Gateshead lies on the south bank of the River Tyne, opposite the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. Often considered to be the ‘poor relation’ of its neighbouring city, Gateshead is now coming into its own. In many ways the district is now part of Newcastle and has been linked through promotional campaigns to encourage visitors to Newcastle and it is also part of the county of Tyne and Wear. Today Gateshead is a center for businesses and the Gateshead council are in the process of redevloping the town and have its own city status, independant from Newcastle, a number of top north England companies have their headquarters here.
Gateshead dates back to the 12th century, when the Bishop of Durham, Hugh de Puiset granted the town its first charter. The name of the town was recorded as ‘Gatesheued’ in 1196 (The town’s name comes from ‘goat’s headland’ or ‘hill’). Gateshead was a coal mining place for about three centuries, coal first being mined in 1344, and subsequently running out at the end of the 17th century. Coal mining was resumed after the steam engine was invented, which meant that water could be pumped from the deeper seams. Glass works and ironworks were developed in the 18th century during the Industrial Revolution along with Locomotives and chemicals. Owing to a huge explosion in 1854 on the Quayside, Gateshead’s medieval heritage was all but destroyed. There was also a good deal of damage to Newcastle.
Nowadays, Gateshead is a go-ahead kind of place, with investment in art and culture. This is where Antony Gormley’s famous ‘Angel of the North’ stands, which has already become a symbol of the North East both for those who live there and ‘ex-pats’ who now live elsewhere. Gateshead has a great deal of public art, and is referred to on the Gateshead Council website as ‘pre-Angel’ and ‘post-Angel’. It is also home to the Baltic, an old flour mill which is now a fantastic art gallery. Nearby is the impressive Sage music venue.
Saltwell Park has provided people of all ages with many hours of fun and recreation for decades (since 1876, in fact), and continues to do so. It covers 55 acres, comprising landscaped gardens, bowling greens, play areas, animal house, and the amazing Saltwell Towers, and has over two million visitors a year.
Gateshead is now doing well, with industrial, commercial and retail businesses. Shopping is a major attraction with most people aware of the Metrocentre, built on the site of a power station which was one of the most advanced in the 1930s. The Metrocentre is located out of town and Europe’s largest indoor shopping mall, located near Blaydon, and is very popular for visitors from all over the world and Team Valley Retail Park
Unfortunately, not many very old buildings are left, although St Mary’s Church does have parts dating from the 12th century. This, as shown, is more than made up for by all the exciting new projects on offer.
Gateshead has a good selection of hotels, Bed and Breakfast and apartments throughout the area with budgets and styles to suit all, from quality hotels such as the Hilton located on the Quayside or the Premier Inn at Team Valley to character hotels such as the Ravensworth Inn, Kibblesworth where Alice in Wonderland was written. The Ramada Encore is currently being developed on Gateshead Quayside near the Sage and the Baltic and is due for completion in March 2012. One thing to be careful of when booking a hotel in Gateshead is the distance you want to travel as it encompasses a large area. The Hilton hotel on the Gateshead Quayside is the closest to Gateshead town centre and Newcastle City centre. The metrocentre is also classed as Gateshead which has the Marriott, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn express is about 2.5 miles away from Gateshead town centre.