We found this in our archives and it was never published – it’s from 2009 but still just as relevant today as it was then! This is not exactly a day in my life but I do enjoy my work immensely due to some of the things I come across, learn about or just have a passion for.
The story starts in Newcastle – a city most people will have heard of. Three reasons why you may have heard of Newcastle:
1) Beer of course, the famous Newcastle Brown Ale, brewed with the waters of the river Tyne.
2) Football! You can’t escape football (Newcastle United FC) in the city. Unlike most cities there is only one club in Newcastle which means when you are born here you have black and white blood or you don’t like football – which at the same time means you should maybe move out…
3) The third reason why you may have heard of Newcastle is industry. Once famous for exporting coal (and that famous 18th Century saying “Carrying Coals to Newcastle” ), building the largest ships and the steel industry, Newcastle was at one time the heart of the Industrial Revolution. To find out who really invented the light bulb for example you will have to visit…
It is industry, however, that gives people preconceptions about the city – many years ago it is true that the city was down and buried, dirty and lost… Today the city is transformed! And not just in the way you may read in glossy brochures – it really has – completely!
When you visit today, you find some of the greatest classical architecture of any English city in the heart of the city in Grainger Town quarter with Earl Grey (yes, he of the tea) sitting proud on the city centre monument and people shopping in the city that gave us the department store(!)…
Along the river, you can find a mix of old and new with stunning bridges, views onto the old medieval castle (which gave the city its name) and impressive architecture such as Norman Foster’s Sage Gateshead, the renewed BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts and the fantastic, before-mentioned, seven bridges spanning the best Salmon river in England, the Tyne – check out our amazing walking tour taking you to all of the above!.
Down by this great river also lies the small but beautiful Live Theatre. This was the place where Lee Hall’s Billy Elliott was born. His second masterpiece is the story of a group of miners who decided in 1934 to start an arts appreciation class. They invited a tutor to Ashington (a pit village near Newcastle), who was unable to understand their Geordie dialect and said they would have to paint their feelings for him to understand.
So they did, some good, some not so good. There are some lovely parts in this story which I am happy to tell you when you are here but in summary, the Ashington Group went on until the 1980s when their ups and downs were made into a book and later a play called The Pitmen Painters, first shown in the Live Theatre in Newcastle, later in London’s West End and even as far as Broadway in New York.
The reason I am telling you this is because the BBC are planning to create a film (maybe even for cinemas just like Billy Elliott) and most importantly, when you do come to Newcastle, not only can you see the Live Theatre but travelling a few minutes North, you are also able to see the original art in the fabulous Woodhorn Museum – a must on your way up the Northumberland coast!
I hope this has been an interesting read and given you a reason to check out the city for more and – I would be very happy to help you make most of your time in the city and other parts of this beautiful and breathtaking region. Why not join one of our private walking tours through Newcastle?
Alex Jacobs, 2009 (updated 2014)