A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about culture

Around Northumberland Street

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Northumberland Street

This is Newcastle’s main shopping street. It developed north of the city walls as the main route to Northumberland, hence the name, and was at one time primarily a residential suburb. When the Tyne Bridge opened in 1928 it lined up with Pilgrim Street, the southern extension of Northumberland Street, with the result that this became Newcastle's principal commercial street, a role originally intended for Grey Street. It was also, until the opening of the Central Motorway in the 1970s (which serves as a bypass), the main thoroughfare for traffic through the city. It has since been pedestrianised and given over entirely to the pursuit of shopping.

Tyneside Cinema

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The Tyneside Cinema

If you love film you’ll want to visit the Tyneside Cinema on Pilgrim Street, the continuation of Northumberland Street. The building that houses it dates back to 1937 and its design reflects the spirit of those times, when a ‘picture palace’ was expected to transport audiences out of their humdrum lives into an exotic world where anything was possible. Nowadays its modern cinema, with four auditoria, focuses mainly on art films and world cinema, although mainstream releases are also shown. But this is more than just a cinema. There is a wide programme of events for film buffs, such as talks, quiz evenings and special screenings, and other cultural events including exhibitions, poetry evenings, live music and much more.

The Tyneside Cinema was originally built as Newcastle’s News Theatre in 1937 and today is the finest surviving news reel cinema in Britain. These news theatres were very popular in their day and did an important job at a time when there was no television news, bringing images from all over the world to ordinary people back home. My mother-in-law once told me that when she and my father-in-law were ‘courting’ in the 1950s, a visit to the news theatre here was a cheap and popular evening out. For a few pennies they could watch not only the news-reels but also some cartoons and a travelogue or two.

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The Classic auditorium

If you are interested in the history of the building you can take a free guided tour behind the scenes. We haven’t yet done this, but it’s on my “things I must do some time soon” list! This is also a good place to come for a meal, and the traditional ‘Tyneside Coffee Rooms’ on the second floor has been a popular spot with film-goers and others for 70 years. The four auditoria are licensed too, so you can easily enjoy a drink and a film at the same time. Attached to the cinema on the ground floor are two further eating/drinking options. Little Vicolo is a cosy spot, popular for day-time drinking, with excellent coffee, a good selection of beers and wines, cocktails, and also light meals. The newer Tyneside Bar & Café has become one of our favourite spots at any time of day – breakfast coffee and croissants, a mid-morning espresso, lunch or later. They have a programme of film-themed evening events including free screenings of old classics and a film quiz.

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Restored mosaic floor, and stairwell

Laing Art Gallery

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J Edgar Mitchell window, Laing Art Gallery

Several interesting sights lie just to the east of Northumberland Street, off New Bridge Street. The Laing Art Gallery is Newcastle’s city centre art gallery. It contains a mix of permanent exhibits, focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries, and temporary exhibitions. Although not large the gallery is worth a visit as the pictures are well displayed and there are several items of note in the permanent collections. These include a number of paintings by John Martin, a north east artist from the early to mid 19th century. His work was incredibly popular at the time and I have a soft spot for his dramatic and Romantic style. The Laing’s collection of his work is considered one of the most comprehensive in the world.

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Laing Art Gallery

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One of the paintings by John Martin in the permanent collection

Other star attractions include a bronze figure by Henry Moore, works by Pre-Raphaelite artists Burne-Jones and Holman Hunt, a Gauguin landscape and some striking stained glass, such as the Arts and Crafts window in my photo above, by J Edgar Mitchell. One gallery focuses on Art on Tyneside and includes an extensive collection of wood-engravings by local 18th century artist Thomas Bewick.

The temporary exhibits change regularly and are very varied – we’ve seen a great Biba exhibition in the past and I also recall an interesting installation reflecting on the slave trade by Benin artist Romuald Hazoumé. Most recently (winter 2017/18) the Laing has hosted an excellent exhibition of the work of British artist Paul Nash.

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Battle of Germany, by Paul Nash

There are regular events for children, a small area aimed at under-fives (where they are encouraged to learn about art through play), a café and a shop with some high-quality items such as jewellery, ceramics and prints.

