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GREAT NORTH FACTS
The word England derives from Angla- or Engla- land i.e the North East, the land of the Angles.
The population of the Great North - England north of Yorkshire and Lancashire - is greater than that of Wales.
The Vindolanda letters from Hadrian's Wall are, according to the British Museum, the most important single domestic artefact ever found in Britain. The handwriting of the Officer’s wife in the celebrated ‘party’ letter is the earliest example of a woman’s writing found in the entire Roman Empire.
Because of these letters we now know the names of some 500 people present in Roman Britain, whereas formerly we knew of only one or two.
Hadrian's Wall and Durham Cathedral/Castle were two of Britain's nine original World Heritage sites.
The Brigantes of northern England were a constant thorn in the Roman side. Their huge fortress at Stanwick (Tees) was destroyed after their revolt in AD 69-74, but they rose again in AD 120 when the 9th Legion was defeated at York (and then supposedly disappeared) in AD 138 and AD 154.
In the seventh century AD, three kings of Northumbria held the title of Bretwalda - Lord of Britain.
Tyne salmon were famous as early as AD 1100, the reign of Henry I.
Coal was discovered in 1234 and Newcastle became the first coal port in the world.
Newcastle was the third richest provincial town in England in the 14th century and became a county with its own sheriff in 1400. It had had a mayor since 1215.
Newcastle has a greater extent of (13th century) mediaeval wall than all bar four English cities.
The strong stone-built mediaeval defensive dwellings known as bastle houses are unique to Northumberland.
Mitford Castle has the only five-sided keep in the country.
Bishop Hatfield's seat in Durham Cathedral is the highest throne in Christendom.
Geordie speech is not a mere accent or urban form of standard English: it preserves a tradition of pronunciations and words that go back when Angles (and Vikings) settled the North.
The Bishop of Durham's hunting forest in Weardale was the second largest in England after the royal New Forest.
The Northumberland forest park is the largest area of woodland in the UK.
Countess Mary Bowes of Gibside and Cicely Neville, the 'Rose of Raby' are both direct ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II.
During the Wars of the Roses, Edward IV's biggest gun was named 'Newcastle'
The church of St Nicholas was rebuilt in 1362 and has a splendid tower of 1474 with a lacy lantern crown. Only four such crowns exist in Britain and that of St. Nicholas is the earliest and by far the most ornate and delicate.
The Spanish Armada was harried as far as the Tyne in 1588
William Shakespeare performed in Newcastle and Carlisle in that year.
The medical attendants of Edward I; Henry V; Henry VII; Henry VIII; George I and George III were all from the North East; Karl Marx's last doctor was a Geordie. Thomas Trotter of Newcastle cured Nelson's other eye.
In the 18th century Newcastle was the fourth largest printing centre in England after London Oxford and Cambridge.
The Martin Luther Kirche in Newcastle, with its German-speaking congregation, is one of only two such in Britain.
Phoenix Lodge (1785) in Sunderland is the oldest surviving Freemasons Hall in the country.
Thomas Sheraton and George Hepplewhite were both natives of County Durham.
The modern lifeboat was invented in South Shields.
David Attenborough said that Captain Cook was his ideal human being.
HMS Trincomalee (1817) restored at Hartlepool is the oldest British warship still afloat.
The Zetland at Redcar is the oldest lifeboat in existence. It was built in South Shields. The Tyne lifeboat at South Shields is the second oldest preserved lifeboat in the world.
Durham is England's third oldest university (1832) and would have been a university some two centuries earlier, had it not been for the opposition of Oxford and Cambridge.
The C2C route across the North Pennines is the most popular long-distance cycle route in England.
George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World are both strongly linked to the North East.
In 1857 George Crawshay installed England’s first private Turkish Bath at Tynemouth House.
Robert Stephenson's High Level at Newcastle was the first road/rail bridge in the world, carrying the A1 and the railway line to Edinburgh on top. Brunel's design had been rejected.
John Bowes, founder of the great museum at Barnard Castle, kept ten brood mares at his Streatlam stud. They produced four Derby winners in 20 years, an incredible achievement. The last of them, West Australian, was the first racehorse ever to win the triple crown (1853). Incidentally, the dam of the most famous racehorse of them all, Eclipse, was bred at Windlestone in Co. Durham.
Beeswing (1833-54) bred at the Nunnykirk Hall stud was hailed as the greatest mare in Britain. On both her dam and her sire's side, Beeswing went back to the renowned Eclipse. Entering 63 events, she won an incredible 51 times. Of the 57 races she finished, she was placed lower than 2nd on only one occasion. Her most notable victory was the 1842 Ascot Gold Cup. Many of today's top racehorses can trace their line back to Beeswing.
In 1879 George Waller, a Tyneside professional cyclist, won the world long-distance cycling championship. This was in the Agricultural Hall in Islington, where Waller rode 1400 miles in six days on a penny-farthing.
Arthur Holmes, the greatest British geologist of the 20th century was born in Hebburn.
Lord Beveridge, the founder of the modern welfare state, is buried in the churchyard at Thockrington.
Constance Bolam, a parlour-maid, was the first woman conscientious objector (of 257) in WWII. She refused to do any kind of work that might release someone for active service. She was sentenced by Newcastle magistrates and spent a month in Durham jail. There is a day-by-day diary of the North East in WWII at "http://www.ne-diary.bpears.org.uk/".
