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Tom Gould


I was a steel worker for over fifty years, 1930s to 1980s

Colour photograph of the face of Tom Gould.
Tom Gould © Carl Rose

Black and white photograph of Tom Gould operating a furnace in the steel works. 1980s
Tom standing beside a tempering furnace in Sanderson Kayser's the early 1980s Image courtesy of Tom Gould

When I first left school, I was window cleaning. But the chap couldn't keep two of us on so I left and went to the Labour Exchange and they sent me to Sanderson Kaysers.

Earnest Rotherham, he showed me what to do. I had a couple of years of marking hacksaw blades and then I went on to punching them. I was still doing that when I got called up into the Forces. After I got demobbed, I came back and Ernest was gaffer. And he said, 'Well, there's only one job, Tom, that's tempering. Will you do that?' So I went on to tempering and then one of the chaps on hardening left. So I got put on to hardening. And then, after I'd done that for a bit, Earnest said, 'I'm a bit short-handed. Will you go back into the machine shop?' Everyone had to be flexible: if there wasn't work on one job, you could move on to another. I could do all the jobs in the department practically by the time I had finished! You'd got pride in your jobs then. We used to make fifty gross of blades at a time. I used to wonder where they were all going. We used to send them to Australia and South Africa...quite a few places. All the way round the world!

In those days the day shift was eight o'clock while half past five. Then after the war, hours came down a bit. And we walked to work. I used to, when I was young and first started, go home for my dinner.

Extract from an interview with Tom Gould recorded by Stuart Crosthwaite for the Burngreave Voices oral history archive, November 2006