‘Heartbreaking’: Historic Dorman Long tower to be demolished after Nadine Dorries strips conservation listing

Much-cherished northeast industrial landmark will be razed in early hours of Sunday morning –despite campaign to have it saved

Colin Drury
North of England Correspondent
Saturday 18 September 2021 19:00
<p>Dorman Long tower at the former Redcar SSI steelworks</p>

Dorman Long tower at the former Redcar SSI steelworks

A much-loved 1950s industrial tower will be demolished in the early hours of Sunday morning after it was controversially stripped of its conservation listing by the new culture secretary.

Plans to knock down the massive Dorman Long coal bunker in Redcar, Teesside, were stopped in their tracks this week after Historic England moved quickly to grant it Grade II status.

But, in one of her first acts in her new government role, Nadine Dorries revoked the listing, saying it lacked “merit”.

Now, the 56-metre tower – a landmark at the former Redcar SSI steelworks – will be knocked down this weekend.

George Clarke, the architect and television presenter, described the imminent demolition as “heartbreaking” and said the brutalist structure should have been incorporated into the proposed redevelopment of the derelict site.

He said: “We’ve lost way too many buildings in the northeast that celebrate our incredible industrial past. This is a unique building and should be saved.”

But Ben Houchen, the Tory Tees Valley mayor, said he was happy with the decision after he had lodged the appeal against its listing.

“I would like to send a message to those that think trying to stop these developments is the right thing to do – our heritage does not lie in a rotting coal bunker,” he said.

“Our heritage lies in the people that built this great region. It lies in the structures that stand tall across the world, from The Shard, Sydney Harbour Bridge and One World Trade Centre."

He later claimed that, if the tower had been allowed to remain, it “would have cost the taxpayer in excess of £9m”.

Jacob Young, the Conservative MP for Redcar, said while he initially argued for retaining the bunker – which was built in 1955-56 – he had been convinced that structural failings meant it was no longer sustainable.

He added: “I have asked [developers] to salvage what is possible from the original Dorman Long lettering on the side … and to recreate a replica of the lettering to be used close to the site.”

The South Tees Development Corporation, which was formed to redevelop the site – now known as Teesworks – confirmed controlled explosions would raze the structure between midnight and 2am on Sunday.

It will help make way for a vast new wind turbine manufacturing facility at the site which was closed as a steelworks in 2015.

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