The Dorman Long industrial tower on the former Redcar steelworks site at Teesside has been demolished, just days after it was granted Grade II listed status by Historic England. The BBC reports that the Brutalist 1950s concrete structure was destroyed by a controlled explosion, despite the efforts of campaigners to preserve it.
The austere building had not been in use as a coal bunker and handling facility since 1970, but was maintained in order to house a firefighting reservoir. Architect’s Journal reports that Cleveland Borough Council had approved plans for demolition, after a report found that the tower’s embedded steel reinforcements had corroded, weakening the concrete.
The Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen has spoken out in favour of the demolition, and jointly with Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), asked the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to intervene. As soon as Nadine Dorries was appointed to the role, she revoked the building’s listed status.
Mr Houchen said: “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, 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.”
However, campaigners said the tower was a proud symbol of Teesside’s industrial heritage, and accused ministers of cultural vandalism. Historic England described it as a ‘celebrated example of early Brutalist architecture’. Despite the protests, the structure has been razed to the ground to make way for a new wind turbine manufacturing facility.
It is thought that the repair and maintenance bill for the tower would have amounted to £7-9m, and this would only have extended its lifespan by about 20 years.
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