FOR more than 25 years, road signs have told drivers they’re about to enter the birthplace of novelist Dame Catherine Cookson.
But a number of the signs in South Tyneside have now been replaced with images of beach scenes, and the rest are set to go.
The move comes as council bosses seek to re-brand the borough as an ‘outstanding place to live, visit, learn and do business’.
A council spokesman said: “South Tyneside is well-known as the birthplace of Dame Catherine Cookson, and the ‘Cookson Country’ brand has served the borough well for more than 25 years.
“We are extremely proud of its success, but feel the time is right to consider new branding that reflects our desire to promote South Tyneside as an outstanding place to live, visit, learn and do business.”
An online vote in the Gazette revealed 60 per cent of readers agreed with the change, but do the people on the streets of South Shields feel the same?
Stephen Goodwin, 42, unemployed, of Biddick Hall, said: “It’s terrible.
“It was only last week that they were saying it made money for this town, and now they’re dropping it.
“What are they going to call it? Joe McElderry country or Little Mix country? That would be ridiculous.
“I didn’t like ‘Cookson Country’ when it first started, but it grew on me.”
Retired dock worker Alfred Lawson, of South Shields, isn’t a fan of the proposed change.
The 71-year-old said: “I like that it’s called Catherine Cookson Country – I don’t want it to change.
“It’s a shame that it’s going – she’s a good local person to highlight.”
Sheila Lawson, 43, an NHS admin worker, of West Park, said: “I think it was good that we had someone that referred to the past in South Tyneside.
“It was good to recognise the history of the area.
“I think if it has to change, they should do something to recognise the Roman heritage we have here.
“Even some people I work with in Gateshead don’t know that we have a Roman fort here. I think more should be done to highlight it.”
George Ramshaw, 72, a retired labourer, of Jarrow, said: “It’s a real shame. The town has made a lot of money out of her – it’s unfair to drop her all of a sudden.
“I think the borough might lose face and it’s a shame to lose the brand. I think it should stay the way it is.”
Tracey Luther, 54, unemployed, of Laygate, said: “It’s part of the heritage, and you’re not supposed to lose your heritage.
“Catherine Cookson brought a lot of tourism to South Shields – you think of Catherine Cookson and you think of South Shields.
“They shouldn’t change the name – it should always be named after her. I think people will always call it Cookson Country anyway.”
Retired turbine engineer Brian Irving, 67, of Fellgate, Jarrow, said: “I’m not happy about this at all.
“Why take something that doesn’t cost anything?
“She was really good for the borough – people know about her all over the world. I’ve been to South Africa and there’s shops full of her books.
“She brought a lot of tourism and really put South Shields on the map.
“It’s a real shame that the identity is being lost, and I think everyone in South Shields will feel the same.”