The Dorman Long Tower at Teesworks will be demolished after an independent study revealed “ongoing and irreversible” damage to the structure and highlighted costs running into the millions would only extend its life by a few years.
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has today (10 September) given the go-ahead to blow down the structure, which was built in 1955 but has not been operational since the 1970s.
An independent report by engineers Atkins had found that during its time of non-operation, concrete carbonation has caused the embedded steel reinforcements to corrode, which has resulted in significant cracking and weakening of the concrete, with general age-related wear-and-tear also taking its toll on the tower.
The report also stated it could cost between £7million and £9million to secure the structure and keep it maintained, and even then it would still have to be demolished in the next two decades. Demolition costs would double or triple – not accounting for inflation – if it was retained, due to the significant new developments and structures that would be built surrounding the tower as part of future investments on the site.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It had always been our plan to keep the Dorman Long Tower as a symbol of our rich iron and steelmaking heritage as we pressed forward with the wider Teesworks redevelopment, but to do so, the numbers would have to stack up.
“Disappointingly, this report shows that all we would achieve by doing this is burdening the taxpayer with costs for something that would have to come down – at a higher cost – in just a few short years anyway, because of the irreversible damage it sustained due to it being left to wrack and ruin.
“We have to be realistic and we can’t put the jobs of tomorrow at risk. Our investment needs to be directed towards securing these good-quality, well-paid jobs that are committed to the site now, and those that will follow.
“While the past has played an important part, we now must look to the future. GE Renewable Energy’s mammoth wind turbine blade facility will support 2,250 of these roles for people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and this project, and others like it, must be our priority.
“As well as the South Tees Development Corporation Board agreeing to this difficult decision, the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce have had the opportunity to review the information available. We will obviously continue to work with them to understand what can be salvaged after the demolition and how this can feed into all of our hard work to preserve and record the heritage of the site.”
Kate Willard OBE, co-chair of the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, said: “Whilst we are disappointed with the outcome of the Atkins report, we welcome and acknowledge the thoroughness and detail included in it.
“The iconic cultural significance of this structure and its status as a regional landmark means that there’s a strong sentimental connection felt by individuals and communities across the region. We’d like to see thought given to how the tower might be remembered and celebrated, perhaps with a version of its iconic lettering installed elsewhere on-site, or with a model of the tower itself.
“The identified costs in the report to maintain the Tower were high. We would hope that consideration is given as to how some of these potential savings might help with the preservation and display of other artefacts saved from the site. This way, we can help secure to archive, artefacts and memories of the Redcar steelworks alive for generations.”