Newcastle upon Tyne facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle, The Toon
Latin: Fortiter Defendit Triumphans
("Triumphing by brave defence")
Location of Newcastle upon Tyne in England
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Administrative County||Tyne and Wear|
|Town charter||Henry II|
|Status||City and metropolitan borough|
|• City||44 sq mi (114 km2)|
|• City||(Ranked )|
|• Urban||879,996 (Tyneside) (Ranked 7th)|
|• Metro||1,650,000 (Tyne and Wear City Region) (Ranked 6th)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (BST)|
|ONS code||00CJ (ONS)
|GDP||US$ 44.6 billion|
|GDP per capita||US$29,978|
Newcastle upon Tyne commonly known as Newcastle, is a city in Tyne and Wear, North East England, 103 miles (166 km) south of Edinburgh and 277 miles (446 km) north of London on the northern bank of the River Tyne, 8.5 mi (13.7 km) from the North Sea. Newcastle is the most populous city in the North East and forms the core of the Tyneside conurbation, the eighth most populous urban area in the United Kingdom. Newcastle is a member of the English Core Cities Group and is a member of the Eurocities network of European cities. Newcastle was part of the county of Northumberland until 1400, when it became a county of itself, a status it retained until becoming part of Tyne and Wear in 1974. The regional nickname and dialect for people from Newcastle and the surrounding area is Geordie. Newcastle also houses Newcastle University, a member of the Russell Group, as well as Northumbria University.
The city developed around the Roman settlement Pons Aelius and was named after the castle built in 1080 by Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son. The city grew as an important centre for the wool trade in the 14th century, and later became a major coal mining area. The port developed in the 16th century and, along with the shipyards lower down the River Tyne, was amongst the world's largest shipbuilding and ship-repairing centres. Newcastle's economy includes corporate headquarters, learning, digital technology, retail, tourism and cultural centres, from which the city contributes £13 billion towards the United Kingdom's GVA. Among its icons are Newcastle United football club and the Tyne Bridge. Since 1981 the city has hosted the Great North Run, a half marathon which attracts over 57,000 runners each year.
- Religious sites
- International relations
- Images for kids
The first recorded settlement in what is now Newcastle was Pons Aelius, a Roman fort and bridge across the River Tyne. It was given the family name of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who founded it in the 2nd century AD. This rare honour suggests Hadrian may have visited the site and instituted the bridge on his tour of Britain. Pons Aelius' population at this period was estimated at 2,000. Fragments of Hadrian's Wall are visible in parts of Newcastle, particularly along the West Road. The course of the "Roman Wall" can be traced eastwards to the Segedunum Roman fort in Wallsend—the "wall's end"—and to the supply fort Arbeia in South Shields. The extent of Hadrian's Wall was 73 miles (117 km), spanning the width of Britain; the Wall incorporated the Vallum, a large rearward ditch with parallel mounds, and was built primarily for defence, to prevent unwanted immigration and the incursion of Pictish tribes from the north, not as a fighting line for a major invasion.
Anglo-Saxon and Norman
Conflicts with the Danes in 876 left the river Tyne and its settlements in ruin. After the conflicts with the Danes, and following the 1088 rebellion against the Normans, Monkchester was all but destroyed by Odo of Bayeux.
Because of its strategic position, Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror, erected a wooden castle there in the year 1080. The town was henceforth known as Novum Castellum or New Castle. The wooden structure was replaced by a stone castle in 1087. The castle was rebuilt again in 1172 during the reign of Henry II. Much of the keep which can be seen in the city today dates from this period.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Newcastle was England's northern fortress. Incorporated first by Henry II, the city had a new charter granted by Elizabeth in 1589. A 25-foot (7.6 m) high stone wall was built around the town in the 13th century, to defend it from invaders during the Border war against Scotland. The Scots king William the Lion was imprisoned in Newcastle in 1174, and Edward I brought the Stone of Scone and William Wallace south through the town. Newcastle was successfully defended against the Scots three times during the 14th century, and was created a county corporate with its own sheriff by Henry IV in 1400.
16th to 19th centuries
From 1530, a royal act restricted all shipments of coal from Tyneside to Newcastle Quayside, giving a monopoly in the coal trade to a cartel of Newcastle burgesses known as the Hostmen. This monopoly, which lasted for a considerable time, helped Newcastle prosper and develop into a major town. The phrase taking coals to Newcastle was first recorded contextually in 1538. The phrase itself means a pointless pursuit. In the 18th century, the American entrepreneur Timothy Dexter, regarded as an eccentric, defied this idiom. He was persuaded to sail a shipment of coal to Newcastle by merchants plotting to ruin him; however his shipment arrived on the Tyne during a strike that had crippled local production; unexpectedly he made a considerable profit.
In the Sandgate area, to the east of the city, and beside the river, resided the close-knit community of keelmen and their families. They were so called because they worked on the keels, boats that were used to transfer coal from the river banks to the waiting colliers, for export to London and elsewhere. In the 1630s, about 7,000 out of 20,000 inhabitants of Newcastle died of plague, more than one-third of the population. Specifically within the year 1636, it is roughly estimated with evidence held by the Society of Antiquaries that 47% of the then population of Newcastle died from the epidemic; this may also have been the most devastating loss in any British City in this period.
