11th October 2023

Memorial Garden In South Bank To Provide Permanent Tribute To Workers

A memorial is to be built in South Bank to provide a lasting tribute to workers who have tragically died on the former steelworks site.

The remembrance garden will offer a place of quiet reflection for loved ones while honouring those that have died in the 170 years of iron and steelmaking on Teesside.

The design of the memorial has been developed with the support and co-operation of the family of John Mackay, who died alongside colleague Tommy Williams in an incident during the demolition of South Bank Coke Ovens, in September 2019.

The landscaped garden will include a steel sculpture cut into the outline of the Teesside steelworks as a lasting reminder of the contribution made by workers.

Magi Mackay, sister of John Mackay, said: “Following the tragic death of my brother John Mackay, I have been in discussions with the site regarding a memorial for my brother and Tommy, including a bench or such like.

“Myself and John’s wife and son have been coming down for the last four years to commemorate my brother’s death.

“In doing so we have met other families and learned of the many tragic lives lost on this site over the years. I have felt strongly that they too should have somewhere to go and remember their loved ones.

“I think the site have come up with a beautiful tribute for those who have sadly lost their lives over the years. I know I will continue to travel down to commemorate my brother’s loss as long as I am able and will appreciate having this memorial to visit.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen: “Teesside steel was built on the shoulders of its workers but also was an industry which sadly also claimed the lives of people involved in it.

“While we work to provide a long-lasting future for the site, we must never forget what has gone before – and, in particular, those who were lost over the 170 years of industry on Teesside.

“This memorial will provide a lasting tribute to workers such as John Mackay and Tommy Williams, and a place for their families and loved ones to pay special remembrance.”

A Health and Safety Executive Investigation is continuing into the deaths of Mr Mackay and Mr Williams, who were contractors working on behalf of the South Tees Site Company.

At the time of the incident, the South Tees Site Company was a Government body responsible for the security and keeping safe of the former SSI site and wider area, wholly the responsibility of, and under the control of, then Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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