Forget the guide books: if you want to know the real Newcastle, you need to speak to a local. So we did.
Prepare yourself for a strong dose of stotties, Newkie Brown and surprising cultural revelations. Proud Geordie lass Alexandra Wigley picks out 25 things you won’t know about Newcastle unless you’ve lived there.
1. Fenwicks window = the start of Christmas
A little eager for a January post perhaps, but you just won’t feel like it’s Christmas until you’ve seen the window display at Fenwicks. Children of all ages flock to the window in early December as tradition dictates.
2. We build bridges like it’s a contest
Delaina Haslam via photopin cc
And we win. One of seven bridges to cross the Tyne, the Millenium bridge saw Britain’s first rotating crossing brought to life in 2001. Then there’s the iconic Tyne Bridge, which kind of speaks for itself.
3. Ham and Pease Pudding is a foodie match made in (Geordie) heaven
— St Mary's Inn (@stmarysinn) November 29, 2014
Forget everything you heard about peanut butter and jelly, because you’ve been doing it wrong. And if you don’t know what this northern delicacy is by now, you seriously need to get involved.
4. Newcastle has its very own Fashion Week
Yes, we appreciate fashion. So why shouldn’t we have our very own fashion week to promote how impeccably we all dress up North? Putting Newcastle on the map as a fashion capital isn’t the craziest thing. It’s home to two top universities which provide nationally renowned fashion courses, and this nine day bonanza is sure to rival its southern counterparts with ease.
5. We invented Lucozade
It was concocted in a Newcastle pharmacy in 1927 by Thomas Beech, and originally called Glucozade (pretty sure I enjoy saying Glucozade more.) Whenever you feel poorly, a bottle of the sugary glucose drink is always on hand to somehow remedy even the worst case of man flu nationwide.
6. Trebles bars. Trebles drinks. Trebles prices.
You won’t have indulged in a true Geordie student night without these god sends. Triple Vodka and Vimto will see you pay no more than four quid and the rest, as they say, is history. Just remember, drink responsibly!
(NB: Be prepared for impending head-splitting hangovers. Lucozade may be your only saviour.)
7. We don’t have monuments, we have The Monument
Not only a place for the cool kids to hang out watching city screenings of films on summer nights, but a historical past to boot. Greys monument boasts Grade 1 listed status, and was erected to acclaim Earl Grey for the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832. It stands at the head of Grey Street. Also, Maximo Park made a song up about waiting for a girl here. So national treasure.
8. All hail the Sausage Roll and Rainbow Cake combo
Greggs first opened its doors in 1951 in none other than Gosforth. Then it was a small time bakery that quickly built a strong following, baking superb quality bread using flour from local mills. Fast forward to the revival of the humble sausage roll, and Greggs swiftly became a national treasure thanks to its mission to fatten people up nationwide. Which leads us to our next point…
9. It’s the birthplace of the Stottie
Or Stottie cake, made famous in the North East. Traditionally conceived to be quite a dense, heavy bread, the Stottie gets its name from the Geordie saying “to stott”, or bounce. Stotties are an exceptional way to eat large amounts of bread without the guilt of using half a loaf. Throw in some ham and pease pudding and the jobs a good ‘un.
10. The Magpies aren’t just birds on this side of the Tyne
Overlooking superstition surrounding these common black birds, Newcastle takes its utmost pride in local football team Newcastle United. As well as its infamous long running feud with the Mackems, of course, footy is basically primal instinct in Geordie land. Derby days are practically a national holiday. Lock up your horses.
11. A Newcastle-built ship saved survivors from The Titanic
Do you all remember the SOS call to the RMS Carpathia? Built on the Tyne, this was actually the rescue ship, sent to the devastation left behind by the Titanic in 1912 and ultimately saving the survivors from the icy cold Atlantic. Unfortunately the ship itself sank in 1919 after being torpedoed by an Imperial German Navy submarine.
12. The north east is actually like Hollywood
Famous film backdrops are scattered all around the North Eastern landscape, most famously Alnwick Castle, where none other than wizard royalty Harry Potter spent much of his time flying around Hogwarts for the first two films from the Potter franchise. It’s a beautiful tourist attraction which even offers Broomstick training.
13. There’s a long distance footpath with a historical twist
— Güzel Dünyam (@guzelimdunya) January 15, 2015
Dating way back to when the Roman Empire reached its northerly limit, Hadrian’s Wall was built to protect newly acquired territory and is a major historical landmark today. It also offers some pretty amazing scenery for when we want to brush off the cobwebs on a chilly northern winter’s day.