During the English Civil War, the North declared for the King. In a bid to gain Newcastle and the Tyne, Cromwell's allies, the Scots, captured the town of Newburn. In 1644, the Scots then captured the reinforced fortification on the Lawe in South Shields following a siege. and the city was besieged for many months. It was eventually stormed ("with roaring drummes") and sacked by Cromwell's allies. The grateful King bestowed the motto "Fortiter Defendit Triumphans" ("Triumphing by a brave defence") upon the town. Charles I was imprisoned in Newcastle by the Scots in 1646–7.
In the 18th century, Newcastle was the country's fourth largest print centre after London, Oxford and Cambridge, and the Literary and Philosophical Society of 1793, with its erudite debates and large stock of books in several languages, predated the London Library by half a century. Newcastle also became a glass producer with a reputation for brilliant flint glass.
A permanent military presence was established in the city with the completion of Fenham Barracks in 1806.
The Great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead was a tragic and spectacular series of events starting on Friday 6 October 1854, in which a substantial amount of property in the two North East of England towns was destroyed in a series of fires and an explosion which killed 53 and injured hundreds.
The status of city was granted to Newcastle on 3 June 1882. In the 19th century, shipbuilding and heavy engineering were central to the city's prosperity; and the city was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution. This revolution resulted in the urbanisation of the city. In 1817 the Maling company, at one time the largest pottery company in the world, moved to the city. The Victorian industrial revolution brought industrial structures that included the 2 1⁄2-mile (4.0 km) Victoria Tunnelling, built in 1842, which provided underground wagon ways to the staithes. On 3 February 1879, Mosley Street in the city, was the first public road in the world to be lit up by the incandescent lightbulb. Newcastle was one of the first cities in the world to be lit up by electric lighting. Innovations in Newcastle and surrounding areas included the development of safety lamps, Stephenson's Rocket, Lord Armstrong's artillery, Be-Ro flour, Joseph Swan's electric light bulbs, and Charles Parsons' invention of the steam turbine, which led to the revolution of marine propulsion and the production of cheap electricity. In 1882, Newcastle became the seat of an Anglican diocese, with St. Nicholas' Church becoming its cathedral.
20th and 21st centuries
Newcastle's public transport system was modernised in 1901 when Newcastle Corporation Tramways electric trams were introduced to the city's streets, though these were replaced gradually by trolley buses from 1935, with the tram service finally coming to an end in 1950.
The city acquired its first art gallery, the Laing Art Gallery in 1904, so named after its founder Alexander Laing, a Scottish wine and spirit merchant who wanted to give something back to the city in which he had made his fortune. Another art gallery, the Hatton Gallery (now part of Newcastle University), opened in 1925.
With the advent of the motor car, Newcastle's road network was improved in the early part of the 20th century, beginning with the opening of the Redheugh road bridge in 1901 and the Tyne Bridge in 1928.
Efforts to preserve the city's historic past were evident as long ago as 1934, when the Museum of Science and Industry opened, as did the John G Joicey Museum in the same year.
Council housing began to replace inner city slums in the 1920s, and the process continued into the 1970s, along with substantial private house building and acquisitions.
Unemployment hit record heights in Newcastle during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The city's last coal pit closed in 1956. The slow demise of the shipyards on the banks of the River Tyne happened in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
During the Second World War the city and surrounding area were a target for air raids as heavy industry was involved in the production of ships and armaments. The raids caused 141 deaths and 587 injuries. A former French consul in Newcastle called Jacques Serre assisted the German war effort by describing important targets in the region to Admiral Raedar who was the head of the German Navy.
The public sector in Newcastle began to expand in the 1960s. The federal structure of the University of Durham was dissolved. That university's colleges in Newcastle, which had been known as King's College, became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (now known as Newcastle University), which was founded in 1963, followed by a Newcastle Polytechnic in 1969; the latter received university status in 1992 and became the Northumbria University.
Further efforts to preserve the city's historic past continued in the later 20th century, with the opening of Newcastle Military Vehicle Museum in 1983 and Stephenson Railway Museum in 1986. The Military Vehicle museum closed in 2006. New developments at the turn of the 21st century included the Life Science Centre in 2000 and Millennium Bridge in 2001.
Based at St James' Park since 1886, Newcastle United FC became Football League members in 1893. They have won four top division titles (the first in 1905 and the most recent in 1927), six FA Cups (the first in 1910 and the most recent in 1955) and the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969. They broke the world transfer record in 1996 by paying £15 million for Blackburn Rovers and England striker Alan Shearer, one of the most prolific goalscorers of that era.
Newcastle is situated in the North East of England, in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear and the historical and traditional county of Northumberland. The city is located on the northwestern bank of the River Tyne at a latitude of 54.974° N and a longitude of 1.614° W. It is 46 miles from the Scottish border, south of Southdean.
The ground beneath the city is formed from Carboniferous strata of the Middle Pennine Coal Measures Group—a suite of sandstones, mudstones and coal seams which generally dip moderately eastwards. To the west of the city are the Upper Pennine Coal Measures and further west again the sandstones and mudstones of the Stainmore Formation, the local equivalent of the Millstone Grit.
In large parts, Newcastle still retains a medieval street layout. Narrow alleys or 'chares', most of which can only be traversed by foot, still exist in abundance, particularly around the riverside. Stairs from the riverside to higher parts of the city centre and the extant Castle Keep, originally recorded in the 14th century, remain intact in places. Close, Sandhill and Quayside contain modern buildings as well as structures dating from the 15th–18th centuries, including Bessie Surtees House, the Cooperage and Lloyds Quayside Bars, Derwentwater House and House of Tides, a restaurant situated at a Grade I-listed 16th century merchant's house at 28–30 Close.
