From The Archive: Teesside, December 1986

by Mark Pinder

These date from 1986 and are of an unemployed man scavenging for scrap in the heavily polluted post industrial wasteland at Thornaby on Tees that Margaret Thatcher was to make iconic with her ‘Walk In The Wilderness‘ nine months later in September 1987.

Speaking to him, he told me how despoiled the land here was with heavy metals, toxins and chemicals from the areas previous industrial activities. Asking whether the threat to his health concerned him, he just shrugged and said, it was probably a bit late to worry about that now.

Twenty five years on, in March this year, I spent a day with the Guardian’s assistant editor Michael White who was writing a pre budget piece on prospects for Teesside and Middlesbrough, a town which had been singled out as probably the most vulnerable place in Britain to the effects of public sector cuts. I took this photo of Michael parodying Thatchers stroll on another piece of post industrial land, the old ‘Ironmasters’ site adjacent to the Tees, also earmarked for future redevelopment.