Alma:“I swapped making rugs for building tank turrets when the war began.”

By Tom Brookes

 

Alma Taylor is a 94 year-old Woman of Steel and is thrilled to be receiving a commemorative medallion for her services this June outside City Hall.

Since 14, Alma had been working in factories across Sheffield. But when the Second World War began, she was conscripted to a large steel company in Tinsley, doing her bit to help out.

The company was called Hadfields and was built exactly where Meadowhall stands now.

“I swapped making rugs for building tank turrets when the war began.”

Alma, who now lives in Handsworth, stayed there for over a year and was proud to be working alongside men in steel factories.

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The certificate Alma received for her work during the war.

She was also told she was the first woman crane driver Hadfields had ever had.

“I was the only woman in my department and I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been a hard life. But I’m not one to make a fuss.”

So even though it was constant hands-on hard work, with next-to-no breaks most days. Alma wouldn’t change her time there for the world because it was where she met her husband.

“I was 21 when I met him in that factory and I married him the same year.” She said. “You had to marry quick in them days ‘cos you never knew what was going to happen next.”

The same year she married, her husband was shipped off to the war and Alma left the factory to sign up for the Women’s Volunteer service, where she helped in hospitals treating wounded soldiers.

After the war, Alma swapped her career in steel for a job as a lollipop lady before retiring.

But now, almost 80 years later her work and the work of others like Alma is being celebrated with the Women of Steel project, which has raised over £160,000 pounds.

The money is going towards a commemorative statue that is to be unveiled on the 17th of June, alongside a presentation of medals for the survivors and relatives.

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Alma now, 73 years after her work as a Woman of Steel.

“I’m the last one from my department at Hadfields, I think the rest are long gone. But it’d be great to find out I’m wrong.”

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