WHAT’S in a name? Quite a lot if it happens to be the name of a much-vaunted new building at the heart of Hebburn.
There is a lot riding on the £12.8m Hebburn Central complex, that being the name given to the town’s long-awaited hub building.
The two-storey hub will include a six-lane swimming pool, learner pool, fitness suite, sports hall, dance studio, soft-play area, library, learning centre and cafe, as well as meeting rooms and a customer service centre.
And the hope is that, besides being a valuable community asset, the complex will help kick-start the town’s economic rebirth and revitalise the run-down town centre beside it.
The hub is expected to be ready to open in late spring, and this week it was announced that it will be called Hebburn Central, reflecting its position at the heart of the town.
The new building will play a central role in residents’ lives, as a meeting point and a place where they can access several services under one roof.
Now the name of the new complex has been decided, we headed to Hebburn shopping centre to find out what townsfolk think of the choice. Their reaction proved to be mixed.
Christine Black, 63, of Barnard Crescent, Hebburn, isn’t convinced. She said: “It’s a bit vague, isn’t it?
“By the sound of it, it could be a bus station or a train station.
“People in the town know what it is, but what about visitors?
“I would have kept it simple, something like Hebburn Leisure Centre. It does what it says on the tin.”
Her husband, retired welder Sidney Black, 68, agreed, saying: “I’ve lived in Hebburn all my life, and Hebburn Central doesn’t quite work for me.”
There was a more positive response from retired tank-diver John Hallway, 83, of Verdon Avenue, Hebburn.
He said: “It’s a nice name. I like the sound of it, and I think it strikes the right balance. I will be checking it out when it opens, and I hope to go swimming there. It looks like a good asset for the town.”
For a shopkeeper’s perspective, we asked Lawrence Lowden, 54, who runs LMS News in the town’s St James Mall.
He said: “We were originally told that the people of Hebburn would have a choice in the name of the hub, but we weren’t consulted.
“We have been left out of the loop again. The first we heard about the name was on Facebook.
“They closed off one end of the centre, which has blocked access from the flats, resulting in a loss of footfall.
“We have a flower shop closing this weekend after 20 years, but at least we’re getting a new bookies, as if we need that.
“We’re basically trying to survive until the hub opens and hoping things will change then. It’s a bit of a waiting game.”
Bus driver Gareth White, 43, of Leslie Avenue, Hebburn, said: “I’m glad they didn’t name it after Leslie’s shipyard or the Palmer shipyard, despite the street I live in.
“I don’t think we should dwell on the past, but look to the future instead, and I think the name is fine in that respect. It’s a good choice and nice and simple.”
Shopper Colin Tones, 49, raised in Witty Avenue in Hebburn but now living in Washington, agreed.
He said: “Although I live at Springwell Village now, I still like to come back to Hebburn to have a look around quite often.
“I know people knock it, but I think the hub will be great for the town. I’ll be going along to use the internet there.
“Hebburn Central sounds just fine.”