Show tells the real-life story of Catherine Cookson

Catherine Cookson.
Catherine Cookson.

I have been asked by regular contributor Beatrice Mill to remind readers that there’s still time to catch the production of Tom & Catherine that is being staged at the Customs House, South Shields, this week.

The staging of the show, which runs until Saturday, helps celebrate the fact that it’s a quarter of a century since the Customs House became an arts and entertainment venue.

Towards the end of the 1914-18 war the dock gate was being towed off the mouth of the river Tyne when it broke loose and submerged at Trow Rocks.

Towards the end of the 1914-18 war the dock gate was being towed off the mouth of the river Tyne when it broke loose and submerged at Trow Rocks.

Beatrice said Tom & Catherine chronicles the life of bestselling author Catherine Cookson, who was born and lived in the Tyne Dock area of South Shields until she was 23-years-old, and her husband, Tom, from the time they first met until their deaths in 1998.

Ray Spencer MBE, executive director of the venue, said: “Over the past 25 years, the Customs House has had a number of shows that could be regarded as iconic.

“The poignant and heart-wrenching story of Tom and Catherine Cookson is one of them. Written by Tom Kelly and myself, with music by John Miles, it received a rapturous reception with rave reviews across the board in 1999 and we’re sure it will bring the house down once again when the South Shields Gilbert & Sullivan Society perform it.”

Meanwhile, other readers took to Facebook with their memories of the old Tyne dock gate that foundered off Trow Rocks when it was being towed to the mouth of the river, towards the end of the Great War – the storm-lashed remnants of which could be seen off South Shields coast for many years afterwards.

A poster for the Tom & Catherine show.

A poster for the Tom & Catherine show.

Rob Lawson said: “It was still prominent in the 1980s. I was born in 78 and remember it well,” while Scott Oliphant told how “bits of it are still there to be seen on a good low tide”.

Christopher Stonehouse commented: “Favoured spot that had some canny fish there,” and Michelle Dawson says: “I remember seeing this peeping out the water all the time as a kid and I was born in 74,” while Sylvia Besnard adds: “Can remember when remains still showed, but that was probably about 50s/60s.”