Long After the Dust Has Settled

The Legacies of Deindustralisation

From Planet 244

by Louise Miskell

Louise Miskell examines the effects of deindustrialisation on Welsh steel communities, and how this can lead to political alienation, trauma and identity crisis. She argues that the demolition of steelworks infrastructure, in contrast to its preservation by the community, can exacerbate this sense of loss.

In the early hours of 19 September 2021, a controlled explosion was carried out on the site of the former Redcar Steelworks in Teesside. It reduced a fifty-six metre tall concrete coal bunker, which had stood on the site since the 1950s, to a heap of rubble. The condemned structure was the ‘Dorman Long’ tower, one of the most recognisable buildings remaining on the site of the former steelworks, which closed in 2015. The plan to demolish the tower, and other redundant plant, was supported by the local mayor and the South Tees Development Corporation as part of a scheme to clear the area and prepare it for re-use. Opponents of the demolition plans had argued that the tower was an important symbol of Teesside’s industrial heritage. Its loss left them heartbroken, but its wider impact extends well beyond Teesside. In Wales – the UK’s most important steelmaking region – the dust of the Dorman Long tower leaves a difficult question hanging in the air: what future, if any, should our steelworks buildings have after closure?

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