Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Today the streets of Newcastle are lined with restaurants, pubs and homes, but centuries ago, the only inhabitants of this town were monks. Newcastle-upon-Tyne is one of England’s most culturally and historically rich cities, and its position along the River Tyne makes this a popular destination for holidaymakers. 

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The History of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Roman Settlement

When the Romans settled in what is now known as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, they built the first bridge to cross the River Tyne. This was in 122 AD, and the bridge was known as the Bridge of Aelius (or Pons Aelius). The city was named after the family name of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian. These are the first known inhabitants of this area. 

 

Anglo-Saxon Development

There is little record of inhabitants of the area between the Romans and the Normans; the Anglo-Saxon Development brought only monks to the area when monasteries were scattered along the north bank of the River Tyne. One monk, Bede, wrote of a particular monastery, Jarow, that he described as being 19 km away from the river, believed to be in the spot that Newcastle is in today. 

It was during this period of time that the area was given the name Northumbria. 

 

Norman Period

William the Conqueror arrived in England in 1066, and the whole of the Northumbria region rebelled against Norman rule. Soon after their arrival, however, in 1069, the ruler of Northumbria and 700 of his soldiers were killed when they tried to rise up against the Normans. 

Along with defeat at the hands of the Normans, the land in the north was obliterated. Damaged almost beyond repair, the effects could be seen until the Tudor era, and left the area in poverty and struggling to survive for centuries. 

At this time, Newcastle got the name we know today when William the Conqueror sent his son to defend England from the Scots in the north, after which he settled in Northumbria and began building himself a castle. This gave way to the new name for the area; Newcastle.

From the time the king of England captured the castle of Northumbria in 1095, the area became essential to the English army to protect the south of England from invaders from the north.

 

Middle Ages

At this time, Newcastle remained England’s northern fortress, through which trade was facilitated and exports and imports were managed. By 1275, Newcastle was the sixth largest port for wool exports in England. 

Friaries and nunneries became increasingly popular through this time, and the monasteries of the Norman period were quickly obsolete. 

 

Tudor Period

Scottish border wars had been going on since 1296, and by the 16th century, tensions were not easing. Throughout this time, Newcastle remained a stronghold against the Scots and an important military base from which to defend England. 

This was during the reformation period in England when the king was breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church and the rule of the Pope. 

By 1547, the population of Newcastle was around 10,000 as more people were being welcomed into the city centre. 

Export at this time was at an all-time high, with the coal exports increasing from 15,000 tons in 1500 to 400,000 tons in 1625.

This time was also tainted with sadness for the town, as they were devastated by the plague four times in the 16th century, losing more than 3,500 inhabitants as a result. 

 

Stuart Period

The worst outbreak of the plague was still to come, however. In 1636, an outbreak of the bubonic plague decimated the population, killing nearly half of the town’s locals with a death rate of 47%.

During the Stuart period, the most important economic boom happened for the area when coal became an essential commodity and Newcastle had a monopoly over the trade from the Tyne. 

 

Eighteenth Century

By the 18th century, Newcastle had become a powerhouse of printing in England and was printing the most books in the most languages in all of England. 

 

Victorian Period

This time was the peak of growth in the Newcastle area. Much of modern-day Newcastle owes its architecture to the Victorian Period builder Richard Grainger and architects John Dobson and Thomas Oliver, among others. 

These men together built some of the most important landmarks in Newcastle and planned the roads and pathways that make it accessible still today. 

A fire in 1854 demolished the homes of 800 residents, and the alleyways that made up the neighbourhoods became streets lined with shops and businesses. 

 

Industrialisation

Newcastle became a hub of innovation during the industrial revolution. Some of the most important developments came in glassmaking, locomotive manufacture, shipbuilding, armaments, pottery and steam turbines. 

 

Twentieth Century

An icon of Newcastle today, the Tyne Bridge was built in 1928, an essential element in the expansion and industrialisation of Newcastle. In 2001, another bridge was opened, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, connecting Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides. 

 

Twenty-first Century

The city has fallen into a severe class divide. A few miles from the bustling city centre, housing projects with countless people living in poverty sit in contrast to the business district.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Landmarks

Landmarks throughout Newcastle-upon-Tyne are a testament to the centuries of history in this ancient city. While many people enjoy the city for its nightlife, the melding of history and modernity creates a truly unique destination for both tourists and locals.

