THE Tees is no longer “the steel river” and Middlesbrough is no longer known as “Ironopolis”.

The steel era has ended, and the very visible sign of that is the demolition of the last blast furnace, which is instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever visited the east Cleveland coast.

The Tees Valley must now create new jobs on what is now Europe’s largest brownfield site – the end of the era presents us with huge opportunities.

However, iron and steel will always be imprinted on our region’s history – it is entwined with Durham coal and Darlington railways.

It may not have been practical, or even desirable, to have saved the iconic structure at Redcar. Indeed, it would have been ironic to have saved the steelmaking kit but not to have saved the steelmaking industry itself – we can only hope future generations do not find themselves strategically vulnerable because our generation was happy to see steelmaking ebb away to foreign owners.

But it will be possible to save historic items as the clearance work progresses. That work should be done carefully with posterity in mind rather than as part of a race to obliterate what went before, and those preserved pieces from the past should be built into whatever comes next.

We cannot deny the past, but we must embrace the future. Times move on, and we must move on with them.