Tag Archives: Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Cityscapes for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Newcastle upon Tyne - view from Castle Keep roof
Newcastle upon Tyne – view from the Castle Keep roof

View from the roof of Newcastle’s Castle Keep

This was the chosen location for early settlements because of its defensive position high above the River Tyne – the Roman fort at Pons Aelius, an Anglo Saxon settlement and the original Norman motte and bailey castle built by Robert Curthose all occupied this site at different times. The medieval Castle Keep still stands guard on this ancient vantage point today.

I chose this image because I think of this spot as the starting point for the development of the whole of the City of Newcastle. Modern day visitors can climb to the roof of the Castle Keep and look out right across the city, just as medieval knights and soldiers in the English Civil Wars would have done in the past. The views have changed a lot, of course. However nowadays, visitors can enjoy the cityscape and spot local landmarks rather than worrying about the approaching Scottish armies 🙂

Grey Street

Newcastle  upon Tyne - the very elegant Grey Street
Newcastle’s very elegant Grey Street

Nikolaus Pevsner, the eminent 20th century architectural historian, described Newcastle’s Grey Street as “one of the finest streets in England”. Grey Street is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. That’s the same Earl Grey who gives his name to the famous fragrant tea. However, the Monument to Earl Grey that heads Grey Street recalls something even more important than tea! It celebrates Earl Grey’s Great Reform Act of 1832 that gave Britain’s electoral system a good shake up, gave more men the vote and saw an end to the ‘rotten boroughs’ … well, at least it was a move in the right direction 😉

Newcastle’s 19th century grandeur, that is so beautifully displayed in Grey Street, was significantly influenced by two men whose names are synonymous with the elegant classical architecture that still graces the contemporary city, Richard Grainger and John Dobson. Unsurprisingly, both men have Newcastle streets named after them.

Grainger Street

Newcastle upon Tyne - Grainger Street
Grainger Street, Newcastle, with Grey’s Monument in the middle distance

This photo shows Grainger Street, which also leads up to Grey’s Monument. Richard Grainger was the son of a quayside porter, and set himself up as a builder and developer. With the help of his wife’s wealthy family, he built up a very successful business. In 1831, it was he who created the vision of an elegant and fashionable new street, Grey Street, right in the heart of the city centre. You can read more about Richard Grainger’s vision for Newcastle’s Grey Street on this blog post by Tyne & Wear Museums service.

John Dobson Street

Newcastle upon Tyne - John Dobson Street (Library and Laing Art Gallery)
Newcastle’s Central Library and Laing Art Gallery on John Dobson Street

Here’s a contrast of architecture on John Dobson Street (though neither of these buildings were designed by John Dobson!) – Newcastle’s 21st century Central Library building and the early 20th century Laing Art Gallery, built in the Baroque style. John Dobson was a 19th century Newcastle architect and a contemporary of Richard Grainger. Dobson had trained in London and returned to Newcastle with many fashionable ideas from the capital. Working together, John Dobson and Richard Grainger put their elegant stamp on new developments in Victorian Newcastle.

The Tyne Bridge

Newcastle Tyne Bridge and 3 other bridges over the River Tyne
Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge and 3 more of the bridges over the River Tyne

No trip to Newcastle would be complete without a view of our world-famous Tyne Bridge. To close my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, I have chosen this photo taken looking west along Newcastle’s historic Quayside. You can see four of the seven bridges that span the river within a short distance of each other along the city centre stretch of the River Tyne. Reading from the river surface upwards, we have:

    1. The red and white Swing Bridge (built on the site of the original Roman Pons Aelius),
    2. The blue Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge (this carries the rapid transit system),
    3. The elegant Victorian ironwork of the High Level Bridge (built by William Armstrong)
    4. … and at the top ~ the famous arches and ironwork of the Tyne Bridge, the classic icon of Newcastle for we local people, wherever we are in the world 😀

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Newcastle cityscapes. The links in the text will take you to more information and photos about the people and places mentioned, either in previous blog posts of mine or via other resources I have found.

Do take a look at the cities others have chosen for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge Badge

Medieval doors for the WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge

Doors -  St Nicholas' Cathedral, Newcastle
St Nicholas’ Cathedral, Newcastle
 Castle Keep, Newcastle - external view of original entrance
Castle Keep, Newcastle – external view of original entrance

Sometimes, a door can let you enter the past. As you cross its threshold you can imagine all of the historical figures who have made that same step. The doors I have chosen for the WordPress Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge belong to two of Newcastle upon Tyne’s medieval buildings. Ever since the 14th century, people have been entering and leaving through these doorways – from medieval kings to modern day visitors.

J Peggy Taylor

Tyneside's historic bridges

Tyneside relics for the WordPress Photo Challenge

The landscape of North East England is rich in relics from past eras. The images I have chosen to share for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge range from relics of the Romans and the Normans to reminders of the English Civil War and the wonders of Victorian engineering.

The bridges you can see in the image above are both ‘relics’ that were designed by giants of Victorian industry on Tyneside. I talked a little about these men in my previous post. Despite being relics of a bygone age, these two bridges remain in daily use. The Swing Bridge doesn’t swing open as often as it once did for ships to pass through but the roadway across it is still a popular route across the Tyne. After being closed for three years (2005-2008) for restoration work, the High Level is less used than it once was. The roadway on the lower deck of the High Level Bridge now only carries public transport but the two-track railway on the upper deck remains in regular use.