The Lying-in Hospital

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The Lying-in Hospital

I have often passed this attractive stone building when visiting the Laing Art Gallery, which it faces across a pedestrianised stretch of New Bridge Street. But I have only recently got around to investigating its history. It was built in 1826 (in sandstone ashlar with a slate roof) as an asylum for poor pregnant women, designed (free of charge) by eminent local architect John Dobson (after whom the street that crosses New Bridge Street near here was named). It was paid for by charitable donations on land made available for the purpose by the Corporation of Newcastle, hence Dobson giving his time for free. But if the mention of charity suggests that this was a refuge for the most desperate, that was far from being the case, as those thought of as morally beyond help (the so-called ‘fallen women’ who could not show a marriage certificate) were turned away, as were the homeless and those suffering from infectious diseases. Women had to bring a dress for the child and show proof that they had a permanent address (unless their husband was a serving soldier or sailor). Only the ‘respectable poor’ were welcome here, it seems. But the building was in use for this purpose until 1923, so clearly many women did find shelter here.

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Plaque on the wall

I found the following description of the building’s layout in an 1827 history of the city, published on British History Online:
‘On the right hand side of the entrance is a waiting hall, 16 feet by 12½ feet. This communicates by a door with the committee-room, which is 25 feet in length, and 16 feet in breadth. The next apartment is the surgeon's room. On the opposite side are the matron's sitting-room, a store-room, two kitchens, and a wash-house, which is annexed to the main building. In the upper floor are two large, light, airy wards, which hold four beds each; and two smaller wards, adapted for two beds each; with the matron's bed-room, store-rooms, water-closet, and other conveniences.’

The same website goes on to point out that despite efforts to ‘discourage the breeding of the industrious classes, the old English feeling of kindness and benevolence to the poor has been pleasingly evinced in Newcastle’, which gives some indication of the sentiments of the day!

From 1925 to 1988 this was Newcastle’s Broadcasting House, until the BBC moved its regional operations to a building on Barrack Road that is known locally as ‘The Pink Palace’. It is now owned by the Newcastle Building Society who use it for offices.

The City Library

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In the City Library

Although I am a librarian by profession I don’t very often find myself recommending a visit to the library in my travel writing! But the new City Library in Newcastle is a stunner, and well worth a little of your time.

The library opened in summer 2009 and has been a great success. Officially named the Charles Avison Building after the 18th century Newcastle composer, most refer to it as just the central or city library. It is housed in a six storey block full of light and air, which replaced the old concrete 1970s building. There are entrances on New Bridge Street and Princess Square – the latter is perhaps more convenient if coming from the city centre, but the former will give you the more striking first view of this impressive building. Look up through the atrium to its many levels; watch how people move and feel at home in its spaces; sense the buzz of enthusiasm and activity too rarely associated with library use (though it should be!)

Then take some time to explore. There are naturally all the usual library offerings: books to borrow (probably of limited interest to short-term visitors); newspapers and magazines (could be a good way to pass some time on a rainy day) and free computers and free wifi. But there are also some real draws for visitors. Check out the small area on the sixth floor, where several beautiful historic illustrated books are on display, as well as tools and a desk used by famed local wood engraver, Thomas Bewick.

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Views from the upper floors

Enjoy a coffee and home-made cake in the café on the second floor, in a pleasant area overlooking Princess Square (and with tables outside too for a sunny day). And have a look to see if there are any interesting events or activities planned: there are regular author talks, book signings, exhibitions and activities for children. If you want to find out in advance what’s going on at the time of your visit, have a look at the calendar on the Newcastle Libraries website, but bear in mind that it covers all the libraries in Newcastle, so you’ll need to check what’s on where.

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Books with local interest on display

By the way, two friends of ours, Pete Cain and Barry Robertson, wrote Toon Odyssey, featured in the display in the photo above, and I was proud to supply some of the photos. It describes our adventures following Newcastle United in Europe ... but we will get on to the matter of the football team in a later entry ...

Posted by ToonSarah 07:47 Archived in England Tagged art streets architecture culture history shopping city cinema Comments (5)

On the other side of the river

Gateshead

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Newcastle and Gateshead: an uneasy relationship

Gateshead lies on the south bank of the River Tyne, facing its better-known neighbour, Newcastle. Like many neighbours, they have a somewhat awkward relationship, with Gateshead often feeling overshadowed and left out of some of the benefits that have come Newcastle’s way in terms of investment, regeneration and much improved image.

