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Steetley Magnesite - Hartlepool

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Steetley Magnesite is an incredible site for anyone who is interested in the industrial side of photography and particularly urban dereliction. Originally built to produce magnesium, the site closed after two failed attempts to keep it running in 2005.

The site can be accessed from two different locations. The first is to head towards the Headland and turn back on yourself at the first left which will lead along Old Cemetry Road and Steetley is at the end of that road. The other method is an old tunnel just off the Brus roundabout in the West View area of town which will take you to the bottom end of the site.

Many parts of this site have now been demolished but any further demolition has been halted because the site is a habitat for nesting birds. The plan was to build 500 homes on the site but it currently stands still with no further development planned in the immediate future.

The chimney is of course the focal point of this site, however, there are many outbuildings, labs and offices still standing on the site with paperwork from Britmag and CJC strewn amongst the rubble. Also, if you are to visit then the settling tanks of which there are about 10 still standing provide perfect ammunition for some stunning photographs.

A little history about the site:
1937: Site acquired by Steetley. New process allows magnesium to be produced from sea water.
1938: Plant opens and expands rapidly.
1961: Chimney built which is seen across Hartlepool.
1962: World's largest settling tank built on the site.
1967: 5,147 tons of magnesium produced a week.
1997: Britmag takes over the site from Redland.
2002: Britmag goes into administration, and the site is reborn as CJC Chemicals.
2005: CJC also falls on hard times and the area falls into disrepair.
2005: Culford Properties become free-holders of the site and draw up plans for a 500-home estate.
2006: Children caught by the Mail diving into the settling tanks.
2007: (August) Children snapped by local resident playing among the rubble.
2007: (September) English Nature opposes building plans because of breeding birds near the site.
2007: (October) The council puts £100,000 aside in case they have to clear the site.

Steetley Magnesite - Hartlepool Images

The focal point of Steetley is the Chimney which can be seen right across Hartlepool. Standing here above the piles of rubble that litter the site.
One of the many settling tanks that still stand on the site and yes, the water is really that colour.
The burnt and charred remains of one of the office buildings on the site, outside of this building are hundreds of pieces of paperwork detailing the procedures for switching on each tank.
Two of the Pump Houses that stand beside one of the larger settling tanks, the view from the top of these is quite impressive.
The walkway that leads across to the middle of the main settling tank although like many of the others I fear this may soon collapse.
The wooden boards surrounding the tops of the larger settling tanks, broken and burnt in places.


rokerman  12
9 Dec 2008 - 6:41 PM

Does anybody how many people were employed at its height ?

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3 Mar 2011 - 12:45 PM

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3 Mar 2011 - 12:45 PM

A very sad sight. I 'worked' there as a student for 6 months on a dip-tech course in 1959-60. A large site humming with activity 24/7.
The kilns were very hot when you got near - I had to use a thermocouple to measure the temperatures and go up above to measure the effluent gases. You either wore little and got 'burned' or wrapped up and got stewed. Old Hartlepool at the time was a dump, with many houses boarded up.
Part of the time there was a pilot scheme being run in one of the labs. It was run 3 x 8 hour shifts. The day after it stopped, an autoclave in the lab exploded. The lid which I could not lift on my own, was thrown about 3 metres. Good job it did not happen earlier.
I have some photos and will try and find them.

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