Coach tours around the former SSI steelworks site have been postponed until March 2021, following the announcement by Government earlier today (October 1) that coronavirus local lockdown restrictions will come into force in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.
To protect public health and safety, to ensure everyone gets to experience the tours, and due to the further uncertainty of restrictions that may be in place over the coming weeks, the decision has been made to pause the tours, due to begin next week, until March 2021.
There will be no need for anyone who has a space on the tours to rebook. Anyone who has a ticket will be contacted in the next few days to be offered a new date for next year, by which time it is hoped any local and wider UK restrictions will have been relaxed.
Thousands of people have signed up for the tours since they were first announced in July, alongside the news that the South Tees Development Corporation site would be rebranded as Teesworks, kick-starting a £393million, 12-month demolition and remediation plan for the site, set to create 775 jobs.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Following the news that the government has approved requests from local leaders in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough for local lockdown restrictions, we’ve made the really difficult decision to postpone the tours until March 2021.
“Believe me, this hasn’t come easily. The overwhelming support and interest we’ve had in these tours demonstrates how passionately people feel about the former Redcar steelworks, its heritage and its future.
“I was blown away by the speed at which local people, from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, snapped up the tour tickets. But it would be deeply unfair if many of those who signed up had to drop out and didn’t have the opportunity to see the site because of restrictions in their area.
“The good news is, the overwhelming majority of the iconic landscape will still be in place when the new tours begin, and people will be able to see first-hand all the work that’s going on to breathe new life into the site. The new, state-of-the-art Teesworks entrance which we recently revealed plans for will be in place, with plenty of other things happening on site.
“So that local people don’t miss a thing surrounding our exciting new developments, we have commissioned a local photographer and filmmaker to capture all of our work between now and March. Images, footage and timelapses will be shared widely across our social media and websites to whet everyone’s appetites for the tours, and demonstrate the hard work taking place over the winter.
“Our Teesworks Heritage Taskforce is also continuing to work hard on how best to capture and celebrate the history of the site, so we can really drive home the importance of iron and steelmaking here. I’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding at this unprecedented time.”