A LEADING Teesside historian has said he is “disappointed” at the decision to demolish the Dorman Long Tower.

Dr Tosh Warwick, historian at Heritage Unlocked, said he will be “sad to see it go” and he finds it “remarkable” that the lettering on the tower could not be kept.

Campaigners celebrated last week after a successful bid to list the tower was lodged – with the hope it could become a hub to showcase the area’s cultural and industrial heritage.

The Grade II listing put the brakes on the imminent demolition of the 1950s tower, but it has now been stripped of Historic England status after an appeal from the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the intervention of Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries in her first day in the job.

A series of controlled explosions will now be taking place at the site to demolish a number of structures, including the Dorman Long Tower, between 12am and 2am tomorrow.

Speaking to the Echo, Dr Warwick said: “I’m very disappointed. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster week in terms of Teesside’s industrial heritage. As a South Bank lad, I grew up in the shadow of the tower and this tower symbolised Dorman Long.

“I’m sad to see it go. It’s obviously a large advert for that company. Yes we have the landmarks like Newport Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge further afield but that coal bunker has come to have a lot more meaning to people. It is a tangible link to the steelworks past and for me it is a lost opportunity.

“I’m not one of these people that doesn’t recognise that we need to have development to progress and having lived in communities like South Bank, I’ve seen the harsh realities of poor quality of life or unemployment and the social impact of that, so I am the last person to stand in the way of jobs.

“One of the things I don’t like is this position that anyone who wants to retain heritage is somehow trying to impede development. It’s not the case. I am really keen to see redevelopment and regeneration so people locally can benefit, and it’s really important we move beyond the political battling and park that, and produce some kind of industrial heritage strategy, working collaboratively with Historic England and museums in the Tees Valley.

“I would have liked to have seen the lettering on the building retained as well. I find it remarkable given the advance in technology and demolition that this can’t be achieved.”

TVCA officials say crunch talks were held over the weekend between Mr Houchen, Historic England, and Teesworks bosses to challenge the Historic England listing.

They claimed the listing had cost an extra £40,000 to £50,000 to the taxpayer and risked projects earmarked for the wider site.

Correspondence seen by the Echo shows Ms Dorries ruled the building was “not of sufficient architectural or historic interest to merit listing”. Her letter judged that the loss of fabric from the building reduced its architectural interest – and the building was “essentially a functional structure”

Mr Houchen said: “I would like to send a message to those that think trying to stop these developments is the right thing to do – our heritage does not lie in a rotting coal bunker, our heritage lies in the people that built this great region.

“It lies in the structures that stand tall across the world, from The Shard, Sydney Harbour Bridge and One World Trade Centre.”