Steel

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

"Places change, people change, Brymbo and I are no exception." Kevin was brought up in the industrial village of Brymbo in north-east Wales which was home to the famous steelworks for over a century.

Transcript

"I remember the noises - the clanging of steel, the sirens at shift changeover, the blasts of air. The low monotonous grumbling always seemed to be in the background. At shutdown it would be so silent that I could not sleep.

I remember the light - great flashes of light - as the furnace was tapped. My room would be bathed in it, like daylight. I could read the words on the posters on my bedroom wall - T Rex, Led Zeppelin, Rush.

I remember the men buying their newspapers before walking down to the works for afternoon shift.

I remember the pubs - men leaving at 10 to 10 to work the night shift. The afternoon shift would arrive at 10 past. Twenty minutes of emptiness. The steelworks was the lifeblood - the security, the identity - like some sleeping dragon, occasionally breathing its fire into the night.

Some of my family work there. My Nana's brother was killed there. This is my family history. This is the community's history... and both are intertwined.

I moved away for a time but with the imminent arrival of our first child, I needed to come back. I felt that I wanted to share my experience of this community with my children but it could not be - the steelworks had closed.

The men no longer walked to work together, drank together, shared experiences. My mum says that the air has never been so clean - there is no longer that dust that used to settle on everything. Places change, people change. Brymbo and I are no exception. My children will have new experiences, new ties, new memories - and that's just fine - that's how it should be."

By: Kevin Plant
Published: October 2001

An interview with the author

What was growing up in Brymbo like?
The steelworks had a profound effect on my early life, although I didn't really notice it. They affected the prosperity of the village and village life was close-knit and vibrant. It was this subliminal security that had the most impact on my life.
In my teens I experienced the familiar 'I must get out of this place' feelings, and eventually I moved to the outskirts of London. I still felt the pull of the old village, but while I was away, things were changing.

In what way?
The steelworks closed, and with this simple 'economic decision', the village was changed. Skilled men were reduced to re-training and re-start initiatives, and the once proud community crumbled. It was this community that I returned to, wanting my children, the first of which was soon to be born, to participate in the village atmosphere where I was raised. This, however would not be possible, things had changed.

Does your story tell the history of Brymbo?
The focus of my story is not looking back reminiscing, but looking forward. We cannot live our lives in the past, what is more, we cannot let our children live in our own past. They will have their own experiences to draw on , I can't change my past, but I can let it have a positive effect on my own and my children's future.

Did you enjoy making your story?
Yes, the experience was very positive. The atmosphere throughout the course was great, and although everyone felt the pressure of making the films within the time, and coping with the technical side of things, the team were always very helpful and understanding. I left the course feeling that I just wanted to start the next film. I learned some new computer skills and had a great time doing it, but more importantly for me, I learned how to communicate some of my ideas and feelings in a new medium. I would recommend that everyone try it!

Your comments

"What a fantastic insight into Brymbo. As a 'new' local it is rare to hear anything but doom and gloom about it's past and now the present. Kevin is right, Brymbo has to move on but in a way that will harness and develop community feeling and not exploit or ruin it."
Ruth Putt, Stansty, Wrexham, Wales.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.