a poem by William Willis, Scotland

Our foundry's last arc-furnace, has now simply all gone cold.
There is no steel to pour no more, there is no sand to mould.
Our steelwork's molten ladles, of a 1000 odd degrees.
Our industry is gone now, it's been brought down to it's knees.

R.B. Tennent was where I did work, for 15 years or so.
So I write these few verses for the ones who didn't know.
We made steel rolls for the rolling mills, we made them by the score.
What a pity that these skills, are not used here anymore.

Our furnace it would blast, felt our eardrums they were bleeding.
Our metal was now crunching, it was melting, it was screaming.
It blazed just like a hell on earth, like the Devil's own back yard.
But watch you didn't get burnt, had to be good on your guard.

With the crane-man's skilled hands, the ladle it was lowered.
And with sublime precision, the metal it was poured.
The temperature was good, it was now all systems go.
The ladle was positioned and the metal, it did flow.

60 tons of metal held, by a few course of hot brick.
Didn't think what might happen, t'would just make you sick.
Many men they suffered burns and a few they even died.
They will always be remembered, by those who have survived.

The metal it was pouring, like the shot out of a gun.
It thundered and it roared but shone, just like the setting sun.
Tiny sparks they were flying, as fireflies ran amok .
It's funny how one always seemed to end up in your sock.

You would feel the spark inside your boot, it was now time for the dancing.
You looked like Elvis Presley doing a silly dance and prancing.
Your workmates they all had a laugh, it would burn right through yer sock
Simon Cowell would have been impressed, Oh Boy! How you could rock.

It was a hot place to work and the noise it was intense.
But we always had a laugh and the crack it was immense.
We toiled and we sweated in our 40 hour week.
But there always was that little bit of overtime to seek.

Two nights and a Sunday was enough to feed the weans.
Extra pieces in your piece-box but she's put in cheese again !
Stirred your coffee with a pencil, that was lodged behind your lug.
Scraped the beans out of the can and used it as your mug.

Turners, furnacemen and moulders always fighting over pay.
Electricians and the labourers would also have their say.
Union men and strikes, you know the two go hand in hand.
Fighting for their colleagues pay and how the jobs are manned.

Those days I can remember, though it seems so long ago.
The local steelworks closing down, the whole town dealt a blow.
The steelwork lying barren now....... in silence...... it is true.
The site now a resident, to that company B&Q.

© William Willis 2010


This first poem i ever wrote and have brought it back to life after reading Steven Cooke's fabulous - Made In Sheffield.

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