Union Songs

Turning Steel (The Factory Lad)

A song by Colin Dryden ©Colin Dryden 1969

You wake up in the morning, the sky's as black as night,
Your mother's shouting up the stairs, you know she's winning the fight,
You hurry to the breakfast table and grab a bite to eat,
Then out the door and up the road, and through the factory gate.

Turning steel how do you feel, as in the chuck you spin.
If you felt like me you'd roll right out and never roll back in.

Cold and dark the morning as you squeeze in the gate.
As you clock in, the bell will ring - eight hours is your fate.
Off comes the coat and up go the sleeves and "right lads" is the cry.
With one eye on the clock, the other on your lathe, you wish that time could fly.

But time can't fly as fast as a lathe, and work you must -
The grinding, groaning spinning metal, the hot air and the dust.
And many's the time I'm with me girl and we're walking through the park,
While gazing down at the spinning steel or the welder's blinding spark.

Well, old Tom, he left last week - his final bell did ring.
His hair as white as the face beneath his oily sunken skin.
But he made a speech and he said "good-bye" to a life time working here,
As I shook his hand, I thought of hell - a lathe for forty years.

When my time comes, as come it must, why then I'll leave this place.
I'll walk right out past the chargehand's desk and never turn my face.
Out through the gates, into the sun, and I'll leave it all behind,
With but one regret for the lads I've left, to carry on the grind.


Many thanks to Chris Kempster for sending me this song written in the late 1960s by Colin Dryden.

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