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Main article: History of Newcastle upon Tyne

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 that Hadrian may have visited the site and instituted
the bridge on his tour of Britain. The population of Pons Aelius at this period
was estimated at 2,000. Fragments of Hadrian's Wall are still 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,[14] and was constructed 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.[15]

Newcastle Castle Keep is the oldest structure in the city, dating back to at least the 11th

Anglo-Saxon and Norman[edit]

After the Roman departure from Britain, completed in 410, Newcastle
became part of the powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, and
became known throughout this period as Monkchester.[16]
A series of conflicts with the Danes in 876, left the river Tyne and its

settlements in ruin.[17] 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. [17] 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.[17]

Middle Ages[edit]

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.[18] A 25-foot (7.6 m) high stone wall was built around the
town in the 13th century,[19] 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 sherif by Henry IV in 1400.

16th to 19th century[edit]

An engraving by William Miller of Newcastle in 1832

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.[20] The phrase itself means a pointless pursuit.[21] In the 18th century
American Timothy Dexter, an entrepreneur, widely 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.[22][23]

Victoria Tunnel, built 1842. In 1935 after a government document requested its cities
build air-raid shelters; part of the tunnel was converted. [24]

In the Sandgate area, to the east of the city and beside the river, resided
the close-knit community of keelmen and their families.[25] 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. [26] 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.[27]

Newcastle was once a major industrial centre particularly for coal and shipping

During the English Civil War, the North declared for the King.[28] 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. In 1644 the city
was then besieged for many months and 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.[29]
In the 18th century, Newcastle was the country's fourth largest print centre
after London, Oxford and Cambridge,[30] and the Literary and Philosophical
Society of 1793,[30] with its erudite debates and large stock of books in
several languages, predated the London Library by half a century.[30]
Newcastle also became a glass producer with a reputation for brilliant flint

Newcastle city centre, 1917

A permanent military presence was established in the city with the
completion of Fenham Barracks in 1806.[32]
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 urbanization of the city. [34] In 1817 the
Maling company, at one time the largest pottery company in the world,
moved to the city.[35] The Victorian industrial revolution brought industrial
structures that included the 2
⁄2-mile (4.0 km) Victoria Tunnelling, built in 1842, which provided
underground wagon ways to the staithes.[36] 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.[37][38] Newcastle was one of the first cities in the world
to be lit up by electric lighting.[39] Innovations in Newcastle and surrounding
areas included the development of safety lamps, Stephenson's Rocket,
Lord Armstrong's artillery, Be-Ro flour,[40] 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.[41]

Since 1900[edit]

Newcastle's public transport system was revolutionized 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. [42]
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[43] 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.[44]
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[45] and the Tyne Bridge (a suspension bridge)
in 1928.[46]
Eforts to preserve the city's historic past were evident as long ago as 1934,
when the Museum of Science and Industry opened, [47] 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 acquisition under the Right to Buy.
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.

View northwards from the Castle Keep, towards Berwick-on-Tweed in 1954

Panorama from Newcastle castle keep across the River Tyne to Gateshead in 1954

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. [48] A former
French consul in Newcastle called Jacques Serre assisted the German war
efort by describing important targets in the region to Admiral Raedar who
was the head of the German navy.[49]
The public sector in Newcastle began to expand in the 1960s, as more
people were employed in local government administration and Newcastle
University was founded in 1963,[50] followed by a Newcastle Polytechnic in
1969; the latter received university status in 1992 and became the
Northumbria University.
Further eforts to preserve the city's historic past continued as the 20th
century wore on, with the opening of Newcastle Military Vehicle Museum in
1983 and Stephenson Railway Museum in 1986. The Military Vehicle
museum closed in 2006.[51] New developments at the turn of the 21st
century included the Life Science Centre in 2000 and Millennium Bridge in
Based at St James' Park since 1886, Newcastle United FC became
Football League members in 1893.[53] 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.[54]
They broke the world national 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.[55]


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.[56]

Side, a street in Newcastle near the Tyne Bridge

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[57] 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 [58][59] and the
late German-born British scholar of architecture, Nikolaus Pevsner,[60]
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.[61][62] In the Google Street View awards of 2010, Grey Street came
3rd in the British picturesque category.[63] Osborne Road came 4th in the
foodie street category.[63] 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.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Immediately to the northwest of the city centre is Leazes Park, established
in 1873[64] 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[65][66] and the freemen of the city have the
right to graze cattle on it.[65][66] 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,[67] King Harald V of Norway,[68] Bobby
Robson,[69] Alan Shearer,[70] the late Nelson Mandela[71] and the Royal
Shakespeare Company.[72] The Hoppings funfair, said to be the largest
travelling funfair in Europe, is held here annually in June.[73]

View of Newcastle City Centre from Gateshead.

In the south eastern corner is Exhibition Park, which contains the only
remaining pavilion from the North East Coast Exhibition of 1929. Since the
1970s this has housed the Newcastle Military Vehicle Museum; this is
closed until further notice because of structural problems with the building
—originally a temporary structure.
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.[74] The dawn chorus of the Jesmond Dene
green space, has been professionally recorded and has been used in
various workplace and hospital rehabilitation facilities. [74]
Architecture of suburbs
Notable Newcastle housing developments include Ralph Erskine's the
Byker Wall designed in the 1960s and now Grade II* listed. It is on
UNESCO's list of outstanding 20th-century buildings.[75]
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. [76]
The UK's first biotechnology village, the "Centre for Life" is located in the
city centre close to the Central Station. The village is the first step in the
City Council's plans to transform Newcastle into a science city.[77]
Newcastle was voted as the Best City in the North in April 2007 by The

Daily Telegraph newspaper—beating Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and
Leeds in an online poll conducted of its readers.[78]

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