Newcastle Women

Women make up slightly more than 50 percent of the population of Britain. Wandering around Newcastle, looking at the many statues and monuments, you could be forgiven for thinking that, apart from Queen Victoria, there were no notable women in Newcastle’s History. Nothing could be further from the truth. What follows is a small selection of remarkable Tyneside/Newcastle women.

Trams in Gosforth

After 1879 this building was the home to stables and trams used in horse drawn Tramways. Strangely enough the first destination built for the tramways system was Wallsend rather than Newcastle. By 1906 most of the horse drawn trams had been replaced by electric trams powered by Manors Power Station

[catlist id=101 numberposts=15 pagination=yes instance=1]

Newcastle’s Cycle Hub 18 things to see within 5 minutes walk




Going for Gold: Best Tourism Experience 2014

Going for Gold: Best Tourism Experience 2014’s not often we get the chance to hang up our aprons and bike maintenance tools to get dressed up for an awards ceremony, but that’s certainly what we got up to for…

Hadrian’s Way Cycle Path Newcastle to Tynemouth

Starting on Newcastle’s Quayside it’s fairly easy to follow this safe and picturesque cycle path all the way to the coast at Tynemouth. The final 11 miles of the Hadrians Way Cycle Path is very beautiful and diverse.  There are some great places to stop and have a picnic with panoramic views over the River Tyne.

Sage Gateshead

sage2From the outside the Sage looks a bit like a clenched fist.  The building is used as a music venue and concert hall, and is blessed with wonderful acoustics.  The building is open to the public, there is  a self guided  tour and cafe.  Great views of the River and Bridges from inside the building.

The planning and construction process cost over £70 million, which was raised primarily through National Lottery grants. The contractor was Laing O’Rourke.

The centre has a range of patrons, notably Sage Group which contributed a large sum of money to have the building named after it. Sage plc has helped support the charitable activities of Sage Gateshead since its conception. The venue opened over the weekend 17 – 19 December 2004.


Sage Gateshead

Sage Gateshead North East landmark live music venue bringing world class artists, musicians and bands to the region. View upcoming performances and concerts a…


Ouseburn Gateways

Always a surprise how many people don’t know where Ouseburn is!  If you see one of these landmarks then you know you are on the right track.

Get the App, Newcastle Ouseburn on iTunes.

Underground Ballroom in Gosforth

fathomFive minutes from South Gosforth Metro, past St Nicholas Church and the Prefabricated Homes stands a monument, a flag stone. The stones marks the site of a former Pit. From this point running underground back towards the church lies a geological fault known as the Ninety Fathom Dyke. The fault line goes all the way from Cullercoats to South East Northumberland, to dig the Pit and get to the coal miners have to dig through 700 metres of solid rock.

The Pit was first dug in 1825, it took four years to dig down to the coal, by 1829 they cut through the rock and get to the coal. After cutting through the rock a giant cavern is found. To celebrate the end of the four year endeavour and the sinking of the Pit g a Ball was organised, to be held in the L Shaped Cavern, 1100 feet below the surface with its 48 feet ceiling. The Ball was for everyone not just the Coxlodge miners, Ball begins 6th February 1829, starts at 9:00 in the morning and goes on until 3:30 in the afternoon. The floor is paved, chairs are taken down, candles used for illumination, with a band playing music.

All of the 250 guests had to go down in a small cage, everyone was provided with cold punch whiskey and biscuits. Guests walked to the coal face and was able to cut a small amount of coal as a souvenir. The Pit was owned by the Brandling family and known as the Mary and Agnes Pit.

[catlist id=101 numberposts=15 pagination=yes instance=1]

Victoria Tunnel Tragedy

IMG_4619.JPGThree men walked into the tunnel, only one man would walk out.

Until that fateful day the Victoria tunnel had never had any accidents, the tunnel, built to take coal from Spital Tongues to the Quayside, was 2 miles long. It had been constructed without incident, a tremendous feat of engineering, opened to great ceremony with the Mayor of Newcastle traveling down on the first truck. For eighteen years it had carried coal underground, no one had been killed no one had been hurt, no one that is until that day.

Understand how the Tunnel worked, there is a gradient running from the North of Newcastle, a gradual slope running down to the quayside. Load a truck with coal, give it a push and let gravity do the rest. No need for engines, it was all very green, very efficient, environmentalists would have loved it. Empty trucks were hauled back up using long ropes and a stationary steam engine. it was ingenious, a triumph of engineering no other city in the country developed anything like this, once again we are out on our own.

You don’t need to be an engineer to understands that once you get a heavy truck moving down a slope, the laws of physics kick in and the truck starts going faster and faster. Imagine if you will a two man bob sleigh, one Man, the brake man at the back giving the initial push, then jumping on to the moving vehicle, the man on the front seated looking out for problems ahead and shouting back to the brake man. In the case the man on the front, the lamp man, shines his torch ahead looking for problems, What could possible go wrong?

Three men walked in only one would get out.

On this particular day, there was no coal being moved, the tunnel was closed, in maintenenance mode. At the riverside end of the tunnel three men walked up the tunnel from the river Tyne. They had gone some way up the tunnel, At the other end of the tunnel, in Spital Tongues unbeknownst to them, two men were loading a truck with bits and pieces, fully laden they were preparing to start the two mile journey down to the river.

The first man got into position crouching at the front of the truck, lantern held high, shouting his readiness to the brake man. The brake man gave an amighty push and prepared to jump on the truck.

