Steeled for change

I was surprised how shocked I felt when listening to discussion on the radio this morning about Tata Steel’s decision to withdraw from the UK altogether, and about the improbability of finding a buyer.

I was surprised how shocked I felt when listening to discussion on the radio this morning about Tata Steel’s decision to withdraw from the UK altogether, and about the improbability of finding a buyer.

I know this will mean the loss of much-needed jobs and that is sad. But the death of coal mining in the UK destroyed far more communities and although I was very sorry for those affected, I did not have the visceral reaction that I felt today.

I think it is because it has been so much of my life. I can’t count how many construction sites I have walked around, looking at the steel frame, how many finished steel-framed buildings I have seen, or how often I have discussed fire protection and intumescent coatings. Not to mention encountering architects’ enduring love affair with CorTen.

Not all of that steel was from UK production, I’m sure, but there was a link as long as that production existed.

At The Architects’ Journal we did a significant amount of contract publishing in association with first British Steel, then Corus and then Tata. (and who can resist the pun ‘tata Tata’?).

And back in the mists of history, I actually did my degree in metallurgy and materials science and spent five days touring not only industrial plants but also a steelworks and even, in those days, the site at Corby where iron ore was extracted.

While I was frolicking on the nursery slopes of specialist journalism, one of my more serious-minded friends actually invented a new steel and had a sizeable sample delivered to her office.

So it’s not surprising, I suppose, that I don’t feel it is just another industry. As I have said already, tata Tata. You’ll be missed in some surprising places.

Ruth Slavid

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