Those who are old enough to remember the Teesside Steelworks will probably agree that whilst it might not have been pretty, it was an icon of industrial Britain. It covered a continuous stretch along the South bank of the River Tees from the towns of Middlesbrough to Redcar in North Yorkshire. The site is adjacent to Teesport, that was used for iron ore, coal, and other raw material imports, and steel exports.
In its heyday there were 91 blast furnaces within a 10-mile radius of the area. By April 1993 there was only one left on Teesside. Opened in 1979 and located near the mouth of the River Tees, the Redcar blast furnace was the second largest in Europe at the time, being capable of producing 10,000 tonnes of iron a day.
The blast furnace employed 437 people (in 1979, British Steel’s Teesside Works employed around 19,500 people) and over the decades brought work for thousands of Teessiders across the generations. SCI’s Graham Couchman remembers the steelworks well as two of his grandparents worked there in the first half of the twentieth century.
The majority of the steelworks, including the Redcar blast furnace, Redcar and South Bank coke ovens and the BOS plant at Lackenby closed in 2015.
On 1 October 2022, the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking Plant in Redcar was demolished in one of the largest single explosive demolition operations in the country in 75 years.