North Tyneside Council is calling on residents to be part of history by helping to name a vibrant new public square in North Shields.
As part of the Ambition for North Shields and Fish Quay masterplan, work is taking shape on a new Transport Hub and Public Square on Bedford Street, which is set to transform the heart of the town.
The hub will be a modern top-tier facility that brings public transport options together into the centre of town, while the square will combine landscaping, seating, planting, and artwork to provide a vibrant gateway and event space.
The council now invites the public to vote on a new name for the square from a shortlist of four significant local figures: Ellen Lee, the heroic ARP warden who saved more than 30 lives during a wartime raid on George Street; Thomas Brown, the George Medal winner who retrieved the Enigma codes at sea; Charles Minto, the champion boxer and civil rights activist; and Mary Ann Macham, the abolitionist who settled in North Shields.
The work will be aligned to a programme of public art which aims to fuel the council’s cultural ambitions for the town. Five new public artworks including a Thomas Brown memorial and Mary Ann Macham sculpture will be unveiled later this year.
Carl Johnson, Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside, and Cabinet Member for Regeneration said: “The Transport Hub and town square is set to become a modern facility that brings various public transport options together in one place, making it easier for people to choose cleaner, greener forms of transport.
“Adding to the community feel of this redevelopment, the town square will serve as a dynamic new gathering place, accommodating a variety of events and leisure activities and transforming the look and feel of North Shields town centre.
“We decided to open the naming process to a public vote and have chosen four significant individuals from North Shields' rich history. This aims to pay homage to those people, highlighting their contributions and inspiring the community, while at the same time breathing new life into an important space in the town.
“We invite anyone who lives, works, or visits in North Shields to take part and have their voices heard. Your decision will shape the identity of our vibrant new town square for generations to come.”
The names for consideration:
Ellen Lee Square: Mrs Ellen Lee saved more than 30 lives after the devastating bombing of Wilkinson's Factory in May 1941. A blue plaque was recently unveiled near the former factory, honouring her selflessness and heroism.
Thomas Brown Square: Thomas Brown GM, a local hero, rescued the Enigma codes, which significantly contributed to hastening the end of World War II. The Thomas Brown Room at The Exchange 1856 pays tribute to his gallantry, and plans are underway for a public memorial as part of the North Shields Public Artworks program.
Mary Ann Macham Square: Mary Ann Macham escaped slavery in Virginia, settled in North Shields, and became a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement. A sculpture is slated to be unveiled at the Embankment Walkway as part of the North Shields Public Artworks program, honouring her remarkable legacy.
Charles Minto Square: A boxing champion from Nigeria, Charles Minto arrived in North Shields in the 1920s and founded the International Coloured Mutual Aid Association, assisting ethnic minority families in the town. Plans are being developed to install a blue plaque at the former hostel site during Black History Month in October, highlighting his impact on the community.
The poll will run for three weeks and close on August 25. The name with the most votes will be formally adopted and a naming ceremony will be held in the square.