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Wondering if anyone can help me with this. I have a recollection of my Grandad telling me about steelworkers getting 'beer breaks' during the working day to replenish lost fluids.

In these health and safety conscious days it seems hard to believe! (plus whenever I drink beer I feel more dehydrated!)

Does anyone have any recollections of this and how it worked - was it paid for by the firms? was there a maximum amount you were allowed to drink and were there any tales of drunken accidents?

I for one would be asleep at my desk after a couple of pints at lunchtime, but I imagine the furnace men were made of sterner stuff.

Cheers

John

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There was no question that beer was drunk at work and it was paid for by the men. Sometimes the apprentice lad would be sent if nobody else was around.

The old story used to be that a man went to his doctor and was asked how much beer he drank. "Well," said the man, "I usually get through about seven or eight pints a day but I must confess I have quite a bit at weekends,"

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A few of the steelworks had pubs built into them around Brightside/Attercliffe. The White Hart at Brown Baileys on Worksop Road was an example.

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It would of course depend on the strength of the beer. At one time there was brew called "small beer" you couldn't get drunk on a few pints of that. It was certainly safer than drinking the water! 

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4 hours ago, Martin Ede said:

A few of the steelworks had pubs built into them around Brightside/Attercliffe. The White Hart at Brown Baileys on Worksop Road was an example.

Up until a few years ago most of our fire stations in Sheffield had there own bar. Lowedges fire station closed theirs [allegedly] in the late 1990s. W/E.

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The fire stations only had bars after the formation of South Yorkshire and the consequent merger of forces. Steelworks certainly had beer breaks...the one I worked for sent to the Tinsley Working Mans Club for "buckets" of beer. Latterly, with drink driving being much more penalised, the boss introduced orange flavoured saline solution...more effective at replacing liquid but less pleasant to taste!

I represented a German special steel manufacturer and in their factory they had installed several "beer machines"...where for a few pfennigs a 330 ml bottle of beer could be bought. One day, as the shift was going home, the local Polizei breathalysed the lot ...and they were all positive! Never found out if the beer machines were taken out!

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Although i never worked in a steelworks, I was told by someone who did that at just before shift change time the local pubs would line up dozens of pints on the bar, the men would come rushing in, grab pints, and go off to the tables, then one of the bar staff would come round with a cash bag and take the money from them by counting up the glasses. The beer was weak by today's standards and some would put salt in it.

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That was social drinking ( shift patterns 6am-2pm,, 2pm-10pm. and nights 10pm- 6am) drinking at work was to replace lost fluid...or so they claimed!

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In the late 60s when I worked at Arthur Lees Trubrite works at Wincobank on the stainless rolling, on afternoon shift 2-10 on leaving we would all go straight into the engineers pub,on the corner of ecclesfield road for a pint or two before last orders at 10-30, but I was told that some chaps who worked in the annealing shop(which was hot) used to pop out for a pint during their shift.

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I was an apprentice at Sanderson Keyser Newhall Road 1959 to 1965. I have no knowledge of a beer break in the hot metal departments, i.e. Melting shop, Rolling Mills, and Heat Treatment. What I do remember was the ambulance room dispensing a drink they called "Salime" in hot weather. It tasted of Lime and was supposed to replace the salt lost by sweating. However quite a few went to the pub across the road in meal breaks.

Lysander I also remember the slot machines in German engineering factories. I also was served wine in company canteens at lunch time in Italy and Stanley tools France. Then there was the strong coffee afterwards that I suppose was expected to counteract the effect of alcohol 

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As an aside, the Germans were said not to work any harder than did his English compatriot... but more effectively ( they had, in general, more modern equipment) I wonder if the beer slot machines also helped???

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http://www.picturesheffield.com/frontend.php?keywords=Ref_No_increment;EQUALS;s09122&pos=43&action=zoom&id=12243

https://nowtmuchtosay.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/water-boy/

“Hawley’s grandfather was a teenager at the time and worked as a “bucket boy” in a Sheffield steelworks supplying thirsty steelworkers with their forty pint weekly beer allowance. It’s a scene that’s perhaps difficult to picture these days; a steelworker stripped to the waist in a sweltering factory bashing a lump of molten pig iron whilst supping ten pints.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stones_Brewery

“Stones Bitter was brewed at the Cannon Brewery from 1948 and was popular with Sheffield's steel workers”

http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/Museum/OtherTrades/SteelWorks/steelworks11.htm

“Even after leaving the works he describes still feeling the blistering heat on his face and blinking from the blinding, searing light.  The monstrous heat of up to 150 degrees in summer meant that some men lived on salt tablets and a furnaceman, reportedly, could drink twenty pints of beer in day”. 

