Background - Tom Kelly
The Background -
Background - Tom Kelly
Steve Thompson is talking to me about Consett and his apprenticeship at the steel works. It was a memorable time for him. Later I write Steve a note: 'Steel Town...a new musical..a young man dreams of escaping, to be a rock and roll star...' He loved the idea. Steel Town was born. As with all births it took time for that scrap of paper to turn into a stage show.
The story of Steel Town could be about the closure of a colliery or shipyard, and we in the north-east have too many experiences of the demise of these industries.
Consett and South Tyneside have a strong sense of community and although this is a fictionalised account of Consett Steel Works it could well be Jarrow Palmers shipyard in 1933, Ellington Colliery or the offshore industry today. It is the effect on the community, on you and me.
We hope that this show touches a nerve and goes some way to celebrating a community that made steel for one hundred and forty years.
I am pleased Steve Thompson didn't throw away my note and that STEEL TOWN holds you,
"We built a town of iron and steel, sweated blood and began to believe
we were gods made in furnace flame, as we watched our town grow in fame".
End In Tears" from Steel Town
Background - Steve Thompson
I was a 21 year old kid. I'd served my time as a
fitter and turner. Now I was earning a grown mans wage and I had little use for it. One
weeks wage packet got me through a month and the other three were thrown into a drawer for
later use. Now I was a time served fitter I was doing shifts and I hated it:; specially
night shift. The talk was always of the steel works closing down even back then in the
sixties. What did I care, I was heading for rock and roll stardom and escape. When the
foreman would not let me have a couple of weeks off I quit on the spot. I had a drawer
full of unopened wage packets and a rock and roll dream.
| A couple of years later I was
stacking shelves in a supermarket when the same foreman walked in - the dream had faded.
By the time the steel works finally did close down I was making a living producing records
and writing songs. I no longer lived in Consett - I had escaped! :or had I, I was
producing Heavy Metal
When Tom Kelly passed me
that note it seemed like a good idea, which indeed it was.
How was I to know that it would change my life. Whilst
working on the Musical an opportunity came up to work with
ex steel workers in Tees Valley. I took it and found
myself during the week of the show, after all these years
standing by a blast furnace "I
Will Go Back"
I had interviewed some ex
steel workers at Consett men's forum and then walked
around the town. I called Tom on my mobile as I looked
into the vast emptiness that was once a steel town and
declared I had the lyric to a chorus "I
will go back someday, when the lines are gone , you'll
find me there"
odd to see a young man onstage playing me as a young man.
And then again to hear youngsters singing
got a dream
did indeed have a dream, which was to make music that
people would enjoy listening to. To that extent - Steel
Town is a dream come true.