A rare opportunity for a night-time guided tour of Teesside’s chemical and process industries was enjoyed by dozens as part of the annual Discover Middlesbrough Festival.

Teesside chemical company SABIC sponsored the tour of Wilton’s Industry at Night, with the general public invited on a behind-the-scenes coach trip around the Wilton International site.

Visitors got a close-up opportunity to see the dramatic industrial skyline that inspired Teesside-born director Ridley Scott’s opening to classic sci-fi film Blade Runner.

The tour took in SABIC’s iconic Olefins 6 ‘Cracker’, a plant described as the cornerstone of Teesside’s industry.

Now nearly four decades old, the plant recently underwent a successful multi-million pound overhaul – the largest single investment in Teesside’s chemical industry in a generation – safeguarding thousands of local jobs.

The tour, which was led by Sembcorp Utilities UK’s Terry Waldron and SABIC’s Steve Jones, also took in the Saudi company LDPE plant, Sembcorp’s Biomass Power Station, the Wilton 11 energy-from-waste plant operated by Suez, the Huntsman-owned Aniline plant and many of the site’s other features including its extensive pipeline infrastructure.

Claire Wordsworth, SABIC’s senior communications business partner, said: “It was the second year running that SABIC have hosted these tours, and both times it has been a sell-out. 

“More than 100 people of all ages enjoyed this year’s tour, some coming from as far away as Harrogate for the evening. There is obviously a real appetite to learn more about our local industry and its importance to both the Teesside and overall UK economy.

“As a key employer in the region we feel it’s extremely important to engage with our local community and stakeholders in this way to provide an insight into what we actually do.

“We’re very grateful to Sembcorp for assisting with the nighttime visits. Given the fantastic feedback we’ve received, we look forward to undertaking them again next year too.”

Sembcorp provides secure and reliable utilities and services to customers on the 2,000-acre site including electrical power, steam and water, and also owns much of the available development land.

The past 18 months has seen a marked increase in the number of enquiries it has received from energy-intensive processing firms and their supply chain partners

Spokesman Terry Waldron said: “It was a pleasure to host the visit. The Wilton International site at night has a beauty of its own and our visitors were quick to recognise that with the energy, space and opportunities that are here we can play an important part in the overall economic regeneration of this area.”