D-day looms for those in running for Blue Plaques

Dame Catherine Cookson
Dame Catherine Cookson

The first potential South Tyneside greats to be recognised under a new blue plaque scheme are set to be agreed next week.

South Tyneside Council is planning to put up at least one new blue plaque each year to celebrate and reflect the historical achievements of the borough’s individuals and structures.

South Tyneside memorial plaque.
Catherine Cookson, Mill Dam

South Tyneside memorial plaque. Catherine Cookson, Mill Dam

Cabinet members are now set to agree the first candidates to be honoured under the scheme from a list of nominees put forward by the public and then prioritised by the council’s Place Select Committee.

John Dagnia - who built Cleadon House in 1738 - and former Jarrow Mayor, councillor and organiser of the Jarrow Crusade, Joseph Bede Symonds, are among the candidates set to be agreed.

St Hilda’s Colliery Band, which won the brass band World Championships multiple times, is also set to be commemorated.

Coun Alan Kerr, deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, with responsibility for culture and leisure, said: “We have a rich and proud heritage in South Tyneside.

“Through this scheme we can honour those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the borough’s cultural, industrial or civic legacy. It also enables us to recognise the importance of buildings or structures which have played a valuable role in the history or development of the borough.”

The decision to develop a formal Blue Plaque Scheme came last year following a poor result for the borough in the Royal Society of Arts heritage index - in which blue plaques were a key part of the criteria.

The council has invited members of the public to nominate people and places for consideration for a blue plaque.

Coun Kerr added: “Implementing a blue plaque scheme is one way of improving South Tyneside’s heritage rating while also reminding residents and visitors of the wonderful people and places that have helped to shape the Borough’s rich history over the years.”

If the prioritised schemes are agreed at Cabinet, the first plaque is expected to be put in place in the coming months with the two others to follow in due course.

For a person to be deserving of a plaque they must have made a significant contribution to the cultural, industrial or civic legacy of South Tyneside or Britain. They must also have a strong link to South Tyneside and there must be an existing original site or building connected to them.

The Old Town Hall in South Shields Market Place, Catherine Cookson at Mill Dam and a memorial plaque to the Gallipoli campaign at Littlehaven are among the Borough’s existing blue plaques.

The decision will be taken at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.