Pocket Britain

One of the UK's largest and most important cities and focus of North East music, theatre, sport, transport and business

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Newcastle is one of the UK's largest and most important cities. It stands in northern England, and is the area's main centre for everything from music and theatre, to sport, transport and business.
It was originally built as a fort within Hadrian's Wall, a famous Roman fortification which stretched all the way along the country, deterring potential raids by Scottish tribes. However, the "new castle", which gave the city its current name, was actually a different stronghold, built in the year 1080 by Robert II, William the Conqueror's son.
From these military beginnings, Newcastle became a big industrial town, specialising in wool-trading, coal-mining, and later - ship building. In fact, after the city's port enjoyed a colossal period of growth during the 16th century, it was known as one of the leading places in the world for the construction and repair of sea craft.
Today, the port no longer has the same importance, but Newcastle remains a key area for business and commerce. It has become part of a larger urban area which is home to over a million people. It even boasts its own underground Metro rail network.
The main landmark is arguably the Tyne Bridge, crossing the river of the same name. This arched structure has a beautiful symmetry, and has served as the city's icon since King George V opened it in 1928. A little further down the river is the more modern Millennium Bridge, which uses an unusual rotating design to allow both pedestrians and boats to pass by.
The bridge is located in the Quayside area, one of Newcastle more upmarket, modern districts. The city is split into many different sections, each of which have a distinctly different atmosphere. Northumberland Street is known as the centre of the shopping scene, with its countless array of popular and well-known stores. It is often referred to as the "Oxford Street" of the north, and is the most expensive place to own a shop outside of London.
The historic centre of Newcastle, though, is in Grainger Town. This area is clustered around its old Victorian market, and features hundreds of attractive buildings, many of which have been protected for their cultural value. This part of the city contains an abundance of fantastic sights, including Central Arcade - a covered Edwardian shopping lane - and Grey Street, which was once chosen as the "best street in the UK".
The outskirts of Newcastle feature even more sights and attractions, including the Metro Centre, which lays claim to the title of "largest shopping mall in Europe"! In nearby Gateshead, visitors can see the famous "Angel of the North" statue, which surveys the area from on top of its grassy hill.
Newcastle is one of those places where it's impossible to run out of things to do. And whether you're sitting in a pub with a glass of the area's infamous "Newcastle Brown Ale", or watching a football match with the country's most dedicated fans, everything has its own, distinct character.

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