The North East Film Archive is one of a network of regional film archives established to collect, preserve and show film made in, or about the North East of England. Our collections are non-fiction, and date from the early 1900s to the present day, providing a rich record of life in the region over the 20th century. Many of our films are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
This film is part of Free
Steel men work their last shift at Consett and a town loses its industrial heart.
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Consett loses its heart to a post-industrial future as the legendary iron and steel works closes on 13 September 1980. The giant blast furnaces and cooling towers dominated the town for 140 years. The skilled workers who once grafted in this spectacular world of white hot metal and flame now take part in its demolition. This film puts a spin on what locals described as ‘the murder of a town’ while Consett’s industrial heritage is slowly erased to create a ‘new Derwentside’.
This sponsored film was produced for Derwentside District Council in association with the British Steel Corporation by Turners Film Productions of Newcastle to promote new investment in the town. At its peak in the 1960s, the Consett works provided jobs for some 6,000 workers, dirty and dangerous as they were, and, ironically, the steel works made a profit in 1980. Its closure was devastating to the town, leaving a third of its residents out of work, a fact dramatised in filmmaker Penny Woolcock’s 1988 docudrama for the Trade film co-operative, When the Dog Bites, also preserved at North East Film Archive.