FORMER steelworkers paid an emotional visit to their old plant for the first time since they finished work more than a decade ago.
The group from Connah’s Quay visited Tata Steel works in Shotton to see how the site has changed.
Flintshire councillor Paul Shotton, who worked at the plant for 34 years in a variety of roles before retiring 13 years ago, said: “It was an emotional and poignant visit after so many years away.
“It was interesting to see the changes and the fact it gave some good working experiences to us in our time. It was a fascinating day, Tata Steel has invested heavily in the plant and it’s looking good for both the site and the area.”
Cllr Shotton, 62, who sits on Connah’s Quay Town Council and represents Connah’s Quay Golftyn ward on Flintshire Council, has a family connection to the steel industry stretching back nearly 100 years. His father, Fred, grandfather, Ted, and great-grandfather Fred senior, all worked at the plant.
“My great-grandfather started at the steelworks in 1910 as a tipplerman and was there for 45 years. My grandfather joined him as a heaverover in 1920 and he himself worked at the steel plant for 47 years. Fred, my father, was a slabmill operator for 35 years after he started in 1946. It has been very special to have a close affinity to he works in times both good and bad.”
The plant has been a cornerstone of industrial employment on Deeside for more than 100 years.
In 1895, brothers Harry and James Summers bought 40 acres of Dee marshland to start producing galvanised steel sheeting.
The company stood private until 1967 when it was absorbed into British Steel, which later became Corus in 1999. Tata Steel took over from Corus in 2007 and has ran the Shotton site ever since.
Cllr Shotton was joined by friends and colleagues on the visit.
Peter Tinman, 67, worked as an inspector for 37 years between 1962 and 1999 in Shotton.
“It was the first time I’ve ever been back since I left,” he said. “I bumped in to some of my old friends, it was very emotional.
“The steel plant helped to develop some lasting friendships and I still speak to some of my former colleagues. It felt like I’d never been away despite 14 years since I left, I really enjoyed it.”
Ron Hill, 78, who worked on the coal mill for 34 years from 1958 said: “It was a bit of a shock going back, what I used to know had all gone. It was a very interesting and informative visit but I wouldn’t like to do some of the shifts those guys do now. The way the site has advanced is marvellous.”
Bill Duckworth, site manager at Tata Steel Shotton, hosted the visit.
He said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome members of Connah’s Quay Town Council to Shotton.
“Many of the group were former employees at the steelworks they were interested to see how things have changed as well to meet up with old colleagues."