Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, or simply Newcastle, is a city in the north-east of England, famous for its Industrial heritage, its quayside with historic bridges across the Tyne, its beer (Newcastle Brown Ale), its nightlife, the Geordie accent, and a whole host of other things. Check out this list of interesting facts to learn more about this wonderful city in England. If you would like to add a fact about Newcastle, simply use the comments section or submit a new list item using the form.
#1 Before Newcastle, there was Pons Aelius..
Pons Aelius was a small Roman settlement and fort along Hadrian's Wall, situated close to the centre of present-day Newcastle upon Tyne. It was built to guard a bridge across the river Tyne, and had a population of around 2,000 people between the 2nd and 4th centuries. Pon Aelius means 'bridge of Hadrian' so it is believed that the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the site himself and instituted the bridge on his tour of Britain. Sections of Hadrian's wall are also to be found in parts of Newcastle.
#2 Newcastle was named after a castle
The Castle which you see today, also sometimes called Newcastle Castle, was built between 1172 and 1177 by the order of King Henry II. However on the same spot before it was a motte and bailey castle which was built by the son of William the Conqueror, Robert Curthose, after his father William I sent him north to defend the kingdom against the scots. Robert named his new castle 'New Castle upon Tyne' which is how the city got its name.
#3 The worlds first street to be lit by electric lightbulb
In 1879, Mosley Street in Newcastle, England, became the first public road to be lit by the incandescent lightbulb which was invented by Joseph Swan, whose house in Gateshead was also the first in the world to be lit by the electric lightbulb.
#4 A Geordie invented the Windscreen Wiper
In 1908, Newcastle United fan Captain Gladstone Adams (16 May 1880 - 26 July 1966), drove his car to London to watch Newcastle play against Wolves in the FA Cup Final (which Newcastle unfortunately lost 3 - 1 ). On his way home Gladstone had to keep stopping to clear the snow from his windscreen, which led to his invention of the windscreen wiper, which he patented in 1911 with patent agents Sloan & Lloyd Barnes of Liverpool. Unfortunately his version of the windscreen wiper was never manufactured, though you can still see his original prototype in The Discovery Museum at Newcastle. Captain Gladstone also went on to invent the sliding rowing seat, and the trafficator, which was the forerunner to the car indicator lights. In World War I, Gladstone was a photograph reconnaissance officer, and one of his missions was to prove that Manfred von Richthofen (The Red Baron) had been shot down and killed, and then arrange his burial.
#5 Newcastle had the first covered train station in the world
Newcastle Central Station is a Grade I listed building and was the first covered train station in the world, and also the first to be designed and built in Britain using curved wrought iron ribs to support an arched roof.
The station was inaugrated by Queen Victoria herself on August 29, 1850, and that day ever since has been a public holiday in Newcastle.
#6 Lucozade was invented in Newcastle
The soft drink Lucozade was originally called 'Glucozade' and was invented in Newcastle in 1927 by a chemist named William Owen, who designed it using glucose syrup as a source of energy to help sick people recovering from illness such as colds and flu. British hospitals began to use it, and in 1938 it was sold to the Beecham Group who changed its name to 'Lucozade'. People still use it today as a source of energy when poorly, though in recent years it has been rebranded to be sold as a sports drink, rather than something to help recovery from illness.
#7 Newcastle has 7 bridges all in a half mile section of the Tyne
Newcastle is famed for its series of 7 bridges that are all found within a 1/2 mile stretch of the river Tyne.
(1) The Gateshead Millennium Bridge was designed by the architect WilkinsonEyre, and when it was opened in 2001 was the worlds first bridge to pivot sideways to allow boats through. Often called the 'Blinking Eye Bridge' or 'Winking Eye Bridge' due to its eye shape and tilting method, the Millennium bridge is a cyclist and pedestrian bridge that was constructed off-site and lifted into place by the crane 'Asian Hercules II' which is one of the world's largest floating cranes.
(2) Tyne Bridge was inspired by The Hell Gate Bridge in New York City, and is a Grade II listed structure that was opened on 10 October 1928 by King George V, and is one of the defining symbols of Tyneside. Designed by engineering firm Mott, Hay and Anderson who later designed the famous Forth Road Bridge in Scotland.
