The Wonderous Sights of Newcastle upon Tyne

Grainger Market

Grainger Market

If you were to ask my mom what she knows about England, she would happily discuss Coronation Street – the world’s longest running soap opera.  Others would say bangers & mash or pubs. And some would love the opportunity to discuss the royal family and Kate’s pregnancy.

But how much do we really know about our friends on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We know that London is the capital, but do you know anything about Newcastle upon Tyne?

First, a brief history. Newcastle upon Tyne was given its name because of a castle built in 1080 by Robert II, Duke of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Originally, the city was based around the wool trade, then coal mining, but is now a business and cultural centre.

Ten interesting facts about Newcastle:

High Level Bridge

High Level Bridge

1. In 1849, Robert Stephenson’s High Level Bridge opened and was the first road/rail bridge in the world.

2. Grey’s Monument was erected in 1838 to commemorate the Reform Act of 1832. It honours Charles Earl Grey who was an advocate of peace, civil, and religious liberty.

3. The city acquired its first art gallery, the Laing Art Gallery, in 1901. Alexander Laing, founder and Scottish wine and spirit merchant, wanted to give back to the city where he made his fortune.

4. Grainger Town is the historic heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. It was designed in the 1830s by Richard Grainger, an internationally renowned builder and developer. 40% of buildings in the area are listed as being of historical and architectural importance.

5. The Grainger Market opened in 1835 and was Newcastle’s first indoor market.

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal

6. The Town Moor, a park just north of city centre, is larger than Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath put together. The freemen of the city have the right to graze cattle on it.

7. The original Theatre Royal opened on January 21, 1788 and was located on Mosley Street, next to Drury Lane. The present Theatre Royal on Grey Street, opened in 1837, was designed by John and Benjamin Green and just celebrated its 175th birthday.

Lit and Phil staircase

Lit and Phil

8. The Lit and Phil, largest independent library outside London, houses more than 150,000 books. It has operated since 1793 and was originally founded as a conversation club.

9. The Tyneside Cinema on Pilgrim Street originally opened as the ‘Bijou News-Reel Cinema’ in 1937, and was designed and built by Dixon Scott, great uncle of film director Ridley Scott.

10. Newcastle was the location for both the 1971 film Get Carter and the 1988 film noir thriller Stormy Monday.

Now that’s some serious history! There’s a lot to see and do in Newcastle, so on your next adventure, make sure to take advantage of Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle’s central location.

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