A NEW campaign group ‘Save our Steel Heritage Group’ has formed to stop the demolition of the Redcar Blast Furnace and other important heritage structures at the former Steel and Ironworks site; to ensure key elements of Teesside’s iron making plants are retained for future generations.

The group is Chaired by Geoff Taylor Former River Pilot, Founder of local history group and the Tees Steel Bridging the World group and founding members include Pat McCarthy, a local resident, Joe Guerin, retired Managing Director of the TATA Steel Rail business, who was also involved in building the Redcar Ironworks in the 1970’s, and Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour’s Tees Valley Mayoral Candidate.

The group is writing to the newly formed Teesworks Heritage Task group to ask that proposed demolition by the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen is stopped and options to save the structures are explored.

The letter has been signed and the campaign is being supported by former steel workers, and steel families, academics, engineers, artists, musicians, historians and community leaders from across the Tees Valley and beyond including Paul Smith – lead singer of Maximo Park, Craig Hornby, filmmaker of 'A Century in Stone', Alistair Hudson, Director of Whitworth Gallery in Manchester; Rowan McLaughlin an Environmental Campaigner; Dr Jon Warren - Author of "Industrial Teesside, Lives and Legacies".

The group state that saving the Redcar Blast Furnace, South Bank Coke Ovens Battery and the Dorman Long Tower is vital to ensure future generations see the contribution made by thousands of Teesside Iron and steelworkers over many generations.

Mr Taylor said: "Retaining the core of our blast furnace shows the world at large that Teesworks is a place where the pride in our past sits alongside faith in our future. It symbolises our determination to celebrate past achievements in order to develop confidence for the challenges which lie ahead."

A spokesperson for the taskforce said: "We welcome contributions from the community on the heritage of the Teesworks site and we will be announcing our plan for stakeholder engagement in good time. In the meantime people who wish to have their say can do so at www.teesworks.co.uk/heritage."

Ms Jacobs said: “I, along with most Teesside people are deeply proud of our industrial heritage; we had the soul ripped out of our communities when we lost the steel works, we can’t see it happen all over again in losing these iconic structures. Heritage means visitors and visitors means jobs. Let’s celebrate our past, not raise it to the ground."

Mr Smith said: As a Billingham-raised songwriter based in the North East, I'm constantly inspired by the mixture of our industrial heritage with the natural beauty of the region. If this building is demolished, along with some of the genuinely unusual structures around it, they will become faded photographs that local children might never see.

"Whereas, if we preserve it and build around it in an architecturally-sensitive manner, it will be embedded in people's memories for generations to come - a source of local pride."