But in recent years they have established a stronger bond, triggered in part at least by their collective (and sadly unsuccessful) efforts to bring the City of Culture to a place they dubbed NewcastleGateshead. While the City of Culture bid may have failed, the concept of NewcastleGateshead lives on in tourism promotions and shared activity to drive further improvements in the region. And that activity, coupled with a drive to emulate Newcastle’s success in reinventing itself in our post-industrial age, has resulted in major change in Gateshead. Many buildings in the town centre have been flattened (at least one controversially) and new ones have taken their place. Despite these however, and despite some iconic cultural attractions, Gateshead retains a down to earth character.

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Gateshead on the left, Newcastle on the right

The sights and attractions of Gateshead are far fewer in number than those of its better-known neighbour, but what they lack in number they make up for in impact – so much so that they are often wrongly included in a list of Newcastle attractions (much to the aggravation of Gateshead!) I have fallen into the same trap a little, as I have already described the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in a previous entry, but I justify myself partly because it is so easily visited while on the Newcastle Quayside and partly because it serves as a draw to lure visitors across the Tyne.

Incidentally, the signs in my photo at the top of this page, which I photographed in a Newcastle bistro, are available for sale in the Baltic shop!

Sage Gateshead

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The Sage from Newcastle

While you are on the Gateshead side of the river it’s worth checking out the Sage. You can hardly miss seeing it, whichever side you are on, as it’s a very striking building, situated in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge on the Gatehead Quays. It is a concert venue with two main auditoria, a rehearsal space, a music education centre and a leisure destination with several bars and eating places. It is also a must-see, and must photograph, building!

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The Sage, early evening

It was designed by renowned architect Lord Foster (Norman Foster) and was his first for the performing arts. It played a major role in the cultural revival of Gateshead and the Quayside in particular, along with the Baltic Gallery, driven by a council eager at the time (late 1990s/early 2000s) to compete with its larger neighbour across the water. It opened in 2004 and immediately became an unmistakeable sight on the river front, with its huge curved roof of stainless steel and glass. That roof, if laid flat, would be large enough to cover two football pitches, while the concrete used in its construction could, according to the Sage website, ‘fill 23 competition-size swimming pools, make almost 5 million foot-square paving slabs – enough concrete flags to build a path 800 miles long from St James’ Park, Newcastle, to the San Siro Stadium in Milan – and still have enough left to pave over the pitch six times!’

I find the building very photogenic, especially in black and white:

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Sage details

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The Sage and Tyne Bridge

Check out the website to see if there are any concerts happening around the time of your visit. They are many and varied, from world famous acts to the regional professional symphony orchestra based here (the Royal Northern Sinfonia) to local music groups and school children (our cousin’s daughter danced there a while back, watch by a very proud mother and grandmother!) And if nothing appeals visit anyway – to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat, admire (or not – it’s not to everyone’s taste) the architecture, or join a tour of the building to find out more about it.

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Reflected in the Tyne

Central Gateshead

There is probably relatively little to detain the visitor in the centre of Gateshead. Years ago this was a traditional northern England shopping street, and we used to visit a lot as my father-in-law ran an Army and Navy Surplus store on the High Street. Today much of it has been demolished, including his former shop, and a new shopping centre built in its place, Trinity Square.

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Trinity Square

The largest shop here by some way is a huge Tesco Extra supermarket, where you can buy not only food and drink but also clothing (from their Florence and Fred budget range), household goods and electronics. Other shops in the complex include Boots the Chemist, Greggs (a north east bakery chain now found across the country), Sports Direct (owned by the unpopular owner of Newcastle United), Select (budget fashion chain) and Poundland. There is a multiscreen cinema (Vue) and several chain eating places – Nando’s, Frankie and Benny’s (US style Italian) and a Costa coffee shop. A new independent coffee shop with its frontage on the High Street, Altin, looks appealing but we haven’t tried it yet.

