FORMER employees of Brierley Hill’s Round Oak Steelworks have had a sneak preview of a monument being made to remember their old colleagues and workplace which closed some 40 years ago.

The monument, which will represent a ladle pouring molten steel, is being made from Corten Steel – the same metal used for the iconic Angel of the North.

Nearing completion thanks to the craftsmanship of Cradley Heath based fabricator Vince Thompson at Iconoclast Constructs Ltd, the structure will be installed on Dudley Road, Brierley Hill, opposite the site of the former steelworks.

The 14-foot high monument, designed by Dudley borough artist Steve Field, will serve as a lasting reminder of the historic significance of the Round Oak Steelworks which was a major employer in Brierley Hill for nearly 130 years from 1857 to 1982.

Former Round Oak workers Mike Horton and John Timmins joined Brierley Hill councillors Adam Davies and Wayne Little, and Frank Chamberlain from Brierley Hill Cultural Consortium, for a preview.

Mr Horton, who worked at Round Oak for more than 24 years, said: “We had some great times and met some great people at Round Oak, so it was a very sad time when it closed. But this monument will help those memories live on and be a fitting reminder of all those who worked there.

“This recognition has been a long time coming, so I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part in making it happen. Especially Vince the fabricator – it’s so good to see the work go to a local chap, and to see how much he enjoys what he does.”

Brierley Hill ward councillor Adam Davies, who last year worked with Mr Horton and council officers to organise a get-together of former Round Oak workers for the 40th anniversary of the works’ closure, said: “Round Oak Steelworks was a huge employer for our area – in many ways, it helped shape Brierley Hill and the lives of tens of thousands of local people for more than a century.

“That’s why it is so important that we remember Round Oak and all those who worked there. This monument will help us do that and I really want to thank Vince for giving his passion and ideas to this project – demonstrating that the skills and heritage left to us by previous generations are very much still with us today.”

Cllr Wayne Little, who also represents Brierley Hill, said: “Generations of families and friends worked at Round Oak Steelworks. Its story is an important part of Brierley Hill’s history. This memorial will mean a great deal to many of the people who worked there and remind future generations of the rich heritage we have in Brierley Hill.”

Stourbridge News: Iconoclast fabricator Vince Thompson and Cllr Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley CouncilIconoclast fabricator Vince Thompson and Cllr Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley Council (Image: Dudley Council)

Councillor Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley Council, also visited Iconoclast Constructs Ltd this week to see the monument under construction.

He said: "It was great to be able to visit Iconoclast and see the majority of the pieces for the monument have now been created, with work to be done in the coming weeks to bolt and bring it all together.

"This impressive monument will be eye-catching and ensure the role the business played in people’s lives is never forgotten."

The monument will be installed at the end of the year.