In 1987, at the peak of her premiership, Margaret Thatcher visited Thornaby to launch the Teesside Development Corporation - striding resolutely through the weeds and rubble of derelict industrial sites that lined the river. It proved a defining image of Teesside’s renewal. Now, 25 years later, major projects like the Barrage embody the ongoing transformation taking place along the banks of the Tees.
The Tees Barrage opened in 1995 and was designed to control the flow of the river, managing tidal changes and preventing flooding. This made way for the regeneration of the surrounding land and changed the development potential of the whole area. It took four years and 650 tonnes of steel to build.
In November 2001, the £1.5m River Tees Watersports Centre opened next to the Barrage. It now incorporates two artificial White Water Courses for Kayaking and Rafting. The four recently installed Archimedes screws pump water around the centre, cutting electricity use and also generating energy to create the United Kingdom’s first fully sustainable course. The Queen officially opened the new Olympic-standard facility in July 2012.