A Sheffield Turner’s Tale
Sue Allott

A Sheffield Turner's Tale
Life with an Unsung Hero of Steel

When the Sheffield steel industry dramatically collapsed in the 1980s the stories of its highly-skilled workforce were lost. People left the city in their thousands or disappeared into the army of unemployed. The part they had played in the building of the city became, overnight, unconsidered and unvalued. It has taken a generation for the city to begin to reclaim the stories of the men and women of steel.
This is the tale of one of them, Frank Allott, a lad from the east end of Sheffield who began his working life as an apprentice turner on the eve of war and rose to become Manager of the vast and complex Heavy Machine Shops at Firth Brown. In his forty-four years in the firm he acquired a unique range of experience and knowledge, appreciated by those he worked with not only in Sheffield, but in Canada, Turkey and Brazil.
Published: Feb 2020
Paperback: 222 pages
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 9-781913-425081


£9.99 (+ £2 postage)
Number of copies:



A self-taught engineer and linguist, amateur singer and artist, and Football League linesman, he was widely known and loved not merely for his outstanding skills but also for his extraordinary humanity and humour. It is a portrait not only of a remarkable man, but also of the times in which he lived, the historic company he served and the city that made them both.
Reader Reviews...

Mary Buckley, Professor, Cambridge university
Beautifully written and hard to put down, this is an engrossing and touching personal story of a father’s encouraging relationship with his daughter and of his working life in different phases of Sheffield’s steel industry. Sue Allott traces the impact on one family’s life of how and why the steel industry grew and declined as they moved from the closely-knit community of back-to-back housing, to new council house and finally to a purchased semi-detached. It is an important economic and social history of industry and life whose details and emotions should not be lost.

It is also a compelling tribute to a father from a proud daughter. It is a must-read for all only children who were daughters who had loving fathers in the 1950s and 1960s who spurred them on. It includes delightful details of the early student exchanges to Russia, essential reading for anyone who was sent on one and for those who were not.


Derek Reed, economist
A Sheffield Turner’s Tale is a moving and hilarious mixture of social history and the biography of a remarkable man. The backdrop of industrial Sheffield from the 1950s to the 1990s will strike a chord with anybody who has memories either of the working class life and upward social mobility of the fifties, sixties and seventies, or of the economic wrecking ball of the Thatcher years.

As for the book’s principal hero, Frank Allott, his humour, integrity, intellectual curiosity and occasional cussedness, as he rose from the shop floor to weighty management responsibilities in the Sheffield steel industry, no doubt bore the stamp of South Yorkshire, but there’s enough in his character and in his story to make him immediately recognisable to anyone who grew up working class in any other corner of industrial Britain. It is the story of a man who was at once unique and yet emblematic of a time and place that, just a few decades later, seem like another world.