Monday, 7 July 2014

Memories of Bromford: Bill Bowen

Bill Bowen walked from Wales to the Midlands in the 1930s
to find work. 

In the 1950s Bill Bowen began working at Bromford Iron & Steel Co. Ltd, West Bromwich; how he got there is recalled by workmate, another Bill- Bill Venables. “He had been born in the Rhondda Valley but left there in the 30s at the time of the depression and walked up to the Midlands to find work.” Bill Venables tells us that “he was our hardest working labourer who had enormous muscles and strength, and was a fairground prize-fighter in his younger days to help feed his family”. “After finishing his day shift on Fridays he contracted to dig all the millscale out of the water pits at 4/6d per ton and load it into skips. He did all this by hand with a No 10 shovel and a wheelbarrow and used to work all the way through until Sunday afternoon before walking home. A No 10 shovel could hold half hundredweight of millscale at a time and only he could lift it. In his final two years at Bromford he was put in charge of the new mess rooms and showers and woe betide anyone leaving a mess because he used to thump them”.

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