Directly opposite Newcastle is the town of Gateshead, which sometimes gets overlooked thanks to it’s much larger neighbour, however there is still much to explore in the town…
Status: Gateshead District, Tyne & Wear, England
Travel: Scotrail (Carlisle – Newcastle)
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Angel of the North, The Sage Gateshead, Baltic Centre, River Tyne, Old Town Hall, Redheugh Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Tyne Bridge, Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, King Edward VII Bridge, High Level Bridge, Swing Bridge
Arguably the most famous landmark in the town, is the incredible “Angel of the North” sculpture by Anthony Gormley (Born 1950, British Sculptor) who is also responsible for “Another Place” on Crosby Beach. We have visited the towering giant by car, and it is also visible from the East Coast Main Line between Durham and Newcastle.
See Gemma’s dedicated post here to learn all about this giant sculpture, and how it looks in both the sun and fog…
Moving into the centre of Newcastle, you will find the Old Town Hall, built in 1870. This lovely old building has had a long and varied history, starting as the magistrates, courts and prison when it opened, as well as housing space for offices. A few decades later it became a Victorian Music Hall, and whilst the nearby Sage Gateshead was being constructed it was the home of the Northern Sinfonia. It’s most recent use has been as the Tyneside Cinema. Regular performances and live events are held here throughout the year and it has been lovingly restored.
It is located just over the Tyne Bridge from Newcastle. The Town Council now meets at Gateshead Council Building a bit further into the town. The Old Town Hall is a Grade II Listed Building, along with it’s neighbour…
Off to the left of the Old Town Hall is another Grade II Listed Building, which was once the National Provincial Bank. It is quite similar to the Town Hall, and was built in 1871, to a design by an architect named John Gibson. The bank itself was established in 1833, and operated until 1970 when it merged with the National Westminster Bank.
One of the newer developments is the Sage Gateshead, shown here on the left hand side of the River Tyne. You get the best views of the building from the Newcastle side, but it is a Gateshead Building.
The Sage is a large theatre and conference centre, one of the largest in the North of England. The incredible arched design was put forwards by a collection of Architects: Foster and Partners, Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald and Arup.
The new building finally opened in 2004 after years of planning and construction, and the glass front offers incredible views out over Newcastle. There are three large theatres, one that can hold 1,700, one that can hold 450 and the third is a smaller rehearsal room.
The building is one of the main parts of the redeveloped Gateshead Quays, and opposite it is another popular part of the Quays, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.
The Baltic is housed in an old flour mill, named the Baltic Flour Mill. This was opened in 1950 for the Rank Hovic company (Now RHM plc, founded in 1875, food company). An extension in 1957 can be seen on the left hand side of the building. It eventually closed in 1981 and the area lay derelict until the 2000’s, and it was refurbished with the Art Installation opening in 2002.
Despite some ups and downs, the Baltic is quite popular in the area, and there are a number of interesting galleries and exhibitions inside.
Of course from Gateshead the 7 bridges across the Tyne can be seen, with the newest one, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, being named after the town (shown in the first picture). All of these bridges are as much Gatesheads as they are Newcastles, even though they are associated more with the city. You get some great views walking down the river on the Gateshead side as well as crossing the bridges themselves. Find out more about the history of the bridges in my Newcastle post as I go through them one by one.
Also, along this side of the river Tyne there are a number of small art installations, such as the Goats created by Sally Matthews in 1992. They are made out of recycled materials and are foraging up a small bank next to the river. Next are the giant rivets designed by Andrew McKeown in 2010. Local children made casts of their favourite objects and these are held inside the rivets, with the name of the item on the front of the rivet itself.
Next is the “Rise and Fall” by Lulu Quinn in 2007, the large glass and metal arch that stands six metres tall and represents a meeting point. It stands next to the High Level Bridge.
The final one we saw is on the way down from the road crossing the Tyne Bridge to the quayside, and takes the form of a stone violin. It is a monument to a Fiddler named James Hill (1811 – 1953, British Fiddler from Newcastle/Gateshead) and listed next to the monument are the names of many of his songs.
Check out a link here provided by Gateshead Council to find out more about the sculptures and also the locations of others in the area.
Gateshead is a very interesting town, and there are other things to discover including the Heritage Centre next to the Tyne Bridge, and the Library further into the centre. Just outside the town is the well known MetroCentre Shopping Centre, the largest shopping centre in the UK with over 340 shops. It opened back in 1986 and has been a huge hit and commercial success in the area.
Transport wise, there are Metro links (to Newcastle, Sunderland and South Shields) on the Tyne & Wear Metro from stations in the town centre and the nearby MetroCentre, as well as mainline stations at MetroCentre and the Dunston area of the town. Local buses run to Newcastle and other surrounding towns.
There is a lot to discover in Gateshead, and if you visit Newcastle try and make time to nip over into Gateshead, as it’s a worthy addition to any trip to the area. The Sage is an incredible architectural feat and one of the most beautiful builds we have seen so far. The Angel of the North is also one of the largest sculptures in the country and a symbol of the North, and easily accessible by tourist buses as well as by car, with the main line passing heading South from Gateshead.
Tyne & Wear is an amazing county, and Newcastle/Gateshead sits at it’s very heart, full of amazing buildings, great museums and buildings, and the finest collection of bridges in the world…