Newcastle upon Tyne
Tourist Information and Travel Guide
Tyne Bridge, Newcastle's longtime symbol, was joined in 2001 by the
Bridge, a £22 million
"tilting bridge" that carries pedestrians and cyclists to new museums and other
attractions on the Tyne's south bank.
Until recently, Newcastle upon Tyne
most obvious of tourist destinations. In A Tale of Five
Cities, published in 1980, John Ardagh described the city as "in some ways
an archetype of the great blackened cities in the northern half of England." He
There are many things I like and admire, even find inspiring, about Newcastle,
and I do not deny that it has a stronger personality than any other big English town. But
there are other things I find objectionable, even frightening. Sometimes, in the
back-streets of slums, amid football crowds, or in dismal pubs with their beer spilt on
the tables, and workers talking a language I could not follow, I even felt something of
that Angst in the presence of an alien, vaguely menacing culture that I have felt
in Moslem lands such as Iran or Algeria. (After all, Geordies treat their women in an
almost Muslim manner!)
...The city looks distinctive, too. Its old mediaeval nucleus clambers up a
cliff on the north bank of the Tyne, to surmount the brown, swirling, polluted river.
Here, linking Newcastle to its historic rival on the south bank, Gateshead, are five
bridges at different levels: the best known is the Tyne Bridge with its curving arch of
steel rising to 170 feet, which served as a model for the similar-shaped but larger Sydney
harbor bridge. Rising thus in tiers above the river, Newcastle gives a dramatic impression
of elevation: it is one of the more imposingly situated of large English towns and
sometimes dares compares itself with Edinburgh. The impression is also of blackness. As
Toulouse and Bologna are pink, so Newcastle is grey-black; its older stone buildings, such
as the mediaeval castle and the fine churches, are most of them darkened and grimed by two
centuries of industrial smoke and coaldust. Some have recently been given a clean. But the
blackness is considered so much a part of the city's male Nordic persona that
façades of new offices are required by the planners to include black or grey parts.
In the nearly 25 years since Ardagh wrote his book, Newcastle (pronounced "Newcastle") has
undergone many changes--from the wrenching economic hardships of the Margaret
Thatcher years to recent investments of more than
£3 billion in buildings, infrastructure, and culture. Yet several things remain constant: the warmth and un-English liveliness
of its population ("Geordies," in local parlance),
and the city's role as the metropolitan center of a region dotted by moors, castles,
fishing villages, offshore wildlife sanctuaries, and the ancient Roman remnants of
Practical advice for Newcastle
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