Sunday, 23 August 2009

Letter in the local Paper

Dear Editor,
For years I have been complaining about the way the history of this region is been distorted, now that Teesside is been dropped, in favour of the more upmarket Tees Valley, it is even more important that museums in this region tell the story of our industrial heritage. Our steel and chemical industries are in trouble, the last of hundreds of blast furnaces is in danger of closing, just three miles away is Kirkleatham Museum, subsidised by thousands of people linked to our heavy industries. The only signs of the steel industry at the museum is an unnamed blast furnace tub near the entrance and an old steel ladle, covered in moss and ivy, behind the staff car park, the chemical industry across the road fairs even worse. Two years ago rare Saxon jewels were found in a field near Loftus, a few hundred yards away is an abandoned quarry, there are several similar ones in our region, where for 270 years men and woman, with little understanding of chemistry, worked in dangerous conditions to turn stone into crystallised alum, important for Britain’s wool industry. The museum that wants to buy and display the Loftus Saxon jewels makes no mention of Britain’s first chemical industry. Kirkleatham Museum does have a room telling the story of our ironstone industry, but a free museum shouldn’t be competing with volunteers from the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum and ignoring our other heavy industries. John Lawson

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