The city has an extensive neoclassical centre referred to as Tyneside Classical largely developed in the 1830s by Richard Grainger and John Dobson, and recently extensively restored. Broadcaster and writer Stuart Maconie described Newcastle as England's best-looking city and the German-born British scholar of architecture, Nikolaus Pevsner, describes Grey Street as one of the finest streets in England. The street curves down from Grey's Monument towards the valley of the River Tyne and was voted England's finest street in 2005 in a survey of BBC Radio 4 listeners. In the Google Street View awards of 2010, Grey Street came 3rd in the British picturesque category. Osborne Road came 4th in the foodie street category. A portion of Grainger Town was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Eldon Square Shopping Centre, including all but one side of the original Eldon Square itself.
Immediately to the northwest of the city centre is Leazes Park, established in 1873 after a petition by 3,000 working men of the city for "ready access to some open ground for the purpose of health and recreation". Just outside one corner of this is St James' Park, the stadium home of Newcastle United F.C. which dominates the view of the city from all directions.
Another green space in Newcastle is the Town Moor, lying immediately north of the city centre. It is larger than London's famous Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath put together and the freemen of the city have the right to graze cattle on it. The right incidentally extends to the pitch of St. James' Park, Newcastle United Football Club's ground, though this is not exercised, although the Freemen do collect rent for the loss of privilege. Honorary freemen include Bob Geldof, King Harald V of Norway, Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer, the late Nelson Mandela and the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Hoppings funfair, said to be the largest travelling funfair in Europe, is held here annually in June.
In the south eastern corner is Exhibition Park, which contains the only remaining pavilion from the North East Coast Exhibition of 1929. From 1970s until 2006 this housed the Newcastle Military Vehicle Museum; which closed in 2006. The pavilion is now being used as a microbrewery and concert venue for Wylam Brewery.
The wooded gorge of the Ouseburn in the east of the city is known as Jesmond Dene and forms another popular recreation area, linked by Armstrong Park and Heaton Park to the Ouseburn Valley, where the river finally reaches the River Tyne.
The spring time dawn chorus at 55 degrees latitude has been described as one of the best in the world. The dawn chorus of the Jesmond Dene green space, has been professionally recorded and has been used in various workplace and hospital rehabilitation facilities.
- Architecture of suburbs
Newcastle's thriving Chinatown lies in the north-west of Grainger Town, centred on Stowell Street. A new Chinese arch, or paifang, providing a landmark entrance, was handed over to the city with a ceremony in 2005.
The UK's first biotechnology village, the Centre for Life is located in the city centre close to the Central railway station. The village is the first step in the City Council's plans to transform Newcastle into a science city.
Quayside and bridges on the Tyne
The Tyne Gorge, between Newcastle on the north bank and Gateshead—a separate town and borough—on the south bank, is known for a series of dramatic bridges, including the Tyne Bridge of 1928 which was built by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough, Robert Stephenson's High Level Bridge of 1849, the first road/rail bridge in the world, and the Swing Bridge of 1876.
Large-scale regeneration has replaced former shipping premises with imposing new office developments; an innovative tilting bridge, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge was commissioned by Gateshead Council and has integrated the older Newcastle Quayside more closely with major cultural developments in Gateshead, including the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, the venue for the Turner Prize 2011 and the Norman Foster-designed The Sage Gateshead music centre. The Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides are now a thriving, cosmopolitan area with bars, restaurants and public spaces. As a tourist promotion, Newcastle and Gateshead have linked together under the banner "NewcastleGateshead", to spearhead the regeneration of the North-East. The River Tyne had the temporary Bambuco Bridge in 2008 for ten days; it was not made for walking, road or cycling, but was just a sculpture.
The historic heart of Newcastle is the Grainger Town area. Established on classical streets built by Richard Grainger, a builder and developer, between 1835 and 1842, some of Newcastle upon Tyne's finest buildings and streets lie within this area of the city centre including Grainger Market, Theatre Royal, Grey Street, Grainger Street and Clayton Street. These buildings are predominantly four stories high, with vertical dormers, domes, turrets and spikes. Richard Grainger was said to 'have found Newcastle of bricks and timber and left it in stone'. Of Grainger Town's 450 buildings, 244 are listed, of which 29 are grade I and 49 are grade II*.
Grey's Monument, which commemorates Prime Minister Earl Grey and his Reform Act of 1832, stands above Monument Metro Station and was designed and built by Edward Hodges Baily and Benjamin Green. Hodges, who also built Nelson's Column, designed and built the statue, and the monument plinth was designed and built by Benjamin Green.
The Grainger Market replaced an earlier market originally built in 1808 called the Butcher Market. The Grainger Market itself, was opened in 1835 and was Newcastle's first indoor market. At the time of its opening in 1835 it was said to be one of the largest and most beautiful markets in Europe. The opening was celebrated with a grand dinner attended by 2000 guests, and the Laing Art Gallery has a painting of this event. With the exception of the timber roof which was destroyed by a fire in 1901 and replaced by latticed-steel arches the Market is largely in its original condition. The Grainger Market architecture, like most in Grainger Town, which are either grade I or II listed, was listed grade I in 1954 by English Heritage.
