Newcastle is a major city in Northumberland, and the capital of North East England. It is 80 miles from Leeds (Yorkshire).
The normal local pronunciation is "Newcassle", to rhyme with "hassle", and with the emphasis on "cassle".
It is situated on the North bank of the River Tyne, opposite Gateshead, to which it is connected by a number of handsome bridges, including Robert Stephenson`s High Level Bridge of 1849, the Swing Bridge of 1876, and the King Edward Railway Bridge of 1906.
Originally a fort on Hadrian`s Wall named Pons Aelius, Newcastle took its name from the "new castle" built in 1080 by Robert Curthose on behalf of his father William I in 1080, and rebuilt by Henry II in 1172. It retains a fine Norman keep. The 13th century Black Gate, originally a barbican, houses a collection of local antiquities.
Parts of the Town Wall, begun in 1280, survive.
At the Treaty of Newcastle in 1244, Alexander II of Scotland pledged allegiance to Henry III.
For many years, Newcastle`s prosperity rested on coal mining and ship building.
The oldest parts are by the river in the area now known as Quayside, where there are some attractive buildings, including the timber framed Bessie Surtees` House.
In the 19th century, when the traditional industries began to decline, the city moved Northwards, and John Clayton, Richard Grainger and John Dobson created the elegant streets, squares and architecture in the present city centre.
In particular, Grey Street has a majestic curve which shows off the buildings most effectively. The tall monument to Earl Grey was erected in 1838. It has 164 steps.
The popular indoor shopping centre Eldon Place is augmented by the Edwardian Central Arcade.
Newcastle Cathedral is mostly 14th century, and has a rare 15th century crown spire, reminiscent of the one that graces St. Giles`s Cathedral in Edinburgh, although the Newcastle one was built first. It was formerly St. Nicholas` Church, and acquired cathedral status in 1882.
All Saints Church was rebuilt in the 18th century, and has a pretty spire.
St. John`s Church dates back to the Norman period, and has a 17th century pulpit.
St. Andrew`s Church, also from the Norman period, has a 15th century font canopy.
The Catholic Cathedral was built by Augustus Pugin in 1844, and has a 222 foot spire added by Joseph Aloysius Hansom.
There are the remains of a 13th century Dominican friary, and Duns Scotus is said to have become a Franciscan friar at Newcastle.
The Guildhall was built in1658.
"Carrying coals to Newcastle" is an expression meaning a futile and unnecessary act.
The designation "Geordie" for natives of the Newcastle area probably comes from the eminent local engineer George Stephenson.
The beer known as Newcastle Brown has been given geographical protection by the European Union.
The first British beauty contest, known as "The Blond and Brunette Beauty Show" was held at Newcastle in 1905.
Among the prominent people born at Newcastle are Thomas Addison, physician; Ove Arup, engineer; Rowan Atkinson, actor and comedian; Lord Collingwood, naval commander; Jack Higgins, novelist; Basil Hume, cardinal; Hank B. Marvin, guitarist; Jimmy Nail, actor and singer; Alan Plater, dramatist; Nicholas Ridley, politician; Alan Shearer, England footballer; George Stephenson, engineer; Robert Stephenson, engineer; and Sting, singer.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Newcastle-upon-Tyne for groups.