Dorman Long Tower (1)

The demolition of the Dorman Long Tower at 1.55am this morning feels like a curiously emblematic moment: the apparently wilful destruction of a monument of the old northern industrial culture because a property developer wants to create an estate of new homes. As those who have followed the story will know, the building was listed by Historic England only a week ago ‘as a recognised and celebrated example of early Brutalist architecture, a fine example of austere design that simply, yet wholeheartedly expresses its function: a deliberate monumental architectural statement of confidence by the then newly de-nationalised Dorman Long company in the mid-1950s’. As anyone who knows how the system works, this means that it will have had a great deal of public support for its listing: a view that it should be preserved as a record of the now defunct steel industry, standing fairly isolated in a vast area of post-industrial dereliction. But no sooner had it been listed that Ben Houchen, the Tees Valley Mayor, approached Nadine Dorries, the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to ask her to rescind the decision. She agreed on her first day in office and, in case she were to change her mind, the building was immediately demolished. It doesn’t look good for statutory controls of historic buildings. It doesn’t look good for her interest in the preservation of the industrial past. But it probably does look good for those who think that we should wipe out all memory of the industrial past and build a new north of standardised houses, a Free Port and retail parks:-

Dorman Long tower
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