ONE of Sheffield’s Women of Steel, who kept the city’s factories running following the outbreak of the Second World War, has died aged 91.
Winnie Stanley, from Darnall, worked as a crane driver for English Steel throughout the conflict and enjoyed the job so much she returned to the factory years later when she was 45.
Her eldest son Peter, aged 64, said she often reminisced about her days in the steelworks and was glad to live long enough to see a plaque unveiled in Barker’s Pool dedicated to the Women of Steel last November.
The women served their city and country by working in the steel industry to keep production going while the men went off to fight.
Peter said his mum worked in the rolling mills, which made munitions and parts for planes.
He said: “It was noisy and busy, but she enjoyed it.
“There was a good camaraderie among the workers.”
Winnie returned to the steelworks after the war, but retired in 1978, aged 59, when she fell 30ft from a ladder.
Peter said: “She fractured her back – it was one of those situations where you might not walk again, but she did.
“She was walking right up until a week before her death and had a good quality of life.
“She was a strong woman. It was old age that took her in the end.
“She used to give her grandchildren an audience, they sat and looked amazed at her. She was like a talking history book.”
Winnie, one of six children, was born in Darnall and attended Whitby Road Council School. After leaving school she worked in a pawn shop.
She married Reg, a steelworker, in 1938.
The couple were married for more than 60 years before he died in 2000.
They had two other sons – Robert, 57, and David, 51 – as well as six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
But Winnie lost her only daughter, Patricia, in an accident when the little girl was just 18 months old.
Peter said: “My mum was getting her bottle ready and she knocked my mum while she’d got the saucepan with the hot water.
“It scalded Pat and went all over mum’s arm.”
Winnie was living in a room on Westbourne Road at the time, and Reg was away with the Army.
Peter said: “She didn’t know what to do, she was just 19.
“Pat lasted a couple of days but then complications set in.”
He said his mother passed away peacefully in the Northern General Hospital on December 22. Her funeral was at City Road Crematorium.