IT was a town built on steel.
Motherwell forged a worldwide reputation as a hotbed of one of Scotland’s most iconic industries.
In its heyday, steel foundry- blasted exports shaped the modern world and earned local football supporters their “Steelmen” tag.
Then came the seismic Ravenscraig meltdown.
The pain of its closure ran deep and, by last year, Motherwell’s once thriving steelworks was on its knees.
Now, like a phoenix from the flames, it is rising again.
A new era of steel production is about to be ushered in, with the return of workers to the Dalzell steelworks.
The plant was mothballed 10 months ago, as Britain was gripped by a steel industry crisis.
But it has re-opened and this weekend saw its staff prepare the plant to belch into life once more.
Many, such as Ross Clark, 55, from Wishaw, have been re-employed at Dalzell, following its takeover by Liberty House.
“I was there man and boy,” he told The Sunday Post last night. “I had worked there for 39 years.
“When I left in April, I had no idea what I could work as next. At 55 it was a huge worry.
“It’s the only industry I’ve worked in.
“Now there is hope that the job won’t just sustain me until I retire but could provide jobs for my grandchildren’s generation.”
Locals from Motherwell used to travel abroad and boast of how the bridges and buildings they’d
visited were made with steel forged in their Lanarkshire town.
But those days seemed a distant memory when Tata Steel announced it was to mothball the last two plants left in Scotland last October – one in Motherwell and another in Cambuslang known as Clydebridge.
Cheap foreign steel – mainly from China – had brought the industry to crisis point in the UK.
Around 400 jobs were to go, with unions demanding action from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to save a vital industry and a way of life.
In March, they did just that with international metals firm Liberty House signing a deal to buy the two plants from struggling Tata via the Scottish Government.
The restarting of plate rolling operations will be the first production to take place at the Motherwell since it shut down 10 months ago.
Clydebridge will follow.
Around 110 workers will help get operations up and running again following the Liberty House rescue.
It is an international business specialising in metals trading.
Its current turnover is about
$4.3 billion and it employs around 3000 people globally
Ross is delighted he’s been called upon to do an honest day’s graft for his new paymasters.
“We’re all ready to get in and roll up our sleeves,” he added.
“There’s a determination to make it work.
“The bosses of Liberty House aren’t dummies – they know there is money in this business.”
But there are also new careers being forged here – as the firm has also taken on “several” apprentices.
Having secured a number of orders, 10,000 tonnes of slab have been delivered to Dalzell from the British Steel works at Scunthorpe in preparation for its rebirth.
Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Steel UK Plates & UK Steel Development, said: “We’re getting very close to the point where we can start making steel plate at Dalzell once again.”
Union officials say the recommencing of production has been down to a hard-fought campaign to save jobs.
A spokesperson for the steelworkers’ trade union, Community, said: “This is what we’ve been campaigning and waiting for.
“We always said that there could be a future for Scottish steel with the right vision and investment, and that is what Liberty Steel has brought.
“This is testament to the skills and experience of Scottish steelworkers and the campaigning efforts of the local community.”
But it’s not just those in the steel industry who are set to prosper.
Other businesses in Motherwell are set for a much-needed shot in the arm when production gets back under way.
Marjory McBain, the manager of nearby Windmills Café, said: “This is good news for all businesses in the town.
“More workers with money in their pocket will help the economic prosperity of Motherwell.
“And that’s good not just for our town but all of Scotland.”
That sentiment was shared by the town’s SNP MP. Marion Fellows said: “I’m delighted production will be getting under way again. It is a sign that the steel industry in Motherwell has a viable future.”
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