THOUSANDS of people across Hartlepool witnessed history on Sunday with the demolition of the landmark Steetley chimney.
The 230ft structure, at the former chemical works site in Old Cemetery Road, was flattened just after 11am with fascinated onlookers clamouring for the best view.
Around 700 people watched the drama unfold from Old Cemetery Road and the beach at North Sands, while dozens of boats stopped in their tracks out at sea as the chimney came down.
The demolition, which lasted a matter of seconds, could be seen from miles around.
The prize of starting the blast was raffled in aid of Hartlepool & District Hospice and the RNLI, with more than £6,000 being raised.
And it was eight-year-old Jamie Brown who was given the task of pushing the button after his granddad Dave Fricker won the raffle.
Jamie, a pupil at Kingsley Primary School, in Taybrooke Avenue, said: “It was really exciting to be the one to push the button.
“It was interesting to see it come down and I can’t wait to tell my friends all about it.”
Dave, 47, a contract worker, added: “The atmosphere was brilliant and I was surprised to see so many people come down to watch.
“Jamie was really excited and I was pleased to give him the prize.”
There was a large exclusion zone in place at the foot of the chimney, which fell towards the sea after the explosives were detonated.
The crowd whooped and cheered as the famous landmark fell to the ground with a thud, causing a small cloud of dust.
It was demolished as part of ongoing work to clear the site.
The controversial site, plagued by arsonists and trespassers in recent years, is being cleared five years after the Hartlepool Mail launched a campaign to get the area made safe.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “This has been an historic occasion for Hartlepool.
“The fundraiser has really caught the imagination of people and it was great to see so many come down here and catch it first hand.
“Thankfully the weather held off and the chimney was demolished safely.”
Sirius North East has been contracted to clear the site by the land’s owners, Starford Holdings, and they oversaw the demolition work.
Phill Collings, remediation director for Sirius North East, said: “The demolition went to plan and we were very pleased with it.
“Work will now start to clear the rubble.”
* See Monday’s Mail for full coverage from the Steetley Chimney Blast.