 

Beamish, the Living Museum of the North

Aiming to give the public a realistic view of the urban and rural life at the height of the industrial era in northern England, this iconic open-air museum was the first of its kind in England and a key for tourism in the area.

 

Great North Museum: Hancock

The Great North Museum shows off Newcastle’s natural history and ancient civilisations. This museum has free entrance year-round. Exhibits include:

  • Living Planet – an explanation of wildlife and habitats across the world.

  • Hadrian’s Wall – discover the history of this World Heritage Site and the geological and cultural history of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area.

  • Mouse House – for kids under 5 years old, filled with activities and educational exhibits.

  • Fossil Stories – fossils tell the stories of evolution and how time has affected landscapes, animals, and plants.

  • Ancient Egyptians – includes two mummies from Egypt and provides insight into one of the most advanced civilisations in history.

  • Greek and Etruscan – art and archaeology.

  • Natural Northumbria – the hidden gems of the North East of England, including wildlife, woodlands, coastal areas, and so much more.

  • World Cultures – objects from across the world are shown in this collection, including pieces from the Islands of the Pacific, Africa and Asia, North America, as well some parts of Europe. Not to be overshadowed by the artefacts from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

 

Newcastle Castle

This medieval castle sits where a fortress once sat, the same fortress that gave Newcastle its name (the new castle). Recent renovations have made the castle accessible for people with mobility issues. There is also an education centre, reception/gift shop and museum room in the Black Gate. Audio-visuals in the main building explain the history of the castle and the people who inhabited the area.

 

Hadrian’s Wall Path

For fitness enthusiasts, lovers of the outdoors, or history buffs, the 83.9-mile walk along Hadrian’s Wall will please all. Along the exact line of the original wall from 122 AD, this path is now a National Trail and UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

 

Gateshead Millennium Bridge

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is often referred to as the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge’ because of the way it tilts to make way for boats on the Tyne River. It is the world’s first-ever tilting bridge. 

The bridge is only designed for pedestrians and cyclists, so no motor vehicles can cross here. It offers picturesque views of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead on the opposite bank.

 

Discovery Museum

The Discovery Museum is a science and local history museum located in an old warehouse. The Turbinia, a 34-metre, steam-powered vessel that was, at one point, the fastest ship in the world, is located inside the museum. 

 

Metro Radio Arena

A large indoor arena in the metropolitan borough of Newcastle, the Metro Radio Arena hosts sporting events, lectures, comedians, and doubles as a live concert venue. 

 

Theatre Royal

The historic Theatre Royal is a registered national landmark in Grey Street. Opened in 1837, this theatre is still operational today and regularly welcomes new shows and guests to its iconic stage. 

 

Laing Art Gallery

The Laing Art Gallery is a Baroque-style gallery with Art Nuveau impressions. It hosts a number of permanent collections as well as temporary exhibitions.

 

The Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas

The iconic Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas is one of the quintessential landmarks of the Newcastle skyline. With a café inside, the cathedral invites visitors to spend their day exploring the ancient building and hearing the stories of the Civil War and getting up close and personal with the church bells.

 

Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge is a through arch bridge over the River Tyne in North East England, which links Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead. The bridge is one of the first landmarks visible in Newcastle, as it’s located in the city centre.

 

Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fort

Arbeia is a UNESCO World Heritage site with full-scale Roman reconstructions and live-action role-playing displays to fully immerse visitors in the life and times of the Roman Empire’s rule in the region.

 

Victoria Tunnel

Victoria Tunnel is an old waggonway that runs under the River Tyne from the Town Moor. Tours of this tunnel walk along the length of the way, with guides giving insight into the history of the tunnel and its use as an air-raid shelter in World War II.

 

Grey’s Monument

At the head of Grey Street, this monument honours Earl Grey for passing the Great Reform Act of 1832. This was a push to end corruption in the British Government and to bring the option to vote to more people. 

 

Pilgrim Street 

One of the most important historical streets in all of Newcastle, Pilgrim Street was an essential part of medieval Newcastle. Along Pilgrim Street stood one of the old gates to the town, making this street an integral part of the town’s history.

 

Angel of the North

A symbol of hope for England and the first example of gigantism in British art, the Angel of the North is a sculpture by Antony Gormley built in 1998. The Angel stands 20 metres tall, is visible from some of the major motorways in the North East of England, and has a wingspan greater than that of a Boeing 757.