(3) High Level Bridge was opened on 7 June 1849 by Queen Victoria and is a great feat of engineering, being the first bridge in the world to combine both rail and road. It is a Grade I listed structure and was built by the Hawks family from over 5,000 tons of iron.
(4) Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1981, and is a bright blue bridge designed to carry the metro between Newcastle and Gateshead. The train travels through tunnels at either end of the bridge, but emerges into the open air as it crosses the bridge.
(5) King Edward VII Bridge is described as one of the last great railway bridges constructed in Britain, and is a Grade II listed structure which was opened on 10 July 1906 by King Edward VII, and links Newcastle to Gateshead.
(6) Swing Bridge is another Grade II listed bridge, and stands on the site of the Old Tyne Bridges of 1270 and 1781, and also of the earlier Roman bridge. The current bridge was opened on 17 July 1876, and at the time was the largest swing bridge ever built.
(7) Redheugh Bridge The original bridge was designed by Thomas Bouch in 1859, but design flaws saw it replaced in 1897. Again, this new bridge had to be replaced due to design flaws and in 1983 the current bridge you see today was opened by Diana, Princess of Wales.
#8 Newcastle Brown Ale is America’s most imported British ale.
Newcastle Brown Ale (Newkie Brown, or Broon) was originally invented by Lieutenant Colonel James Herbert Porter (1891 - 1973), a First World War veteran with a Distinguished Service Order, and later the assistant brewer at Newcastle Breweries. The beer went into production in 1927 at Tyne Brewery, with the famous blue star logo being added to the bottle in 1928. The five points of the star represent the five founding breweries of Newcastle.
In the late 1990's, Newcastle Brown Ale was the most widely distributed alcoholic drink in the whole of the UK, where it still sells 100 million bottles each year. It is also America's most imported British ale.
#9 The Newcastle Blitz
During World War II, Newcastle, along with North Tyneside, Wearside, and Teeside, were all targets under Adolf Hitler's Directives. Known as the Newcastle Blitz, the bombing raids on the city killed around 400 people between July 1940 and December 1941. These places were targeted because of their heavy industry, as well as shipbuilding and docks which sent coal to London and the south. Many children were evacuated from Newcastle during the war, being sent out of the city to places such as the countryside villages of the Lake District and Northumberland.
#10 Newcastle has the largest independent library outside London
Founded in 1793 (more than 50 years before the London Library) 'the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne' (also called the Lit & Phil library) is a historical library and is the largest independent library outside of London.
The Lit and Phil is the place where famous engineer and inventor George Stephenson showed his miners safety lamp, and also it is where in 1879 Joseph Swan demonstrated his electric lightbulbs, making the Lit and Phil the first public building to be illuminated by the electric bulb.
#11 One of the worlds top ranked universities
Newcastle University dates back to the School of Medicine and Surgery, which was established in 1834.
In the 2022 QS World University Rankings (that looks at the world’s top 1,300 universities) Newcastle University was ranked 134th in the world.It was in 21st place in the United Kingdom, and 44th in Western Europe.
#12 Where the Geordie name comes from
People from Newcastle are known as Geordies, and there are a few theories where this Geordie name came from. The most likely theory is that during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, where Charles Edward Stuart led the Scots into England in an attempt to regain the British throne for his father James Francis Edward Stuart, the city of Newcastle's defended against them in support of King George II, and so the Jacobites referred to the inhabitants of Newcastle as 'Geordies', which is a derivation of George.
Another theory is that the name Geordie comes from George Stephenson, after he gave evidence to a Parliamentary Commission on Railways in London, and because of his accent, Londoners began calling the North East colliers "Geordies".
Yet another theory is that North East miners, used "Geordie Lamps", a form of safety lamp invented by George Stephenson himself.
A more simple theory is that George was a very common name amongst local pitmen and miners in the North East, so they became known as "Geordies".
I think the first theory is the one most Geordies would agree with. Let us know in the comments if you know of any other theories on where the name Geordie originates from.