TIME is running out to stake your claim to be part of Wearside history.
Echo readers have less than a week left to help decide a name for Sunderland’s new town square – and win a role in the naming ceremony.
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.
Wearsiders are to get the final say, with four options up for consideration – Keel Yard, Keel Square, Keel Place or Keel Line.
Keel Square is leading at the moment, but with voting not closing until 4pm on Monday, there is plenty of time for that to change.
One person who votes for the winning option will be picked at random to feature in the 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,” he said.
“That the shipbuilding concept came through in people’s suggestions 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.”