NOT so long ago it seemed as though there was no engineering challenge in the world that North-East workers couldn't turn their hands to. As if being the birthplace of the railway wasn’t enough our world class know-how and reputation for hard graft produced ships, bridges, storage tanks, tower blocks, underground tunnels and armaments that helped shape the modern world.

In 1944, for example, a consortium of Whessoe, Head Wrightson, Cleveland Bridge and Cargo Fleet built hundreds of landing craft for D-Day. Around the same time, on the site that went on to become Ayclife Business Park, munitions workers were producing bombs and bullets that helped topple Hitler.

When pictures were sent to the Echo in 2001 of the rusting remains of a century old whale oil tank made by Whessoe Foundry in Darlington lying on Antarctica it was a reminder that examples of North-East engineering could be found at the ends of the earth.

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Getting misty-eyed about the things we made in the past doesn’t do enough to drive the North-East economy in 2017, however. Beamish, the Head of Steam, Killhope and Kynren are all wonderful celebrations of past glories but we must strive to be more than a living museum, which is why events such as the Festival of Ingenuity are so important.

The series of interactive activities taking place in Darlington on Friday and Saturday draw upon the area's engineering heritage, but Ingenuity 2017 is also about looking towards the future and sparking interest in young minds.

Stalwart businesses such as Henry Williams, Cummins and Cleveland Bridge will be there alongside Modus Seabed Intervention and the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre to show that the area's reputation for ingenuity lives on.