The development of the city in the 1960s saw the demolition of part of Grainger Town as a prelude to the modernist rebuilding initiatives of T. Dan Smith, the leader of Newcastle City Council. A corruption scandal was uncovered involving Smith and John Poulson, a property developer from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, and both were imprisoned. Echoes of the scandal were revisited in the late 1990s in the BBC TV mini-series, Our Friends in the North.
Situated in the coldest region of England, the climate in Newcastle is a cold oceanic (Köppen Cfb) one. However, being in the rain shadow of the North Pennines, it is also among the driest cities in the UK. Temperature extremes recorded at Newcastle Weather Centre include 32.5 °C (90.5 °F) during August 1990 down to −12.6 °C (9.3 °F) during January 1982. In contrast to other British cities, Newcastle has colder winters and cooler summers. Newcastle upon Tyne is generally believed to be the coldest major city in England, and shares the same latitude as Copenhagen, Denmark and southern Sweden.
|Climate data for Newcastle Weather Centre 47m asl, 1961–1990,|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.4
|Average low °C (°F)||1.6
|Precipitation mm (inches)||63
|Source: World Meteorological Organisation|
The nearest weather station to provide sunshine statistics is at Durham, about 14 miles (23 km) south of Newcastle City Centre. Durham's inland, less urbanised setting results in night-time temperature data about 1 degree cooler than Newcastle proper throughout the year.
|Climate data for Newcastle (Met Office Durham)|
|Average high °C (°F)||6.6
|Average low °C (°F)||0.9
|Precipitation mm (inches)||52.3
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||11.4||9.3||9.7||9.5||9.2||9.7||9.0||9.6||9.3||11.3||12.3||11.7||122|
|Source: Met Office|
According to the UK Government's returned 2001 census information, the city of Newcastle had a population of 189,863, whereas the metropolitan borough of Newcastle had a population of around 259,000. Newcastle has a population of 282,442 according to the Office for National Statistics. The metropolitan boroughs of North Tyneside (population circa 201,000), South Tyneside (population circa 148,000) and Gateshead (population circa 201,000) are, along with Newcastle, all part of the Tyneside conurbation (population circa 880,000). The metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, which consists of the four aforementioned boroughs as well as the City of Sunderland (population circa 275,000), had a population of around 1,076,000 and the Tyne and Wear City Region which also includes North Durham, South East Northumberland and the Tyne Valley has a population of 1,650,000. Newcastle is also home to a large student population with Newcastle and Northumbria Universities in the local area. Areas with predominant student populations include Jesmond and Heaton.
According to the same statistics, the average age of people living in Newcastle is 37.8 (the national average being 38.6). Many people in the city have Scottish or Irish ancestors. There is a strong presence of Border Reiver surnames, such as Armstrong, Charlton, Elliot, Johnstone, Kerr, Hall, Nixon, Little and Robson. There are also small but significant Chinese, Jewish and Eastern European (Polish, Czech Roma) populations. There are also estimated to be between 500 and 2,000 Bolivians in Newcastle, forming up to 1% of the population—the largest such percentage of any UK city.
Like most cities, Newcastle has diverse cross sections and classes. The city is largely Christian at 70.6%; Muslims form 3.6%, and over 16% have no religion.
In 2011, 189,381 people lived in the unparished area of Newcastle upon Tyne but 280,177 people lived in the actual city and metropolitan borough. The unparished area excludes Newburn, Gosforth and the wards of Castle, Woolsington and Parklands and is made up of 17 wards from Walkergate in the east to Benwell and Scotswood in the west.
According to 2011 figures, the city's ethnic make-up is as follows:
- White British: 81.9%
- Asian: 7.3%
- White Other: 3.7%
- Black: 2.0%
- Chinese: 2.0%
- Mixed-race: 1.6%
- Other: 1.5%
The regional nickname for people from Newcastle and the surrounding area is Geordie. The Latin term Novocastrian, which can equally be applied to residents of any place called Newcastle, is also used for ex-pupils of the city's Royal Grammar School.
Year and current total population
The dialect of Newcastle is known as Geordie, and contains a large amount of vocabulary and distinctive words and pronunciations not used in other parts of the United Kingdom. The Geordie dialect has much of its origins in the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxon populations who migrated to and conquered much of England after the end of Roman Imperial rule. This language was the forerunner of Modern English; but while the dialects of other English regions have been heavily altered by the influences of other foreign languages—particularly Latin and Norman French—the Geordie dialect retains many elements of the old language. An example of this is the pronunciation of certain words: "dead", "cow", "house" and "strong" are pronounced "deed", "coo", "hoos" and "strang"—which is how they were pronounced in the Anglo-Saxon language. Other Geordie words with Anglo-Saxon origins include: "larn" (from the Anglo-Saxon "laeran", meaning "teach"), "burn" ("stream") and "gan" ("go").
"Bairn" and "hyem", meaning "child" and "home", respectively, are examples of Geordie words with origins in Scandinavia; barn and hjem are the corresponding modern Norwegian and Danish words. Some words used in the Geordie dialect are used elsewhere in the Northern United Kingdom. The words "bonny" (meaning "pretty"), "howay" ("come on"), "stot" ("bounce") and "hadaway" ("go away" or "you're kidding"), all appear to be used in Scots; "aye" ("yes") and "nowt" (IPA://naʊt/, rhymes with out,"nothing") are used elsewhere in Northern England. Many words, however, appear to be used exclusively in Newcastle and the surrounding area, such as "Canny" (a versatile word meaning "good", "nice" or "very"), "hacky" ("dirty"), "netty" ("toilet"), "hoy" ("throw", from the Dutch gooien, via West Frisian), "hockle" ("spit").
