a sad day for Newport and the steel industry but most of all for the incredibly committed and passionate workforce."

"This is a business that should never have been allowed to close. There was a viable alternative that was better for the steelworkers, the local community and our future economy. Today represents a major failure of industrial strategy."

"As we have argued Orb should be an integral part of a new supply chain for electric vehicles and the failure of government to grasp this opportunity is set to cost our economy more than £1bn over the next decade. Lessons must be learnt to ensure these failings are not repeated."