It's April so it's time for our members to help us blog through the 2020 A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our chosen theme this year is Employment, also the topic of our Shared Endeavour where our members are encouraged to research employment within their one-place study. Today's entry is from Darris G. Williams.

Figure 3 Hot Mill’s by David Humphreys (born 1882), who was employed there.
Figure 3 Hot Mill’s by David Humphreys (born 1882), who was employed there.[1]
There were four different tasks performed by a mill crew in the tinplate works before more automated technology became common in the 1930s: furnaceman, rollerman, behinder and doubler. The rollerman had better average weekly earnings than other workers in the tin works.[2]

The rollerman was the crew leader and made sure the correct thickness and length was produced. He received the hot bars from the furnaceman then passed the bars through the rollers. The man standing behind the rollers used a pair of tongs to grab the steel and pass it over the rollers back to the rollerman. It took four or five passes through the rollers to make sheets of steel.[3] Those hot sheets weighed up to forty pounds. Teams normally produced two or three tons of plates in an eight hour shift.

The heat in the rolling mills could reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit so the men had to drink a lot of liquid. They wore short sleeved flannel shirts along with head and neck scarves to absorb perspiration. Because the work was so hard, “no-one lasted in the mill beyond the age of 45”.[4]

[1] David Humphries, Hot Mill’s: Pontardawe Steel, Tinplate & Sheet Works. 1955.

[2] Paul Jenkins, Twenty by fourteen: a history of the South Wales tinplate industry: 1700-1961. (Llandysul: Gomer, 1995), 207. 

[3] Ashburnham Tinplate Works,, viewed 20 April 2020.

[4] Kidwelly Industrial Museum, Kidwelly Industrial Museum Education Pack for Tinplate, page 24, , viewed 12 April 2020.

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