The health of people in Newcastle upon Tyne is generally worse than the England average:
- Deprivation is higher than average and 16,670 children live in poverty.
- Life expectancy for both men and women is lower than the England average. Life expectancy is 14.3 years lower for men and 11.1 years lower for women in some of the most deprived areas of Newcastle upon Tyne than in certain least deprived areas
- From 2001 to 2011, as with all UK cities all-cause mortality rates have fallen, life expectancy has increased. Early death rates from cancer and from heart disease and stroke have fallen but remain worse than the English average.
- About 21.9% of Year 6 children are classified as obese. In 2014/5 35.9% of 10 to 11-year-olds were classified as overweight or obese, in comparison to a national average of 33.2%. 54.9% of pupils meet the recommendation of at least three hours each week on school sport. Levels of teenage pregnancy and GCSE attainment are worse than the England average.
- Estimated levels of adult 'healthy eating' and smoking are worse than the England average. Rates of smoking related deaths and hospital stays for alcohol-related harm are higher than average.
Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has one of the lowest mortality rates in the country and is ranked seventh in the country for confidence in doctors. Newcastle has two large teaching hospitals: the Royal Victoria Infirmary and the Freeman Hospital, which is also a pioneering centre for transplant surgery.
In a report, published in early February 2007 by the Ear Institute at the University College London, and Widex, a Danish hearing aid manufacturer, Newcastle was named as the noisiest city in the whole of the UK, with an average level of 80.4 decibels. The report claimed that these noise levels would have a negative long-term impact on the health of the city's residents. The report was rightly criticised, however, for attaching too much weight to readings at arbitrarily selected locations, which in Newcastle's case included a motorway underpass without pedestrian access. As well as numerous parks, open spaces, and extensive riverside areas, puzzlingly the report also overlooked the 1000 acre Town Moor at the heart of the city. Larger than London's Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath combined, and even larger than New York's Central Park the town moor dates back to the 12th century, with the land tenure and its use being regulated by an Act of Parliament.
Newcastle was in the top ten of the country's top night spots, and The Rough Guide to Britain placed Newcastle upon Tyne's nightlife as Great Britain's no. 1 tourist attraction. In the Tripadvisor Travellers' Choice Destination Awards for European Nightlife destinations, four of the UK's nightspots finished in the top 10; Newcastle was awarded 3rd Place behind London, and Berlin. Newcastle also came in seventh for the World category.
There are concentrations of pubs, bars and nightclubs around the Bigg Market and the Quayside area of the city centre. There are many bars on the Bigg Market, and other popular areas for nightlife are Collingwood Street, popularly referred to as the 'Diamond Strip' due to its concentration of high-end bars, Neville Street, the Central Station area and Osborne Road in the Jesmond area of the city. In recent years "The Gate" has opened in the city centre, a new indoor complex consisting of bars, upmarket clubs, restaurants and a 12-screen Empire multiplex cinema. Newcastle's gay scene – 'The Pink Triangle' – is centred on the Times Square area near the Centre for Life and has a range of bars, cafés and clubs.
The city has a wide variety of restaurants such as Italian, Indian, Persian, Japanese, Greek, Mexican, Spanish, American, Polish, Malaysian, French, Mongolian, Moroccan, Thai, Vietnamese and Lebanese. Newcastle is one of 7 cities in the UK that has a Chinese village with many Chinese restaurants on Stowell Street. There has also been a growth in premium restaurants in recent years with top chefs.
The city has a proud history of theatre. Stephen Kemble of the famous Kemble family successfully managed the original Theatre Royal, Newcastle for fifteen years (1791–1806). He brought members of his famous acting family such as Sarah Siddons and John Kemble out of London to Newcastle. Stephen Kemble guided the theatre through many celebrated seasons. The original Theatre Royal in Newcastle was opened on 21 January 1788 and was located on Mosley Street. It was demolished to make way for Grey Street, where its replacement was built.
The city still contains many theatres. The largest, the Theatre Royal on Grey Street, first opened in 1837, designed by John and Benjamin Green. It has hosted a season of performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company for over 25 years, as well as touring productions of West End musicals. The Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre hosts smaller touring productions, whilst other venues feature local talent. Northern Stage, formally known as the Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian Studio, hosts various local, national and international productions in addition to those produced by the Northern Stage company. Other theatres in the city include the Live Theatre, the People's Theatre and the Jubilee Theatre. NewcastleGateshead was voted in 2006 as the arts capital of the UK in a survey conducted by the Artsworld TV channel.
Literature and libraries
Newcastle has a strong reputation as a poetry centre. The Morden Tower, run by poet Tom Pickard, is a major venue for poetry readings in the North East, being the place where Basil Bunting gave the first reading of Briggflatts in 1965.
The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne (popularly known as the 'Lit & Phil') is the largest independent library outside London, housing more than 150,000 books. Its music library contains 8,000 CDs and 10,000 LPs. The current Lit and Phil premises were built in 1825 and the building was designed by John and Benjamin Green. Operating since 1793 and founded as a 'conversation club,' its lecture theatre was the first public building to be lit by electric light, during a lecture by Joseph Swan on 20 October 1880.
The old City library designed by Basil Spence, was demolished in 2006 and replaced. The new building opened on 21 June 2009 and was named after 18th century composer Charles Avison; the building was opened by Dr Herbert Loebl.
