Redcar steelworks tattoo woman fighting to save site

image copyrightSam Kitchener
image captionSam Kitchener studied at the Royal College of Art and is now a PhD student at Kingston School of Art

A graphic designer who has a steelworks blast furnace tattooed on her arm has joined the campaign to save the site.

Redcar's former steelworks closed in 2015 and the blast furnace and other structures are due to be dismantled to make way for new developments.

But Sam Kitchener, who is from the town, said its "unique industrial heritage" should be preserved.

In Europe "they retain these heritage sites and make beautiful sculptures out of them", she said.

The campaign to prevent the steelworks' demolition and turn it into a visitor attraction has been supported by the likes of local band Maximo Park.

But Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has said the cost of keeping the old structures safe is "astronomical".

image copyrightSam Kitchener
image captionThe tattoo was inspired by a painting of the blast furnace by Grangetown-born artist Tom French

Ms Kitchener, 31, is a member of the Save Our Steel Heritage group, which has produced a 3D visualisation of how the blast furnace could look if retained.

The group wants it lit up at night to celebrate the legacy of generations of iron and steelworkers, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Ms Kitchener, who now lives in Brighton, said she would pick up her father from his job at the steelworks, look up at the blast furnace and think "it's a bit scary, but I love it".

"It's almost got a post-apocalyptic feel about it," she said.

image copyrightSave our Steel heritage group/Sam Kitchener.
image captionCampaigners would like to see the structures retained as a landmark and visitor attraction

Ms Kitchener said she had dedicated her PhD thesis to the steelworks site.

"There is something about that skyline and the silhouette with the blast furnace," she said.

"The blast furnace is a huge source of inspiration for filmmakers, illustrators and artists and a unique part of the world we have here, and it would be a crying shame not to keep the core of it."

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