– a short film exploring the final years of Bilston’s Elisabeth – the last of the great blast furnaces to grace the skyline of the Black Country.
published July 2016
Bilston steelworks Elisabeth
In 1979 the rolling mills of Bilston Steelworks in the Black Country shut its doors for the very last time, finally succumbing to the British Steel Corporation’s much-feared rationalisation plan. Over the next 18 months 3,000 steelworkers were made redundant.
Despite eventual closure the unionised steelmen of Bilston engaged in a well organised fight against closure. The struggle not only caught the imagination of industry insiders, the Works Action Committee recruited the local community into their campaign.
Soon 800 Bilstonians marched onLondon in support of their steelmen, holding a night-time vigil outside the Corporation’s headquarters. The battle for Bilston united an entire community behind a common cause, instilling a sense of pride in the town that could not be extinguished.
On 5th October 1980 Elisabeth, the giant blast furnace that dominated the skyline of Bilston for decades, was torn down.
more info on the Steelworks http://www.wolverhamptonhistory.org.uk/work/industry/steel
oral history of Bilston Steelworks – We Were Here Once
In February 2015, a group of volunteers began collecting material relating to the final years of Bilston steelworks.
In the Shadow of Elisabeth project, coordinated by Bilston Community Association with Greig Campbell, trained volunteers in a range of heritage skills including archival research, reminiscence and oral history interviewing to source potential interviewees who remembered the ‘battle for Bilston.’ Former steelworkers and union members who took part in the community action against the Government and British Steel.
Year Zero Black Country film – There was a good turnout at the free film event ‘Year Zero: Black Country’ in aid of World Refugee Day on Friday 19th June 2015 @ Bilston Town Hall.
Pat McFadden MP introduced the film. The 71 minute film explored the hopes and dreams of the thousands of New Commonwealth migrants that arrived in the Black Country in the post war years to work in heavy industry.
100 attended the Friday 23rd January 2015 ITSOE Launch Night in Bilston Community Centre, Prouds Lane, with speeches by Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East and former Bilston steelworker, Andrew Simpson and author of Bilston steelworks archive http://britishsteelbilston.
30th anniversary of closure of Bilston steelworks
Demolition of Elisabeth
Oh Elisabeth original song by Allen Smith