Festivals and fairs
In January or February, Newcastle's Chinatown is at the centre of a carnival of colour and noise as the city celebrates the Chinese New Year. In early March there is the NewcastleGateshead Comedy Festival. This event makes a return to the region since the last event in 2006. It is hoped it will now continue as an annual event. The Newcastle Science Festival, now called Newcastle ScienceFest, returns annually in early March.
The Newcastle Beer Festival, organised by CAMRA, takes place in April. Evolution Festival, a music festival that attracted tens of thousands of attendees, took place in May from 2002 until 2013 and was described as "the biggest festival Tyneside has ever staged". The biennial AV Festival of international electronic art, featuring exhibitions, concerts, conferences and film screenings, is held in March. The North East Art Expo, a festival of art and design from the regions professional artists, is held in late May. EAT! NewcastleGateshead, a festival of food and drink, runs for 2 weeks each year in mid June.
The Hoppings, reputedly the largest travelling fair in Europe, takes place on Newcastle Town Moor every June. The event has its origins in the Temperance Movement during the early 1880s, and coincides with the annual race week at High Gosforth Park. Newcastle Community Green Festival, which claims to be the UK's biggest free community environmental festival, also takes place every June, in Leazes Park. The Northern Rock Cyclone, a cycling festival, takes place within, or starting from, Newcastle in June. The Northern Pride Festival and Parade is held in Leazes Park and in the city's Gay Community in mid July. The Ouseburn Festival, a family oriented weekend festival near the city centre, incorporating a "Family Fun Day" and "Carnival Day", is held in late July.
Newcastle Mela, held on the late August Bank Holiday weekend, is an annual two-day multicultural event that blends drama, music and food from Punjabi, Pakistani, Bengali and Hindu cultures. NewcastleGateshead also holds an annual International Arts Fair. The 2009 event will be in the Norman Foster designed Sage Gateshead Music and Arts Centre in September. In October, there is the Design Event festival—an annual festival providing the public with an opportunity to see work by regional, national and international designers. The SAMA Festival, an East Asian cultural festival is also held in early October.
Newcastle's vernacular music was a mixture of Northumbrian folk music and nineteenth-century songs with dialect lyrics, by writers such as George "Geordie" Ridley, whose songs include one which became an unofficial Tyneside national anthem, Blaydon Races.
The 1960s saw the internationally successful rock group The Animals, emerge from Newcastle night spots such as Club A-Go-Go on Percy Street. Other well-known acts with connections to the city include Sting, Bryan Ferry, Dire Straits and more recently Maxïmo Park.
There is also a thriving underground music scene that encompasses a variety of styles, including drum and bass, doom metal and post-rock.
Lindisfarne are a folk-rock group with a strong Tyneside connection. Their most famous song, "Fog on the Tyne" (1971), was covered by Geordie ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne in 1990. Venom, reckoned by many to be the originators of black metal and extremely influential to the extreme metal scene as a whole, formed in Newcastle in 1979. Folk metal band Skyclad, often regarded as the first folk metal band, also formed in Newcastle after the break-up of Martin Walkyier thrash metal band, Sabbat. Andy Taylor, former lead guitarist of Duran Duran was born here in 1961. Brian Johnson was a member of local rock band Geordie before becoming the lead vocalist of AC/DC.
Newcastle is the home of Kitchenware Records (c. 1982), previously home to acclaimed bands such as Prefab Sprout, Martin Stephenson and the Daintees and The Fatima Mansions, the management of The Lighthouse Family and home to recent successes Editors and Sirens, as well as other bands of varied genres.
The 1990s boom in progressive house music saw the city's Global Underground record label publish mix CDs by the likes of Sasha, Paul Oakenfold, James Lavelle, and Danny Howells recording mix compilations. The label is still going strong today with offices in London and New York, and new releases from Deep Dish and Adam Freeland.
Newcastle's leading classical music ensemble is the Royal Northern Sinfonia, which was founded in 1958 and performed regularly at Newcastle City Hall until 2004. Nowadays it is based at The Sage, Gateshead.
ICMuS, Newcastle University's music department, has been a driving force for music in the region, producing innovative work, organising concerts and festivals, instigating the first degree programme in folk music in the British Isles, and engaging creatively with communities in the region.
The largest music venue in Newcastle is the 11,000-seat Metro Radio Arena, which opened in 1995 and hosts major pop and rock concerts. Newcastle City Hall is one of the oldest venues in the region and "attracts big names who are often legends of the past". Both of the city's universities have venues that mainly host indie and alternative bands.
On 14 October 2005 the 2,000 capacity O2 Academy Newcastle opened in the city centre. It had previously been a music venue in the 1960s, hosting concerts by The Beatles and The Who. The new venue was headlined by The Futureheads on the opening night and known as the Carling Academy for a number of years. Since opening the venue has hosted performances by major bands and solo musicians including Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Katy Perry, The Libertines, Blondie and Amy Winehouse.
The former Riverside music venue on Melbourne Street, open from 1985 until 1999, famously hosted Nirvana's first European show in 1989. The venue also welcomed Oasis, David Bowie and The Stone Roses and was named Best Regional Venue by NME in 1993. Riverside has also been the subject of a book, Riverside: Newcastle's Legendary Alternative Music Venue.
