Newcastle

Ancient 21st century Toon

Newcastle is far from new: its origins are Roman. It owes its name to the castle built in 1080 by Robert, eldest son of William the Conqueror. Wool was its business before coal took over. It became a port in the 16th century and soon shipyards lower down the river were established, later to become amongst the world’s largest build and repair centres. In these post-industrial times the city is largely business and culture led, with a particular reputation for nightlife.

The medieval street layout still exists in large parts of the centre, with narrow alleys or ‘chares’, particularly around the riverside area. There are steps leading up from the Tyne to higher parts of the city and write my papers the Castle Keep, whose existence was first recorded in the 14th century. Close, Sandhill and Quayside boast some fine modern architecture alongside older buildings dating from 15th-18th centuries. These include Bessie Surtees House, the Cooperage and Lloyds Quayside Bars, Derwentwater House and the wonderful listed 16th century merchant’s house at 28-30 Close.

Its late Georgian neoclassical centre, built in the early 19th century by John Dobson, was recently restored and vies with Bath for period splendour. Newcastle has been described as England’s best-looking city and Grey Street, which curves down from Grey’s Monument towards the valley of the Tyne, was voted England’s finest street in a survey of Radio 4 listeners. Sadly a section of Grainger Town was narrative essay outline bulldozed in the 1960s to make way for the atrocious shopping centre at Eldon Square.

Leazes Park, northwest of the centre, was built in 1873 as a “ready access to some open ground for the purpose of health and recreation” following a petition by 3,000 working men. Adjoining the park is St James’s Park, home of Newcastle United, which dominates many views of the city.

Places of interest

Tourist Information Centre: Guildhall Visitor Information Centre, Quayside, NE1 3AF. 0191 277 8000, www.newcastle.gov.uk

8-9 Central Arcade, NE1 5BQ, 0191 277 8000

Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths & Museum At Wallsend, just east of the city. This is a spectacular reconstruction of a fort which includes the bath house and a section of the wall, also offering a computer generated history tour and a 35 metre high viewing tower. Open April 1 – Oct 31 1000-1700; Nov 1 – March 31 1000-1500 daily. Adults: £3.95, concessions £2.95. U-16s free. 0191 236 9347.www.Twmuseums.org.uk/segedunum.

Cycle Shops

Cycle Centre 248 Shields Road Byker Newcastle upon Tyne Tyne & Wear, NE6 1DX. 0191 265 1472 sales@cyclecentreuk.co.uk, www.cyclecentre.co.uk

Cycle Logical 44 Forest Hall Road, Forest Hall. Newcastle upon Tyne – Tyne and Wear, NE12 9AL 0191 216 9222, www.cyclelogical-newcastle.com

Denton Cycles, 259 Scotswood Rd, NE4 7AW, Tel: 0191 272 338

Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative, 5-7 Union Road, Byker, NE6 1EH 0191 265 8619, www.edinburgh-bicycle.co.uk (N.B. Formerly known as Hardisty’s) 1 mile north of NCN 72 – via Byker Link and Shields

Road Recyke Y’Bike, Hannington Street, Byker, NE6 1JT
A community project that accepts donated bikes from members of the public and recycles them for use by priority groups of people, such as the long-term unemployed, those who have been homeless, and those with mental health problems.
Contact: Dorothy Craw.
07737 526020 F: 0191 292 9963,
www.recyke-y-bike.org