Newcastle and Sunderland Social services were awarded 3 stars (the top grade) in the 2002-04 government assessments.
Sunderland has been listed among the 18 most intelligent cities in the world for an unprecedented fourth time 2002-2005, in the top 7 for the last two years. The criteria are the teaching and application of IT to technology and the community.
Hexham is the finest market town in England, according to Country Life 2006
In the 2006 Britain in Bloom awards, Durham came first in the small city category, Hexham in the town list.
Northumbria Police were the best police force in England (Home Office data 2003; and among best in 2004. The burglary rate is half and car crime two thirds those of similar forces.
In 2003 Country Life declared Alnwick to be the best place in the UK to live.
Barter Books in Alnwick is one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Europe.
Haltwhistle is the geographical centre of Britain
Durham University was named as Sunday Times university of the year in 2005.
David Scott Cowper of Newcastle is the first man to have sailed single-handed round the world in both directions. He is also the first to have sailed (powered) through the North West Passage. It took him four summers.
South Tyneside College is one of only two marine training colleges in the United Kingdom.
The North Pier at Sunderland has a tunnel running the full length to allow the lighthouse keepers and wreck survivors to reach shore in safety
The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was designated a European Geopark by UNESCO in 2003, the first in Britain. This implies geology of world interest
Tony Blair was brought up near Durham from the age of five.
VIZ the enormously popular scatological magazine is based in Newcastle, where it was founded in Jesmond.
Charles Robinson Sykes of Newcastle designed the Rolls Royce 'Spirit of Ecstasy' bonnet mascot.
John Gilroy of Newcastle designed the famous old Guinness advertisements.
In 2004 the North East received record numbers of overseas visitors.
The Sydney Harbour bridge has 6 million rivets and is stamped MADE IN MIDDLESBROUGH
Boulby Potash mine near Middlesbrough is the deepest mine in Europe and is used for experiments to detect the elusive dark matter of the universe.
Anne Wood, creator of the teletubbies, grew up in Spennymoor
Plasticine was invented by W. Harbutt of North Shields
The first square wooden police boxes in Britain appeared in Sunderland (1923) followed by Newcastle (1925). London boxes date from 1928-37
Bloodaxe Books claims to bring out more books of new poetry than any other publisher. It was founded in Newcastle and is based in the North East.
Andy Capp of Hartlepool was syndicated in 50 countries
A Sunderland player's prowess with the one-handed throw-in was such that the two-handed throw was brought in.
A Newcastle player invented the offside trap.
The armed forces recruit 20% of their strength from the North East. By the end of WWI, the Northumberland Fusiliers had 55 battalions in the field, a record for the British army.
The largest British cemetery on the Western Front is Tyne Cot in Passchendaele, named after the resemblance of a German bunker there to a North East pit cottage.
Some 4000 Tyneside seamen died in WWII, including 800 Yemeni Arabs The battleship King George V (launched into the Tyne by George VI), was the flagship of the C-in-C Home Fleet, and played a major role in the dramatic pursuit and destruction of the Bismarck in May 1941. The Tyne-built cruiser Sheffield and the aircraft carrier Victorious also took part in the action. Other capital ships built on the river were the battleship Anson, the aircraft carrier Illustrious and the present flagship of the Royal Navy Ark Royal, which went into service in 1985.
Established in Newcastle in 1983, Sage has become the UK's most valuable software company and the only one listed on the FTSE 100. It has 3.6 million customers worldwide.
Newcastle is the second driest city in the country.
The North East conurbation is no colder than anywhere else in eastern Britain in winter. It is warmer than the midlands and central southern England, including Oxford and Cambridge, which both endure much longer sub-zero temperatures.
In the Guardian's list of favourite British cities in 2000, Newcastle was the most popular large English city, in ninth place (Durham was sixth).. London was 28th. In 2002-04 Newcastle was the top short break destination.
The Shields Gazette is the oldest evening newspaper in the country.
The Newcastle Town Moor (929 acres) is much larger than Hampstead Heath (708 acres, including Ken Wood) and Hyde Park (363 acres), nor has London anything like jesmond Dene, a wooded gorge that runs right through the city.
The professors of history at Yale and Harvard , and the professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics are all Geordies.
The Northern Sinfonia, based at the Sage, Gateshead, was founded in 1958 as the first permanent chamber orchestra in England. Still the only one in 2001.
Major prize-winning authors born/based in the North East include:
Pat Barker; Barry Unsworth; Anne Fine; Jane Gardam; Sean O'Brien; Gillian Allnutt; Anne Stevenson; the late Julia Darling; Eva Ibbotson, Tony Harrison; Sylvia Waugh; Aidan Chambers; the late Robert Westall; David Almond; Gordon Burn; Lee Hall (Oscar-nominated script-writer for Billy Elliott) etc.
In December 1999. Terry Deary of Sunderland won the title of the outstanding children's non-fiction writer of the 20th century. His books sell one million a year.
Alan Shearer was voted premiership player of the decade 1990-2000.
The North East has 47 shades of ginger hair, a greater variety than anywhere else in the world.
Sunderland Museum/Winter Gardens is the best large visitor attraction outside London. (Excellence in England awards).
Beamish Museum was best large attraction in 2005.
The Durham Oriental Museum has the largest and best display outside London.
The (National) Centre for the Childrens' Book is located in Newcastle.
