Friday, August 26th 2016
This is the last day of our short stay in Newcastle but as our train departure time is later in the day, we can continue exploring for a while longer. We checked out of the hotel but have left our bags in their care until we are ready to go to the station.
We didn’t want to go too far away from Newcastle as our train tickets are valid only for one specific train and we daren’t risk not getting back in time.
So we went to Tynemouth, a pleasant seaside town, situated, as its name suggests, at the mouth of the River Tyne. (The name is pronounced as you would expect, so that the first syllable rhymes with ‘shine’.) We did not have long to spend here, as we wanted to return to Newcastle in plenty of time, so we were only able to to gain a quick and superficial impression of the town. That impression was favourable so perhaps we will visit it again when we next come to the region. What follows are pictures of the odd few things or scenes that claimed my attention.
At first sight, I thought this might be a grand house or other principal building with a gateway leading to a courtyard.
There seems not to be much information about this structure but from what I have found I gather that first there was a street called The Parade; then the Bath Hotel, an 18th-century coaching inn, was built on one side of it; next, in the mid-19th century, the passage was covered over and a facility called the Bath Assembly Rooms was built opposite the hotel; after various changes of hands and purposes, the building came to be occupied by retail outlets, bars and restaurants. The doorway on the right bears the date 1859 and wording which I take to be ‘PATTERSON AND BURSTALL’, though I do not know the significance of those names.
As we made our way to the seaside, we came upon this elaborate Venetian Gothic clock tower and drinking fountain. Made by Oliver and Lamb it was installed in 1861. It was erected neither by the town council nor by public subscription but as a handsome gift by London resident William Scott in gratitude for an improvement in his health which he ascribed to a stay in Tynemouth. It is now a Grade II listed building.
We reached the sea at the headland known as Pen Bal Crag or Benebal Crag. Upon it stand the ruins of a priory and castle. The priory was founded at some point in the 7th century, though its exact date and founder are uncertain. During the 9th century, the priory was subjected to raids by the Danes and fortifications were erected to protect it though these proved insufficient and the priory was eventually abandoned. It was re-established by the Normans in 1090 and they also strengthened the castle. The priory was finally dissolved in 1538 by the edict of Henry VIII.
Three kings were buried here. The first two were Oswin (d. 651), King of Deira, and Osred II (d. 792), King of Northumbria, both of whom met their death by murder, while the third was Malcolm III of Scotland, killed in the Battle of Alnwick in 1093, though his remains were later reburied in Scotland. Oswin (also known as Oswine and Osuine) was later made a saint and became a cult figure as a result of miracles ascribed to him.
I imagine that most visitors to Tynemouth hurry to the beach as we did. The above panorama shows the smaller beach in King Edward’s Bay. There is a much longer beach north along the coast but we did not reach that far in today’s visit. This smaller beach is sheltered between two headlands and seems a very pleasant spot to sit in the sun or bathe in the sea.
This is as close as we came to the larger beach which is known as Tynemouth Longsands. At the bottom of the picture on the right is the Outdoor Pool which has been disused and has fallen into disrepair though there are plans afoot to restore and improve it.
The visit had been enjoyable and we might have stayed longer were we not pressed for time but, with our eyes ever on the clock, we returned the Newcastle.
Back in Newcastle, and still having a little time to spare, we went up onto the Tyne Bridge. As previously mentioned (see Newcastle 2016 – Day 1), this huge bridge was opened in 1928 by George V and has been carrying traffic over the River Tyne and part of the city, ever since. It offers spectacular views of the Tyne and the city. In the above view we are looking down at the building occupied in part by our hotel and the surrounding streets.
We had heard the the Millennium Bridge was going to open at about this time and as the Tyne Bridge provides a good viewpoint, we settled down to watch.
This photo shows the bridge just before it opened. If you look carefully you can see two security personnel in hi vis jackets who are making sure the bridge is cleared of pedestrians and cyclists.
During the opening and closing of the bridge I took photos at various stages and have combined 10 of them into the above Gif. You should be able from this to see why it is called the ‘Winking Bridge’.
As soon as the bridge has returned to its rest position, the waist-high metal doors at either end are opened and pedestrians and cyclists start crossing again. You will find a time-lapse video of the bridge here but as it was taken from the side, the ‘winking’ effect is not so clear.
We took a last look down the river from the Tyne Bridge towards the Millennium Bridge. On the left is the Quayside district of Newcastle and on the right, Gateshead, with the Baltic Flour Mill and the Sage.
Walking now on the Gateshead side of the river, we went a little way upstream where there is another famous bridge. You can see it painted red and white in the above photo.
Bridges are necessary but potentially create a barrier to shipping. The two main ways to avoid this problem are, firstly, to make the bridge so high that any shipping likely to sail on the river can pass underneath or, secondly, to make the bridge capable of moving out of the way to allow ships to pass. The Tyne Bridge is an example of the first and the ingeniously designed Millennium Bridge, an example of the second. Another example of this is the Newcastle Swing Bridge.
The Swing Bridge opened in 1876 after it was built to replace an earlier bridge. There are various designs of swing bridge and, for this one of such size and weight, the obvious solution was to pivot it in the centre and rotate the span to open it. That way, the whole thing remains in equilibrium. We were not fortunate enough to see the bridge swing open but this video shows it in action.
For us, time had run out. We took a last look at the river and the Tyne Bridge from the Swing Bridge and then walked back to the hotel. We reclaimed our bags and dragged them and ourselves up the hill for the last time en route for the railway station. Soon we were being wafted southwards towards London.
Though our stay was short, we had filled the time well and managed to see what we hoped to see. Newcastle still has much more in store for the visitor as we shall no doubt discover when we next return.