Catherine Cookson-loving Texas couple make pilgrimage to South Shields as part of golden wedding celebrations

Texan couple Jane and Jack Reynolds visit South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.
Texan couple Jane and Jack Reynolds visit South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.

A couple from Texas celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary with a whirlwind visit to the birthplace of one of South Tyneside’s most famous daughters.

Jane Reynolds has been a life-long fan of the author Dame Catherine Cookson.

Texan couple Jane and Jack Reynolds visit South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, with assistant keeper Dominique Bell.

Texan couple Jane and Jack Reynolds visit South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, with assistant keeper Dominique Bell.

The English teacher has been in awe of the writer since she began reading her books - inspired by her talent to capture her readers imagination and transport them back in time.

To celebrate 50 years of marriage, Jane, 72, and her husband Jack, 73, embarked on a Golden Wedding anniversary tour which included a visit to Ireland and Scotland where Jane’s ancestors lived.

But it was the trip to South Shields yesterday which became the highlight of their tour.

Jane said: “It was the description within her work which really captured me. The images she created of the area, you couldn’t believe how poor and desperate some of the people were.

To have the chance to come here - it’s has been fantastic

Jane Reynolds

“The images she created in your mind are so vivid.

“When I found out how close we were to where she lived on our visit to the North East, I just had to come and see the place.

“I have read a lot of her books - not all of them. But my favourite is the 15 Streets.

“We have been to England three or four times now, but never to the North East. So to have the chance to come here - it’s has been fantastic.”

Dame Catherine Cookson

Dame Catherine Cookson

The couple were taken on a tour of South Shields Museum where they were able to talk to staff about the author who penned countless novels inspired by her deprived youth in South Tyneside.

The visit was organised by friend Eileen Regan who also took them to some of the streets that still exist associated with the famous author. She said: “We have been friends for 17 years as Jack worked with my husband Tony in Bulgaria.

“When we went our separate ways, emails were just starting so we managed to stay in touch.

“This year is their Golden wedding anniversary, so when they said they were coming over, I thought it would be nice to take them to some of the places Catherine Cookson wrote about in her books as I know Jane is a huge fan of her work.

“I’ve never been the museum myself in all the years I have lived in the North East, so I’m finding it all fascinating too.”

Catherine Cookson died on June 11, 1998 aged 91.

She remained the most borrowed author from public libraries in the UK for 17 years, until she lost the title in 2002 to author Jacqueline Wilson.