The Angel of the North was selected among the first 12 official Icons of England in 2006
Lit n Phil, Newcastle
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In May 2005 Country Life conducted a poll of 100 famous people to decide the most scenic rail route in Britain. The winner was the GNER line between Durham and Berwick.
The sea near Saltburn has some of the best and most challenging surf in Britain.
The splendid Literary and Philosophical Library celebrated its bicentenary in 1993. It was founded fifty years before the London Library.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the North East was converted from the worst-housed region into one of the best.
Newcastle Hospitals Trust One has one of the lowest mortality rates in the country and is ranked second in the country for confidence in doctors. Staffing levels are high in the top 70 in England for doctors and the top ten for nurses. 1998-2000. In 2003 Newcastle Hospitals Trust again on the short list for hospital of the year. It has three large teaching hospitals, of which the Freeman is Britain's third transplant centre. The Royal Victoria Infirmary organ donor system has been praised and featured on television.
There is no red light district in Newcastle. The city has no strip clubs or porn cinemas and only one licensed sex shop. There hasn't been an arrest for female soliciting in 30 years.
The first lifeboat station in Britain, and, there are good reasons for believing, in the world, was established at Bamburgh in the late 18th century - Grace Darling's birthplace.
The first Life Brigade in the country was established in Tynemouth to assist seamen whose vessels had struck the Black Midden rocks. A breeches buoy and rocket-fired ropes were used. The brigade's Watch House (1886-7) is a fascinating place.
The road up through Weardale to Alston is the highest road in England - over two thousand feet high. Alston is the highest market town in England. Weardale is the highest populated dale in the country.
Wolsingham in Weardale has the oldest agricultural show in England. Began 1778
The first Boy Scout camp in England was held in 1908 on a site west of Parkshields farm at the foot of the North Tyne Valley
The youngest ever VC was a County Durham lad of Italian extraction Dennis Donnini (1925-45) from Easington Colliery.
Richard Annand of South Shields was the first man to be awarded the VC in World War II.
The safest places in the country as regards road accidents - County Durham and Tyne and Wear
1999-2001 Northumbria University in Newcastle the top of the new university list three years in succession. Again in 2005.
South Tyneside College in South Shields has the largest teaching planetarium outside London.
Gateshead Metro Centre the largest out-of-town shopping centre in Europe. It is the most profitable shopping centre in this country a long way ahead of Oxford St. It houses the first 'out of town' Marks and Spencer and has the busiest cinema in Europe. It has 12,000 free parking spaces and gets 30 million customers a year and over 6000 coaches. 70% of customers arrive by public transport. The Church Commission retains a 10% stake.
There are more flower shops in Newcastle per head of population than anywhere in Britain.
Sunderland has the longest beach area (and the largest greenbelt) within its boundaries of any city in England.
The NE is second to the SE in eating out.
Mary Ann Cotton b. East Rainton was Britain's most prolific murderess, despatching at least 14 persons, including three husbands, poisoned for their insurance money. She was executed at Durham jail 24 march 1873.
GREAT NORTH FIRSTS IN SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND FOOD
The first intact mesolithic house in the country was found on the Northumberland coast at Howick. Hitherto these people were thought to be nomadic, living in flimsy portable dwellings. The people were hunter/gatherers and plentiful flint implements were found on the site.
The Twizel bridge over the Tweed was built in the 15th century. It was the longest single span bridge in the country until the Causey Arch built by Ralph Wood in 1727 (the first railway bridge in the country).
Union Chain Bridge at Loan End was built 1819-20 to the design of Captain Samuel Brown R.N. who later designed the chain piers at Newhaven and Brighton. John Rennie advised on the abutments and the design of the tower. It was the first suspension bridge in Europe to carry vehicular traffic. Telford's Menai bridge used Brown's suspension chain link patent of 1817, but was not completed until 1826.
Dunston Staiths on the Tyne is the largest wooden structure in Europe, possibly the world (1700 feet of braced timber).
Winch Bridge in Teesdale was built c. 1741 for the use of lead miners. It was the earliest of all European permanent suspension bridges. It was 70 feet long and two feet wide, with iron chains and a hand rail on one side only. It was rebuilt in 1820 after a fatal accident.
The first use of electricity in lighthouses was at Dungeness, South Foreland and Souter Point. Actually the Souter lighthouse is at Lizard Point, but the name was changed to avoid confusion with the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.
Whitburn Colliery had by 1931 established a world record by producing 18,000 tons in a week with 1600 men.
The Industrial Revolution occurred without the assistance of the City of London. It was financed by local people and local banks.
Newcastle was the greatest glass-making centre in the world at the end of the 18th century. The Newcastle light baluster. Beilby enamelled glasses. By the 1820s there were over 40 glass-making concerns within half a mile of the city centre.
First steam-driven public railway 1825. Stockton to Darlington railway.
'Rocket' and 'Locomotion I' both built in Newcastle.
Russia's first railway locomotive ordered in 1836 from Timothy Hackworth's Soho works in Shildon. Before 1840, Stephenson locomotives working on the Petersburg-Pavlovsk line. The firm supplied the first locos to the USA (1828); Germany (1835); and Belgium (1835) - and Brunel's GWR North Star (1837). This latter locomotive drew the director's” train on the opening of the line in 1841, because it was the only reliable engine Brunel had.
