11 August 2023
Corporate News

Help needed to keep steel history alive

General Offices of Ebbw Vale steelworks

Ebbw Vale Museum is calling for volunteers to help curate and protect their archives, and welcome visitors to the displays and historical information at the former steelworks site.

The museum was set up in 1998 to hold all the archive material of the Ebbw Vale steelworks, which was first founded as part of the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron & Coal Company Ltd in 1790. At its peak, the site had four blast furnaces and employed over 14,000 people. In later years it became a tinplate works producing steels of the packaging industry but closed in 2001.

Mel Warrender, one of the original founders of the Works Archival Trust along with Barrie Caswell and John Gaydon, said: “The steel industry is iconic in Wales – it has been a fundamental part of society and the economy here for hundreds of years, at one stage leading the world!
“Museums such as this are so important in keeping that history alive, and we’re very conscious that as time goes on memories and mementoes can be lost forever. Our small band of volunteers in concentrating on capturing, archiving and sharing all of that information for current and future generations.”

Malcolm Davies, who worked at the site from 1970 to 2002, and now volunteers in the museum, added: “We’re proud to say that this is the most comprehensive archive of the steel industry in South Wales. We’ve got tens of thousands of photographs including one from the second world war, captured from the Luftwaffe showing the location of the works – which amazingly was never bombed!

 

 

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He continued: “We also have a chair that was specially carved and used by Edward Prince of Wales (to become Edward VIII) at a visit to the works on 21st February 1918 – we call it the Royal Seat of Ebbw Vale!”

And while the museum focuses on Ebbw Vale, it also encompasses history and artifacts from the wider Richard Thomas and Baldwin Group, which includes the former Spencer Works, now known as Llanwern.

Tata Steel’s Works Manager Llanwern, Craig Phillips, added: “We have so much history of steel in Wales; it’s tremendous that we have people with so much passion and energy to look after it. While Llanwern was only built in 1962, we’re also really keen to keep the heritage of our own site alive, too.”

Despite the Ebbw Vale works employing so many people over the years, the museum is still looking for volunteers to help out, and any mementoes that former workers and their families may have hidden away.

 

If any reader thinks they can help or may have something the museum might be interested in, please get in touch directly through email to the current museum chairman, Simon Gregory, at mailto:ev_works_at@btinternet.com or by phone on 01495 350941.

Alternatively, visitors can drop by in person on weekdays to the General Offices, Steelworks Road, Ebbw Vale NP23 6DN

 

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