Early this year, Rough Guide to 2019 rated Newcastle as the number one spot for traveller’s radars. The Geordie gem beat stiff competition in the form of New York, Mexico and Cuba. It’s no surprise to us as the birthplace of Greggs and PJ & Duncan, but we’re here to share exactly why Newcastle trumped everywhere else. With the launch of the Great Exhibition of the North in June – and the largest event in England in 2018 – we felt it was high-time to share the most iconic moments from the North East. Sit back, get a Greggs pasty and enjoy.
1. The first Greggs
Could we possibly start with anything other than Greggs? This Geordie institution runs through wor veins, with a history all the way back to the first store in 1951, located in Gosforth. Greggs has gone on to great things, and is now the largest chain in the UK.
2. PJ goes blind
Every child of the 90s remembers PJ & Duncan. Those cheeky chappies were the Byker besties, but it all went wrong when PJ got hit in the eye with a paintball. We all remember where we were the day PJ left to go to a school for the blind, leaving poor Duncan (and the country) bereft.
3. Hadrian builds his wall
We might not remember where we were the day Hadrian built his wall – with preparation beginning in AD 122 – but he sure did a good job, as a big chunk still stands for a total of 73 miles.
4. Transformers: The Last Knight filmed in Newcastle
Military-style vehicles and helicopters could be seen in the city as Michael Bay’s film was shot on our legendary Grey Street. While the movie featured the likes of Mark Wahlberg, there’s no bigger star than wor Grey Street.
5. “You’ll always be a Geordie, no matter where you go”
Voted ITV’s ‘favourite TV programme of all time’, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet starred some of our greatest Geordie actors, and we’re still quoting it today – well after its launch in 1983.
6. A legend, Alan Shearer, is born
Not only is he Newcastle United’s and the Premier League’s record goalscorer, but he’s also a Geordie. Born in 1970 in Gosforth, Shearer is Newcastle’s treasure, with 148 goals in his time at NUFC.
7. Newcastle United 5-0 Manchester United
Not much more can be said about this score – one of the greatest moments in Newcastle history.
8. Cheryl wins Popstars: The Rivals in 2002
Our Newcastle sweetheart, Cheryl, landed her spot in Girls Aloud and produced some absolute classics over the years. Popstars: The Rivals gave us a lot to talk about, but we’ve still not forgiven them for creating One True Voice…
9. Lucozade is created
Lucozade, or ‘Glucozade’ as it was formerly known, was created by Newcastle pharmacist, William Walker Hunter, in 1927. For this brilliant contribution to humanity, we will eternally be in his debt.
10. Tyne Bridge opens
We love our bridges in the North East, and there’s none quite like the Tyne Bridge – opening in 1928 and serving us well.
11. Angel of the North
Our beloved angel was constructed in 1998, and has been looking over us ever since.
12. Kevin Keegan sells Andy Cole
It’s been 23 years, and we’re still not over it. Andy Cole was one of the greats at NUFC (we all remember his hat-trick against Liverpool) and, in 1995, Keegan chose to sell Cole for a then record fee of £7 million. The Magpies were not out of luck for long – with the arrival of Shearer and Les Ferdinand – but Keegan had to face the wrath of United fans for a long time.
13. Muhammad Ali visits Tyneside
The then most famous man in the world made a four-day visit to Tyneside in 1977, eating stotties and playing darts at Gypsies Green Stadium. Ali was that impressed with his welcome, he said he had never been so honoured. You know what they say – us Geordies are the best.
14. Greggs replaces baby Jesus
In 2017, Greggs launched their first ever advent calendar, but caused a stir when they replaced baby Jesus with a sausage roll. He was delicious.
15. Grey Street voted UK’s best street
Back in 2002, Radio 4 listeners rated our iconic Grey Street as the ‘best street’ in the whole of the UK, lined with our top bars and home to the Theatre Royal.
16. Clint Eastwood imports Newcy Broon Ale
Newcastle Brown Ale, originally produced in the city, is one of America’s favourite beers. Reportedly, it has fans such as Eastwood, who has it specially imported whenever he has the urge for our Geordie favourite.
17. Great North Run established
The Great North Run is the largest half marathon in the world, taking place every year between Newcastle and South Shields. The Mobot is the only person ever to win the event four times consecutively.
18. Rowan Atkinson creates Mr Bean
The legendary Geordie created the larger than life, Mr Bean, in 1990 and green minis haven’t been the same since.
19. Sage Gateshead
Sage Gateshead is another string to the bow of Newcastle’s famous music industry, opening in 2004 to massive construction costs of £70 million. The unique venue sites pretty on the banks of the River Tyne, regularly hosting big-name stars.
20. Saveloy Dip
No one quite knows the first recordings of the Saveloy Dip, but it’s still one of the most popular dishes in our office at lunch… The smoked sausage, sandwiched in a roll and swept through gravy and dipped in the fat from the sausage cooking, before being wrapped in stuffing, pease pudding and mustard is a taste sensation.
21. Tyne & Wear metro rolls out
The metro is the first modern light rail system in the UK, launched back in 1980. It’s super busy, handling nearly 38 million passenger journeys between 2016/17.
22. The man with the fridge
Tony the Fridge, a famous Geordie fundraiser, ran 100 Great North Run marathons, all with a 42kg fridge strapped to his back. What a hero.
23. The Metrocentre opens
The Metrocentre opened in 1986 and was the largest shopping and leisure centre in the UK until the south took our trophy with Westfield London.
24. Newcastle Falcons win the Premiership
1998 was a good year for Newcastle, not least because the Falcons – the first fully ‘professional club in the world’ – lifted the Premiership trophy after a sterling season, with the likes of Johnny Wilkinson on the team.
25. The ‘Winking Eye Bridge’
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, opened in 2001, is one of the most famous structures in the city, winning plenty of awards and lighting up at night.
26. Club A’Gogo opened in 1962
For those not around in the 60s, Club A’Gogo pulled in big name faces, such as Pink Floyd, The Who and The Rolling Stones. Jimi Hendrix even performed there, rubbing shoulders with the cast of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and the like.
27. Jimi Hendrix busks in Heaton
Speaking of Jimi, Mr Hendrix once gave unsuspecting residents of Chillingham Road, Heaton, a taste of his famous music when he started busking on the side of the road.
28. Rough Guide rates Newcastle ‘Best Place to Visit in the World’ 2019
You know we had to include this.
There you have it, the most iconic moments (and food) to come out of the North East. Special shout out also to Metroland – the backdrop of our childhood. Now, we’re off for a Saveloy Dip.