North Road station in Darlington is the oldest in the world (1840s)
John Dobson, the celebrated Newcastle architect, argued for the role of his profession in building railway stations, and his noble neo-classical Newcastle Central is regarded by many as the finest station in England. It had the first large vaulted roof of iron ribs and glass ever constructed, and was the precursor of all great station roofs. Its magnificent success was largely due to Dobson's own invention of special rolls to produce the curved wrought-iron ribs. A banquet in honour of Robert Stephenson was held under this vault.
First friction match 1826. John Walker of Stockton
First hydraulic crane 1855. Lord Armstrong
First armour-plate industry in the world Jarrow 1852
First screw-driven iron collier ('John Bowes'). Sir Charles Mark Palmer. First modern cargo ship 1852
First breech-loading gun 1855. Lord Armstrong
Tongue of Big Ben manufactured at Hopper's Foundry, Houghton-le-Spring 1858.
1866 Sir Daniel Gooch laid the first transatlantic cable and sent the first message.
Fairy Soap was launched... Be-Ro flour, Andrews named after St Andrew‘s Church , Enos Fruit Salts and Lucozade are firsts for the city...
lamps by Swan & Edison, 1880s
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The Newcastle Chemical Society was the first such provincial society in Britain, perhaps the world. The first public demonstration of electric lighting took place at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle. It was here that Sir Joseph Swan described his carbon filament lamp to the Newcastle Chemical Society on 19 December 1878 (and demonstrated it on 3 February 1879 before an audience of 700) thus launching electric lighting as we know it. The Lit and Phil was indeed the first public building to be lit by electric light. Edison, who had been working along similar lines, is usually held to be the inventor of the filament lamp, but, strictly speaking, Swan has the priority. He was using a carbon filament two decades before Edison but couldn't get light bulbs in which the vacuum was good enough. Eventually, Edison and Swan formed a joint company (Ediswan) in Great Britain.
Sir Joseph Swan's villa at 99 Kells Lane, Underhill, Gateshead was the first private house in England to be lit by electric light.
Lord Armstrong's great mansion 'Cragside' near Rothbury, built by Norman Shaw, is lit by Swan bulbs. The house was the first in the world to be lit using hydro-electricity and visitors today can see the ingenious devices by which power is supplied from reservoirs high on the hillside - a thousand acres planted with magnificent trees and rhododendrons.
Mosely Street in Newcastle was the first street in Britain to be lit by electric light bulbs (1880) and is said to have been the first in the world (1818) to be lit by gas.
First quick-break time switch 1884. John H. Holmes of Newcastle
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Sir Charles Parsons had launched the little Turbinia on the Tyne in 1894, the first turbine-powered ship in the world. At the Spithead review in 1897, she daringly steamed through the rows of Royal Navy ships at an uncatchable 34 knots, and revolutionised the navies of the world. Even more importantly, Parsons' development of the high-speed turbine made the large-scale generation of electric power possible and thus changed all our lives. As L.T.C Rolt has pointed out, few inventions have emerged so fully-fledged from the brain of one man, and few have had more far-reaching social consequences. Far from referring disparagingly to 'the steam age', we should bear in mind that an overwhelming proportion of the electricity we use is still generated by steam turbines. These machines are the true descendants of the engine Parsons fathered 110 years ago. No wonder the BBC entitled their film about Parsons The Inventor of the Twentieth Century. Parsons was the first engineer to be made O.M. and was buried in Westminster Abbey, like Robert Stephenson. The New Scientist called Parsons 'The Man Who Launched a Thousand Grids'
After World War I, shipbuilding declined. Around 1900 the North East often produced in any one year two out of every five ships built in the world, and in the thirty years before World war I, it was rare when it did not build a third of the world's shipping.
The original hydraulic system of Tower Bridge in London was made by Armstrong Mitchell in Newcastle. The original machinery is no longer in use, except for the bascule pivot and the drive shafts.
[The actual bridge structure was built in Glasgow by William Arrol and Co. of Dalmanrock]
The Newcastle-North Shields line was the first suburban railway catering for passengers only (29 March 1904). It was also the first electric provincial railway in the world (C. Merz) five years before similar developments in London.
In 1914, on the western front, the Amstrong 60-pounder was described as a 'really excellent gun'. The 'backbone of the British artillery effort' was the 18-pounder produced in the main by Armstrongs, along with Vickers. Lloyd George had chosen a small group of trustworthy armaments firms to cope with the demands of the war and Armstrong Whitworth was among them.
Sir William Mills (1856-1922) inventor of the Mills Bomb of World War I fame was born in Sunderland.
South Shields once had the largest alkali works in the world.
In his review of the region's history conducted for the 1970 Durham meeting of the British Association, W.M. Hughes commented that:
It is perhaps hard for us to realise after the years of intervening depression that for sixty years before 1914, the Durham (and Northumberland) pitmen and the shipyard workers of the Tyne and wear were among the most highly-paid workers in the world outside the USA... The decline into poverty of the inter-war years was from the heights to the depths.
In the 19th century, agricultural wages in Northumberland were the highest in the country. Attested to by William Cobbett and Ivor Gurney. Coal miners' wages twice that in South Wales - plus free housing and free coal.
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The RMS Mauretania held the blue riband of the Atlantic from 1907-1929 - longer than any other ship. When she was built at Wallsend, she was the largest, fastest and most luxurious liner afloat. She was the first ship to be equipped with the revolutionary Parsons steam turbines.
