Landmark In Hartlepool, County Durham
A 2,000 foot long pier built in the 1960's to pipe sea water for the magnesia treatment works.
Steetley Pier is just off the North Sands near Hartlepool and was built in the 1960's to pipe sea water for the magnesia treatment works.
I will start with some important history and science. Notwithstanding, there will be gossip at the end of this article!
The 24 acre site has an historic relevance. Steetley Pier gets its name from a small village in Nottinghamshire where The Steetley Lime and Building Stone Company produced 'high quality' stone of which it was purported that some was used in the construction of The Houses of Parliament (Completed in 1860). However, this is not good PR as pollution soon took its toll causing the stone to 'pit' in part, due to the burning of coal.
Dolomite (Not the car or the mountain range) mineral was mined at Steetley, Notts. For science buffs its chemical makeup is CaMg(CO3)2 and is anhydrous. The Dolomite produced Dolime which was used as a lining for steel furnaces. Business boomed and the company had 'dealings' with a large number of quarries throughout the UK, including County Durham.
However, Magnesia (Remember 'Milk of Magnesia' - we are not talking about that here though!) was now the favoured product for producing hard bricks for lining steel furnaces. Supply of Magnesite ore to produce the Magnesia was not readily available. Research was undertaken in 1937 at Steetley near Hartlepool.
A method was developed to produce Magnesia from Dolomite, using salty sea water. This Steetley was a good choice as in the area it had Dolomite deposits, coal for the kilns and steel works The port and rail provided good infrastructure. Also, the sea was of a high purity of brine and not contaminated by fresh water rivers.
As demand grew, Steetley Pier was built in the 1960's to pump salty sea water into large round water holding tanks. By reacting Dolomite with the salty sea water, magnesia was produced, Dah da!
Steetley became the biggest plant of this nature in the world. Business continued under a few different companies such as Steeley Magesia, Pallister Works and Redland Magnesia until the works closed in 2005 after a couple of takeovers, one can surmise due to the decline of the Steel industries.
This 2,000 foot long pier was not built for perambulation. The pier was probably made from pitch pine and like any wood or concrete it suffers from the effects of the sea. There is a fisherman's forum where someone suggests parts of the pier are being washed away and landed on a beach further along the coast.
Despite the decay, this did not stop people accessing it to walk on. Some liked to go fishing. One fisherman refers to how he would hide from the security guide, and then catch huge amounts of cod off the end of the pier . After it became redundant in 2005 a section was removed to stop people walking or fishing as there are holes which (in the dark) people can and did fall through!
Old photographs will show round water holding tanks which it is understood youngsters would go and swim in after the factory stopped production. To stop this, those responsible for the tanks (or the council?) then dumped them in the sea.
Other photographs show the 230ft chimney which was pulled down in 2012. There are also pictures of train carts full of the powdered Magnesia being transported from the site. An aerial view shows the “dogged legged” end of the Pier to a tank.
Now, (2022) the area has a wonderful sandy beach, with dunes, and a new housing estate.
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Place contributed by Rosalind Parker
Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.
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