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Tyneside is a conurbation in northern Englandmarker, which is home to over 80% of the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. It includes Newcastle upon Tynemarker, Gatesheadmarker, Hebburnmarker, Jarrowmarker, North Shieldsmarker, and South Shieldsmarker — all settlements on the banks of the River Tyne. The population of the conurbation was 879,996 according to the census of 2001. The only large settlement in Tyne and Wear that is not part of the Tyneside conurbation is Sunderlandmarker, which is on Wearsidemarker.


The people of the Tyneside area are often called "Geordies". Tynesiders may have been given this name, a local diminutive of the name "George", because their miners used George Stephenson's safety lamp (called a "Georgie lamp") to prevent firedamp explosions, rather than the Davy lamp used elsewhere. An alternative explanation is that during the Jacobite risings they declared their allegiance to the Hanoverian kings of Great Britain George I and George II; whereas the rest of the county of Northumberlandmarker, to the north, was loyal to James Francis Edward Stuart.

Coal production

While Newcastle upon Tyne had been an important local centre since Roman times, and was a major local market town from the Middle Ages, the development of Newcastle and Tyneside is owed to coal mining. Coal was first known to be dug in Tyneside from superficial seams in around 1200, but there is some evidence from Bede's writings that it may have been dug as early as 800 AD. Coal was dug from local drift mines and bell pits, and although initially only used locally, it was exported from the port of Newcastle from the mid 1300s onwards. Tyneside had a strategic advantage as far as the coal trade was concerned, because collier brigs could be loaded with coal on the Tyne and could sail down the east coast to London. In fact, the burgesses of Newcastle formed a cartel, and were known as the Hostmen. The Hostmen were able gain a monopoly over all of the coal exported from Tyneside, a monopoly which lasted a considerable time. A well-known group of workers on the river were the keelmen who handled the keels, boats that carried the coal from the riverbanks to the waiting colliers.

Steel and shipbuilding

The valley of the River Derwentmarker, a major tributary of the Tyne that rises in County Durham, saw the development of the steel industry from around 1600 onwards. This was led by German immigrant cutlers and sword-makers, probably from around Solingenmarker, who fled from religious persecution at home and settled in the then village of Shotley Bridgemarker, near Consettmarker.

The combination of coal and steel industries in the area was the catalyst for further major industrial development in the nineteenth century, including the shipbuilding industry — at its peak, the Tyneside shipyards were the biggest and best centre of shipbuilding in the world, and built an entire navy for Japanmarker in the first decade of the twentieth century. There is still a working shipyard in Wallsendmarker.

Professional rowing on the Tyne

From early in the 19th century it was a custom to hold boat races on the Tyne. The river had a large number of keelmen and wherrymen, who handled boats as part of their jobs. As on the River Thames, there were competitions to show who was the best oarsman. As a wherryman did not earn very much, professional rowing was seen as a quick way of earning extra money. Regattas were held, and provided modest prizes for professionals, but the big money was made in challenge races, in which scullers or boat crews would challenge each other to a race over a set distance for a side stake. The crews would usually have backers, who would put up the stake money, as they saw the chance of financial gain from the race. In the days before mass attendances at football matches, races on the river were enormously popular, with tens of thousands attending. Betting would go on both before and during a race, the odds changing as the fortunes of the contestants changed. Contestants who became champions of the Tyne would often challenge the corresponding champions of the River Thames, and the race would be arranged to take place on one of the two rivers.

Rivalry between the Tyne and the Thames was very keen, and rowers who upheld the honour of the Tyne became local heroes. Three such oarsmen, who came from humble backgrounds and became household names in the North East, were Harry Clasper, Robert Chambers and James Renforth. Clasper was a champion rower in fours, as well as an innovative boat designer and a successful rowing coach. Chambers and Renforth were oarsmen who excelled at sculling. Both held the World Sculling Championship at different times.The popularity of all three men was such that when they died, many thousands attended their funeral processions, and magnificent funeral monuments were provided by popular subscription in all three cases. At the end of the nineteenth century professional rowing on the Tyne began a gradual decline and eventually died out altogether leaving the amateur version.

Rapper dancing

Despite its rapid growth in the Industrial Revolution, Tyneside did develop one peculiar local custom, the rapper sword dance, which later spread to neighbouring areas of Northumberland and County Durham.

Industrial decline and regeneration

During the 1970s and 1980s, there was major industrial decline in the traditional British heavy industries, and Tyneside was hit hard. High unemployment rates, and a government led by Margaret Thatcher determined to push through with economic transformation, led to great social unrest with strikes and occasional rioting in depressed areas.

From the late 1980s onward, an improving national economy and local regeneration helped the area to recover, and although unemployment is still a problem compared with some other areas of Britain, expansion of new industries such as tourism, science and high-technology, has fuelled local development, especially in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead.


The ONS define a Tyneside Urban Area with a population of 879,996 according to the 2001 census, which has the following urban sub-areas


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Tyneside at current basic prices published (pp. 240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 7,688 9 2,244 5,435
2000 9,930 8 2,567 7,356
2003 11,895 9 2,865 9,021

 1 includes hunting and forestry

 2 includes energy and construction

 3 includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

 4 Components may not sum to totals due to rounding


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