In 2016 open-air concerts will take place at Times Square for the first time, including performances from Maxïmo Park, Ocean Colour Scene and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
The small music venue Think Tank? was a nominee for Best Small Venue in NME in 2015. The Cluny in Ouseburn Valley is "one of the most important venues for breaking bands in the region". Trillians Rock Bar is well-noted for its rock and metal shows, and The Head of Steam is a 90-capacity basement venue described as "one of Newcastle's staple venues".
Apart from the city centre chain-cinema, the Empire multiplex, the city has its own independent cinema, the Tyneside Cinema. The Tyneside Cinema, on Pilgrim Street, originally opened as the 'Bijou News-Reel Cinema' in 1937, and was designed and built by Dixon Scott, great-uncle of film directors Ridley Scott and Tony Scott.
The Pilgrim Street building was refurbished between November 2006 and May 2008; during the refurbishment works, the cinema relocated to the Old Town Hall, Gateshead. In May 2008 the Tyneside Cinema reopened in the restored and refurbished original building. The site currently houses three cinemas, including the restored Classic —the United Kingdom's last surviving news cinema still in full-time operation—alongside two new screens, a roof extension containing the Tyneside Bar, and dedicated education and teaching suites.
Museums and galleries
There are several museums and galleries in Newcastle, including the Centre for Life with its Science Village; the Discovery Museum a museum highlighting life on Tyneside, including Tyneside's shipbuilding heritage, and inventions which changed the world; the Great North Museum; in 2009 the Newcastle on Tyne Museum of Antiquities merged with the Great North Museum (Hancock Museum); Seven Stories a museum dedicated to children's books, the Side Gallery historical and contemporary photography from around the world and Northern England and the Newburn Hall Motor Museum.
The Laing Art Gallery, like other art galleries and museums around the world, has collections digitised on the Google Cultural Institute, an initiative that makes important cultural material accessible online.
Newcastle International Airport is located approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) from the city centre on the northern outskirts of the city near Ponteland and is the larger of the two main airports serving the North East. It is connected to the city via the Metro Light Rail system and a journey into Newcastle city centre takes approximately 20 minutes. The airport handles over five million passengers per year, and is the tenth largest, and the fastest growing regional airport in the UK, expecting to reach 10 million passengers by 2016, and 15 million by 2030. As of 2007[update], over 90 destinations are available worldwide.
Newcastle railway station, also known as Newcastle Central Station, is a principal stop on the East Coast Main Line and Cross Country Route. Central Station is one of the busiest stations in Britain.
In 2014, work was completed on the stations historic entrance. Glazing was placed over the historic arches and the Victorian architecture was enhanced; transforming the 19th century public portico. The station is one of only six Grade One listed railway stations in the UK. Opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria, it was the first covered railway station in the world and was much copied across the UK. It has a neoclassical façade, originally designed by the architect John Dobson, and was constructed in collaboration with Robert Stephenson. The station sightlines towards the Castle Keep, whilst showcasing the curvature of the station's arched roof. The first services were operated by the North Eastern Railway company. The city's other mainline station, Manors, is to the east of the city centre.
Train operator Virgin Trains East Coast provides a half-hourly frequency of trains to London King's Cross, with a journey time of about three hours, these services call at Durham, Darlington, York, Doncaster, Newark North Gate and Peterborough and north to Scotland with all trains calling at Edinburgh and a small number of trains extended to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. CrossCountry trains serve destinations in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South West. TransPennine Express operates services to Manchester and Liverpool. Northern provides local and regional services.
The city is served by the Tyne and Wear Metro, a system of suburban and underground railways covering much of Tyne and Wear. It was opened in five phases between 1980 and 1984, and was Britain's first urban light rail transit system; two extensions were opened in 1991 and 2002. It was developed from a combination of existing and newly built tracks and stations, with deep-level tunnels constructed through Newcastle city centre. A bridge was built across the Tyne, between Newcastle and Gateshead, and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1981. The network is operated by DB Regio on behalf of Nexus and carries over 37 million passengers a year, extending as far as Newcastle Airport, Tynemouth, South Shields and South Hylton in Sunderland. In 2004, the company Marconi designed and constructed the mobile radio system to the underground Metro system. The Metro system was the first in the UK to have mobile phone antennae installed in the tunnels.
The Metro consists of two lines. The Green line starts at Newcastle Airport, goes through the city centre and into Sunderland, terminating at South Hylton. The yellow line starts at St. James Park, runs north of the river alongside Byker towards Whitley Bay, before returning to the city, on to Gateshead and terminates at South Shields.
The system is currently undergoing a period of refurbishment and modernisation, entitled 'Metro: All Change.' The programme has replaced all ticket machines and introduced ticket gates at the busiest stations – part of the transition to smart ticketing. All Metro trains are being completely refurbished and most stations are undergoing improvement works (or in some cases complete reconstruction, for example North Shields). In addition; tracks, signalling and overhead wires are also being overhauled. Longer term plans include the procurement of an entirely new fleet of trains and further extensions to the system. Proposed routes include to Newcastle's west end, to the Cobalt business park in North Tyneside, to the Metrocentre in Gateshead and to additional locations in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland. Several of the proposed routes would require trams as opposed to the current light rail trains.
