21 August, 2007

Newcastle Upon Tyne - It always rains on Sunday

A visit to Newcastle on a wet Sunday and fine and dry Monday. The last time I visited Newcastle it was raining too. In fact staying in the newly trendy Quayside involves some extremely steep steps (as Newcastle isn't UPon Tyne for nothing) and these steps were turned into a water cascade last time, even though it wasn't as bad as that this time. Newcastle is a mostly stone built georgian city, although J Poulson and T Dan Smith corruptly redeveloped the city in the 1960s giving it the concrete jungle look as shown in Picture 3.

The first picture shows Bessie Surtees's House which is a Jacobean dwelling on the Quayside near the town hall. Bessie Surtees lived here and eloped with John Scott who was to become Lord Chancellor of England and first Earl of Eldon. The second picture shows the bottom of Grey Street, which I regard as an iconic view of Newcastle. Newcastle is picturesque in a sublime way but not particularly photogenic. The view shows the mighty railway bridge at the Scotland end of the Central Station crossing the street at high level. Sublime!
The third picture shows Holy Jesus Hospital, which began life as an alms house - a "Hospital for poor people by the expense of the citizens and leaders of Newcastle upon Tyne in the year of salvation 1683. Built by Timothy Robson, Mayor, John Squire Sheriff. Faith Hope and Charity, and the greatest of these is Charity." The building housed the Central Soup Kitchen, as shown by the plaque in the picture in the 19th Century and a museum (that was always closed) until 1994 when it was transferred to Newcastle Discovery. Now it is used by the National Trust on lease from the Newcastle Council.

I couldn't get away from Newcastle without a picture of the Tyne Bridge, opened by King George V with Queen Mary in the 1930s, so that's at Picture 4.

Newcastle is also a diocese of the modern foundation, a breakaway from Durham in 1882, with the Cathedral of St Nicholas. I thought I might attend evensong there on Sunday night after hearing the church bells ringing at quarter past five. I was hungry and going to eat (see below) but the service was at six and I couldn't wait that long. On the Monday morning I was out at 7:30 (hungry again) and the morning service was at 8:30 so I missed the service again. Frustrated in the Cathedral.
You can see the cathedral tower in the background of this picture of the new castle.

I should always remember that in the provinces people only get hungry between 12 and 3 and not at all on Sunday evenings. When I arrived in Newcastle I wasn't hungry but was at about 5 o'clock. No pub was serving food (or had any left - which is another way of saying the same thing) so had to go to an Indian restaurant, and even there they said the special wasn't available until six. As it was ten minutes to I said "it's nearly six, so that's what I'll have please". I think i was lucky to get it. I have to say that if I did leave London, eating by the clock is the thing that would irritate me intensely.

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