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Tyne and Wear is the 45th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Tyne and Wear has the 16th highest population in England.
Tyne and Wear is in 7th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. I will admit that I am slightly stretching the "royal" connection here. The Romans didn't have Kings or Queens, they had Emperors. One such Emperors was a man called Hadrian who became Emperor in 117AD. Five years later he visited Britannia as Britain was called. There had been a few minor rebellions and also the Picts who lived in what is now Scotland kept coming down and raiding Roman Britain.

    Hadrian decided to build a wall right across the top of England. Logically this became known as Hadrian's Wall. It ran from the banks of the River Tyne, near the North Sea, to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. It was 117.5 kms (73 miles) long and between 3 and 6 metres (10 and 20 foot) high. There was a milecastle (a small fort) every mile (logical that) and a larger fort every five miles or so.

    At the eastern end of the wall, the Romans built a fort known as Segedunum. It was built in 127AD and was a bit of an afterthought. Originally the wall ended at Pons Aelius about 4 miles west and now in the centre of Newcastle. Pons Aelius means the Aelian Bridge and Hadrian's family name was Aelian, which explains that. You can see all that is left of the fort in the picture and it is in a town called Wallsend and I don't need to tell you how it got its name.

    A large part of the wall is still there and there is a path, called Hadrian's Wall Path, which you can follow. The wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it was built to separate Roman Britain from Scotland it is not the border we know today. In the west it is just one kilometre from the current border, at Wallsend it is 109 kilometres south of the present border.

  3. Tyne and Wear Eats
  4. Bacon Floddies are a traditional breakfast in North East England, especially in Gateshead. They are simple to make, cheap to make but fill you up for the whole day. In simple terms a floddie is a type of potato cake made from grated, not mashed, potatoes. The North East was part of the Industrial Revolution and men would be working in the mines, in the docks and shipyards or building canals. A filling breakfast was vital for a hard days work. These floddies were also popular during the second world war when rationing limited the variety of food you could buy.

    Potato floddies would not contain bacon and could have jam spread on them for a sweet dish or mixed herbs to make a savoury one. Sometimes they were called canal floodies as the navvies working the canals would make them and cook them on their shovels over an open fire.

  5. Tyne and Wear VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Tyne and Wear in the last 100 years:-
    Me (William Richard Rowland - 17 July 1949 - 8.10am - Newcastle General Hospital, Westgate Road - Delivered by Mr Snaith assisted by Sister Hughes - Address at time of birth 70 St George's Terrace, Jesmond - Cost of Birth just over 21 pounds - mother kept a note of everything), less significant, Ant McParlin (TV Entertainer), Declan Donnelly TV Entertainer), Donna Air (Actress and TV Presenter, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner better known as Sting (Musician and Activist), Sarah Millican (Comedian) and Jordan Henderson (Footballer).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. There are several bridges across the River Tyne but only one of them is a Grade II listed structure. That is the swing bridge and it connects Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Gateshead. It stands on the site of several older bridges, one of which may have been built by the Romans. When it was opened in 1876, having taken three years to build, it was the largest swing bridge ever built. It was paid for by William Armstrong, a famous man in the North East, to allow large boats to go upstream to his manufacturing works. The previous bridge was too low and was demolished. Out of interest, Mr Armstrong, along with an architect called Richard Norman Shaw, designed and built a house known as Craigside, the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. The house is, in normal times, open to the public.

    Back to the bridge and it is 171 metres (561 ft) long, 14 metres (46 ft) wide and the longest span is of 85.5 metres (281 ft). The span of a bridge is the distance between two supporting posts. The central span, the one that is 85.5 metres long, can rotate through 360 degrees. The power to make this happen comes from hydraulic power using electrical pumps. It is still the same machinery which was installed when it was built.

    At its busiest, in 1924, the bridge was rotated 6,000 times. Today it only moves to allow tall yachts to pass. There is 4.42 metres (14.5 ft) below the bridge so you'd have to have a pretty tall sail. But, if you want to see it opening, be there on the first Wednesday of every month, I have no idea what time so take some food, because on these days it opens as a maintenance exercise. The bridge was renovated in 2018 at a cost of 200,000 pounds. The cost of construction was 240,000 pounds so not bad ......... except 240,000 pounds in 1876 is about 24 million pounds today. Mr Armstrong was a wealthy man although he made his money from making guns and artillery so not top of my list of favourite people but things were different then.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. The first English King to be converted to Christianity was King Ethelberht of Kent in 597AD. Others followed and in less than a hundred years monasteries had appeared all over England. Within these monasteries lived the monks; men who had devoted themselves to serve God. Men who spent much of their time in prayer. One such monk was a man called Bede who lived at the monastery of St Peter and its companion monastery of St Paul. These two monasteries were in Jarrow, now in Tyne and Wear. Bede had been sent there at the age of seven.

