‘During a recent long weekend in the North East of England, I discovered the wonders of Newcastle & Gateshead Quayside…’
The Quayside is the area around the North banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle and the South bank in Gateshead. It was previously a busy port area that’s been heavily regenerated. Newcastle & Gateshead Quayside is now one of the city’s most visited areas, and it’s not difficult to see why.
The iconic Quayside bridge links the city of Newcastle with neighbouring Gateshead. It’s one of several bridges that span the river but is the most famous and recognisable of them all. The bridge is loosely based on an altered version of Sydney Harbour Bridge and gives a nod to the Quayside’s industrial heritage.
You can obviously cross the bridge using cars, vans, motorbikes and, I daresay, even tuk tuks. However, in order to take time to appreciate it, you have to walk. There are stairs close to the Quayside to happily clamber up and take in the views up and down the river.
This former flour mill sits on the south side of the Tyne in Gateshead. It was first owned and run by Hovis from 1950 to 1981. After closing in 1981, it lay unused for a period. A competition was launched by the RIBA for architects to submit suitable designs to transform the building into an arts venue. A massive refurb was undertaken and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art was opened in 2002.
The Centre hosts an ever-changing programme of events throughout the year. These have included prestigious events, such as the 2011 Turner Prize. This was the first time the TP had been held outside the Tate London or Tate Liverpool in its history. The move was a resounding success when it clocked up more visitors than any previous Turner Prize.
As well as gallery space, Baltic also has a contemporary bar and cafe on the ground floor. SIX, which is the name of the restaurant located on the top floor. It offers another great view of the Millennium and Tyne Bridges, as well as the Quayside It’s definitely not a bad spot to indulge in some brown ale.
When we first drove to the Quayside across the Tyne Bridge, we spotted this oddly curvy silver…thing and, in stereo, said: WHAT is that? Not in a bad way, as we have our very own oddly curvy silver thing in Glasgow (SECC), which we love very much. We just weren’t expecting to spot something similar in Gateshead. We thought ours was the only one… (sniff, sniff)
This shapely concert venue, like the Baltic, was developed after another design competition. The battle was won by Foster and Partners and the multi-performance area venue, complete with bars, brasserie and a music library was opened in 2004. It cost around £70 million, which is a total bargain if you ask me. But no one did.
Although The Sage looks fantastic and shiny during daylight hours, it’s best viewed when all lit up at night.
I know nothing about architecture, so it’s difficult for me to describe. Basically, the inside of the building looks like it’s on the outside when the lights come on. I’ll leave you with this photo, which explains it much better than my clumsy attempts….
The Millennium Bridge
While we’re on the subject of amazing multicoloured new Wonders of the World, we should take a second to talk about the Millennium Bridge. It just *might* be even more colourful and curvy than The Sage.
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, to give it its Sunday name, was built to celebrate the turn of the century. The £22 million investment has resulted in the world’s first tilting bridge. It also carries pedestrians and cyclists from Newcastle to Gateshead…and often back again.
The tilting of the bridge happens to allow the safe passage of boats down the Tyne. The complete process of tilting and…untilting(??) takes around four and a half minutes. During this time, the bridge glows in a rainbow of colours and is mesmerising to watch. I don’t say that very often. Not about bridges, anyway.
If you’re taking in the sights of the Newcastle & Gateshead Quayside at night, do be aware that there a lot of bars around the area. Weekends are therefore likely to be quite noisy. I visited on a Sunday night on Bank Holiday weekend. Let’s just say there was rather a lot singing and dancing going on…of
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge mid-tilt
Did you know Newcastle had a beach? No? Me either. However, I can assure you that it does, and it’s right on the North bank of the Tyne.
Now, I didn’t say it was a proper beach, but it is a beach nonetheless. Vueling’s popular summer attraction is a set on the banks, replete with striped deck chairs, pastel beach huts and, well…sand, obviously. 2018 is the 7th year the installation has been built in the city. Riley’s Fish Shack is right on its doorstep, so it’s just like a real English seaside town.
The Head of Steam
Firstly: this is NOT a boat. It is, rather, a gorgeously decorated bar just across the road from the Quayside. The Head of Steam is often listed as one of the best bars in the city and is conveniently situated across from the main train station.
After a few hours of wandering around, we popped in for coffee. And by coffee I mean a glass of red wine that was larger than my head (I love you, Quayside), and found ourselves a wonderfully atmospheric bar. Filled with lots of tables; intimate little booths, and Central Perk like comfy seats, I rested my tired feet and enjoyed views of the river.
Not only is the bar FULL of drinking options (and that’s always a good thing), but it’s also famous for its musical links. How can a bar that provided a stage to Maximo Park or The Arctic Monkeys ever be bad? Exactly.
The bar hosts regular music events, has a tempting menu, and a range of gins that would keep my Mother happy for months.
Bigg Sunday Market
This, as the name suggests, only applies to your visit if it falls on a Sunday. And you should definitely try to make sure it does because the market is rather wonderful.
Taking up a good length of the Quayside, this market dates back to the Middle Ages. It’s filled with artisan stalls selling cupcakes, hog roasts, speciality coffees and fruit and veg. In addition, it also souvenirs, such as candles and jewellery. It’s another great place to spend some time moseying around.