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Gateshead

[geyts-hed]

Gateshead is a town in Tyne and Wear, England. It lies on the southern bank of the River Tyne, opposite Newcastle upon Tyne. Gateshead town centre and Newcastle city centre are very close to one another, and together they form the urban core of Tyneside. Gateshead is the main settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead.

History

There has been a settlement on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne, around the old river crossing where the Swing Bridge now stands, since Roman times.

Theories of the derivation of the name 'Gateshead' include 'head of the (Roman) road' or 'goat’s headland', as the River Tyne at this point was once roamed by goats.

The first recorded mention of Gateshead is in the writings of the Venerable Bede who referred to an Abbot of Gateshead called Utta in 623.

In 1068 William the Conqueror defeated the forces of Edgar the Atheling and Malcolm king of Scotland (Shakespeare's Malcolm) on Gateshead Fell (now Low Fell). During medieval times Gateshead was under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Durham. At this time the area was largely forest with some agricultural land. The forest was the subject of Gateshead's first charter, granted in the 12th Century by Hugh du Puiset, Bishop of Durham.

The first records of coal being mined in the Gateshead area was in 1344. As trade on the Tyne prospered there were several attempts by the burghers of Newcastle to annex Gateshead. In 1576 a small group of Newcastle merchants acquired the 'Grand Lease' of the manors of Gateshead and Whickham. In the hundred years from 1574 coal shipments from Newcastle increased elevenfold while the population of Gateshead doubled to approximately 5,500. However, the lease and the abundant coal supplies ended in 1680. The pits were shallow as problems of ventilation and flooding defeated attempts to mine coal from the deeper seams.

William Hawks, originally a blacksmith, started business in Gateshead in 1747, working with the iron brought to the Tyne as ballast by the Tyne colliers. Hawks and Co. eventually became one of the biggest iron businesses in the North, producing anchors, chains and so on to meet a growing demand. There was keen contemporary rivalry between 'Hawks' Blacks' and 'Crowley's Crew'. The famous 'Hawks' men' including Ned White, went on to be celebrated in Geordie song and story.

Throughout the industrial revolution the population of Gateshead expanded rapidly; between 1801 and 1901 the increase was over 100,000. This expansion resulted in the spread southwards of the town.

In 1854, a catastrophic explosion on the quayside destroyed most of Gateshead's mediaeval heritage, and caused widespread damage on the Newcastle side of the river.

Robert Stirling Newall took out a patent on the manufacture of wire ropes in 1840 and in partnership with Messrs. Liddell and Gordon, set up his headquarters at Gateshead. A world-wide industry of wire-drawing resulted. The submarine telegraph cable received its definitive form through Newall's initiative, involving the use of gutta percha surrounded by strong wires. The first successful Dover-Calais cable on 25 September 1851, was made in Newall's works. In 1853, he invented the brake-drum and cone for laying cable in deep seas. Half of the first Atlantic cable was manufactured in Gateshead. Newall was interested in astronomy, and his giant 25 inch telescope was set up in the garden at Ferndene, his Gateshead residence in 1871.

In 1831 a locomotive works was established by the Newcastle and Darlington Railway, later part of the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway. In 1854 the works moved to the Greenesfield site and became the manufacturing headquarters of North Eastern Railway. In 1909, locomotive construction was moved to Darlington and the rest of the works were closed in 1932.

Sir Joseph Swan lived at Underhills, Kells Lane from 1869-83, where his experiments led to the invention of the electric light-bulb. The house was the first in the world to be wired for domestic electric light.

In 1889, Gateshead was made a county borough but in the same year one of the largest employers, Hawks, Crawshay closed down. Unemployment was a burden from this date. Up to the Second World War there were repeated newspaper reports of the unemployed sending deputations to ask the council to provide work. The depression years of the 1920s and 30s created even more unemployment and the Team Valley Trading Estate was built in the mid-1930s to alleviate the situation.

Economy

Gateshead is the home of the MetroCentre, the largest shopping centre in the European Union. The Team Valley Trading Estate, initially the largest and still one of the largest purpose built commercial estates in the United Kingdom is located in Gateshead.

Architecture

Dr Johnson passing through with James Boswell described it as "a dirty little back lane out of Newcastle" while JB Priestley, writing in his "An English Journey" (1934) said that "no true civilisation could have produced such a town", adding that it appeared to have been designed "by an enemy of the human race".

William Wailes the celebrated stained-glass maker, lived at South Dene from 1853-60. In 1860, he designed Saltwell Towers as a fairy-tale palace for himself. It is an imposing Victorian mansion in its own park with a romantic skyline of turrets and battlements. It was originally furnished sumptuously by Gerrard Robinson. Wailes sold it to the corporation in 1876 for use as a public park, provided he could use the house for the rest of his life.

The brutalist Trinity Centre Multi-Storey Car Park dominates the town centre. A product of attempts to regenerate the area in the 1960s the car park is largely derelict but has gained an iconic status due to its appearance in the film Get Carter. It is is due for demolition in 2008.

Gateshead council has recently sponsored the development of the Gateshead Quays cultural quarter. The development includes the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, erected in 2001 which won the James Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2002. The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art has been established in a converted flour mill. The Sage Gateshead, a Norman Foster-designed venue for music and the performing arts opened on 17 December 2004.

Gateshead is also home to a number of public art works, including the The Angel of the North, one of Britain's largest sculptures, measuring 20 metres high with a 54 metre wing span. Designed by Antony Gormley it was erected in 1998. It is visible from the A1 to the south of Gateshead, as well as from the East Coast Main Line.

Other public art include works by Richard Deacon, Colin Rose, Sally Matthews, Andy Goldsworthy and Gordon Young.

Sport

Gateshead International Stadium regularly holds international athletics meetings over the summer months. It is also host to rugby league fixtures, and the home ground of both Gateshead Thunder Rugby League Football Club and Gateshead Football Club. Both clubs have had their problems: Gateshead F.C. were controversially elected out of the Football League to make way for Peterborough United in the 1960s, whilst Gateshead Thunder lost their place in Super League as a result of a takeover (officially termed a merger) by Hull FC. Both Gateshead clubs continue to ply their trade at lower levels in their respective sports, thanks mainly to the efforts of their supporters. The Gateshead Senators American Football team also use the International Stadium, as well as this is was used in the 2006 Northern Conference champions in the British American Football League.

Transport

Gateshead is served by the Tyne and Wear Metro. There are stations at Gateshead Interchange, Gateshead Stadium, Felling, Pelaw and Heworth. Heworth is also served by main-line train services, as are Blaydon, Dunston and MetroCentre stations.

The Borough of Gateshead and the City of Newcastle are linked by a total of ten road, rail and pedestrian bridges. Proposals for a cable car running from Gateshead to Gateshead Quayside were first published in 2001.

Religion

Christianity has been present in the town since at least the 7th Century, when Bede mentioned a monastery in Gateshead. Notably, a church in the town was burned down in 1080 with the Bishop of Durham inside. St. Mary's was built near to the site of that building, and for many years was the only church building in the town, although has now been converted into the town's tourist information centre. Many of the Anglican churches in the town date from the 19th century, when the population of the town grew dramatically and expanded into new areas. The town presently has a number of notable and large churches in many denominations.

Gateshead is home to the Gateshead Yeshiva, one of the most important yeshivas in Europe, as well as other various Jewish educational institutions with international enrolments. Gateshead is renowned as one of the few areas in the world where most Jewish people in the vicinity are "Shomer Shabbas" whereby they are religious and do not break the 39 Melachot of Shabbat.

Famous residents

Accountant and public servant.

References

See also

External links

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