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Useful Notes / North East England

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"Gonna make you dance, gonna make you sing
Those Geordie boys do anything"
Gazza and Lindisfarne, Fog on the Tyne

As well as being Oop North, North East England is the part of the country with its southern borders somewhere in North Yorkshirenote  and its northern border at Scotland, reaching as far west as the border with Cumbria; equivalent to the ITV region served by Tyne Tees Television. Although North Eastern people are often referred to as 'Geordies', this isn't correct; while usage varies from person to person, it's generally safe to say that people not born or resident on Tyneside aren't Geordies. The Geordie dialect is unique, and can seem incomprehensible to Southerners - books have been written as guides. There's a section on Northern words on the British English page.

In history, the North East was fairly important to the Romans. Hadrian's Wall was built across its former northern border. After that, famous monks such as Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and Bede led many of the region's people. The English translation of the Lindisfarne Gospels (a Latin manuscript of the first four books of the New Testament) was made there; it's said to be the oldest translation of the four books in the world. It was one of the favourite landing spots for the Vikings thanks to its North Sea coast and similar latitude to Viking territories. It also contains the first 'Washington', technically the town which gave the American capital its name.note 

The North East played major roles in the shipbuilding and railway industries, one of its most famous residents being George Stephenson who built the Rocket. It also proved valuable as a source of coal, and many of the 'pit villages' where miners and their families lived are now popular suburbs. Most of the big industries have closed since the war; especially the coal and steel industries. This results in a high unemployment rate.

Major towns or cities:

  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Often abbreviated to 'Newcastle' (pronounced 'nyuh-cassle') when there's little danger of it being confused with Newcastle-under-Lyme or the one in Northern Ireland. (Unfortunately, this does happen.). Home of Newcastle United. Newcastle University is famous for its research into biology. The city's airport is the main air link between the North East and the South. Newcastle is on one side of the Tyne, and is linked to Gateshead by numerous bridges, including the famous Tyne Bridge and Millennium Eye. Although Port of Tyne is actually located in North and South Shields, it's often considered Newcastle's port and is the region's main sea link with mainland Europe. This is the city where the British Comic Viz originates from.
  • Gateshead (pronounced 'gayts-hedd'): Just across the water from Newcastle, Gateshead is a major transport hub. Attempts to lump it and the city across the river into one and name it 'Newcastle Gateshead' are usually not welcomed by the people. The Metrocentre shopping complex is located on the outskirts, as is the Angel of the North (it's not in Newcastle, despite often being used to symbolise it). The car park used in a famous scene from the Michael Caine film Get Carter used to dominate the skyline, till it was demolished in 2010. It's also home to various attractions on the Tyne.
  • Durham (pronounced 'doo-ram' or 'duh-rum'): The 'capital' city of the eponymous county, though small, Durham is a hugely important site to scholars, being the home of Durham Cathedral, the prestigious Durham University and numerous private schools, as well as other colleges just outside it. The Cathedral and Durham Castle are on a hill almost surrounded by the River Wear (pronounced the same as 'weir'). The surrounding County is very large and contains a few other decent sized towns (like Seaham and Darlington) and quite a few former pit villages. Direct trains link the city to London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.
  • Sunderland: Coastal city and home of Sunderland AFC, down river from Durham it sits across the mouth of the wear. Sunderland and Newcastle football clubs are rivals, and anyone who labels all North Eastern people 'Geordies' would be advised not to if they visit Sunderland. The local nickname for residents is Mackems. Also home to the University of Sunderland. Formerly a town (only a city since 1992) which was at one time the "Biggest Shipbuilding Town in the World" though no shipbuilding takes place there any more, it's main industries are now the nearby Nissan car factory and several large contact centres located in the Doxford Park area. Also a sister city of Washington, D.C.; the aforementioned town of Washington is part of the City of Sunderland metropolitan borough.
  • Teesside: The general name given to a conurbation focused around towns on or near the river Tees; such as Middlesbrough (pronounced "mid-uls-bruh"), Redcar (pronounced "red-kur"), Billingham, Stockton and Hartlepool (pronounced "hart-lee-pool"). Hartlepool's people are famed for having hanged a monkey in the mistaken belief it was a Frenchman. The local nickname for residents in Middlesbrough and its surrounding areas are Smoggies, due to the area being a central site for chemical works and heavy industry which created emissions of smog in the area. The Middlesbrough area in particular was historically renowned for its contribution to the iron and steel trade in the 1800s, earning it the nickname "Ironopolis" during its peak. Stockton-on-Tees, once a thriving market town and river port (the market still exists, the port doesn't) was one end of the world's first recognisably modern railway (the other being Darlington), the place where the friction match was invented (by John Walker) and apparently has the widest high-street in Britain.
  • Darlington, another large market town which formed the other end of the Stockton-Darlington Railway, and still retains more railway connections than Stockton (including a museum and proper station on the East Coast Main Line). Also is home to many businesses and some engineering works.
  • Jarrow (pronounced 'Jarra'): Used to be a significant shipbuilding town until the inter-war years. Has political significance to the region for the Jarrow Crusade of 1936, which is celebrated in the region to this day. Further back, it was also where the aforementioned Bede lived (though he spent his early life in Wearmouth which is now part of Sunderland). It is now a part of South Tyneside.
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed (commonly called Berwick, pronounced "Berrick"): A small border town best known for its supposed independence from both England and Scotland, with a population of only 12,000. Despite its small size it has an economic hinterland extending well into Scotland and across North Northumberland, because it is the only town of its size for 50 miles in any direction.

Famous people from the North East:

  • The Earl Grey
  • Bryan Donkin, pioneer of printing, paper manufacture, and co-inventor of the tin can.
  • Ant and Dec, TV presenting duo.
  • Rowan Atkinson, actor famous for playing Mr. Bean and Edmund Blackadder.
  • Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister. note 
  • Actors Rodney Bewes and James Bolam, the original The Likely Lads and the Ur-Example for Ant and Dec.
  • Cheryl Cole from Girls Aloud.
  • James Cook, explorer.
  • Catherine Cookson, author.
  • David Coverdale, of Whitesnake (yes, really)
  • Charlie Hunnam, best known for Sons of Anarchy.
  • Jeremiah Dixon, one of the cartographers who charted the "Mason-Dixon" line demarcating Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia (later used to demarcate the Northern US states from the Southern), was born in Durham.
  • Sunderland-born actor William Russell, one of Doctor Who's first regulars.
  • Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits.
  • Stan Laurel, one half (in certain terms) of Laurel and Hardy.
  • Bob Mortimer, comedian.
  • Chris Rea, singer.
  • Ridley Scott, film director.
  • George Stephenson, the 'Father of Railways'. While not the first to build a steam locomotive, he refined the principle to railway travel.
  • Sting, formerly of The Police and a successful solo artist.
  • Joseph Swan, the inventor of the lightbulb.note  note .
  • Neil Tennant, of the Pet Shop Boys.
  • Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC
  • Paul W.S. Anderson, film director.
  • Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music
  • Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards of Little Mix
  • Jamie Bell, the actor best known for playing the title character in Billy Elliot.
  • Ivy Close, pioneering silent film actress and alleged World's Most Beautiful Woman note . note 
  • Adrian Neville, of NXT.
  • Gina McKee, actor.
  • Sam Fender.

Famous fictional people from the North East:

Some stories set in the North East: