VIDEO & 360 PHOTO: Sheffield's Women of Steel dance in street as statue is unveiled

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Sheffield''s brave Women Of Steel celebrated the unveiling of a statue in their honour after a lifetime wait by again showing their mettle - dancing and singing in the street.

Many others, most of them now in their nineties, held back tears of joy as their life-long wish came true.

For more than 70-years the so-called Women Of Steel, who kept the munitions factories working to help win two world wars, were all but forgotten.

Hundreds of them, back then mainly in their teens and twenties, helped to make the bullets, bombs, Spitfires and warships which won the fight for freedom and a better tomorrow.

But unlike the Land Army Girls, their effort went unnoticed or publicly thanked as if they had been airbrushed out of the history books.

Until now.

A bronze statue, with a silver sheen,has been unveiled in Barker's Pool, poignantly outside their favourite tea-dance venue back then, the still blitz-marked Sheffield City Hall..

It shows two slightly larger than life women steel-workers, arm in arm, wearing caps, men's overalls and dungarees to shield their hair and bodies from the extreme heat of the molten metal.

Medals, specially made at the city's Assay Office, were also presented to the surviving women from WWII and hundreds of families of those no longer alive from both world wars..

360 PHOTO: Take a look at our 360 degree photo taken just after the unveiling next to the statue in Barker's Pool - CLICK HERE.

Women Of Steel survivors with their statue in Barker's Pool outside Sheffield City Hall

Women Of Steel survivors with their statue in Barker's Pool outside Sheffield City Hall

WATCH THE FULL CEREMONY: We broadcast the statue unveiling live on Facebook Live and it is now available to watch on demand - CLICK HERE

An amazing 141 of the ladies, a few now aged over 100, were celebrating today with around 100 of them joining an estimated 2,000 people, including family, friends and the public at the unveiling ceremony in a packed Barker's Pool, outside Sheffield City Hall.

Among them, unveiling the statue itself, were Women Of Steel Kathleen Roberts, aged 94, Kit Sollitt, 96, Ruby Gascoigne, 93 and Dorothy Slingsby, 95, figureheads of a public appeal which raised £170,000 - launched by the council and driven by The Star newspaper.

And they took little encouragement to get back out of their seats for a celebration dance as Sheffield songwriter John Reilly belted out the song he co-wrote with Eliot Kennedy and John Parr, simply called Women Of Steel, available today as a download to help keep the story alive..

Women of Steel Kathleen Roberts dancing with Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore next to the unveiled statue

Women of Steel Kathleen Roberts dancing with Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore next to the unveiled statue

And they took little encouragement to get back out of their seats for a celebration dance as Sheffield songwriter John Reilly belted out the song he co-wrote with Eliot Kennedy and John Parr, simply called Women Of Steel, available today as a download to help keep the story alive..

Kathleen, who sparked the campaign, said: "It's been a long time coming,. In fact we've waited a lifetime for this.We flogged ourselves to death during the war. Now they won't forget us."

She worked in a rolling steel mill, aged just 17, but still remembers the noise, the shocking language of the mills and how they also had to live with rats infesting many of the workshops.

It was the comparison with how the Land Girls were publicly thanked, for keeping farms going during the war, that spurred her into action

She said:"The Land Army girls were praised for feeding us but we provided the tanks and the fighter planes and got no recognition.

"t was dangerous, dirty, noisy, hard work and long hours.We had our youth taken away from us..The statue and the medals are fantastic."

Women Of Steel singer John Reilly performing the song he sung with Eliot Kennedy and John Parr

Women Of Steel singer John Reilly performing the song he sung with Eliot Kennedy and John Parr

Dorothy Slingsby, a steel mill crane driver in the war, said her last wish was to see the statue..

"I asked the man upstairs not to call my number until we got this," she said.

Sculptor Martin Jennings, whose also made the John Betjeman sculpture in St Pancras, said: "I saw an old photograph of some of the women linking arms and knew that's what the statue should be - a sign of solidarity. I'm very pleased with it. It looks like two of the women have just stepped back outside the City Hall in 1945."

The ceremony took place after war time songs played outside the venue where modern day city music legends took part in fundraising concerts, the likes of Heaven 17, ABC's Martin Fry, Tony Christie, Jon McClure, John Parr, Martin Simpson, Fay Hield and John Tams.

Folk star Ray Hearn entertained the crowd with his specially written song Hearts Of Steel before BBC Radio Two folk Award winners Chris While and Julie Matthews performed Drop Hammer.

John Palmer, a key fundraiser, hosted the ceremony, with contributions by Sheffield Council leader Coun Julie Dore, She wants people to link up with the statue ‘arm in arm to say thank you’ and share photos on social networks with the hashtag #womenofsteel

She said: “The women of steel have already inspired a generation, are still inspiring the next generation of people in Sheffield and beyond."

Women Of Steel, the song performed by John Reilly, is now on sale at itunes.apple.com and www.amazon.co.uk

READ MORE:

VIDEO: Medals and statue date for our brave Sheffield Women Of Steel - CLICK HERE

VIDEO: Sheffield Women Of Steel return to foundry to see statue cast in bronze - CLICK HERE

360 VIDEO: Sheffield Women Of Steel statue is cast at the foundry - CLICK HERE

Huge crowds gathered for the unveiling of the statue in Barker's Pool.

Huge crowds gathered for the unveiling of the statue in Barker's Pool.

Dancing in the street to celebrate the unveiling of the statue.

Dancing in the street to celebrate the unveiling of the statue.

Back to the future...the other side of the statue which is set to inspire women of tomorrow

Back to the future...the other side of the statue which is set to inspire women of tomorrow