NEW research warning of the severe financial, health and social consequences of uncertainties and unemployment for Britain’s steel communities including those on Teesside has attracted international attention from a leading New York-based university.
Manchester Metropolitan University Historian Dr Tosh Warwick’s study, published this week by New York’s The New School’s Public Seminar, highlights the historic impact of closures and employment uncertainty in Britain’s steel communities including Scunthorpe, South Wales, Teesside and Yorkshire. The study comes amidst recent announcements of cuts in Tata Steel’s UK operations and alarm caused at reports of potential job cuts as part of Jingye’s takeover of British Steel.
Analysing community experiences of steelworks closure and redundancy from the interwar period up to present day uncertainties, Warwick’s findings have exposed severe examples of cyclical community dislocation, social unrest, detrimental impacts on mental health, links to rising crime rates, loss of community infrastructure, breakdown of family relationships and even death.
As well as analysing the historic impact of the decline in Britain’s steel industry, Scenarios of Uncertainty in Britain’s steel communities, originally published in the UK by History Workshop Online, highlights the cultural, economic, media and political responses to the SSI Teesside Steelworks closure in 2015. The BBC TV series ‘The Mighty Redcar’, efforts to address unemployment, heritage approaches to the area’s steel history and plans for the future of the site’s industrial relics and implications for the area’s broader identity are all explored.
Dr Tosh Warwick said: “The British steel industry has played a vital role in the lives of millions of people across the decades and shaped the economic, political and social history of steel towns and cities across the country. The research has been shared with local MPs and elected mayors and hopefully by highlighting historical experiences and common challenges posed by decline and uncertainties in the steel industry, those addressing current crises can better prepare to meet the needs of those in the UK’s former industrial heartlands.
“Looking to the future, it is apparent that Britain’s steel towns continue to have strong emotional attachments to Britain’s steel industry and the landmarks it has left behind and it is important that this industrial heritage is considered as part of regeneration schemes for former steelworks sites. These relics can play an important role in revitalising the heritage-led visitor economy, continue to form part of community identity and can help future generations better understand and shape their communities and culture.”
The full article is accessible by visiting The New School’s Public Seminar website here: https://publicseminar.org/2020/01/scenarios-of-uncertainty-in-britains-steel-communities/.