Hebburn environmental campaigner and councillor Jennie Shearan honoured with a Blue Plaque

A commemorative Blue Plaque honouring a Hebburn environmental campaigner has been unveiled.

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The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor John McCabe, has unveiled a Blue Plaque honouring environmental campaigner Eliza Jane 'Jennie' Shearan.

Jennie fought tirelessly over decades for clean air for the people of Hebburn when she led the Hebburn Residents’ Action Group and campaigned against pollution from Monkton Coke Works from 1980 to 2000. She was elected as Hebburn Councillor in 1977 and also became the first and only female Chairman of Tyne and Wear County Council in 1985.

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The Blue Plaque was unveiled at Hebburn Central on November 21 and will later be positioned at the home she lived in, on Melrose Avenue in Hebburn.

Councillor Audrey Huntley, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture, Leisure and the Visitor Economy, has expressed her delight in being able to honour Jennie with a Blue Plaque.

Jennie Shearan has been honoured with a Blue Plaque. Photo: Other 3rd Party.Jennie Shearan has been honoured with a Blue Plaque. Photo: Other 3rd Party.
Jennie Shearan has been honoured with a Blue Plaque. Photo: Other 3rd Party.

She said: “It’s wonderful to be celebrating Jennie Shearan’s achievements with a commemorative Blue Plaque.

“Jennie was a Hebburn councillor. She fought fearlessly for her local community, and through her decades of unwavering campaigning for environmental justice she galvanised the town and took on the big industry to bring about real change and cleaner air for local people.

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“The Blue Plaque honours a remarkable woman whose legacy lives on.

"It will also serve as a reminder of the incredible work she did to make life better for the people of Hebburn and beyond, and for the generations that would follow.”

Jennie was born in Hebburn in November 1922 and died at the age of 82 in 2005.

In 1953, she moved with her family to the newly built Monkton Lane estate, with residents assured that the nearby Monkton Coke Works would close down after a couple of years.

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However, the Coke Works continued to grow with the acrid smoke and soot produced having a negative affect on the health and quality of life of local residents.

As a result, Jennie formed the Hebburn Residents' Action Group in 1987 to empower the local community and highlight the health risks caused by air pollution.

Jennie's Blue Plaque is one of five that have been awarded across the North East a part of the Inspiring Pioneers Commemorative Plaque scheme.

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The scheme is a partnership between local councils, Newcastle University and The Common Room to highlight and celebrate pioneering women.

Lauren Dunbar, Programme and Engagement Manager at The Common Room, said: “At The Common Room we are extremely proud to be representing Jennie Shearan as part of our Inspiring Pioneers campaign, with Newcastle University.

“The Inspiring Pioneers project is installing five blue plaques across the five local Tyne and Wear authorities to bring women in STEM to the forefront of our history.

"Recognising these women for their achievements has been a real pleasure, alongside Jennie, we have Rachel and Katherine Parsons, Hope Winch, Dorothy Buchanan and Susan Mary Auld, all of whom were true trailblazers of their time.”