A PIECE of the region’s industrial heritage has been closed for the foreseeable future due to serious safety and structural issues.
Entry to Tees Cottage Pumping Station, near Darlington, has been banned and all upcoming events have been cancelled.
The site is expected to be closed for the rest of the year, and members of the Tees Cottage Pumping Station Preservation Society, the group of dedicated volunteers who maintain the Coniscliffe Road site, have also been banned from entering the property to carry out regular maintenance work.
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A spokesman for Northumbrian Water, which owns the site, said: “As part of a routine inspection of all our sites, serious safety and structural issues were identified at Tees Cottage Pumping Station and we had to take the difficult decision to temporarily stop all access.
“We are currently in discussions and working with volunteers to restore access as soon as we can.
“We really appreciate the valuable work of the volunteers over many years and are keen to continue that partnership in the future.
“We appreciate how disappointing it is that events have had to be cancelled, but as a responsible business, people’s safety must be the priority.”
The pumping station was built in 1849 to pipe water from the River Tees to households in Darlington and Teesside, which previously relied on wells and rainwater tubs.
The site holds regular open days for visitors to see the historic steam-powered beam engine and gas engine.
John West, chairman of the preservation society, said the group was absolutely devastated at the closure.
He said: “We are not allowed onto the site - we have been quoted health and safety but have not been told what.
“We thought we were working towards a refurbishment but now we have been told they are closing the site with immediate effect.
“The whole team is very upset about it. We see it as part of Darlington’s heritage and we are only interested in opening it for the public.
“We cannot do anything – it is all in Northumbrian Water’s hands.
“We are frustrated, disappointed and upset.”
A rally featuring more than 100 classic Jowett cars had been due to take place at the site on bank holiday Monday (May 26).
This is now expected to be held at the National Railway Museum in Shildon.
A vintage vehicle machinery rally due to be held on October 12 has also been cancelled.