Men of Steel - The story of the steel workers of Redcar
Final Major Project by :
Mr David Lee
BA Hons Photojournalism
Contact : email@example.com.
The Sun sets over the Redcar steel works and an industrial era. After 150 years of producing steel on Teesside the Corus steel works closed in 2010 with the loss of 1500 employees.
For over 150 years steel has been made on the banks of the River Tees. The Redcar steel works had produced the finest quality steel in the world and was sold across the globe. The production of steel on Teesside has an illustrious history. In its heyday the Steel works then Dorman Long produced steel for the Newcastle Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge and many other famous structures. Steel production and manufacturing has declined in the region and much of the huge site now stands derelict.
In March of 2010 the owners of the steel works Corus, mothballed the blast furnace with the loss of 1500 jobs. Corus is owned by the giant Indian corporation Tata, in a consortium of four multinational companies. The steel works closed when a deal between the consortium broke down and a new buyer was not found.
This was the end to an industrial era on Teesside and a way of life for the people of the town of Redcar. The photo essay is socio economic study of a group of steel workers who live in Redcar and how the closure of the works has affected the local economy. This is a story of friendships, traditions, history and the future of manufacturing in Britain.
The Blast Furnace stands on the mouth of the Tees river and dominates the view from far around. The steel works had produced the finest quality steel in the world until the owners Corus mothballed the furnace in February 2010 as a deal with a consortium had fallen though.
Alli Wittle had worked at the steel works for 32 years as a Fitter in the beam mill. He is the fourth generation of steel workers in his family. He took redundancy in 2010 when the blast furnace was mothballed.
Cameron Nielson 53 had worked as a crane driver at the steel works for 23 years. He was made redundant in 2010 when the plant closed. He has had no success in finding work since and he misses his job and his work mates. Speculation of a deal with Thai company SSI keeps hopes alive of the plant reopening.
Brothers Chris and Mark Tuck both worked at the steel plant. Chris age 49 (left) worked as a crane driver. Mark age 47 was also a crane driver and had worked at the steel plant since leaving school. Both have found employment in other sections of the steel industry but both hope to go back to their previous jobs.
Chris age 49 previously worked at the section of the steel works known as the Bos plant as a crane driver with Cameron. The plant still produces coke that is sold on to other steel companies. He now works at the coke ovens but misses his previous skilled job as driver. He and Cameron live in hope of being reinstated in their previous positions.
The Beam mill is the only section of the steel plant that still produces steel. Spike age 47 has worked at the mill for 23 years alongside Alli. Long service in the industry demonstrates the camaraderie between the steel workers and its importance in the community.
The closure of the Steel works also affected other employees such as contractors like Glen Brown age 34. The contractors bring trade in to the town of Redcar. Glen lost his job as a contractor but has been successful in finding new employment. Many contractors have not been so lucky.
Chris receives a letter that states he is now an employee of SSI as the deal included the sale of the Redcar and Southbank coke ovens. Chris lives in hope that he will eventually be reinstated in his old job as a crane driver. It could be over a year before full production returns to the works.
The Lobster attracts steel workers and contractors and Alli believes that the pub and the town will become a success with the reopening of the steelworks. Steel making is in the blood of the men and women of Teesside.
Cameron waits to hear from SSI as there is speculation that the previous skilled work force will be reinstated in their jobs. With a mortgage and children to support Cameron and his wife Julie live in hope that he will soon go back to work.
Good news for Redcar and the future of the steel industry on Teesside as the Thai company SSI joins the consortium after a year of negotiations. The deal worth $469 million is signed by the president of SSI Mr Win Viriyaprapaikit (left) and the director of TCP John Bolton.