This is when catastrophe Struck, the brake man misses his footing, falls, by the time he got to his feet, the truck was gone, too far away to catch up, he shouts but the brake man doesn’t hear him. It doesn’t take long for the lamp-man to realise something is amiss, he shouts at the brakeman to slow the truck, which is going faster and faster, no reply, he guesses the awful truth.

At this point the brake man knows he is doomed, he has no options, if he jumps off he is crushed, there is no clearance for him to climb back, the truck is destined to come shooting out of the tunnel, he imagines he’ll either be drowned or pulverised by the truck when it hits the water. Not a nice way to go.

Meanwhile the three men walking up the tunnel, have started to hear the noise of the approaching truck, it gets louder and louder until it is a deafening roar you don’t need to be Nostradamus to work out what is happening, they don’t know there is no brakeman, but they must guess that the truck is out of control, the noise, it’s too loud going too fast,

Runaway truck! What do you do?

Each man has a decision to make, there were three choices

1) Try and out run the truck. As a choice this is not as stupid as it first appears especially. To survive the ‘running man’ needs to beleive that he can run faster than his two friends. All that was necessary was outrun the other men, so the Truck hit them and derailed before it reached you, if you consider yourself to be faster runner than your companions, this this would be a logical choice for a fit man

Runaway truck! What do you do?

2) Try and brace yourself against the wall. There were no indentations in the Tunnel wall but a skinny man might hope that by pushing hard against the walls of the tunnel, he might just evade serious injury, a logical choice for a skinny older man unable to run.

Runaway truck! What do you do?

3) The third and final choice perhaps requires the most courage, to can lie flat between the rails and hope the truck gove overt you without doing too much damage. The lying man would have to choose to like face down or face up and whether to lie with his head facing the oncoming truck or away from it. Bearing in mind most mens most treasured possessions it would perhaps be as well to lie face down. The temptation to lift your head as the oncoming truck reached you would have to be resisted.

Runaway truck! What do you do?

If you are telling this story to children there is a fourth option, the Popeye Solution, simply roll up your sleeves, eat a can of spinach, and punch the truck so it starts going backwards.

Well each man chose a different option, three men walked in only one man walked out.

Want to know the ending? Book a place on Newcastle most popular tourist attraction, the Victoria Tunnel.

Tragedy at Tarset Street

Tarset Street
Tarset Street
On May 31st 1941 a young girl, Irene Page, fell into a bottleneck crater left by a bomb. Boy Scout Ernest Smith, was lowered down to her on a rope, but passed out. Two firemen also descended into the hole before people realised that it was full of lethal gas. Irene and her would-be rescuers all died in the crater.

At the end of Coquet St, take the alley on the right into St Ann’s Close (next to the street sign for High Level Walk 178-55). From these seats there are striking views of the much lower Lime Street in Ouseburn. Tarset St was bombed in 1941.

Lime Street Slipway
Lime Street Slipway

[catlist id=49 numberposts=20 pagination=yes instance=1]

The strange tale of the Ouseburn Culvert

In 1904, Newcastle Corporation secured permission to enclose the Ouseburn in a ferro-concrete culvert, 700 metres in length. Work on this major engineering project began in 1907. Old industries like the Ouseburn Lead Works were demolished, then an arch of concrete, reinforced with a skeleton of steel rods was built around a temporary wooden frame. The construction of the culvert, a major engineering feat was by in large successfull. The process of filling in the valley was less straightforward.

Everything was then to be buried beneath the infamous Ouseburn Tip. Up to 30 metres of household waste and coal ashes were dumped on the open ground above the culvert over a forty year period. On hot summer days this mixture would self- combust causing localised fires and lots of smoke. It was never intended to take forty years.

For some people the Ouseburn Tip was a boon. Local residents would scavenge for rags, metal and other valuables, that they could sell, or shoes and clothes that their families could wear. This was known locally as ‘scrannin on the tip’, and the many pieces of broken china and pottery collected by a generation of children was known as ‘boody’ and used as a form of coinage.

Air Raid Precautions: In 1939, the culvert was converted into an air raid shelter. This £11,251 scheme involved adding a concrete platform inside the culvert. The Ouseburn continued to flow beneath the platform, while lighting, protective blast walls, benches and bunk beds were added in the space above to create temporary accommodation for 3000 local residents. People accessed the shelter from steps built into the tip. You can still see part of the culvert arch, but the remains of the war time entrance is under the floor of the riding area.

The Ouseburn Tip could not support the housing originally planned by Newcastle Corporation, and in 1961, Councillor T. Dan Smith proposed that the area be used as a sports stadium, to be completed in time for the Empire Games of 1966. These plans never materialised. Today the tip itself is an open expanse of grass and trees name the ‘City Stadium Park’.
City Stadium, Ouseburn Monument
[catlist id=66 numberposts=12 pagination=yes instance=1]

Fish Market

img_0597The Fish Market in Victorian times (post 1880 when it was built) on the Quayside near the Guildhall. As the commercial heart of Newcastle moved away from the Quayside so did the traders and the Fish Market moved, during the twentieth century until 1976 it was on Clayton Street, From 1876 the Fish Market moved to the Green Market, part of the new Eldon Square.

Today it is difficult to know where the fish market is.Neptune looks across the Tyne from the top of the old Fish Market, erected in 1880. Also note the larger than usual sea-horses supporting the city arms above the door. This building has been unused for over a decade, but it now rejoins the commercial activity of the area, this time as a high class ale house for the booze sodden partygoers that make the nightly pilgrimage to this centre of revelry.

The upper storey of this building used to house the Town Court, and the Mayor’s Chamber. It is decorated with heraldic devices and scenes from Newcastle’s history, topped by a hammer beam roof.