The site of the Swing Bridge also very closely marks the line of older Tyne crossings including the Roman bridge. Pons Aelius was named after the Emperor Hadrian whose wall marking the northern frontier of the vast Roman Empire originally started at this bridge before it was decided to extend the Wall along the north bank of the River Tyne to Wallsend.

Newcastle - Castle Keep, Black Gate
The Norman Castle Keep built on the site of the original wooden structure that gave ‘New Castle’ its name

The Castle Keep, founded by Henry II in 1168, is regarded as one of the finest remaining examples of a Norman Keep in Britain. Standing on a useful defensive position above the river, the Castle Keep also stands on the site of previous Roman fortifications. The first Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall was located here. Underneath the stone-built railway arches immediately below the Castle Keep, you can still find some of the Roman foundations marked out.

Newcastle West Walls - Heber Tower
Newcastle’s medieval West Walls – Heber Tower

To the west of the city centre you can visit the remains of the Newcastle’s town walls. These historical relics are known as The West Walls. The town walls are first mentioned in a charter given by King John in 1216, though it is believed that Newcastle was walled from the same time that Robert Curthose built his motte and bailey on the site of the Castle Keep (around the end of the 11th century). Newcastle’s wall’s were renowned for their strength. The nineteeth century historian, Eneas Mackenzie, tells us, “These famed walls were twelve feet high, eight feet thick, and strengthened by a wide fosse.” As Newcastle was on the ‘frontier’ between England and Scotland, strong walls were needed in those days of frequent border warfare!

Newcastle West Walls - arrow slit close-up
The bottom part of this arrow slit was rounded out to accommodate a musket in The Siege of Newcastle, 1644

This extended arrow slit detail from the Heber Tower shown in the image above is another relic of Newcastle’s battle-scarred past. During the English Civil Wars, Newcastle was beseiged for a good part of the year 1644. The Royalists of Newcastle, fighting from the town walls, had evidently adapted the original arrow slit to allow their musket barrels to fit through.

Roman bathhouse at Chesters - Hadrian's Wall on the hill
Bath house at Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

Moving from town to country, but staying on the banks of the Tyne – this Roman relic is the bathhouse at Chesters Roman Fort and is regarded as one of the best preserved Roman bathhouses in Britain. Chesters is one of the Hadrian’s Wall forts and lies about five miles north of the town of Hexham on the picturesque North Tyne river. Hadrian’s Wall runs along the ridge. Hadrian’s Wall is a World Heritage Site and the adjacent Hadrian’s Wall Path is a National Trail that runs the 73 miles from Wallsend in the east to Bowness on Solway on England’s west coast.

J Peggy Taylor

Tyneside icons for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

With Circles and Curves as this week’s theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, I decided to share some of my images of Tyneside’s famous curved landmarks – from ancient to modern.

Newcastle Castle Keep - external view of original entrance
This elaborately carved arched doorway is the original entrance to Newcastle’s Castle Keep

This Norman castle keep was built in 1178 on the site of the original wooden ‘New Castle’ built by William the Conqueror’s son, Robert Curthose, in 1080.

Bridges over the River Tyne
The iconic Tyne Bridge in the foreground, then the Swing Bridge, the High Level Bridge and the Queen Elizabeth II Tyneside Metro bridge.

Along just a short stretch of the River Tyne between Newcastle and Gateshead there are no less than seven bridges crossing the river! You can see four of them in this picture.

With its curved steel arches, the iconic Tyne Bridge is often used as the symbol of Tyneside. This bridge opened in 1928 and was much needed at the time for the increased road traffic between Newcastle and Gateshead.

The Swing Bridge, can turn 90 degrees on a central pivot to open for larger ships to pass upriver. It was designed by the Victorian engineer and inventor, William Armstrong, to allow ships to reach his engineering works. This bridge is built on the site of the original river crossing point. The Roman bridge, Pons Aelius, was the original starting point of Hadrian’s Wall – Pons Aelius translates as ‘Hadrian’s Bridge’.

Opened in 1849, the High Level Bridge and is another piece of Victorian engineering, designed by the famous railway engineer, Robert Stephenson. This double-decker bridge carries the railway on its upper deck and the road on the lower deck.

The Queen Elizabeth II Tyneside Metro Bridge opened in 1981 and carries the region’s light railway over the River Tyne on its journeys through Gateshead to South Shields and Sunderland.

Gateshead's Millenium Bridge across the Tyne
The Gateshead Millenium Bridge with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art at the right-hand side of the bridge

The award-winning Gateshead Millenium Bridge is the newest bridge across the Tyne. This bridge can be opened by a tilting mechanism to allow river traffic through.

The Sage, Gateshead across the Tyne
The Sage centre for music is one of Gateshead’s newer iconic landmarks

The Sage, Gateshead (as it is known) was designed by Lord Foster. The curved steel and glass structure enhances acoustics for this world class music venue.

… and in case you are wondering, yes, they do clean all of those windows! … by abseiling down the outside!

J Peggy Taylor