South Shields Town Hall treat for centenarian Phyllis Atkinson

100 year old Hebburn woman Phyllis Atkinson gets South Shields town hall tour for birthday

Phyllis Atkinson of Hebburn who was the guest of honour at South Shields Town Hall
Phyllis Atkinson of Hebburn who was the guest of honour at South Shields Town Hall

Centenarian Phyllis Atkinson has marked her 100th birthday by chalking off another ambition.

Mrs Atkinson received a birthday visit at her home in Hebburn by the Mayor of South Tyneside Ernest Gibson, who arrived with a gift of flowers.

During their conversation it emerged that Mrs Atkinson had never in all her years seen inside South Shields Town Hall.

The Mayor responded by inviting Mrs Atkinson and her family for a tour of the listed Edwardian building, which itself was 103 years old in October.

The Mayor and Mayoress Patricia Ridley greeted Mrs Atkinson, her daughter, Dorothy and Dorothy’s husband, George at the hall, with Hebburn South ward councillors Eddie McAtominey and Nancy Maxwell also in attendance.

The Mayor and Mayoress gave Mrs Atkinson a guided tour of the Town Hall and an insight into its heritage features.

They also looked through the many guest books containing signatures and pictures of famous visitors, including Muhammad Ali and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Coun Gibson said: “It was a wonderful occasion to welcome Mrs Atkinson and her family to the Town Hall.

“When we met on her birthday, we got talking about the Town Hall, and the fact that in all of the time living in the borough she had never seen inside the building. We soon put that right.

“I think it’s great how passionate Mrs Atkinson is about the place in which she lives and has brought up her family.

“It was fantastic and very interesting to swap stories and reminisce about times gone by in South Tyneside.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind people that the Town Hall is their Town Hall and that all they need to do is knock on the door or pick up the phone, if they want to have a tour.

“It is an amazing part of our local heritage and it should be admired and treasured by everyone.”

Mrs Atkinson is originally from Yorkshire and first moved to Jarrow as a young girl.

She later met her future husband, Bill, and they married in 1937 at St Paul’s Church in Jarrow.

The couple then moved to Hebburn, where Mrs Atkinson has lived in the same house ever since.

Her late husband worked as an electrical engineer at the Reyrolle works in Hebburn, only a stone’s throw from their home.

Mr and Mrs Atkinson had one daughter, Dorothy, followed by two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mrs Atkinson said of her visit to the Town Hall: “It was very kind of the Mayor and Mayoress to invite me to the Town Hall, as I’ve always wondered what it was like inside.

“I’ve walked past on many occasions down the years, but never got round to popping in. I found my visit extremely informative and shared a great deal of fond memories looking through the Town Hall’s archive.”

To arrange a tour of South Shields Town Hall, contact 0191 424 7311 or email julie.cuskin@southtyneside.gov.uk

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