The Patent Shaft and Axeltree Company Est 1840
WELCOME TO: WWW.PATENTSHAFT.COM
Men of Steel ( listed 24th May 2012 )
HOME AT LAST
MEN OF STEEL ( By: Bryan Reardon )
"There were some people working there who died within a matter
of months after it closed," said former Patent Shaft Steel
Works employee Bryan Reardon.
About 5,000 people were employed in the 19th Century
lives were shattered. I'm almost certain they died of a broken
In 1980, the Black Country firm closed after about 150 years
in the business, leaving a total of 1,500 people without jobs.
Like many firms facing cuts in today's recession-hit world, the
steelworks had been a very different place more than 100 years
Back in the 19th Century, about 5,000 people had been employed
to create plenty of bustle in that corner of the Black Country.
Steel products were taken around the world for bridges, wagons
and railway equipment.
Twenty-nine years on since the closure of the steelworks, its
former workers and other people with links to the works will reunite
to remember its place on the local landscape.
On Saturday, hundreds of those people are expected to gather at
Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery to talk about the old times.
Organisers said it had been forced by the popularity of the previous
reunion event, which had attracted up to 300 people. ( Next re
union 9th June 2012 )
A book about the factory, called Men of Steel, will also be unveiled.
It was the happiest time of my working life
Reardon, former employee
Mr Reardon, 73, who wrote it, said
he had plenty of memories, after working at the factory in a variety
of roles between 1960
There was a lot of camaraderie there," he said. "As I was
quite young, I was very fortunate to have some really decent Black
Country characters to work with. "It was the sort of company
where it was not surprising to find someone's father worked there
and grandfather as well.
Demolition of works
This is the first book Mr Reardon has written and he said it had
been compiled as a "labour of love" over about two decades.
Stories and photographs, including those depicting the demolition
of the works in 1983, were collected. "No-one had seen it," said
"It was just gathering dust on my bookshelf."
Even though it was finished about a decade ago, it was only when
the Wednesbury History Society became interested a year ago that
publishing the limited edition book became a reality.
Only 250 copies have been printed, but more than half of those
had gone in pre-orders.
John Keay, from the society, said people still had "a lot
of affection for the place".
"They were all proud people and those who went to the last
reunion were proud of working at the Patent Shaft," he said. "A
lot of families who may have had relatives who have passed on have
"I wondered if there would be enough people around to buy
the book after 30 years, but there's been a bigger response than
An exhibition about the factory is also on show
at the museum on re union days.