    Bede is best known as the author of the Ecclesiastical History of the English People and has been called the father of English History. His great work was completed in 731AD when Bede was almost 60 years old. The book was handwritten and the writing was very beautiful. However, Bede had a major problem in writing about the past.

    If I asked you to write a history of the Wars of the Roses, nearly 600 years ago, you might find it rather hard to do if you forget everything you know and have no reference books, google or anything written about the events. You can only go on what you were told by your elders who were told by their elders who were told by their elders etc. It may not be completely, or even remotely, accurate. Nevertheless the document Bede produced was the first attempt at a record of English History so we can say it happened in Tyne and Wear. Bede was made a saint in 1899 which is why he is more often known as the Venerable Bede. Someone of a saintly nature is said to be venerated.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. It is a very strange feeling to go back to the place you were born, a place you feel you should have some sort of tie to, but know that you left when you were six weeks old and have never been back. That was my position when I did my first coastal trip in 1985. Thirty Six years had passed since I left. It was my birthplace but I knew nothing about it.

    Actually that's not quite true because before I set off I had spoken to my mother (she who notes everything) and she had told me she used to take me for a walk in my pram (I was in the pram, she was walking) in a place called Jesmond Dene Park. I had to find if it was still there and it was and amazingly beautiful almost in the middle of what was at that time a rather sad city. The 1980s were not a good time and I saw many buildings boarded up.

    On my second visit things were no better in the area. On that trip I tried to visit a school that was following my journey each week and I went to one in South Shields. Before I went in to talk to the kids the teacher took me to one side and said she wanted to explain something to me. In her class of 36, only 5 had ever left South Shields. It was a year 6 class. She told me they were what was known as Latchkey kids. In other words they would go home from school and it was unlikely a parent would be there as both had to work to survive. I have to admit I was shocked, I'd led a sheltered life. I wondered what to expect. However she also told me that the kids were loving getting the newsletters each week and seeing different parts of England.

    When I went to talk to them the kids were brilliant and, after I'd finished, asked lots of questions. It was obvious life was different here and one question I will always remember was when a young boy asked me why beaches in other parts of England didn't have black dust covering them. This dust came from the coal mines around the area. I hope it's not there any more.

    Something else I remember that isn't there any more is Marsden Rock. It was exactly like the photo when I was there in both 1985 and 1994. But in 1996 the arch collapsed and a year later the little stack was deemed unsafe and demolished.

    Just to finish the education part of this story. On that second trip I ran a poetry competition for all schools who followed me. The South Shields school sent in entries. The teacher's letter that accompanied the poems told me to look out for one from two boys who she was sure never listened in her lessons. Now she knew they did. She had been reading some poems by a man called A A Milne, he who wrote Winnie the Pooh. One poem was all about getting sand between the toes and these two boys' poem went as follows:
    Sand between the fingers,
    Sand between the toes
    Sand gets everywhere
    But that's the way it goes.
    Nothing much but my journey had inspired them to write as well as letting other latchkey kids see what the rest of the world, or at least their country, was like. Sometimes this is the best and most satisfying job in the world.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. This is the blackbird. All blackbirds are obviously black. Wrong. Female blackbirds are brown while young blackbirds also have some orange and cream in their feathers. Male blackbirds still have some brown and white in their feathers. They all have brown legs and a medium length beak which is black, brown, orange and yellow. They can be seen almost everywhere in towns and the country and woodlands, grasslands and farmland. There are over 5 millions breeding pairs in the UK and, during winter, there could be as many as 15 million birds here. Difficult to miss I would guess.

    They are about 25 cms in length, have a wingspan of 34 to 38 cms and can weigh between 80 and 100 grams. They eat insects and worms but also berries and fruit. I think it's certain that you will have seen one. If not, look out your window.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Tyne and Wear check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020