14. We do Art, and we do it well
Where there’s art, there are galleries. There’s the BALTIC, home to the prestigious Turner Prize in 2011 – which crossed some major boundaries as no Turner Prize had ever previously left London before (gasp) – and the Laing, which was Newcastle’s first art gallery, built in 1901 as a gift to the city. There’s even one called The Biscuit Factory, which sadly does not in fact house biscuit-based treats.
15. Geordie Shore is 100% categorically not a benchmark for all Newcastle folk
It’s a fake reflection of a teeny tiny fraction of life in Geordie land. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not impossible that you will bump into some of the infamous cast during your amazing ‘I’m having the best time ever night out’, but please, whatever you do, don’t follow them into the club, and under no circumstances must you plague the ‘VIP’ section for your five minutes of fame. Put the treble vodka down and call it a night.
16. The Quayside is our very own city hub
— Paul Sundin (@ps3dviz) January 1, 2015
Bringing people together year round, there’s not an empty hand to be seen in the summer due to an abundance of riverside bars where people flock to bask in the five whole minutes of sun we get per season. Then there’s a stark comparison with brisk winter nights and New Year’s Eve, which sports an impressive fireworks display with a backdrop of the city in twilight. The Quayside truly is a magical place.
17. Mr Bean is in fact a Geordie
Due to a distinct lack of audible speech, Mr Bean somehow managed to fool us all by hiding behind his Geordie roots with stellar comedic acts and such. However, it all makes sense now. The pristine dress sense, humorous nature, wit and charm. Thus proves the theory that we are all hilarious.
18. Newkie Brown Ale is a winner
This fine alcoholic nectar has been around since 1927. America’s most imported British ale, it has proven it can hold its own among the finest beers in the land. It even featured on The Big Bang Theory, and if scientists are drinking this stuff and still succeeding in ‘theoretical’ life, you know you’re on to a winner. Fun fact: it also had a brief cameo in Taken. I won’t tell you where – I’ll just let you watch Neeson kick some international ass.
19. Grey Street was hailed as the UK’s finest
PauliCarmody via photopin cc
Take a bow Grey Street, thanks to an abundance of architectural gems along its townscape. Listed Georgian buildings are all home to a plethora of bars, restaurants and banks, which take Grey Street just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the high street for you to really appreciate its historical beauty.
20. Saying ‘eeee’ is considered the norm
It can be used in situations of shock, disbelief, denial and exasperation. It can, in hindsight, also be used for any situation this side of the Tyne, because nobody will bat an eyelid when we use it. Hooray for the North.
21. We talk to everybody and don’t think it’s outrageous
We have often been hailed as a friendly bunch, but it is not until you have lived up here, used our public transport and embarked on an exchanging of life stories with the little old lady beside you that you can truly appreciate just how friendly Newcastle is. I’m not saying you’ll make lifelong mates this way, but it sure does dispel any awkward silences.
22. We went Green first
Here in Newcastle we pride ourselves on our music, fashion and general Geordie-ness first and foremost, but what we should actually be hailing as one of our most forward-thinking offerings is being the home of eco hero Lord Armstrong, who turned his home into the first to be run by hydroelectricity. We then developed bridges and the like in a similar manner. Head over to the Life Centre for more scientific accuracies we can boast about.
23. Newcastle had the world’s first covered railway station
machernucha via photopin cc
Opened in 1850 by none other than Queen Vic herself, what may now seem like unrivalled common sense was then an innovation that led everybody to jump on the bandwagon, leading to dry and unruffled passengers worldwide. Imagine having to sit on a cold wet bench drinking your Starbucks, which you only bought to keep your hands warm due to lack of protection from the elements. No thank you.
24. William the Conqueror’s son built us a wooden castle
A history lesson and potentially useless fact all rolled into one now. Once over they called us ‘Monkchester’ (not to be confused with Manchester, the city of hype and hip cafés). “New Castle upon Tyne” actually owes its name to a wooden castle built in 1080 by Robert Curthouse, the son of William the Conqueror. I think I might prefer Monkchester, actually.
25. WE DISCOVERED HENDRIX
Now, we like to boast and hint that we essentially revived the music scene from the beginning of time, but this one really gives us some credentials to shout from the rooftops about. Hendrix was discovered in New York in 1966 by Geordie music producer Chas Chandler, who brought him back to Newcastle. Some residents still recall seeing him busk on Heaton’s Chillingham Road. I. Know. Right?!
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