The Tyne-Wear Metro was the first light rapid transport system in the country.
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is the first rotating bridge in the world
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge won the Royal Fine Arts Commission building of the year award, and the Stirling Award in 2002.
Newcastle claims to be the first town in England to brew ale.
The kipper is a North East invention. Originated in Seahouses in 1843. Craster kippers probably the best oak-smoked kippers in the world.
North Shields fish market unique in selling direct from trawler to fishmonger. North East fish is renowned for freshness.
John William Hoggett of Whickham is said to have invented the flavoured potato crisp. The Ravensworth cinema in Gateshead claims to have been the first cinema to put crisps on sale by arrangement with Hoggett's
By the latter part of the 17th century, the salt producing industry of North and South Shields was the largest in the country.
Fairy Soap was launched in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1898. After turning green (from brownish-yellow) for nationwide launch in 1927, green was always the colour of the Fairy brands. Domestos, Be-Ro flour, Andrews, Enos Fruit Salts and Lucozade are firsts for the city. John Crossley Eno, a pharmacist at the Newcastle Infirmary had a shop in Bigg Market.
According to Alison Aldburgham's authoritative Shops and Shopping, Bainbridge's in Newcastle was probably the first department store in the world (along with Kendal, Milne and Faulkner in Manchester) and seven years in advance of the Bon Marché in Paris, whose methods, unlike the pioneering ideas of Emerson Musgrave Bainbridge, were seen by American tourists and transplanted to America. It is the largest John Lewis store outside London.
Mrs Jane Snowball of Gateshead is the first recorded person to have ordered goods online (from Tesco in 1984). She was then 72.
POPULAR ARTS AND SPORT
First dog show in the world 28/9 June 1859. Newcastle town hall.
Darlington Dog Show a championship show since 1969 and is the largest British show after Crufts.
First beauty contest in Britain 23 December 1905. Olympia theatre Newcastle
First provincial showing of the cinematograph, Palace Theatre Newcastle March 1896
There was a water-chute at Whitley Bay in 1909.
The People's Theatre is still in existence in Stephenson Road, Heaton and can claim to be the world's oldest amateur repertory company (begun in 1911)
The Tyne Theatre and Opera House has the oldest working stage machinery in existence.
The Theatre Royal is the RSC's third home. There has been a five week season there every year for twenty three years. The company is a freeman of Newcastle. Newcastle was the last place in England to have its own circuit of Music Halls.
The News Theatre in Newcastle, now the Tyneside Film Theatre, is the only surviving newsreel theatre in the country.
The oldest continuous folk club in England was formed in Newcastle in early 1958 at the New Orleans club in Melbourne Street, states Johnny Handle, founder member. After short spells at the Barras Bridge Hotel and the Liberal Club on Pilgrim Street, the club is now located at the Bridge Hotel, Castle Square.
Night clubs in provincial England began in Newcastle in the '50s - and when the Liverpool sound was all the rage in the early '60s, Newcastle was the only place to have its own sort of music, including Eric Burdon and the Animals.
The Riverside Club in Melbourne St in Newcastle is an award-winning venue.
The Beatles wrote 'She Loves You' , the song which catapulted them to fame, in the Imperial Hotel, Jesmond, Newcastle. They had been playing at the Majestic Ballroom in Westgate Rd. (a low-grade venue] on 26 June 1963 and had a spare day before performing in Leeds on 28 June. On Paul's initiative, he and John set about composing the song in their hotel room.
Cliff Richard and the Shadows wrote the lyric to 'Summer Holiday' while performing at the Globe Theatre, Stockton.
'Byker Grove' a great success on BBC TV. Watched by as many adults as children. (Radio Times 10/16 October 1992).
Polanski's Macbeth was set in Bamburgh Castle, and Becket has scenes set on the beach there, as has Vanessa Redgrave's Mary, Queen of Scots and El Cid; Alien III has scenes on Seaham beach and in Blyth power station; Polanski's Cul-de-Sac (his favourite film) is set on Lindisfarne; Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves was shot in Northumberland, including Alnwick Castle, as was Blackadder I was set there too. The Blackadder is a river in Northumberland. Elizabeth was made in Durham Cathedral, Raby Castle and Alnwick, while Hogwarts Academy in the Harry Potter has exterior scenes from Alnwick Castle.
Women in Love was shot in Bedlington, Gateshead and South Shields and the hit film Billy Elliot is set in County Durham. The Atonement was filmed in 2006 on Redcar beach, doubling as Dunkirk.
Get Carter, the novel (title Jack's Return Home), is actually set in Scunthorpe. It was the film-makers who moved it to Newcastle. Hence the desperate search for squalor in our most elegant provincial city, as well as in the coalfield. For all they showed of Newcastle, it might as well have been Scunthorpe.
There was a police film set in Newcastle pre-war, where everyone spoke in cockney accents.
Ridley Scott is a native of South Shields. So is Eric Idle.
Eddie Chapman of Co. Durham was played by Christopher Plummer in the film Triple Cross. Adrian 'six medals' Warburton of MIddlesbrough was played by Alec Guinness in the film Malta Story.
