THE British steel industry has been such a source of gloom in recent years that we need to seize the opportunity to celebrate its successes when they come along.

We cannot kid ourselves that this region’s industrial future will be founded on steel. The chances of huge employers on vast sites, such as we saw at Redcar steel works, with thriving local supply chains where generations could find jobs are probably gone for ever.

Like our expertise in shipbuilding, coal mining and engineering our dominance in steel has been outstripped by businesses overseas which have squeezed us out of the market.

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We will make no apologies in this newspaper for making the point that the demise of the SSI plant and the end of almost 170 years of steelmaking in the area was a disaster the effects of which will be felt for decades. But we will also jump at the chance to talk up the region and highlight the good things that are going on.

Investors Liberty House Group this week completed a deal to buy some Hartlepool pipe mills from Tata Steel. They say the agreement has secured 140 jobs, with plans in place to create another 100 in manufacturing and office roles. Tata plans to invest £1m into another section of the mills that will safeguard 270 jobs. The numbers of jobs being created and saved pales beside the thousands lost at SSI but it is welcome news nevertheless.

Furthermore,the thriving Materials Processing Institute in Middlesbrough, which works with a world leading steel companies, shows that our capacity for innovation is still there.

Will we ever be a leading steel-producing area ever again? The answer is “no”, but our relationship with steel lives on and for that we can feel proud.