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 Being pedantic about terms but I doubt a Sheffield steelworker would be "beating a lump of molten pig iron"... more likely a piece of white hot steel....although "wrought iron" was forged in Sheffield...often together with carbon steel to form "iron and steel" triplex metal... widely used in the manufacture of agricultural equipment such as plough shares. 

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3 hours ago, lysander said:

although "wrought iron" was forged in Sheffield

... it certainly was and “wrought” means “worked”. Pig iron was the source material from which it was “wrought”.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrought_iron

Until Bessemer’s conversion process in the 1850’s, wrought iron, blister steel and the cemention process were just a few of the mechanical (forge welding.... ‘bashing’) methods of increasing the carbon and alloy content of iron, resulting in a stronger and more versatile product.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessemer_process

I read somewhere that Sheffield used to import vast quantities of pig iron from Sweden, which used to come in via canal?

If we’re splitting hairs, then “molten” means the metal is beyond its melting point and beating (sic) it would be a little difficult?!

My copy/paste job was just trying to illustrate the links between steel making and drinking beer in the workplace....

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I worked at  ESC from 1960  until the Siemens furnaces were closed about 1962 or 1963 when the Arc plant was opened. It was the job of one of the furnace team (3rd hand I think) to go to The Wellington pub on the corner for the beer. He took a large plastic container which would contain around 2 or  3 gallons of  beer I think. This was allowed as the men used it to replace the liquid they lost sweating. By the mid 60's salt tablets were supplied instead of beer !!  I  worked in research & we had a small furnace operated by an ex-melter who told me that when he was on the Siemens plant the beer he drunk at work & in the evening at  home/pub could be up to 25 pints in a day !!

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RL....I wasn't criticising your entry, just trying to make a point about the frequent misuse of terms involved in the iron and steel trades ! 

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As always - this forum is a mine of great information - thanks everyone for your replies. It appears that although the story might have changed a bit in the re-telling, it is based on the truth.

Cheers,

John

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There was a pub called the Rising Sun on Hunshelf Road at Stocksbridge directly across the road from the billet mill.

In the billet mill large ingots were rolled at yellow heat down into blooms of say up to 4" plus square, and then cut up on a hot saw into lengths to suit the customers. In an early application of technology the blooms were measured for length and a very early computer made by Elliot Automation determined the best cuts to make out of a given length to suit the various customers. The computer use first generation germanium transistors and had a 1K magnetic core store for it's memory. The pub was obviously very (too) convenient for the parched workforce and I was told the Fox's had bought out the licence and closed and demolished the pub in 1967.

My connection with this came in the early nineteen seventies when I parked my A35 van (Wallace & Gromit Mobile) on the cleared ground of the pub in order to carry out the " Redex Treatment". This consisted of running around until the engine was hot, parking up, removing the air filter; and pouring a can full of Redex engine detergent/cleaner into the top of the carb. This was supposed to clear the valve stems and piston rings and restore performance. It also produced huge quantities of black smoke.

When I started this procedure I had failed to notice the large billet mill high voltage substation downwind just a few yards away. I'd also forgotten that large substations often used photo-electric ray fire detection in case of fire in the oil-filled switchgear.

I'd just got about half the can of Redex in the engine and couldn't see a hand in front of my face when there was a loud bang from the substation and the loud whine from  the billet mill opposite wound down to a worrying silence.

The penny dropped !   :wub:

I flung the air filter inside the car, shut down the bonnet and was speeding back down the hill in the opposite direction to where I knew the high voltage gang would be approaching within about ten seconds.

My stealthy departure was not helped by a smoke trail that the Red Arrows would have been proud of.  :)

I think I got away with it 'so don't tell anyone.

hilldweller.

 

 

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