The famous film In Which We Serve, starring Noel Coward and John Mills, is based on the North Sea exploits of HMS Kelly, a destroyer built at Hawthorn Leslie, Hebburn. Her commander was Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Jean Simmons and Trevor Howard starred in The Clouded Yellow (1950) in which some scenes are set in Newcastle, showing the Tyne Bridge, the Castle Keep and Central Station. The No. 12 bus to Gosforth takes the runaways to Jesmond, before they flee down Castle Stairs, and row across the Tyne to Gateshead (and thence by car to the Lake District).
Willie Smith of Darlington only entered the World Billiards Championship twice and won it on both occasions. He still holds the record break of 2743
First football team to win the World Cup : West Auckland 1910.
First football team to make overseas tour. Sunderland AFC toured the USA in 1894.
Sunderland F.C.'s ground the Stadium of Light was voted the best and most friendly ground in the country by the new Guide to football grounds 2000.
The Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields: the world's largest participation event.
Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson lives in Redcar.
In 1968 the Grand National was won by Red Alligator, trained by Denys Smith at Bishop Auckland. In 2001, Red Marauder won the race which was run in appalling conditions. Only four horses finished, of which two were remounts. The horse was owned and trained by Sunderland-based businessman Norman Mason, at Brancepeth.
Mike McLeod of Elswick Harriers is the only Briton to have won a silver medal in the Olympic 10,000 metres. (Los Angeles 1984).
In 1985 Steve Cram of Jarrow broke the world records for the mile, the 1500 metres and the 2,000 metres in the space of 19 days.
Ron Freeman of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea won the Bognor Birdman competition for a record seventh time in 2005, with a flight of 80 metres. The top prize is £25,000.
Sunderland FC has the highest percentage female support of all major football clubs.
Sir Malcolm Campbell made his first land speed record run (138.08 mph) in Bluebird on Saltburn Sands (17 June 1922)
Sunderland-born jockey Ernie Johnson won the Derby on Blakeney in 1969.
Freddie Chapman of South Shields scored the first try, penalty goal and conversion in the first- ever Twickenham international rugby match (1910).
The first recorded cricket match in County Durham took place at Raby Castle in 1751.
Durham has only been a first class county since 1993 and has already produced [several test players. They were cricket county champions in 2008 and 2009, after being runners-up in 2007.
Durham regatta is at least the second oldest in England (after Royal Chester) records go back to 1834.
Greenwell's Glory is one of the most popular fishing flies. It was invented by Canon Greenwell of Durham in the nineteenth century. He used to fish the river Browney near Consett. He was the brother of Dora Greenwell, the poetess.
House of Hardy in Alnwick is renowned for the best fishing tackle in the world. Old Hardy reels have Rolex status. Co-founder John James Hardy became world champion fly caster.
The famous Tyne rowers Harry Clasper - 'Hadaway Harry' , with his brothers and uncle Ned Hawks took away the world championship from London in 1845 at the Thames regatta. Robert Chambers, the Victorian Tyneside rower, won world championship sculling events seven times and 89 of his 101 races in ten years. The great Renforth is commemorated ouitside the Shipley Gallery in Gateshead.
Sam Lamiroy, the top British surfer lived for many years in Tynemouth, where the British surfing championships have been held twice in recent years. He learned to surf at the Black Middens and Cullercoats. His own secret paradise was Battle Point.
Frederick Dixon (1892-1956) of Stockton - 'Flying Freddie' - set a record which still stands of having won TT races on two, three and four wheels. In September of the same year Dixon became the only man ever to reach m.p.h. 130 m.p.h. at Brooklands in a car with an engine capacity of under two litres.
The North East has won the BBC Sports Personality more often than any other region (seven times).
Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most famous man in the world at the time came to South Shields in 1977 to have his marriage blessed at the Laygate mosque.
Arthur Stephenson (1920-1992) trainer of more than 3000 National Hunt winners had his establishment at Crawlees Farm, Leasingthorpe, Bishop Auckland.
The great New Zealand speedway rider Ivan Mauger (pronounced Major) came to Newcastle in 1963 and during his three years with the team, won the European and world championship. Later he won another five world titles.
GREAT NORTH NATURE
The Newcastle Lit and Phil received the country's first specimens of the wombat and the duck-billed platypus from John Hunter, Governor of New South Wales and honorary member of the Lit and Phil.
National parks and equivalent cover 23% of the total North region.
The Kielder Forest holds 70% of the English red squirrel population.
Two million trees have been planted in the Great North Forest across North Durham.
There are three areas of outstanding natural beauty: North Northumberland coast; North Pennines and the Solway Coast.
The National Trust own many miles of Durham coastline and a path is being developed along the whole coast. From 2001 most of the Durham coastline was designated as a 'heritage coast' [Seaham beach entirely restored]. Castle Eden Dene is a national nature reserve; Upper Teesdale is another. In 2002 the Turning the Tide project has won, jointly with the Eden Project, the prize for Outstanding Achievement in Regeneration in the annual Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors awards.
The North East has the finest beaches in Britain, stretching from Redcar (ten miles of sands) to Scotland. Much of the South Tyneside coast is owned by the National Trust. King George V said South Shields beach was the finest he had ever seen.
A long stretch of the Northumberland coastal reef is designated a European Marine site.
The highest cliffs on the East coast of England are at Boulby Head.
National Rivers Authority said the Tyne was a Grade I river and the finest salmon river in England. Confirmed by the Environment Agency in 2002.[G] In 1992 great crested grebes were sighted fishing from the Tyne piers.
