Industry: water, steel & energy

Homer, Frank (1 of 8) National Life Story Collection: Lives in Steel

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    Interviewee's home, Sheffield

  • Interviewees

    Homer, Frank, 1932- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dein, Alan (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Born 19 Sept. 1932, Sheffield Bought up in Upperthorpe until 5 years old. One up, one down 'Slum clearance'. Moved to big estate in 1936. Moving van, everything fumigated. Shirecliff Estate, semi-detached. Brother born in 1934, died as an infant. Brother, Alan, born in 1936. Sister, Patricia, born in 1938. Anderson shelter; air raids spent in neighbours shelter as family shelter flooded. Maternal and paternal grandfathers worked in steel industry. Homer side - grandfather started in steel industry in 1891 for Thomas Firths Father, Frank, left school and went straight into industry. Grandfather was a Teemer, crucible furnace. Father started as a 'cellar-lad'. Grandfather used to be heavy drinker and smoker, great character. Crucible work - crucibles lowered into furnace, man grabbing it with tongs. Wore heavy sacking around legs, walked into water bosh to prevent catching fire. 'Can-lad' fetched beer for men. Father went to Firth Vickers Stainless Steel Ltd. - warehouse inspection, sheet dept. Billets rolled in Weedon Street, softened, descaled, sheared, inspected. No melting shops. Visited father once. 17 years old, met wife. Her father was a moulder - first time saw a steel plant. Very spectacular. WW2 started - mother, Lilly, worked for Samuel Osbournes Steel Co. Moulders labourer - shovel wet sand, a job usually done by men. 'Hells Kitchen' - sand covered floor. Left school at 14, wanted a clerical career. Parents out most of the day - 'latchkey kid'. Father on shifts - days and nights. Built task plates. Mother on days. Father also did 'firewatching'. Stirrup pump. 'S.P.' - large white square painted on house. Two nights of blitz. Thursday night at local cinema, rushed home to Anderson shelter. The door was blown off and front door on house. 'Father always seemed to be at work'. Had to be quiet while father on nightshift. Fights with younger brother. Smell of fathers' working clothes - 'steelworks smell'. Mother came home from work and prepared dinner and washing up. Schooling - failed 11 plus. Went to secondary modern, Shirecliff. New school. Enjoyed arithmetic and English. Science master in army so missed science lessons! GCE. Left school at 14. Not encouraged by parents to go into steel industry. January 1947 - started work as office boy for roof glazing company, ?1 a week. 9 months later got 2s 6d rise!

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