Newcastle City Centre has always been a hub of important activity from the ancient Roman world to a modern cosmopolitan meeting place.
But how much do you know about the history of this exciting city? Whether you’re looking to move to Newcastle or want some pub quiz-worthy facts, keep reading. We’ve delved into Newcastle's rich cultural history and heritage to spread awareness of this spot’s past.
Scroll down to get a head start.
Did you know Newcastle can trace its origins back to the Roman Empire? Yes, this city's ancient history dates back to the 2nd century AD.
Newcastle was known as “Pons Aelius,” a small Roman settlement along Hadrian’s Wall in the Roman era. This small town was located on the banks of the River Tyne, close to the current centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Excavations have found that the settlement was home to a large frontier wall and a stone keep — very different to the luxury apartments in Newcastle today! This settlement was abandoned in the 4th century AD and remained uninhabited until the Anglo-Saxons arrived.
When the Normans took control of the UK in the 11th century, they didn’t ignore Newcastle.
Nope. These new rulers took control of the city and transformed it into a royal stomping ground with a new castle on the banks of the River Tyne. This was constructed from timber by Robert Curthose, the son of William the Conqueror.
Fun Fact: Wondering where Newcastle got its name? It was from Curthose’s 1080 castle!
As time continued, Newcastle became a principal settlement in the North East. Churches, markets, and mediaeval streets began appearing as more and more families flocked to the settlement.
During the mediaeval period, the original timber castle was rebuilt with stone. The town walls and the Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas were also started at this time from simple stone materials. Very different from the luxury Newcastle city living we know today, but an important part of the city’s history!
This development led Newcastle to be a strategic location in the English vs Scottish conflicts in years to come.
The first signs of the industrial revolution occurred in Tyneside when coal was used to fire class. This coal process led to the creation of wagonways, which then turned into early modern railways.
In the 1820s and 30s, Robert and George Stephenson started to develop the steam locomotive in their Newcastle-based works. The first trains were exclusively created to transport coal. But these designs would later be used for public transport.
Decades later, trains were found all over Europe and North America, and they’re considered one of the main driving forces behind the global industrial revolution.
If we jump to the 21st century, Newcastle was known as "Britain's Anvil."
The city was known as an industrial hub, as it was jam-packed with industry, coal staithes, engine shops, shipyards, merchants' offices, and much more. The population was booming, and many were drawn to the area for endless job opportunities.
Before the First World War, Newcastle and the North East were behind the constriction of one-third of ships worldwide. And in 1923, 21.5 million tons of coal were exported from the wider area.
The best of Newcastle has always been its hard-working people, and the city’s period as Britain’s Anvil proves this.
Modern Newcastle looks very different, but you can still find remnants of past societies within the city now. From the still-standing Cathedral to remnants of industrial architecture, Newcastle is home to various cultures and symbols of the past.
Today, Newcastle isn’t as industrial as it once was. However, it is the most populated city in the North East, now home to more arts and entertainment ventures. You’ll also find many green spaces, such as the city centre, Leazes Park and Town Moor.
Newcastle is also home to Newcastle University, a Russell Group member that focuses on research-intensive projects that attract students worldwide. Plus, Newcastle has been rated one of the best student party cities in the UK. There’s a balance of work and play here!
Whether you’re looking for an alternative night out or an educational museum day, Newcastle has it all.