Newcastle upon Tyne, or as it’s commonly called, Newcastle, sprawls across a charming valley on the north bank of the Tyne River. It’s the 20th most populous city in England, which might come as a surprise to a visitor who has a chance to view the impressive size of the urban area of Newcastle when arriving by air. This is due to the fact that a great majority of people reside in the adjacent suburbs and towns. An idea was put forward to unite the city with its surrounding smaller boroughs. The result of such administrative reform would be the second-largest city in the UK.
Newcastle upon Tyne was established in 1080. A small Roman camp then known as Pons Aelius was founded by Hadrian, the Roman Emperor famous for building a wall separating England and Scotland. The remains of the ancient Wall of Hadrian can still be seen in and around the city. After the Romans lost control of the settlement, it was ruled by the Anglo-Saxons as part of the Northumbria Kingdom.
Throughout the ages, owing to its strategic location, Newcastle experienced some turbulent times which, fortunately, didn’t hinder its growth. The city continued to developed primarily thanks to its major role in the process of coal export, which gave rise to the phrase ‘taking coals to Newcastle,’ already in use in the first half of the 16th Century. During the 19th Century, heavy engineering and shipbuilding became central to Newcastle’s prosperity.
The city quickly became one of the powerhouses of the Industrial Revolution. Innovations developed in the area of Newcastle included Lord Armstrong’s artillery, Stephenson’s rocket, Joseph Swan’s electric light bulbs and safety lamps, Be-Ro flour as well as Charles Parsons’ steam turbine, a revolutionary invention which enabled a thorough reform of marine propulsion and facilitated the production of cheap electricity.
In the second half of the 20th Century, the importance of heavy industries in Newcastle declined visibly. Today, it’s a cosmopolitan and multi-faceted metropolis. A city of historic monuments, green parks, shopping centers and museums, right in the heart of it you’ll find the first biotechnological village in the UK, the Centre for Life. The construction of the village was one of the first steps in the City Council’s strategy of transforming Newcastle into a capital of modern technologies.
Contemporary Newcastle attracts ever-growing crowds of tourists with a brilliantly-restored historic centre, with segments of the old Hadrian Wall still visible in some of its quarters. Grey Street, running from the Grey Monument in the city centre out to the picturesque Tyne Valley, is known as one of the loveliest streets in the whole country, with magnificent old buildings harmoniously integrated with modern shopping centres.
The locals’ favourite park, the Town Moor, is almost twice as big as Hyde Park and quite amazingly, allows cattle raising on its premises. Another charmingly verdant spot is Leazes Park, established in 1873. Just beside it, football fans will find the stadium of the Newcastle United Football Club, the pride and glory of the locals.