Stuck for a plan for a day, or an evening out? Can I suggest you make your way to Scunthorpe steel works (or Appleby Frodingham to give its proper name) for a tour of the works.
Leave time to find the assembly point – because it’s not easy. But somewhere near one of the admin blocks and the empty Saturday morning car park is a small garden. Make your way across it and you will find a short deserted railway platform. Hang around and chugging up the grade towards it will come a steam or diesel shunter and two brake (guards) vans. When we were there the first diesel loco staggered up the incline then promptly expired in a cloud of evil fumes. But we were rescued by another shunter proudly bearing the name of its former owners – the Eccles Slag Co LTD.
Shockingly in Britain this is an heavy industrial site that seems to be thriving – with a railway network that’s busy and integral to its operation. Modern radio controlled locos pass you with massive ‘torpedo’ wagons carrying molton iron from the blast furnaces to be turned into steel. You can feel the heat coming off them. The internal rail network changes regularly apparently – well this is a steel works. I guess If you want to change anything in a steel works you can melt down what you had and make something new.
Huge stacks, yards full of massive dumped industrial artifacts, sulphurous sheds and glimpses of the furnaces. For several hours the unfitted brake vans (complete with stoves for heating in the winter) ramble around the site as indulged interlopers.
Strange to see heavy industry that’s not in terminal decline in England. Strange that this one is surrounded by a rural hinterland. And stranger still that you are trundling around it in a guards van on a Saturday morning while ‘proper’ trains carry out the business of the works all around you.
And when it’s over you pay by donation and then you can get a cup of tea at the railway preservation site that occupies an enclave within the complex.
And if that wasn’t enough there’s an small interesting museum about the history of Scunthorpe and the steel works not far from the station, and a rather nice cafe / arts centre within a converted church in the town centre.
Would be good to do the tour on a winter’s evening – when you get the full industrial drama of the place.
Scunthorpe – it’s a great Northern day out…
PS: Bonus feature…for those who like their industrial action…heavy!