2005. Howie Long, at age 57, was among the small group of former steelworkers who cut up the last remaining pieces of the demolished Sydney steel plant to be sold as scrap. Howie Long of Sydney, the son of a steel worker, left school with a Grade 10 education in 1977 and was hired at the steel plant in 1978. Many steel workers share similar stories of leaving school to work at the plant.
Long recalls his time on the open hearth, the blast furnace and the coke ovens as hard work, but something he enjoyed. The unimaginable heat still fresh in his memory, he jokes about true stories of hard hats melting and clothes starting to smoke — a less than subtle reminder that you're getting too close to the heat.
In 1998, Howie completed a Grade 12 equivalency as part of a package being offered to steelworkers ahead of the plant's inevitable closure in 2001.
He finished three years shy of qualifying for a full pension when the plant closed, and remained on through the final demolition. © Steve Wadden