Newcastle City Council

The council consists of 78 councillors, three for each of the 26 wards in the city. Regional services range from environmental management and waste removal to general upkeep of the town’s historic sites.

The People of Newcastle

You might have heard of the term ‘Geordie’ – this is the nickname given to any person originally from Newcastle. The city has produced a number of well-known Geordies, including Rowan Atkinson, Ant and Dec, and Sting. This is a testament to the city’s appreciation for the arts.

Life in Newcastle

Getting around Newcastle couldn’t be easier with the buses that run year-round. The Monument metro station is a bus station in the region that creates easy access around the city and beyond, with local and regional services.

This university town is an attraction for young people from all over the world, with some of the most well-known festivals, parties and clubs being held here. 

Newcastle is teeming with a seemingly endless number of art galleries, museums, shops, theatres, and countless other activities. 

Easy access to the Newcastle International Airport keeps tourism flowing and provides a convenient travel hub for locals.

Climate in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Newcastle has a warm and temperate climate. There is a considerable amount of rain, but nothing out of the ordinary for a coastal town in England. The average temperature annually is 12.4°C.

 

Spring

The three months of spring bring Newcastle moderately cool temperatures, ranging between 10°C and 15°C, with an average of 9 days of rainfall and between 45mm and 50mm per month for the season.

 

Summer

June through to August generally sees around 9 days of rain (between 55mm and 60mm) each month and an average of 18°C for the three months.

 

Autumn

Temperatures drop significantly between September and November, with the earlier month averaging 17°C, and by November, the average drops to 10°C. Rainfall increases in these months as winter approaches, and around 11 days of rain can be expected each month, with an average of 62.5mm.

 

Winter

December to February is the rainiest time of the year for Newcastle, with an average of 11 days and approximately 70mm of rain per month and an average high of 7.5°C.

Education in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Newcastle University

Ranked 36th out of 130 universities in the United Kingdom, Newcastle University offers a variety of programmes, with the focus being research-intense work. It has satellite campuses in Singapore and Malaysia that work in conjunction with the main campus in its research endeavours.

 

Newcastle College – Rye Hill Campus

Newcastle College is a further education and higher education college in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 16,000 students enrol each year to study one of the hundreds of courses on offer at the college.

 

Northumbria University

Northumbria University is an open university formed in 1969 and ranking 49th out of 130 universities in England.

An open university has little to no entry requirements and an open-door academic policy.

 

Newcastle Sixth Form College – Westmorland Road Campus

Newcastle Sixth Form College is an A-Level provider offering 27 subjects and more than 50 enrichment courses for hopeful graduates.

 

Seaton Burn College

Seaton Burn College is a business-oriented college for school-leavers who want to dip their toe into the world of business and marketing.

Sport in Newcastle

St. James’ Park is the home of Newcastle United and is the eighth largest stadium in the UK. Other events are held here, too, not just football. The stadium hosted a number of Rugby World Cup matches in 2019, and it sported the Olympic Rings when the Olympics were held in England.

Notable sports teams in the region include:

Newcastle United F.C., Newcastle Falcons, Gosforth Rugby Football Club, and Newcastle University F.C.

Culture of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Music

Countless artists are welcomed to Newcastle year-round to perform at one of the many large arenas in the region. A large number of well-known musicians hail from Newcastle, and they’re always looking to bring their act home to play for their fellow Geordies.

 

Festivals

Newcastle hosts a bustling Pride festival in June each year. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies come out in full rainbow force to show that they are not ashamed of their orientation. Pride is part of the fight for justice and to end discrimination.

LooseFest, Noughty 90’s Festival, Mouth of the Tyne Festival, and so many others call Newcastle home, making this one of the fastest-growing festival destinations in the country.

 

Food

A quick search will show just how popular the food of Newcastle is. With some top-rated restaurants that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, seafood fresh from the North Sea is one of the most popular choices for any tourist.

 

Nightlife

There’s no doubt one of the main attractions in Newcastle is the nightlife. This university town has embraced the opportunity to have a thriving nightlife, with some of the most popular clubs and venues found in Grainger Town and Central Newcastle. Whether it’s a music venue or restaurant, there’s something for every taste in Newcastle’s nightlife.