Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (9 March) launched a celebratory coin forged out of some of the last iron to be made on Teesside, with two local community groups set to benefit from donations.
The keepsake will let the public take home a piece of the former Redcar steelworks and was created by Middlesbrough’s oldest foundry, the William Lane Foundry, from iron recovered from the Redcar Blast Furnace. It sits inside a booklet featuring a timeline of the steel story of the site from the 1850s to now, including historic imagery from the archives.
The coin has been created as work ramps up on the Teesworks site to make it investor-ready following news in last week’s Spring Budget that it will become the UK’s largest Freeport.
People can get their hands on this piece of local history with a voluntary recommended donation of £10, and they can choose whether their donation goes to Redcar-based Walk N Talk or Ladies of Steel.
The booklet and coin are available to pre-order now, with the items being sent out from mid-April. To order, or for more information, visit Teesworks.co.uk/buyacoin
Mayor Houchen said: “We are moving at full steam breathing new life into the Teesworks site, with work progressing to get the land ready for investors and the game-changing Freeport opportunity. But we also have to recognise the huge role the site played in not just our history, but that of the world, with iron and steel made on the former Redcar steelworks site being used in structures around the world, from the Shard to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“This coin, which bears the historic logo of Dorman Long, and the accompanying booklets recognise the impact those industries have had on our communities, detailing the rich 170-year history of the area and quite literally giving you a piece of the steelworks to take home with you, all made by local suppliers.
“In making a donation, people will also be giving their backing to two local groups which are doing crucial work in supporting people in a number of ways – whether that be helping their mental health, even more important during this difficult time, or organising activities for our young people and rallying round to give practical assistance to those who need it most.”
Walk N Talk was set up by former soldier Gareth Howell and has grown into a community of men aged 18 and over who get some exercise with organised walks where they can also talk about their mental health. Ladies of Steel is a voluntary community group which provides social, educational and sporting activities for children and the local community, also delivering much-needed resources during the pandemic and organising galas and events.
Walk N Talk’s Gareth Howell said: “We currently have more than 530 members of our group and many of those will have been personally affected or know someone hit by the closure of Redcar steelworks. The site has a bright future and it’s great that this generous offer, celebrating the past, will be able to help our local men living with mental health issues and get them talking.”
Debbie Powlay from Ladies of Steel said: “The Teesworks site has always been of huge importance to Teesside and Redcar and more so to the community of Dormanstown where we are based. Dormanstown was built because of the steelworks. We can remember the great steel heritage through these fantastic memorial coins and our local community group can benefit because of the kind generosity of this appeal.”