Bye-bye Steetley, part 1

I know I’ve left it a bit late, seeing as there’s less than 12 hours, before this local landmark gets blown up, but I am indeed sad to see the old thing go.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those of you not from Hartlepool won’t know this place, unless you’ve came into Hartlepool from the north. It’s the big huge chimney that stood next to the tran track, and was surrounded by rubble. After the entire site being a death trap for many years, at 11AM tomorrow, the chimney stack will be demolished. the rest of the site, which has also been flattened over the last few months, will then be covered with crushed stone and a housing estate built on top of it. A sad, undignified end to something which was, for my entire life, such a prominent part of it. For those of you who know Mercuryvapour Towers, you’ll know that the chimney is visible from the front window, which means I saw it at least once a day for my entire 32.5 years of existence (minus holidays and foggy days, naturally).

The question that I keep asking myself is, am I sad to see it go? Some days I’d look out and think “I really wish they’d get rid of that eyesore”, next day I’ll look out and think “I’ll miss it when it’s gone. The end of an era”. Its purpose was to extract magnesia from seawater.

Steetley has had many names over the years. Some readers may remember it as the Pallister works, others simply as “Redland Magnesia”, which was one of the last companies to own it before it closed. I’m pretty sure most of the local area knows of at least one person who worked there.

There are three things that were certain in nearby West View – death, taxes, and the fact that Steetley would kick out its unmistakable stench as soon as your mam put the washing out. The smell was an ungodly mix of chlorine and rotten eggs, and if the wind was coming in off the sea, the entire estate spent the next half-hour gagging. The afore-mentioned Washing would also need to be done again too, as there would be little yellow spots all over it.

Steetley also featured in the very first time I borrowed a camcorder, was Wayne’s. Some of you may, or may not mention Wayne. He was someone who I went to school with for a bit, was really good friends with up until about 2000, and then almost completely disappeared off the face of the planet. Past mentions of him on here, feature a recording of his mam asking Wayne… “Is he still an alco?” More on that, in another post.

Anyway, the very first camcorder I ever borrowed was his. He had an interest in lasers, and we both lived a mile from Steetley, albeit at different angles. One night, he left his camcorder over here, and we talked over ye olde CB radio while he shone the laser pointer onto Steetley to see if I could see it, or if the camcorder would pick it up. The answer was a resounding no. I don’t know why either of us thought it’s be possible to see a dot the size of a pinhead on a structure 1 mile away. Still, I got to use his camcorder for a bit, and yes, I still have the tape I made somewhere. I doubt he still has his copy. In fact I don’t even think he remembers who I am.

The fact that Steetley was also visible from so far away was also another “attraction” for me. As a kid, I made a couple of trips to Roseberry Topping. I always wanted to know if Steetley was visible from there. Unfortunately, each of the days we’d chosen were no good for viewing. It wasn’t until April last year that I confirmed with my own eyes and camera that it was visible – a distance of exactly 14.67 miles.

I had plenty more memories going around in my head, but it’s approaching 2AM. I’m going to get some shots in the morning before it goes…
I have a million other memories and photos to go through,

Hart Lodge

A little bit of local news for those of you who care, but Hart Lodge, known to the locals (well me, anyway) as “The Old Folks’ home” on Jones Road, is currently being pulled down.

I wouldn’t say it’s a pretty exciting landmark or anything, as it was a dull example of late 60s / early 70s functional architecture, but for me, it’ll always remain one of my childhood playgrounds. Even more so when they built the car park.

I’ll be adding some more pictures of my own to that same page throughout the day…