Major roads in the area include the A1 (Gateshead Newcastle Western Bypass), stretching north to Edinburgh and south to London; the A19 heading south past Sunderland and Middlesbrough to York and Doncaster; the A69 heading west to Carlisle; the A696, which becomes the A68 heads past Newcastle Airport and up through central Northumberland and central Scottish Borders, the A167, the old "Great North Road", heading south to Gateshead, Chester-le-Street, Durham and Darlington; and the A1058 "Coast Road", which runs from Jesmond to the east coast between Tynemouth and Cullercoats. Many of these designations are recent—upon completion of the Western Bypass, and its designation as the new line of the A1, the roads between this and the A1's former alignment through the Tyne Tunnel were renumbered, with many city centre roads changing from a 6-prefix to their present 1-prefix numbers. In November 2011 the capacity of the Tyne Tunnel was increased when a project to build a second road tunnel and refurbish the first tunnel was completed.
There are 3 main bus companies providing services in the city; Arriva North East, Go North East and Stagecoach North East. There are two major bus stations in the city: Haymarket bus station and Eldon Square bus station. Arriva mainly operates from Haymarket Bus Station providing the majority of services to the north of Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside. Go-Ahead operates from Eldon Square Bus Station, providing the majority of services south of the river in Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham. Stagecoach is the primary operator in the city proper, with cross-city services mainly between both the West and East ends via the city centre with some services extending out to the MetroCentre, Killingworth, Wallsend and Ponteland. Bus Services in Newcastle upon Tyne and the surrounding boroughs part of the Tyne and Wear area are coordinated by Nexus, the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive.
Other major departure points are Pilgrim Street for buses running South of the Tyne via Gateshead, and Blackett Street/Monument for services to the East or West of the city. Many bus services also pass Newcastle Central Station, a major interchange for Rail and Metro Services. QuayLink is a bus service operated to the Quayside from Newcastle and Gateshead. Newcastle Coach Station, near the railway station, handles long distance bus services operated by National Express.
Newcastle is accessible by several mostly traffic-free cycle routes that lead to the edges of the city centre, where cyclists can continue into the city by road, using no car lanes. The traffic-free C2C cycle route runs along the north bank of the River Tyne, enabling cyclists to travel off-road to North Shields and Tynemouth in the east, and westwards towards Hexham.
Suburban cycle routes exist, which use converted trackbeds of former industrial wagonways and industrial railways. A network on Tyneside's suburban Victorian waggonways is being developed. A network of signed on-road cycle routes is being established, including some designated on-road cycle lanes that will lead from the city centre to the suburbs of Gosforth, Heaton and Wallsend.
Newcastle has a growing culture of bicycle usage. Newcastle is also home to a cycling campaign, called the 'Newcastle Cycling Campaign.' The ideal of the organisation is to model other European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The aims of the organisation, within the constitution are: To raise the profile of cycling, especially utility cycling around the city; to educate decision makers over the benefits of cycling; to promote equality.
Following guidelines set in the National Cycling strategy, Newcastle first developed its cycling strategy in 1998. As of 2012[update], the local council social aims and objectives for cycling include: highlighting the usage of cycling to cut city congestion; educating that cycling promotes healthy living… The authority also has infrastructure aims and objectives which include: developing on road cycle networks on quieter streets; making safer routes on busier streets; innovating and implementing contraflows on one way streets; developing the existing off road cycle route networks and improve signage; joining up routes that are partially or completely isolated; Increase the number of cycle parking facilities; working with employers to integrate cycling into workplace travel plans; link the local networks to national networks.
From Newcastle International Ferry Terminal, at North Shields, Danish DFDS Seaways run a service to IJmuiden (near Amsterdam). The DFDS ferry service to Gothenburg, Sweden, ceased at the end of October 2006 and their service to Bergen and Stavanger, Norway was terminated late 2008. The company cited high fuel prices and new competition from low-cost air services as the cause. Since summer 2007, Thomson cruise lines have included Newcastle as a departure port on its Norwegian and Fjords cruise.
Newcastle has three cathedrals, the Anglican St. Nicholas, with its elegant lantern tower of 1474, the Roman Catholic St. Mary's designed by Augustus Welby Pugin and the Coptic Cathedral located in Fenham. All three cathedrals began their lives as parish churches. St Mary's became a cathedral in 1850 and St Nicholas' in 1882. Another prominent church in the city centre is the Church of St Thomas the Martyr which is the only parish church in the Church of England without a parish and which is not a peculiar.
Newcastle is home to the only Bahá'í Centre in North East England, the centre has served the local Bahá'í community for over 25 years and is located close to the Civic Centre in Jesmond.
Newcastle was a prominent centre of the Plymouth Brethren movement up to the 1950s, and some small congregations still function. Among these are at the Hall, Denmark Street and Gospel Hall, St Lawrence.
The Parish Church of St Andrew is traditionally recognised as 'the oldest church in this town'. The present building was begun in the 12th Century and the last addition to it, apart from the vestries, was the main porch in 1726. It is quite possible that there was an earlier church here dating from Saxon times. This older church would have been one of several churches along the River Tyne dedicated to St Andrew, including the Priory church at Hexham. The building contains more old stonework than any other church in Newcastle. It is surrounded by the last of the ancient churchyards to retain its original character. Many key names associated with Newcastle's history worshipped and were buried here. The church tower received a battering during the Siege of Newcastle by the Scots who finally breached the Town Wall and forced surrender. Three of the cannonballs remain on site as testament to the siege.
Twin towns – Sister cities
Newcastle upon Tyne is twinned with:
Other friendship agreements
Newcastle also has a "friendship agreement" with
- Little Rock, United States.
and, since 2003, a "special cooperation agreement" with
- Malmö, Sweden.
The following countries have consular representation in Newcastle: Denmark, Finland, Romania, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, and Sweden.
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