A trip down memory lane. We were looking for somewhere different to visit. Had to be quiet. Had to be different. A couple of hours later we had arrived at the coast.
To the South Gare at Redcar on the north east English coast. The memories flooded back. I was born in Redcar, my childhood was spent here. I didn’t leave until I was 18. Not been back since, until now.
Redcar is surrounded. The North Sea on one side, chemical and steel works in the other direction. The South Gare is a couple of miles north of the town. It’s the southern breakwater of the River Tees. It’s one of those places where industry and nature have fused together. As a kid this was a magical place. I would walk here along the beach from the town most weekends. My old Dad would drive us here. So many memories.
Dad somehow getting me inside the lighthouse and convincing the keeper to let me sound the foghorn. Wow that was seriously loud.
Watching the anglers stand precariously on the edge of the sea walls as waves crashed in.
When Dad was too ill to walk too far, he would drive here and sit in the car watching the ships come and go.
Braving the storms to see the waves crash over the top of the lighthouse.
Coming here in the late 70s to see the blast furnace built. It was Europes second largest one. It looked like something from a Dr Who episode. Almost unreal.
Watching the steam escape from the rocks and surrounding ground when the blast furnace was in operation. Like a man made volcanic steam vent.
Taking Benji, our mad Beagel onto the beach at Redcar for a walk. Letting him off the lead and he bolted down the beach. Two miles later I finally caught up with him next to the lighthouse. Having a much needed constitutional….
Bunking off school to come here to watch massive new oil rigs getting transported out to the oil fields.
Seeing weather battered fishermen go into the little green huts always wondering what on earth was inside the wooden structures.
Searching for winkles on the rocks at low tied.
So many memories. I rapidly bored the pants off Hawklad retelling these and many more tales. Much was the same but some changes. Where did that wind farm come from.
But there is a sadness. The area is looking so run down. The Steel Works closed down with all its jobs. My father worked here. Many of my school friends got jobs here. All gone. So the Furnace is a ghost shell to a bygone era. It’s been a part of the local landscape for decades. It became part of how the town looked. It was the heartbeat of the town. And now it’s been decided that it is to be knocked down. Work has started. Those in charge say its disappearance will be a symbol of hope. Replaced with newer, better things. If only that was true. There won’t be any money. The people round here don’t matter to those in charge. I’m not the only one who feels that way. So it’s demolition is not universally welcome. Yes some see it as an eyesore. But others see the furnace as part of the towns heritage. A visible reminder of nearly 200 years of iron and steel production in this area. Steel which was used around the world including in the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So it’s destruction is seen by many here as cultural and economic vandalism. Akin to many uncomfortable truths. Get rid of the image then you can forget about the problem without addressing it. Just like how we move the homeless on from outside the Theatre or the exclusive Restaurant. Once moved you can conveniently forget about the poverty again, all for the price of a coffee and a pat on the back. The person is still homeless just this time out of sight.
So on this Sunday afternoon, one gnarly muppet took one too many photos. As many as I could featuring the blast furnace. Because when we come here again, it will be gone and the landscape here will have changed forever.