Seals are breeding at the mouth of the Tees (1995)
The River Till in Northumberland is one of the few rivers in the country where otters can be found.
Some 7,000 salmon and 13,000 sea trout migrated via the Tees estuary in 2000.
The oldest tracks ever found in Britain have been discovered on a beach near Howick in Northumberland. They belong to an ancestor of the frog.
Sunderland Museum has the only known British example of a gliding reptile, the oldest known vertebrate capable of gliding flight.
The Hancock Museum in Newcastle has the only example in the world of a young Great Auk (extinct 1852).
Chillingham Castle cattle are the oldest pure breed strain in Europe. They are direct descendants of the ancient wild cattle which once roamed the European forests.
The tallest tree in England is a Douglas Fir at Cragside.
GREAT NORTH ART AND ARCHITECTURE
Tynemouth Priory - east end
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In the Alnwick area of Northumberland we find the beautiful and mysterious rock carvings made by the Northumbrians of 4000 years ago. They consist of cups, rings and delicate lines. They occur nowhere else in Britain
The Lindisfarne Gospels of AD 698 are surpassed in grandeur only by the Irish Book of Kells. They are one of the greatest treasures of the British Museum
The Anglo-Saxon crosses at Bewcastle in Cumbria (and at Ruthwell in Dumfriesshire) are, in the field of art, 'the greatest achievement of their date in the whole of Europe, their date being the late 7th century.' So says Professor Nikolaus Pevsner, not one to shower idle praise.
The oldest piece of needlework in England is the stole and maniple in Durham Cathedral presented to saint Cuthbert's shrine by King Athelstan in AD 934.
The first stained glass in Britain was installed at St Peter's Wearmouth and St Paul's Jarrow. The technique of building glazed stone edifices was brought to this country by Benedict Biscop.
Durham Cathedral has the largest collection of monastic manuscripts in the country.
MAJOR ART TREASURES OF THE NORTH EAST
The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle has the largest holding of European art outside London. Alongside its huge collection of fine and decorative arts, the great chateau also contains an El Greco (Tears of St Peter) two Goyas, two grand Canalettos, and beautiful works by Boucher, Fragonard and Tiepolo.
The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle has an excellent walk-through exhibition of art on Tyneside (with sound effects). Work by the father of British wood engraving, Thomas Bewick, as well as the fabulous enamelled glass by William and Mary Beilby. There are splendid paintings by Holman hunt and Burne-Jones and a fine collection of English watercolours. The most eye-catching works, however, are by John Martin, a painter of fire and brimstone scenes of biblical destruction. he was immensely influential in the early 19th century (the Bronte girls had his etchings over their beds). He came from Haydon Bridge but worked in Newcastle for some years, and both Allendale and the city can be seen in some of his dramatic scenes, Newcastle standing in for Jerusalem and so on.
Preston Hall Museum near Stockton has an outstanding 17th century French painting The Dice Players by Georges de la Tour. Works by this painter are rare and this is of national importance. It was shown at the Royal Academy in 1997, at the Art Treasures of England exhibition.
Alnwick castle has outstanding paintings by artists like Titian, Tintoretto, Van Dyck and Reynolds.
Kurt Schwitters' Elterwater Merz at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle. According to Andrew Graham-Dixon this is 'The most important modern British work of art.'
Sunderland possesses the largest collection of Lowrey paintings in the country after Salford.
Forty works were donated in 1949 by Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) to Berwick on Tweed by Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) who lived nearby at Hutton Castle. The gift includes beautiful works by Boudin, Daubigny and Degas. In 1985, the collection moved to the former Berwick Barracks.
'The small towns of the far north are unequalled in England.'
Simon Jenkins England's Thousand Best Churches.
Northumberland has more castles and great houses than any other county.
Ralph Erskine's Byker Wall is regarded by UNESCO as one of the finest British 20th century buildings.
The Millennium Bridge
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The Gateshead Millennium Bridge won the Royal Fine Arts Commission building of the year award, and the Stirling Award in 2002.
E.S. Prior's Arts and Crafts gem at St Andrew, Roker is probably the best church of its date in the country (1906-7).
First purpose-built prison in England is at Hexham.
Robinson's Emporium in West Hartlepool, erected by Basil Scott (1896) is sometimes cited as the first steel-framed building in the UK.
First reinforced concrete buildings in the world were built in Newcastle by William Boutland Wilkinson.
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Decades before Baron Haussmann was given his Parisian carte blanche from Louis Napoleon (landing the city with an enormous debt, ensuring his dismissal two years later) Grainger and Dobson were completing the first comprehensive rebuilding of a modern city. It should be remembered that the buildings of Regency Newcastle differ from Nash's London work by being of finely-cut ashlar as opposed to the capital's stucco. Ian Nairn, editor of the Architectural Review characterised Grey Street as 'Nash's Regent Street with an added dimension and better workmanship, one of the great planned streets of Britain.' Though the Royal Exchange and most of Eldon Square have gone, much remains to lift the heart. Nairn described walking through Newcastle as 'an ennobling experience...' Too many superlatives? I don't think so.
Grey Street was voted the finest in England 2003 CABE
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Durham cathedral and castle make up one of the original nine world heritage sites in Britain.
Durham Cathedral had the first pointed arches in western Europe, and (concealed) flying buttresses, twenty years before the Gothic style is supposed to have begun.
