[vc_row height=”auto”][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_empty_space height=”8px”][us_single_image image=”2010″ size=”full” align=”center” animate=”fade” animate_delay=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_empty_space height=”8px”][vc_column_text]I will be giving a series of talks in my hometown of Consett. The venue is The Steel Club, 36 Medomsley Rd, Consett DH8 5HA. 01207 508013.

All talks start at 7 pm and there is an entry charge of £2

The talks usually last around 50 – 60 minutes. They all have a common thread of culture, creative art and heritage and are also spiced with a healthy dollop of humour.

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A SONGWRITERS LIFE: Jan 24th, 2019


I left the Steelworks in my hometown of Consett in the mid 70’s and joined the music industry. I have written songs for  Celine Dion, Sheena Easton, Elkie Brooks, The Hollies, The Searchers, Sarah Brightman, The Tygers of Pan Tang, Baby Ford, Colin Blunstone, Elaine Page and Chris Farlowe.

I also wrote and produced some key recordings during the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ (NWOBHM) including Raven, Venom (both huge influences on rock giants, Metallica) and The Tygers of Pan Tang, who at one time featured another collaborator of Steve’s – guitarist John Sykes, who went on to join David Coverdale in Whitesnake.

I have worked with a veritable who’s who of record producers: Gus Dudgeon ( Elton John, Chris Rea, Elkie Brooks, David Bowie); Rodger Bain (Black Sabbath); Christopher Neil (Mike & The Mechanics, Marillion, Gerry Rafferty, Celine Dion, Sheena Easton) Peter Collins (Tracey Ullman, Shakin’ Stevens, Rush, Garry Moore, Bon Jovi)

My talk tells the stories behind these songs and artists. There are many anecdotes  including the time I wrote a love song for two dolphins! The talk features insights into the music industry as well as before and after examples of some of the songs the artists referred to above recorded.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”16px”][vc_column_text]



The “Battle Of Stanhope” took place on December 7th, 1818. The Napoleonic wars had come to an end reducing the demand for lead for bullets; lead mining was an important industry in Weardale so dire poverty ensued. To make ends meet the lead miners took to hunting the ‘bonny moorhen’, which is a red grouse. Shute Barrington was the Prince-Bishop of the day.  The Prince-Bishop was displeased with the poaching lead miners and contended that only he was allowed to hunt the grouse. He assembled an army of gamekeepers and bailiffs and sent them into Weardale to apprehend as many of these poachers as possible. But all did not go to plan……

In September 2011 Jack Drum Arts in Crook embarked on a project to tell the story as a community play. Six months later, the play finally was performed in an agricultural shed converted into a theatre in Stanhope.

My part on the project was to provide digital activities. I was funded by an AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) Connected Communities project in partnership with Exeter University. Therefore my part was to be more of a formal observer. However, I must admit to going somewhat native and becoming deeply involved. On December 7th, 2011 we re-enacted the Battle of Stanhope on the 194th anniversary. I was there to film it but I was roped in to play the part of a Landlord with no preparation or training and I was smitten by thespianism. I also took a part in the community play playing the role of a cantankerous judge. This talk tells two stories, one of the 1818 battle and the other the 2012 community play based on the story. Both are ripping yarns and a terrific adventure.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

STEEL TOWN: Feb 21st, 2019


I was born in Consett in 1952. In 1968 I did what almost every other Consett kid did: I went to work in Consett Iron and Steel Works. I set out on a 4-year apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. It was quite an experience and I learned more than I ever did at school.  I hooked up with some guys I’d hung out with at school playing guitars and we formed a band. Pretty soon I was serving two apprenticeships; one in the steelworks and the other in the Northern pubs and clubs. Even back in the seventies, the rumours were always rife that Consett would close so when I completed my apprenticeship I quit the works and became a professional musician. By the time Consett Steel Works finally closed in September 1980 I was long gone, enjoying a successful songwriting career.

Fast forward to 1998 and I was talking to old friend Tom Kelly, a playwright. I told him many anecdotes from the Steel Works. A few weeks later he handed me a script.


A young man dreams of escape from the steelworks to a world of music

The opening line was spoken by that young man “I stood at the place where the ore trains came in. I swear it was the coldest place on earth, the spanner was frozen to me hand”

These were my words, and this was my story. Tom asked if I wanted to work on the show with him. You bet I did. We staged the completed musical at The Customs House, South Shields in 1999 and then at the Empire Theatre in Consett itself in April 2000. It was an emotional experience.

In this talk, I’ll tell the story of the Steel Works mingled with songs from the musical and archive footage and images. I’ll also share some audio recordings I made with former Steel Workers – mostly my relatives who are no longer with us. I’ll also play you a story from my Uncle Gilbert he made me swear never to play whilst he was alive. I mean what’s the worst they could do to him for sleeping on night shift once the works were gone.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row height=”auto”][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”8px”][us_testimonial style=”4″ author=”” company=”Hartlepool Retired Men’s Forum”]I’ve been coming here for years and we’ve had some good speakers but that guy this morning was the best I’ve seen. It was such a different sort of talk and the topic was unique. (Subject: A Songwriter’s Life)[/us_testimonial][vc_empty_space][us_testimonial style=”4″ author=”Carol Charlton ” company=”Heighington Women’s Institute”]Ladies, here to tell us all about sex, drugs and rock and roll …………….. (Subject: A Songwriter’s Life)[/us_testimonial][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space height=”8px”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”8px”][us_testimonial style=”4″ author=”Larry Bruce” company=”Guisborough Retired Men’s Forum”]May I say how people on Monday were very taken with your presentation. Your subject was something very different. Full of pathos and a burning sense of injustice, it was very moving (Subject: Jobling)[/us_testimonial][vc_empty_space height=”8px”][/vc_column][/vc_row]