A date has been set for a major demolition of the historic Redcar Blast Furnace.
The bulk of the furnace is to be demolished between 9am and 1pm on Wednesday, 23 November, if the weather allows.
The explosive demolition by teams from Thompsons of Prudhoe has seen months of preparatory work to clean the iconic site.
Casting houses, the Dust Catcher, Charge Conveyors, and the Blast Furnace itself will be among structures to come down. The four enormous gas stoves which heated the furnace are set to be demolished separately in the following month.
Redcar’s former steelworks has dominated the Teesside skyline since the 1970s. Built in 1979, the blast furnace stands 365ft tall and was ranked the second largest of its kind in Europe.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The Redcar Blast Furnace has marked our skyline for decades – and it will be an emotional day when it comes down.
“But, from the ashes of the past, we are building a green future at Teesworks.
“This has been one of the biggest, most complex, and condensed demolition projects ever to take place in the UK. We’re accelerating our plans to make the land investor-ready as soon as possible to take advantage of all the opportunities our status as a Freeport brings.
“I know this is a highly emotive subject for many – but they should rest assured that the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce has been doing a brilliant job of making sure the site’s past will never be forgotten.
“Net Zero Teesside Power is coming on land nearby – bringing with it up to 5,500 jobs for generations to come. While the steelworks played a vital part of our communities, I’ve always been clear we need to look to the future, not the past, to create the good-quality, well-paid jobs that people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are crying out for.”
The Blast Furnace was first mothballed in 2010 before being restarted by SSI UK when they took over its ownership from Tata Steel in 2012. But tragedy struck again in 2015 when SSI entered liquidation – sparking the loss of more than 2,000 jobs overnight.
This, in turn, led to the creation of the creation of the Mayoral Development Corporation in 2017, which was relaunched as Teesworks in 2020.
An independent Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, established by Mayor Houchen and chaired by Redcar MP Jacob Young and Kate Willard OBE, has led comprehensive efforts to preserve memories of the site for future generations alongside plant managers, Historic England, and former steelworkers.
Jacob Young, MP for Redcar, said: “This demolition will bring about mixed feelings for many Teessiders – and I’ll be among their number on the day. The hard work of the Heritage Taskforce will ensure the memory of the Blast Furnace and our proud steelmaking history will be documented and recognised for generations to come.
“Progress on Teesworks is continuing apace and, while there will be a lot of sadness when the skyline changes, we have huge projects such as Net Zero Teesside which will offer a cleaner, brighter and more prosperous industrial future for us all.”
Cllr Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Member, said: “The steelworks has played an integral part in the lives of so many people in Redcar and Cleveland over the generations and coming from a steel-working family myself, I know many will view this as a sad day for our borough. The structure has been part of the landscape for decades and it will be strange not to see it on the horizon.
“However, we now must provide real and attractive opportunities for our residents to find employment in industries which will grow in the future. We hope that the development of Teesworks attracts reputable companies from across the world to provide secure and well-paid jobs for future generations.”