Help name Sunderland’s new public square

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson at the new city centre square construction site.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson at the new city centre square construction site.
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Have your say

HERE’S your chance to be a part of Wearside history.

Today we are inviting Echo readers to help decide a name for Sunderland’s new town square.

More than 2,000 people were polled on possible names for the new public space, created by the realignment of St Mary’s Boulevard, during July and August.

Variations of the word “keel” were far and away the most popular, reflecting Wearside’s maritime heritage and the “Keel Line”, an artwork that will run from the new square to the river – almost exactly the length of the longest ship ever built on the Wear, the 292-metre Nordic Crusader.

The square will also include new “friendship benches” featuring the cities with which Sunderland enjoys international friendship agreements – Essen in Germany, St Nazaire in France, Harbin in China, and Washington DC.

Now, Wearsiders are to get the final say, with four options up for consideration: Keel Yard; Keel Square; Keel Place or Keel Line.

One lucky person who votes for the winning option will be chosen at random to take part in the square’s opening ceremony.

City council leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: “We are now in the final stages of agreeing a name for our new square, so it’s excellent to see that so many people have given their views on what this important city centre asset will be called.

“We designed this space at the heart of the city centre to celebrate Sunderland’s shipbuilding past. I hope that people feel as great a sense of pride in it, as they do our heritage.

“I am positive this new square will come to define Sunderland and become a recognisable landmark, where people can meet to enjoy regional events, community celebrations or simply a get-together.

“Over time people will remember the occasions they spent in our city’s new square, with family and friends – and at that point it will have become a part of the fabric of Sunderland and a focal point we can be really proud of.”

Artist Stephen Broadbent is working with the council’s in-house landscape team: “I’m very encouraged by people’s response to the new square.

“That the shipbuilding concept came through in people’s suggestion and that so many people voted for the name Keel, tells me that they connect with the concept of laying ‘The Keel Line’ to build the ship, which is heartening.” Sunderland-born author and historian Terry Deary, author, historian and Sunderland Ambassador, said: “It’s brilliant to see Sunderland people involved in making such an important decision for the city.”

Echo editor John Szymanski, added: “It’s fantastic the people of Sunderland are able to help choose the name for what will be an iconic part of the city for many years to come.”

•Click here to cast your vote and enter the competition. Votes close at 4pm on Monday, September 29.