Things to do in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear
Newcastle is a vibrant friendly city, with a heritage spanning the past 2,000 years. Situated in the north east of England, on the banks of the River Tyne and surrounded by the scenic beauty of Northumbria. An ideal place from which to tour the heritage coastline, with its unspoiled sandy beaches and sand dunes, or explore inland where you will find Hadrian's Wall and many castles dotted across the landscape.
The Romans built the first bridge over the River Tyne, guarded by a fort on Hadrian's Wall and named it Pons Aelius. Realising the strategic importance of the Roman site, the Normans built a wooden fort and the first 'New Castle' was created in 1080. This was later replaced in stone, the existing Keep, one of the finest examples of Norman military architecture, dates from 1172-77, the Black Gate from 1247. The Town Walls were built in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Within the protection of these fortifications, in medieval times Newcastle developed into an important trading community and was one of the great provincial centres.
As early as Elizabethan times, Newcastle was exporting coal. Newcastle's chartered control of the river ensured that all coal from the area was shipped from its port. Coal was brought up the river Tyne from the nearby coal fields in 'keels' or small ships, transferred to large ships and exported from Newcastle (giving rise to the saying "coals to Newcastle"). The tax from this trade brought great wealth to the city.
From the late 17th century other trades and industries developed, shipbuilding was one of the great industries associated with Newcastle, at one time 25% of the world's ships were built in the shipyards in this area. By the 19th century Newcastle was a centre for commercial enterprise and inventiveness, many trades and industries brought prosperity to the town, locomotive building by the Stephenson family, building of armaments, electric supply and steam turbines were just a few.
The prosperity of the times brought about the re-building of the city centre, the inspired team of developer Richard Granger, town clerk John Clayton and architect John Dobson were responsible for many of the fine streets and buildings of the period. The Mining Institute, Durham College of Science and the College of Medicine were all opened in the 19th century. At this time Newcastle became the place to go for good shops, large department stores and theatres, as it still is today.
The River Tyne is spanned by six bridges, which constitute the most famous view of the city. The three most famous have led the way for designs around the world. The Tyne Bridge is the best known, built in 1925-28. Upstream the Swing Bridge stands on the line of the original Roman Bridge. The High Level Bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson and was the world's first road and railway bridge; the railway being carried above and the road below. The latest is Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the first opening bridge to be built across the River Tyne for more than 100 years.
Today's visitor will find Newcastle brimming with attractions old and new, a few of the highlights are; Earl Grey's Monument, St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Castle Keep, Bessie Surtees' House, and Blackfriars. If you feel like a break from sightseeing take time for a stroll in the beautiful park Jesmond Dean in the heart of the city.
Newcastle can boast three large shopping centres, many fascinating museums as well as cinemas, theatres presenting a vast range of entertainment, sport and leisure centres, art-centres and a rich variety of clubs. restaurants, bistros and coffee shops catering for all tastes, pubs and bars all selling the local brew Newcastle Brown Ale and everything else you could could wish for.
City Library, Princess Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 1DX
Tel: +44 (0) 191 261 0610.
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The region is well served by the A1(M) and A1 from the South of England and London; an alternative route is M1 (Leeds), M18 and A1. From the West Coast, the A69 Carlisle-Newcastle road, this links to the M6 to Birmingham and the South West via the M5 and M4 into South Wales. From Scotland the fast route is the A1, and the scenic route is A68 via Jedburgh or A697 from Coldstream.
Direct train services operate from most cities in Britain to Newcastle's Central Station.
Newcastle Airport is located just six miles north of the City Centre, about 20 minutes drive by car. The Airport has scheduled services to Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted, Southampton and Wick, also to Dublin and Belfast.
Car Ferry services operates direct to Tyneside from Scandinavia and Germany. The North Shields International Ferry Terminal at Royal Quays is approximately seven miles east of Newcastle via the A1058 and A19.