Newcastle and The Tyne
Course Date: Saturday 7th September to Saturday 14th September
Course Leader: Bill Purdue
Early bookings received by 15th March: £695.00 per person
Bookings after 15th March: £730.00 per person
Newcastle upon Tyne has a fascinating history. The Romans built a fort, Pons Aelius, there, which formed a strong point of Hadrian’s Wall, but the history of Newcastle as an important settlement with a continuous history began, after the Norman Conquest, with the building of a wood and earth castle in 1080. The town’s rise was spectacular and by 1275 it was conducting a flourishing trade in coal and lead and was ranked sixth among England’s wool shipping ports. The importance of the town and its prosperity were based upon its position as the easiest crossing point over the lower reaches of the Tyne, its control of the river and its trade, and its strategic position in relation to the Anglo-Scottish border and as a crucial barrier against Scottish invasions. The castle and the town walls made it capable of a stout defence and , during the Civil War it put a ferocious resistance when besieged by a Scottish army in 1644. As the coal trade came to dominate the exports of the Tyne, Newcastle’s importance to England and especially to London increased. During the nineteenth century, Newcastle became the capital of the heartland of the national industrial economy.
The course will include talks on Newcastle’s history and development and on famous figures associated with its and Tyneside’s past, including Sir William Blackett, Earl Grey, Lords Eldon and Armstrong and Admiral Lord Collingwood. Visits will take in the castle, the town walls, the Quayside, the bridges, Trinity House, the Keelman’s hospital and the Georgian and Wilhelmine development of the town’s centre. There will also be excursions to other places associated with the town’s history, Earl Grey’s Howick Hall and Lord Armstrong’s houses at Gragside and Bamburgh Castle. As Newcastle’s power extended over the whole of the lower reaches of the Tyne, there will be visits to towns and villages on the Tyne both below and above Newcastle.
Newcastle has long been noted as a pleasure-seeking, sociable and boisterous town and city and as a cultural centre, known for its inventiveness and its promotion of the arts and sciences and there will be visits to the art galleries and museums and an opportunity to explore modern Newcastle and its vibrant riverside development.
Bill Purdue was Reader in British History at the Open University before his retirement and is now Visiting Professor at the University of Northumbria. His publications include, several books related to Newcastle and the North East: Merchants and Gentry in North East England 1650-1830 (1999), The Ship That Came Home: the story of a northern dynasty (2004), and Newcastle. The Biography (2011).