Tuesday, January 28, 2014

News: Templeborough steelworkers reunite at Magna

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20 years after production ended at the massive steelworks at Templeborough, all former steelworkers and their families are being invited to a reunion event to celebrate the life, culture and history of the steelworks.

The shortage of steel to make shells during the First World War led to the construction of the Templeborough Steelworks that was completed in 1916. The works had 11 open-hearth furnaces, and three more were added later. Templeborough's 14 chimneys became known as the "Fourteen Sisters," a famous Rotherham landmark.

The works became known as "Steelos" after the owners Steel, Peech and Tozer. It was the largest open-hearth melting shop in Europe and being so vast, it stretched for a mile on both sides of the road. Navigation was by landmarks and the steelmaking process started at the "Sheffield End" and the finishing took place at the "Rotherham End."
At its peak, the works employed 10,000 people and during the Second World War Steelos produced almost four million tons of ingots.

Electric Arc Furnaces were introduced in the early 1960s to replace the open-hearth furnaces that were both lower in efficiency and productivity. At one time the steelworks produced almost 25% of the UK's electrically melted steel and was the world's largest steel plant producing up to 18 million tonnes of steel a year.

No longer as labour intensive and increasingly computerised, the number of employees at the steelworks dramatically dropped. In 1993 due to a poor market, and high raw material and power costs, the works ceased production.

In 2001 Magna opened as the UK's first science adventure centre, set in the former steelworks. One of the arc furnaces is now a giant pyrotechnic display in the visitor centre called "The Big Melt." The centre is a family attraction with more than 100 hands-on exhibits designed to explore the four elements of air, water, earth and fire. It also hosts regular school trips and has event space that can cater for anything from 30 people up to 3,000.

Now Magna is hosting the free reunion event on February 8 with a pie and peas lunch, a brass band, access to the visitor attraction and beer at the price it was when the steelworks closed – just £1.30 a pint.

John Silker, general manager of Magna, said: "We know that this building is a massive part of the history of the area. Although it is now a visitor attraction, education resource and corporate events venue, it is very much rooted in the steel industry and is a valued asset to South Yorkshire.

"By inviting former steelworkers back to Magna, we are marking the living history of this remarkable building. We hope they will enjoy meeting old colleagues and reminiscing about their days in what must have been an amazing place to work."

The event is all-ticket, with tickets available by emailing events@magnatrust.co.uk or contacting 01709 723102.

Magna website

Images: Hearts of Steel project/ Rotherham Archives

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