Kevin Igoe, Magna Science Adventure Centre - My First Job
PUBLISHED: 00:08 02 May 2013
Magna Science Adventure Centre tour guide Kevin Igoe explains why he’s always been a man of steel
What was your first job?
I was taken on as a production apprentice with British Steel in 1975 at the age of 17, training in the building which is home to Magna today. I worked in every stage of the production process, learning how raw steel is melted, treated and transformed into 42ft- long billets for cars, planes, bikes, trains and so on. As an apprentice, I also did a City & Guilds course in basic steel making at technical college.
What lessons did it teach you?
It taught me to listen, keep alert and respect experience. When you’re carefully cementing over a furnace door to keep the intense heat inside and you’re standing 50 yards from a 110-tonne ladle of molten steel you have to keep your wits about you.
How has your career progressed?
After my two-year apprenticeship I got a job in a steelworks at the other side of Rotherham. The Roundwood bar mill was a two-minute walk from home and suited me down to the ground. I worked in an area where billets from the Templeborough works were prepared for the furnace and reformed into high specification bars of steel ready for engineering and manufacturing.
I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. There’s still a strong steel making industry in this area with Tata Steel in British Steel’s stead, but the industry has shrunk. I was made redundant in 2009 and have been a steel tour guide at Magna since 2010.
What do you enjoy about your job now?
I love my job. I worked with the same group of men for 30 years, but now I meet new people all the time, talking about my experiences and sharing my insights into the steel industry. We have visitors from around the world. We had a group of French and English students once and the French teacher was struggling with my Yorkshire accent as she translated. In the end the English teacher had to translate what I said into plain English first.
What’s next for you?
I look forward to carrying on working here at Magna Science Adventure Centre. It’s a fantastic place and people are often surprised how much of the old steelworks has been preserved – cranes, hulking hooks, cupolas, tunnels and an original electric arc furnace used to recreate the steel-making process with noise, lights, smoke and pyrotechnics. Everything but the intense heat.
Magna only opened as a visitor attraction in 2001 and is developing all the time. There are more conferences and corporate events now, with business learning more about the industry.
What advice would you give?
Get as many qualifications as you can. I’ve seen the number of jobs in an industry go down and the number of applicants for every vacancy go crazy. When I left school you were guaranteed a place at either the pit or the steelworks. But those days are gone, so I’d advise anyone to study hard in an area that interests them.