From a new castle to the Geordie Shore: a brief history of Newcastle Upon-Tyne

By Jamie Heron

Newcastle upon-Tyne, more commonly known as just Newcastle, is the largest city in the North-East of England.

The city unsurprisingly got its name from a new castle being built, just next to the River Tyne. Some parts of the very same castle – originally built in 1177 – can still be seen inside Newcastle’s city centre. Tickets can be bought to tour the castle for around £8.50 online and can be an excellent opportunity to learn a bit more about Newcastle’s history.

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The River Tyne which divides Gateshead and Newcastle consists of seven bridges all within half a mile of each other. Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge is said to have inspired the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. Newcastle’s Millennium Bridge was the world’s first bridge to rotate sideways in order to allow boats through. The view of all the bridges can be enjoyed on the Quayside where you definitely will not struggle to find a bar to grab a drink.

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Aside from castles and bridges, Newcastle was also home of the very first Greggs bakery. Greggs is the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom and there are a total of 29 stores in Newcastle alone, which apparently is a rate of 9.9 stores per 100,000 people in the city. Newcastle is so mad about Greggs that three lads called Matt (yes, they are all called Matt) ran a marathon challenge within Newcastle stopping at all 29 stores along the way.

Newcastle has also been the home of some very famous faces along the years; TV personality duo Ant and Dec are famous Geordies, as well as former Girls Aloud singer and X-Factor judge Cheryl Cole. Some other famous names include Alan Shearer (ex-footballer and pundit), Sting (musician) and Sam Fender (musician).

When the sun starts to set across Newcastle the Geordies infamously come out to play. From treble’s bars to Popworld Newcastle’s city centre nightlife scene is the Benidorm of England. Made famous by hit MTV show Geordie Shore, Newcastle’s drinking culture is like no other, with a pub or bar making up almost every other building. Whether it be a Saturday lunch-time with the football at St. James’ or a student Tuesday there is never a time when people won’t be ‘drinking doon the toon’, although many may not look exactly like Scotty T.

Newcastle is also home to two Universities – Newcastle and Northumbria. The rivalry is fierce with yearly sports varsities held but both Universities hold good stead in the arguably more important academic department, both being in the top 50 Universities in The Guardians University guide 2020 (Northumbria 47th and Newcastle 35th).

And finally, Newcastle’s city centre is home to Newcastle United’s stadium St James’ Park. Although Newcastle hasn’t really won anything for the best part of 60 years, the stadium is a beautiful piece of architecture and has a capacity of 52,388 which makes it the eighth largest stadium in England. The stadium was briefly known as the Sports Direct Arena after Newcastle United and conveniently Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley renamed it to “showcase sponsorship opportunities”. Thirteen months later payday loan company Wonga.com purchased the naming rights of the stadium, restoring the name of St. James’ Park as a part of the deal.

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