North East Wales

Shotton steel landmark buildings demolition threat

Shotton Steel works' general office, courtesy Gerald Davison
Image caption The Grade II-listed steelworks general office is not part of the plans for demolition

Landmark buildings could be demolished due to costs to protect them from thieves and vandals escalating.

More than £45,000 has been spent on security on empty buildings at Shotton steelworks in Flintshire.

Planners are said to be considering whether some of the buildings - sold to a developer - should be preserved.

But the site owners said their demolition plans do not include the Grade II-listed general office and clock tower at Connah's Quay.

Developer Pochin paid £5m for 200 acres of surplus land at the steelworks in June, including the general office and other buildings, as they have plans to develop a wider area in the future.

And although they mothballed the buildings, Sue Haslam, a director for agents Legat Owen, Chester, said the buildings were continually being attacked and stripped, despite their efforts.

The buildings which could be demolished include the main office, built in 1907, canteen, laboratories, garage and an innovation centre.

Image caption Break time: A photo of the main canteen at the steelworks in 1947

Mrs Haslam said since the planning application was submitted, Flintshire council preservation officers had been considering whether the innovation centre and canteen buildings should be preserved.

"We are trying to preserve the site as best we can," she said.

The canteen once had to feed thousands as the works employed 13,000 people at its height.

And the on-site garage dealt with a big fleet of vehicles.

The steelworks ran its own fleet of cars with registration numbers from 1 to 100.

Image caption Articulated lorries, c1950s, were maintained on-site and used to ferry workers around the complex

They were used by staff to get around the site - along with articulated lorries complete with wooden benches - as the works was once eight miles (12km) across.

It was in 1895 that brothers Harry and James Summers put it to their four brothers to extend the family business founded by their father, John, and buy 40 acres of Dee marshland to start production of galvanised steel sheeting.

In the end, they bought 10,000 acres and the general office was built at the site entrance.

'Important'

Over the years, the site and the number of steel workers has reduced to less than 800 under different owners.

Flintshire councillors have yet to discuss the demolition plans.

"The council is considering its position with respect to the long term preservation of buildings on site," said Andrew Farrow, Flintshire's head of planning.

Local historian Bill Tyrrel, whose ancestors moved from the Summers' Stalybridge works when the Shotton steel site was first created, said whilst the buildings themselves may not seem important to some, the whole site was important to the area's history.

"The reason Connah's Quay and Shotton exploded to the size and place it is today is because of the steelworks, he said.

Mr Tyrrel hopes more can be done to preserve the history associated with the site and he has been collecting memorabilia such as signage from the works - with permission from Pochin.

An idea is being discussed separately to create a museum covering Connah's Quay and Shotton and Mr Tyrrel hopes his memorabilia can be put on show.

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