Along the River Tyne

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The River Tyne stretches out to over 100 kilometers (62 miles) in length and is formed by the two rivers, the North Tyne and the South Tyne, that both converge in Haxham in Northumberland.

The River Tyne stretches out to over 100 kilometers (62 miles) in length and is formed by the two rivers, the North Tyne and the South Tyne, that both converge in Haxham in Northumberland, this area has thus been nick-named ‘Waters Meet’ as the two rivers meet and join here.

During the 13th century, the River Tyne was used as a main pathway for the export of coal up until the coalfields declined in the late 20th century. Although not used today, some of the original structures were still used to load coal onto transporting ships.

During the 1940s, the River Tyne was well known for its thriving fish life and trout fish were regularly caught in their droves. It was very common for trout to be caught that weighed over 1.4 lb, some weighing up to 4 lb. Once the word got out that fish of this size were being caught people traveled from far to try to catch a big fish for themselves and many competitions took place on the waters.

In the early 1950s, gravel digging took place on the River Tyne, which left the flow of the water disrupted as there were large holes in the bottom of the river, this caused a large population of pike to build up which took over the salmon, it is reported that not many salmon were caught at this time at all. The gravel was removed in the late 50s and a dam was created to help the run of salmon, after this the number of salmon started to increase over time.

From between the Cathedral and the Castle, there is a road that is most simply known as ‘The Side’, it was formerly a main road that led out of the city and now descends down to Newcastle’s Quayside. Still, today remain fixed river crossings that first emerged in Roman times; today seven bridges all in close proximity to each other span the Tyne.

The most prominent of these is the Tyne Bridge, built in 1928, the symbol of the city, it bears a striking resemblance to Sydney Harbour Bridge (not surprising as both were designed by Dorman Long from Middlesbrough).

Immediately to the west of the Tyne Bridge is the hydraulic Swing Bridge that was erected in 1876 by Lord Armstrong for the purpose of larger vessels being able to reach his shipyards up the river.

There are modern rails and roads that cross the river on the adjacent High-Level Bridge, built by Robert Stephenson in 1849. Queen Victoria was one of the first passengers who cross the bridge while she was promoting the railway revolution.

Protected by the towering castle, the Quayside became the commercial heart of the city; during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its half-timbered houses became the homes to Newcastle’s wealthiest merchants.

Beyond the Tyne Bridge, there is currently a modern regeneration of the Quayside.

New riverside apartments, public sculptures, squares designed for pedestrian usage, and a landscaped promenade that lead down to fashionable bars and restaurants centered on the Millennium Bridge, the globes first tilting bridge that can pivot to allow ships to pass.

The Millennium Bridge allows pedestrians to cross the Tyne and get to Gateshead Quays, where you can visit BALTIC, the dramatic center for contemporary art (free entry, open Monday to Wednesday & Saturday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm).

The building is fashioned from a brick flour mill that was built in the 1940s. The conversion of the building was huge; it is second only in scale to London’s Tate Modern. The art on show is not from a permanent collection; the galleries display many different exhibits from art exhibitions and local community projects.

As well as the galleries, the BALTIC accommodates education workshops, artist studios, and a cinema and performance space. There are also two restaurants, one outdoors at river level with a nice outside terrace and the other on the roof with clear views of the Newcastle skyline.

Joining the BALTIC on the Gateshead side is The Sage Gateshead a huge billowing steel, glass and aluminum concert hall. The hall is home to the Northern Sinfonia and Folk works, an organization that promotes British and international traditional music.