From heading up an iconic fashion brand to becoming a household name author, there’s plenty of women from South Tyneside who’ve excelled in their field.
To mark International Women’s Day, on March 8, 2022, we’ve rounded up some of the notable female figures linked to the borough, in no particular order.
1. Ellen Wilkinson, Jarrow MP
Ellen Wilkinson, or Red Ellen as she was known, was the MP who presented the Jarrow Crusaders’ petition to parliament. A passionate supporter of women's and workers rights, she used her position to drawn attention to the hardship people in the town were facing, including malnutrition. On November 4, 1936, she presented the 12,000-name Jarrow Crusade petition, delivered by the 200 men who had spent 26 days from October 5 walking the 282 miles from South Tyneside to Parliament and raised the closure of the shipyard and troubled steelworks during her speech. Photo: Shields Gazette
2. Dame Catherine Cookson, Author
A household name in Britain, who was beloved by her home town of South Shields, Dame Catherine Cookson is one of the top 20 most widely read British novelists with sales topping 100 million. Her books, which spawned a hugely-successful TV series too, are rooted in North East England and hark back to a bygone era. She has more than 103 titles written in her own name, or her pen names. The philanthropist funded many good causes with the proceeds of her books, including medical research, the arts and libraries. Photo: Shields Gazette
3. Dame Margaret Barbour, Businesswoman
Dame Margaret is linked to Shields through her hugely-successful Barbour fashion brand which has its headquarters in Simonside Industrial Estate. Together with her daughter, Helen Barbour, she is a huge champion for women and in 1999 they set up the Women's Fund to encourage and support women within Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to develop their full potential. It's among many charitable organisations they support while heading up one of Britain's most well-known fashion brands. Photo: Library photo
4. Elinor Brent-Dyer, Author
Elinor M Brent-Dyer, who is best known for her Chalet School series of books, was born in South Shields on April 6, 1894, and educated in Westoe Village between 1906 and 1912. A blue plaque now adorns the wall of the former St Nicholas School which was run by the Stewarts. Her first book, Gerry Goes to School, was published in 1922 and became the first of the La Rochelle series. She was inspired to write the Chalet School series after holidaying in the Austrian Tyrol at Pertisau-am-Achensee. The first book in the series, The School at the Chalet, was published in 1923 and it went on to become a hugely-successful book series, beloved by its readers. Photo: Library photo