Watch the moment Redcar's blast furnace brought down for good

An icon of steelmaking on Teesside is no more after being brought down in an explosion.

The demolition is the latest - and most high profile - in a series of explosions this year to clear the site for future development.

The blast furnace at Redcar, which stood for more than 40 years, came down in seconds following the blast.

Using 175kg of explosives, teams from Thompsons of Prudhoe brought down the Casting Houses, the Dust Catcher, Charge Conveyors, and the Blast Furnace at the Redcar Blast Furnace at 9am on Wednesday, 23 November.

People gathered nearby to watch as the huge plant was brought to the ground.

Former steelworker Bob Johnson said: "I've come down to witness what I regard as the true end to steelmaking on Teesside. It's been a long time coming. A very poignant day for me.

"I've had 20 fantastic years on this site. It's something that's a massive part of my life. As a boy I wanted to be a steelworker. I used to come down here as a child, see the iron being poured, it was just captivating... it's what I always wanted to do.

"To see it finally come down, it will be devastating, a really sad day for a lot of people."

Christine Harris' father worked at the site. After the demolition, she said: "We built the world, that was our motto, and this was the end of what our ancestors came here for, from Ireland, from Cornwall... it just feels like saying goodbye to them.

"It's time to move on, time for something new. Like our Middlesbrough motto says 'We Shall Be', that's gone but we shall be in another form."

People gathered to watch as Redcar's blast furnace was demolished. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The structure has dominated the Teesside coastline since 1979.

Once ranked the second largest in Europe, the furnace produced 3.6million tonnes of iron a year and is part of 170 years of iron and steelmaking on Teesside, contributing to the building of constructions including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Newcastle's Tyne Bridge.

The furnace was first mothballed in 2010 before being restarted by SSI UK when they took over its ownership from Tata Steel in 2012.

The vast site was left empty when SSI went into liquidation in 2015, with 2,000 people losing their jobs.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Our skyline has changed forever with the demolition of the Redcar Blast Furnace and we can never forget the important role it played in Teesside’s proud industrial history.

“Now, with almost all of the major iron and steelmaking structures down, a new skyline will emerge on the Teesworks site as construction ramps up on new investments like Net Zero Teesside and SeAH Wind’s offshore wind monopile facility.

“We can never understate how much the steelworks site has defined Teesside’s history and shaped our communities, but I’ve always been clear we need to look to the future to create new jobs on this site that will employ generations of local people, just as the steelworks once did. We will never forget our past – but from it we are building a new future.”

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, said: “The demolition of the Redcar blast furnace really is the end of an era, changing the landscape of Teesside forever. This distinct structure has been a much-loved fixture for decades and its demolition marks the end of the steel making chapter here on Teesside. Steel making has been a huge part of our story and the very reason we grew in population – it is in our blood.  

"It is tragic that such an efficient plant, providing highly skilled, well-paid jobs for generations, has been lost. It has been destroyed and closed under the Tories and that is shameful. 

"We must now look to the future and seize all the opportunities to create new industries which will be critical in us becoming net zero. What is imperative is that workers have the requisite skills for these new industries in order to provide the people of Teesside with secure, well-paid employment.”

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