Weekly City Spotlight: Newcastle Upon Tyne


Greys Monument

Newcastle Upon Tyne is located in the North East of England, in the county of Tyne and Wear.  With a rich heritage and historically part of Northumberland, visitors can learn more about the city’s history at the Great North Museum and the Discovery Centre, which is also home to collections including science, technology and maritime artefacts.  A visit to the Quayside offers a wealth of restaurants and bars, with the chance to stroll along the beautiful River Tyne and cross the Millennium Bridge.  With unique attractions such as the Victoria Tunnel running under the city, Newcastle is full of surprises and those looking for cultural experiences, or the opportunity for retail therapy, will find themselves spoilt for choice.

Historic Newcastle
Evidence of the Roman settlement Pons Aelius can still be found in Newcastle, with parts of Hadrian’s Wall located within the city.  Newcastle takes its name from the New Castle upon Tyne, which was built in the city and dates back to 1080.  The motte and bailey castle built by the son of William the Conqueror, Robert Curthose, would later be developed further with the addition of the Castle Keep and the Black Gate, both of which remain landmarks of the city.

Known for its extensive wool trade and its coal mining industry, Newcastle’s prime location ensured its success as a port, this was confirmed with the establishment of the largest shipbuilding and repair yards in the world.  The famous phrase “taking coals to Newcastle” goes back as far as 1538, and relates to a coal shipping monopoly enjoyed by Newcastle following the issue of a Royal act which restricted shipment of coal from Tyneside. Newcastle was also recognised for its significance in the field of print, and for its flint glass production.

Newcastle’s success as a centre for industry continued and in the 19th century Newcastle played a key role during the industrial revolution, and proved a constant source of new invention.  1878 would the Physicist Joseph Swan demonstrate his incandescent light bulb for the first time in Newcastle, with his residence the first ever to be lit by light bulb.  Stephenson’s Rocket was built in the city, at the Robert Stephenson and Company works in 1829, the most advanced locomotive of its kind with pioneering design which would form the basis of future steam engine production.

The city of Newcastle is also known for its sport, with St James’ Park the famous home of Newcastle United FC.  The city is also home of the Great North Run which was started in 1981, with the annual half marathon the second largest in the world.  2013 saw an amazing 56,000 runners take part, including Mo Farah, the Olympic gold medallist, which take those participating in a route between Newcastle and South Shields.

Popular Culture
Newcastle Upon Tyne is a historic and cultural city, and has also been a focus in popular culture.

Films & TV
Stormy Monday (1988) – Starring Melanie Griffiths, Tommy Lee Jones and Sting, this thriller is set in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and takes its name from the blues song Call It Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker.

Get Carter (1971) – directed by Mike Hodges, Get Carter starred Michael Caine and Ian Hendry, with the gritty crime film shot extensively in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Highly successful, the film was an adaptation of Jack’s Return Home a novel by Ted Lewis.

School for Seduction (2004) – starring Kelly Brook and as Italian temptress, Tim Healy and Jake Canuso also appear in the film which is set in a school in Newcastle, where teaching the art of romance is the focus.

Another World is written by Pat Baker, with Somme veteran Geordie the main character in this novel.  At the age of 101, Geordie’s life is coming to an end, and he reflects on the horrors of war and ghosts of the past.

The Day of the Sardine, published in 1961 this novel by Sid Chaplin explores life in Newcastle in the 1960’s with Arthur Haggerston’s life the focus of book, and the challenges he faces as he moves into adulthood.

The Stars Look Down is a book by A J Cronin and dates back to 1935.  With coal mining communities located in Sleescale and Tynecastle (Newcastle), Cronin tells of those involved with the mines and the directions their lives took.

Social Media
Additional information on Newcastle Upon Tyne can be found on its official website NewcastleGateshead as well as its Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

Famous Faces
1st Baron Collingwood – was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 26 September 1748. The 1st Baron was a famous Admiral of the Royal Navy, and partnered Nelson in numerous British victories.  During the Battle of Trafalgar, the attack was led in 2 fleets, one headed by Nelson in Victory and the other by Collingwood in the Royal Sovereign.

Peter Higgs – Nobel Prize Laureate and British Physicist was born in Newcastle on 29 May 1929.  Higgs lends his name to the Higgs Boson and Higgs Mechanism, which explores the origin of mass subatomic particles.

Antony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – Ant and Dec were both born in Newcastle Upon Tyne and are famous for their work on shows such as I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and Britain’s Got Talent.  The duo starred in Byker Grover which led to their early career in music and they performed under the names of PJ and Duncan, their characters from the television show.



The Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge
The Tyne Bridge is a famous landmark of the North East, and stretches over the River Tyne to link Newcastle and Gateshead.  The bridge dates back to 1928 when King George V officially opened the bridge on the 10th October.

Greys Monument
Built in 1838, Greys Monument celebrates the life and work of Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, who was responsible for passing the Great Reform Act in 1832.  Located in Grey Street in the city, John and Benjamin Green were the architects responsible for the design of the column, with the statue the work of Edward Hodges Bailey, who interestingly also sculpted the statue of Nelson in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Bessie Surtees House
Located in Sandhill in Newcastle, the Bessie Surtees House is made up of 2 merchant’s houses which date back to the Jacobean period, and were originally called Surtees House and Milbank House.  Based on the Riverfront, and managed by English Heritage, admission is free for all to explore these striking historic buildings.

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