From 1980 to 1984 I did an apprenticeship at British Steel Rotherham. The first two years were spent in the training centre on Deadman’s hole lane on Sheffield Rd, just inside the border of Sheffield. I did my core apprenticeship of Process control, but I also had to do about a month in all the other craft area’s: welding, fitting, electrical, machining.
To supplement my apprenticeship I also spent time at the drawing school at the River Don works, I think it was on Peters Street and did a weeks study on furnaces at Rotherham College of Arts and technology. I also had a great out of bounds week at Hollowford in Castleton in the Peak district.
After my two weeks spent in the training centre, I then did two years training across all the departments of British Steel Rotherham: Swinden Laboratories, Aldwarke wash communications centre, S.P.E.A.R, Brinsworth Strip Mills, Central workshops Ickes, Ickles, Thryberg Bar Mill, Roundwood, Process control workshops at Aldwarke, Primary Mill Aldwarke.
My favourite places were Aldwarke Wash communications centre and Swinden Laboratories. I really wanted to get into Electronic development, rather than the day to day maintenance within steel works.
During my year apprenticeship I also did an ONC and HNC through day release at Rotherham College of Arts and Technology. At the time I received no certification that I had completed a British Steel apprenticeship.
At the end of my training I wasn’t allowed to carry on and do my HND, I was told there wasn’t enough time for me to do it, at the same time I was told there was no permanent job for me. I ended up working at Roundwood and doing shifts on my own, strange to say there were no full time roles for me. I was called a supernumerary, surplus to requirements.
While doing my apprenticeship at Brinsworth strip Mill I ended up going for an interview at Midland Bank with Mike Phillips, who had previously worked at British Steel. I heard nothing for months and was invited for a 2nd interview at Tankersley Computer centre in Barnsley with Colin Robb. I was offered a job in the Voice communications department at Midland bank and started work at Jubilee House off Queens st, Sheffield.
I decided to contact Kevin Barron my local MP and see if he could resolve the issue with me never receiving an apprenticeship certificate. My dad had shown me his apprenticeship certificate from Davy United’s and when I had recently put some pictures on flicker of the old British steel sites at Templeborough and the Ickles on Sheffield rd, a fitter who did his apprenticeship a few years earlier at Deadman’s hole lane, told me had received a British Steel blue apprenticeship certificate.
British Steel Rotherham is now owned by Tata and they looked in the archived records at Shotton in the North East and found a record of my time doing an apprenticeship at British Steel Rotherham. My apprenticeship at British Steel was fantastic, but it was a disappointment to never receive official certification of it. The document you see is is the only record I have of my apprenticeship.
It is such a shame that British Steel closed most of the works down at the time, rather than developing the steel industry, something which I would have preferred to do. When I did a photo shoot down Rotherham works of the old Steel peech and tozer site, most of the land is still now derelict.
All the best