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Wilderness no more.

MEMORIES of Head Wrightson have been on many of our readers' minds recently in the wake of the publication of a superb book entitled Life at Head's, Memories of Working at Head Wrightson.

The Evening Gazette supplied some of the photographs to help illustrate this publication, not least one of the famous series of photographs from our photographer Peter Reimann of Margaret Thatcher's visit to the derelict site in September 1987. These iconic images have since been known as The Walk In The Wilderness.

Thousands of men and women were employed at Head Wrightson.

Such was the presence of the company that today there is hardly a family who did not have at least one family member or knew a neighbour who was employed there.

We featured the book on the website and it attracted more readers comments than many recent features, obviously the book had stirred some memories.

Here are a few of them.

Councillor Keith Fisher said: "I was apprenticed at Teesdale's Apprentice School in 1959 when it was run by Harry Soppet atop the works canteen. Eventually after experiencing every department in every branch (and there were many) I went to the drop forge 'Stampings' in Seaton Carew.

"There I went on to be works engineer and eventually works manager.

"The forge changed its name many times through takeovers and buyouts but it is and will remain, 'Heads'."

Peter Bashford said: "My grandfather John Bashford worked at the Stockton foundry, my father worked at Mandale Works and then moved to the drop forge at Seaton Carew and my younger brother at the Thornaby works as a draughtsman.

"I have happy memories of my father taking me round the forge probably hoping I would follow in his footsteps.

"It didn't work as I became a soldier!" Andrew Bousfield said: "My late father-in-law, Archie Muir, was a member of the management team at Stampings and worked with Bernard Bashford."

Nick Miller said: "Mr Bailes was a manager at Head Wrightson in the 1940s I believe. I am related to his daughter, Eileen, who worked in the drawing office during school holidays. She now lives in California, USA. I'll be sending her a copy of the book!" Laura said: "My grandpa, John Hughes, was a draughtsman at Head Wrightson in the 50s. I have some beautiful photos of him and the teams that worked there at that time.

"I would love to share these with anyone interested, and also if anyone has any photos of the draughtsmen at work or the team I would really like to see these also."

Today the site is totally transformed and although the passing of a great industry and employer is something that has to be regretted, the same place in 2013 is a vast improvement on the dereliction of 1987.

Peter Reimann has recently revisited the exact same location and has taken a photograph of the former Head Wrightson site as it appears now.

| TOMORROW: Redcar's RNLI inshore lifeboat.


THEN AND NOW: Margaret Thatcher at the Head Wrightson site in 1987, below, and the site today Pictures by PETER REIMANN
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Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 26, 2013
Previous Article:Looking back.

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