Newcastle upon Tyne

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Newcastle upon Tyne. A city and river port in Northumberland, and the administrative and commercial centre of north-east England. Its urban history starts abruptly with a ‘New Castle’ begun by Robert, the Conqueror's son, in 1080, and a borough planted at its gate. Newcastle, like most of Northumberland, was held by the Scots in Stephen's reign, but retaken by Henry II. It was one of the most successful Norman ‘new towns’, rising to become the eleventh largest English town by 1377 and one of the top half-dozen in Tudor and Stuart times. Its growing importance was based on coal exports, controlled by the wealthy and powerful Company of Hostmen. The town was captured by the Scots in 1644, and Charles I was held there in 1646–7. Coal-exporting rose further in the 18th cent., followed by shipbuilding and engineering in the 19th; in the 20th it became part of a huge conurbation straddling the river Tyne. The medieval centre, though it retains much of its walls, was largely replaced between 1825 and 1840 by the architect John Dobson and the visionary speculator Richard Grainger, making Newcastle ‘the only major city in England with a planned commercial centre of that date’ (Pevsner).

David M. Palliser

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Newcastle upon Tyne City and major port on the River Tyne, ne England; administrative centre of Tyne and Wear. The site of a fort in Roman times, Newcastle acquired a Norman castle in the 11th century. It was a major wool-exporting port in the 13th century, and later became a coal-shipping centre. Its shipbuilding industry is in decline, but heavy engineering is still important. Industries: pharmaceuticals, engineering, aircraft. Pop. (1994 est.) 283,556.