Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Holy crap, a field trip?! Oh, shit... it's in Scunthorpe.

So the MET1 peeps went on our first proper hard-core industrial trip today. Enough of getting our toes wet in the the small, well-run technology firms around Cambridge and Ely, this was proper industrial stuff at Tata Steel, formerly known as Corus. The only issue with this place was that it's in Scunthorpe.

Now not only is Scunthorpe fucking miles away for a day trip from Cambridge, but the town itself is really, really bad. There's a huge steelworks... and that's it. The town basically exists just to provide people who work at the steelworks.


Scunthorpe United's club crest is a fist clenched around a girder with "iron" written on it. Scunthorpe has so little else of interest aside from steel production that they made a football club and that was the best sodding thing they could come up with. To add to Scunthorpe being shit, and the sky just being a blank greyness providing constant drizzle, I also had to put up with Simon continually referring to this place as "The North". Scunthorpe is in North Lincolnshire, but it is not in The North. Lincolnshire is a bland, dreary, featureless, cultureless and lifeless county, and it is therefore not in The North, but The Midlands, because that's how it works. Scunthorpe is not in "The North", and even Wikipedia agrees with me.

To be fair to Scunthorpe, the defining steelworks that it does have is big. Really, really fucking big. It's an impressive site because it's just so absolutely massive. It takes a few minutes just to drive around it to get to the entrance, and it's not that much smaller than the rest of the town:


The place does sort of dominate the skyline a little, though that's not really surprising given it's apparently the biggest single industrial site in England. It's got its own power station and everything. Speaking of which, this place is second in the country for its carbon footprint, behind Drax power station.

The stuff we got shown round was pretty cool. It's not quite so grimy and labour intensive as I think most people would expect, a lot of it is mechanised and while the whole thing involves a shitload of coal and ore and so is naturally a pretty grubby industry, the buildings were actually fairly clean and modern on the inside, or at least the new ones are. I'd have a ton of cool pictures of the inside but we weren't allowed to take photographs, so I don't.

My basically summary I guess would be that steelworks are really cool shit, and even without seeing inside half the buildings I was really impressed and fascinated by the whole site, it's size, and the fact that there are just miles of gantries and pipes all over the fucking place. It's just a pity that you have to go to Scunthorpe to actually see it.

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