This week our feature is more like a Then and Then as we focus on protests against the proposed closure of Irlam steelworks in August 1972.
Our main image shows workers staging a sit-down protest to prevent lorries from entering the site while our second picture shows the area surrounding the plant lying idle and waiting for development.
Back in May 1971, an estimated 5,000 people marched through Irlam demonstrating at the threat by British Steel to run down and virtually close the steelworks by 1974 with the loss of 4,353 jobs.
A spirited campaign called Save Our Steelworks was launched, but a grim realisation of the inevitable soon took over. The workers were determined to make the battle long and hard – as we can see from the faces of the protesters.
There were three blast furnaces and six Siemens steel furnaces and rolling mills at the plant. The capacity was 3,000 tons per week.
Along with the Pearson and Knowles Coal and Iron Company and Wigan Coal and Iron Company, Partington became part of the Lancashire Steel Corporation in 1930 and then British Steel.
Irlam was a victim of British Steel’s policy of concentrating steel production in fewer, larger sites. The writing was on the wall by the mid-1970s and steel production in Irlam ceased in 1979.
The site is now occupied by the Northbank Industrial Estate.
*Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester on sale now at £14.99.
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