12 Facts You Didn’t Know About Newcastle

What comes to mind when you think of Newcastle? Is it the iconic Tyne Bridge, popular nightlife, or that distinct ‘Geordie’ accent? Or perhaps you’re dreaming of those famous sausage rolls from Greggs? Well, here are some cool facts you may not have known about the city!

1. The 73-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall fragments are dotted around the city

Now a UNESCO world heritage site, the remains of the wall built in AD 122 by the Romans can be seen all around the city. Though mostly underground, fragments of the wall can be spotted in the most unlikely of places. Look out for fragments of the wall on shopping streets and even in housing estates!

Photo by madraban from Flickr.

2. How Newcastle locals got the nickname ‘Geordies’

When Scottish Jacobites marched across the North of England during the rebellion, Newcastle shut its gates to the rebels. It is supposed that their support for King George II earned the townsfolk the name ‘Geordies’. Another theory is that it came from George Stephenson of Newcastle, inventor of the miner’s lamp.

3. Rowan Atkinson (A.K.A Mr. Bean) is from Newcastle

No doubt you recognise him as one of the most beloved characters from your childhood. That’s right, Rowan Atkinson was born in Newcastle. Some other famous faces you might recognise from this lively city are Cheryl Cole, and Ant & Dec.

“Best HD Rowan Atkinson as MR Bean” by Tatiana T is licensed under CC BY 2.0

4. Newcastle Central Station was the first covered train station in the world

Newcastle Central Station was inaugurated by Queen Victoria on August 29th, 1850. Before then, railway passengers all over the world had to weather the storm while they awaited the arrival of their train. The day was declared a public holiday in Newcastle and has been ever since.

5. Grazing cattle are no strangers to Newcastle City Centre!

Yes, you read that right; dating back to the 14th century, Newcastle council still maintains the tradition of communal grazing. This takes place from Spring to Autumn each year. The Town Moor act of 1774 states the right to practice this unusual tradition.

“Castle Leazes Cows” by Conor Lawless is licensed under CC BY 2.0

6. St. Nicolas’ Cathedral was also used as a lighthouse to guide ships up the River Tyne.

Ever heard of a lighthouse in the middle of a busy city before? We sure have! Since its construction in 1448, a fire would be lit inside the lantern tower of the cathedral. This was one of the main navigation aids for ships for hundreds of years!

Photo by Newcastle Libraries from Flickr

7. Newcastle was the first city in the world to build a combined road and rail bridge

High Level Bridge is the oldest of the ten existing bridges crossing the Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead. Opened in 1849, it was designed to create a continuous line from London to Edinburgh. It was restored in 2008 so no need to worry if you happen across the bridge by train someday!

“River Tyne, Newcastle-upon-Tyne” by Matthew Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0

8. There is a unique tourist attraction underground!

The Victoria Tunnel opened in 1842 as an underground wagonway to carry coal to the Tyne. It was used as an air-raid shelter during World War 2 and protected thousands of citizens. Today, you can visit the tunnel in the form of a guided tour. During current restrictions, a virtual tour is available!

9. The famous Swing Bridge still uses the same mechanism since 1876!

At the time of its construction, it was once the world’s largest swinging bridge. It uses pressurised water to power hydraulic engines and has swung over 300,000 times in 150 years – wow! The busiest year for the bridge was 1924 when it opened 6,000 times. It received some restoration work in 2018, to renovate the timber decking. The swinging mechanism uses the same machinery installed by engineer William Armstrong when it was first built. Isn’t that an impressive achievement?

Photo by Wisebuys21 from Flickr

10. Car windscreen wipers were invented in Newcastle!

We bet you couldn’t have guessed that one! Gladstone Adams was the official photographer of Newcastle United Football Club. He drove to London in 1908 to photograph the FA cup final. On his drive back to Newcastle in the snow, he had to stop several times to clear his windscreen. It was then that he came up with the idea of the windscreen wiper! Though he filed for a patent for his version of the windscreen wiper, it was never manufactured. American inventor Mary Anderson beat him to the punch, inventing the wiper we use today. Back then, it was a more manual process!

11. Mosley Street in Newcastle was the first in the UK to be lit by electric light

In 1879, Mosley Street was lit for one night by Joseph Swan’s incandescent lamp. Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison both independently invented versions of the lightbulb between 1860 and 1880. After a court battle to name the original inventor of the lightbulb, it was Swan’s patent that was upheld in court. They later joined forces to found the electric light company, Ediswan.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

12. The Geordie accent was voted most friendly accent in Britain

We’re sure you’ll agree if you’ve had the pleasure of speaking to a Newcastle local, they have the most pleasant demeanor. Sitel surveyed over 2,000 people in the UK and found the Geordie accent to be considered the friendliest in the UK. We would have to agree! If you don’t believe us, you should add this amazing city to your bucket list and see for yourself. Of course, there is a 4-star Maldron Hotel situated right in the heart of it all. Be sure to chat to the wonderfully welcoming team at the hotel before you set off on your adventure around Newcastle!

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