THE demolition of Teesside's iconic Dorman Long tower went ahead in the early hours of the morning, just days after confirmation the structure would be lost forever.

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

Residents living near the Teesworks site might have been startled out of their sleep with the highly controversial demolition taking place at around 2am on Sunday (September 19).

A siren followed by a number of 10 second controlled explosions took place to bring the tower down.

A small crowd gathered last night to have a last look at the tower which was lit up before it was erased.

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

Campaigners had celebrated last week after what they thought was 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 was later 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.

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”

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

The Northern Echo:

Mr Houchen admitted he recognised it was a “sad moment” for many people and that Teesside’s landscape had “changed forever”, but it was important to start a “new chapter”

He said: “Last night Teesside’s landscape changed forever. I recognise many people will have found this a sad moment, but it was important to ensure we can move forward and bring thousands of jobs to the site and start a new chapter in Teesside’s story.

“The Dorman Long Tower was built with a purpose - to feed the South Bank Coke Ovens with coal but much more than that, it fed many families with the jobs it supported.

“Next month we can now start to build the GE offshore wind blade factory that also has a purpose - to feed the offshore wind farms. But again, much more than that, it will create good-quality, well-paid jobs supporting many families across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

“The best way for us to celebrate our past, is to build on it, learn from it and create an even better future for local people and to provide the opportunities that previous generations had in the iron and steel industry.

“We will continue to work with the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, to capture footage and document the site’s history as we change the landscape ready for our next chapter as well as keeping machinery and creating scale replicas that will always remind people that Teesside built the world.”

The Northern Echo:

Redcar MP Jacob Young, who had previously campaigned to keep the tower, said: "It's well known that I argued for the Dorman Long Tower to be retained, provided it was provided it is safe to do so, and I’m gutted with where we ended up.

"However, after reading the independent Atkins report the conclusions were clear. Key structural failings meant it was no longer sustainable to argue for the Tower’s preservation.

"Even if we did spend millions of pounds to preserve the Tower - even then - the maximum lifespan would be 20 years before it would require more investment, or would need to be demolished anyway.

"I believe those who pushed for the emergency listing had the right intentions, and I want to thank them for doing all they could to stop this - particularly Nick Taylor and Cllr Vince Smith.

"But listing or no listing, the Tower’s ultimate fate didn’t change - whether it was this weekend, next month, or next year, the demolition of the Tower due to its structural deficiencies was inevitable.

"Separately, as a Teesworks Board Member, I’m aware of planned developments for the Tower’s site which means jobs for my constituents and I can’t ignore this. The reason that tower is there is because Steel giants of the past created jobs for local people - now we will create the jobs of the future here.

"This was always going to be a difficult decision, and I have previously spoken openly about what the Tower means to me and why I would want to keep it, but I can’t argue for millions to be spent on preserving something that will need to be demolished in just 20 years time.

"I have asked Teesworks to salvage what is possible from the original DORMAN LONG lettering on the side of the Tower, and to create a replica of the lettering to be used close to the site."

The Northern Echo:

Meanwhile, Jessie Joe Jacobs, Mr Houchen's Labour opponent during the last Tees Valley Mayoral election, accused the Mayor of 'taking a wrecking ball to our history".

"This won’t be forgotten. No attempts to save it, to secure grant funds, to turn into something for future generations. Symbolic of the industrial vandalism carried out by successive Tory governments.

"I have so many feelings about this, but most, it is sadness. So many times, Teesside’s heritage has been destroyed without imagination, vision or a sense of the longer term picture.

"Standing tall on our skyline, this building represented so much of what built this region. The steel, innovation and spirit."

Former Redcar MP Anna Turley called the demolition "vandalism" and accused the Conservatives, locally and nationally, of "arrogance".

She added: "A monument to generations of Teessiders who built the world. (It) could have been preserved as a heritage icon and cultural symbol of the workers in the greatest iron and steel producer of the British Empire."

A spokesperson for Teesworks said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused however it is necessary to carry out the work during this time to ensure there is no disruption to train services on the nearby railway line, which otherwise would have had to be closed during its operational hours.

"We thank those that are affected in advance for their understanding. This is all part of our redevelopment work to make the site investor-ready so that the major projects that will bring jobs for local people can progress as smoothly and quickly as possible."