In a poll of fifty of the great and good in the Illustrated London News 1984, Durham cathedral was voted the greatest building in the world. The Taj Mahal was a distant second.
'Durham is one of the great experiences of Europe to the eyes of those who understand architecture. The group of cathedral, castle and monastery on the rock can only be compared to Avignon and Prague...'
'With the cathedral at Durham we reach the incomparable masterpiece of Romanesque architecture not only in England but anywhere. The moment for entering provides for an architectural experience never to be forgotten, one of the greatest England has to offer.' [Alec Clifton-Taylor 'English Towns' series on BBC television. ]
The students' quarters in the castle antedate everything of the sort at Oxford or Cambridge. According to the Victoria County History Vol. 1, p 387, the great hall is:
'... larger than that of New College and more beautiful than that of Christ Church.'Bishop Antony Bek, the extravagant and magnificent 'Ecclesiastical Bonaparte' who built the Great Hall, played a major role in Edward I's campaign in Scotland against Wallace and Bruce. At the decisive battle of Falkirk, he led the second line of the English army, with 39 banners. The film Braveheart fails to portray his exploits, however. His arms were the first ever borne by an English bishop - Gules, a fer de moulin Ermine.
C.S. Lewis preferred Durham to both Oxford and Cambridge.
Why did nobody tell me about Durham? Bill Bryson
The last datable poem written in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) (1104-1109 AD) is entitled 'Durham'. It begins:
This city is renowned throughout all Britain,
'Berwick is one of the most exciting towns in England, a real town with the strongest sense of enclosure. A town of red roofs on grey houses with hardly an irritating building anywhere, and a town of the most intricate changes of level.'
Comment by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the editor of the Buildings of England series, and acknowledged chief authority. The TV series Travels with Pevsner is based on his books.
Berwick barracks are the earliest built in Britain (1719). Elizabethan walls (1555) encircle the town. They employ new Italian techniques. 'In this lies the great historical importance of the Berwick fortifications for the whole of Northern Europe.'
Berwick was won back in 1482 for England by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III.
L.T.C. Rolt wrote of Robert Stephenson's Royal Border bridge at Berwick:
'He who would measure imaginatively the magnitude of the Stephensons' achievement, and seek to recapture something of the triumph and wonder of that heroic age of engineering, should stand upon the ruined castle keep at Berwick and gaze down that long, proud perspective of slender stone piers as the Flying Scotsman thunders across the water.'
[Pevsner]: 'Bywell is the most beautifully placed and the most picturesque and architecturally rewarding of all Tyneside villages. It is set a little above the wide river and its leafy banks and possesses, close to the landscaped grounds of Bywell hall, two mediaeval churches immediately next to each other and a fine tower-house.'
[Pevsner on Inner Farne]: 'The view of it is ... dramatic, and the view from it, looking over its dolerite cliffs towards the other islands or towards Bamburgh is superb.'
'It is recorded by Bede that St Aidan occasionally retired to Inner Farne for solitude. St Cuthbert built himself a cell on the island and died there in AD 687. Later hermits followed him and in 1246 a small Benedictine cell was established from Durham... The remains are all of the monastic period and they form an intensely romantic group in this wonderful place.'
Alnwick is the second largest inhabited castle in England.
BEST BUILDINGS OF ENGLAND - PEVSNER
SEATON DELAVAL HALL
'No other Vanbrugh house is so mature, so compact and so powerful... No one can forget Seaton Delaval.'
'The east wall of the rebuilt chancel belongs to the best Early English compositions we possess and has the additional advantage of a superb position.'
SAINT JOHN ESCOMB
The earliest of the three complete Saxon churches remaining in England. 'One of the most important and most moving survivals of the architecture of the times of Bede.'
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Warkworth must be approached from the N. With its bridge, its bridge-tower, then Bridge Street at an angle joining the main street up a hill to the towering sharp-cut block of the keep, it is one of the most exciting sequences of views one can have in England.
[The castle] 'Here is one of the rare cases where the military engineer happened to be a great architect. The Warkworth keep. is a work of architecture in the sense that both its mass and its inner spaces are beautiful as well as useful,.'
John Ruskin called it: 'The most beautiful place possible.'
Belsay (1807) is a very early Greek building in the Doric style. It is a totally original synthesis of Greek elements - very different from all other English Doric country houses. and of national importance. It is exactly 100 feet square. It is of sandstone flecked with bits of iron ore. It is dressed with the most remarkable precision. How the masons achieved this skill is not known, but John Dobson said later that 'Monck introduced a style of masonry previously unknown' and that after Belsay, Northumbrian masons were renowned throughout the country. .
'The position chosen is one of high romantic glamour, with the Coquet river far down below and woods everywhere.'
BUILDINGS OF DELIGHT - ALEC CLIFTON-TAYLOR
Lanercost has a most beautiful situation... in that marvellous stretch of country between Newcastle and Carlisle crossed by the Emperor Hadrian's spectacular Wall. The ... eastern part of the church is... Early English at its most beautiful. Lanercost is a lovely place, the architectural gem of the diocese of Carlisle.'
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The great Transporter Bridge (1911) which spans the Tees in Middlesbrough is the largest of its type in the world (850 feet long and 225 high), and is described by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the leading authority, as: 'A European monument, one is tempted to say... in its daring and finesse, a thrill to see from anywhere.'
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