The Colleypriests and Lysaghts Iron Works ~ in times of War and Peace
This photo is of my Dad Percy Colleypriest and his Campaign Medals from World War Two. The photos depict him in his battledress on home soil, in Egypt and in Belgium during various stages of his war 1939-1945/46
My Grandfather Frederick John Colleypriest, was born in Beer Regis, Dorset, England in 1888. At the outbreak of World War One ~ he was working for John Lysaght Iron & Steel Manufacturer, Orb Works, Lliswerry, Newport, Monmouthshire. (Monmouthshire was always on the old maps as Monmouthshire. It was neither England or Wales) ‘Lysaghts’ opened their works in Newport in 1898.
My Grandfather was not in World War One because what he did in the manufacture of Iron and Steel was classed as a Reserved Occupation for the war effort.
But my Gramp was the foundation chain in a of a long line of Colleypriest’s working for ‘’Mr Lysaght’ (always address my their Christian names. i.e. Mr Christopher, or Mr Nicholas. Perhaps the best known was Mr William ~ W.R. Lysaght. W.R. as he was universally known.
Working for Lysaghts was very much a family tradition. My Gramp, (a heaver-over ~ catching the rolling steel hot on the mill rollers, with long handled pliers, and then heaving it over onto the other side for it to go back through the rolling mill ~ like an old fashioned mangle. Very hot and tiring work. His sons, Fred (a crane driver), Sid (crane driver), Jack (head of garage) , Percy (my Dad, Crane Driver) and Ernie (an apprentice electrician).
Uncle Jack was invalided of the Dunkirk Beach head in World War Two. He was alive but lost a lung and suffered ill health for the rest of his life.
My Dad Percy Albert Colleypriest enlisted prior to the outbreak of war early in 1939 ~ and served with the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers all over Europe, Middle East and South Africa, until his demob in 1946. Uncle’s Sid and Ernie was also in the Army.
After the war things tried to get back to normal as soon as they could. My Dad and his brothers all returned to their jobs at Lysaghts in the manufacture of steel to help get Britain and the rest of the world back on its feet. Lysaghts held a special Welcome Home Banquet for their employees who had returned home from the war. At the W.R. Lysaght Institute, Newport. I have my dad’s autographed copy of the commemoration menu from that night
Soon there was a patter of baby feet and later on in life all of my male cousins were also employed in the ‘works’ Only this time my cousins had ‘trades’ and ‘staff jobs’ as opposed to labouring in the works. I was the only girl in the Colleypriest family to work for Lysaghts, and I started there straight from school in 1967. I had a staff job, too, on computers and left in 1972 when I got married.
I can remember going, with my Dad, over to the works gates with sandwiches to give my Gramp for his lunch when I was little. Fred Colleypriest retired from Lysaghts aged 71. He was an extremely fit Grampy – I loved playing with him. My Dad took voluntary redundancy when British Steel started its slim down process here in South Wales. He was 61 when he walked out from the gates for the last time.
Lysaghts is no more. Orb Farm which housed the general offices where I worked has been flattened and is now a new housing estate. The ‘works’ is much smaller not and it now a specialisted Electrical Steels Manufacturer.
But John Lysaghts massive fancy wrought ironwork gates, which depicts an Orb in the centre of both of them still stand along with the two police gates. Its now a listed building. ~~ A lasting memorial to Lysaghts and the people who worked there for the duration of World War One and World War Two.
Lysaghts is not dead and forgotten. It lives on within people’s hearts So on this Remembrance Sunday, it is fitting to bow our heads and remember those who have gone before.
I usually wear my Dad’s medals on Remembrance Tide both the Church and to the local War Memorial.
Royal British Legion Poppy