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'Get Carter' carpark
in an old photo taken
from the Bridge Hotel

This development is on the site of the former 1960 shopping mall of the same name, unremarkable save for the multi-storey car park that rose above it. Built in the Brutalist style, it came to fame through the film Get Carter, starring Michael Caine, and there was a lot of outcry when its demolition was first proposed in the early years of this century. Those who wanted to preserve it argued for its value both architecturally and culturally, while those who favoured its demolition couldn’t see why on earth anyone would want to preserve such an ugly piece of architecture! They got their way, although ironically the new development was nominated for the 2014 Carbuncle Cup for the ugliest building of the previous 12 months!

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The Tilley Stone

There are other shops in the surrounding streets, including Jackson Street which leads up to the Metro and bus stations. The Weatherspoon’s pub here, The Tilley Stone, is a fairly regular haunt of ours as it’s a convenient place in which to meet up with Chris’s family, most of whom live in the wider Gateshead area. The pub is bright and spacious, with plenty of room even though popular and busy at all times of day. It was named after two former local coal seams, and the décor includes examples of local artists' work with a mining theme. The prices, as always in a Weatherspoon’s pub, are low, and the staff very friendly – they never mind when we rearrange the furniture to accommodate our large group (15 people across four generations on a recent visit!) There’s a good selection of beers and other drinks, and while the food isn’t especially exciting, we’ve never had a bad meal here.

Two further, very different, attractions may tempt you to the outskirts of Gateshead.

The Angel of the North

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The Angel of the North

Whether you arrive in Newcastle or Gateshead by road or by rail, you'll be greeted as you approach the city by this amazing figure of an angel with outstretched arms, who appears to be watching over travellers. He welcomes visitors and home-coming Geordies – when we see the Angel on our regular trips to Newcastle we know we're nearly there.

The Angel of the North was the work of Anthony Gormley – indeed, is perhaps his best-known work. It is said to be the largest angel sculpture in the world and also one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world as its location so close to the busy A1, and on the London-Edinburgh mainline train route, means that it is seen by more than one person a second, 90,000 a day or 33 million every year!

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Visitors at the Angel of the North

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The feet

The Angel is on a grand scale. At 20 metres tall (65 feet) it is more than the height of four double decker buses, while its wings are 54 metres wide (175 feet) - almost as long as the wings of a Jumbo jet. It is made of a special weather resistant steel which contains copper. The surface oxidises to form a patina, which mellows with age to a rich red brown colour. There is enough steel in it to make 16 double-decker buses or four Chieftain tanks.

The site is that of a former colliery and Gormley has talked about the links between the sculpture and the industrial heritage of the region:

‘The hilltop site is important and has the feeling of being a megalithic mound. When you think of the mining that was done underneath the site, there is a poetic resonance. Men worked beneath the surface in the dark. Now in the light, there is a celebration of this industry.’

He also explained his choice of an angel as subject matter:

‘People are always asking, why an angel? The only response I can give is that no-one has ever seen one and we need to keep imagining them. The angel has three functions - firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for two hundred years, secondly to grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age, and lastly to be a focus for our hopes and fears - a sculpture is an evolving thing.’

(quotes taken from Gateshead Council’s website)

Several maquettes (scale models) were produced during the development of the Angel. According to wikipedia, one of these is owned by the local council and one by an anonymous individual (who paid £3.4M for it at auction). A third was donated to the National Gallery of Australia in 2009 and stands in the Sculpture Garden in Canberra - my friend Albert includes a nice photo of it in his review of the garden.

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The head

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From the car-park

Although so many people pass the Angel every day, relatively few visit – but it is well worth doing so. You have to leave the main road (take the A167, signposted Gateshead South) and park in the small lay-by provided, or you can catch a bus from Gateshead Interchange or Newcastle’s Eldon Square. A gently sloping path, wheelchair accessible, leads to the Angel’s feet, and it is only here that you can really appreciate the huge scale on which he is constructed.

To get the best photos you’ll need to go a short distance down the hillside in front, but you can also get effective ‘wingless’ shots from the car park itself. There is no charge to visit, and no facilities here, although enterprising snack-bar holders and ice cream sellers often set up in the car park.

There are those that don’t like the Angel (one of my husband’s aunts among them, who considers it an ugly monstrosity) but it has become part of the fabric of the region and I for one am among the many who really love it!

The Metrocentre

While much of the revival of Gateshead in recent years has focused on culture (led at the time by an ambitious local council), its most visited attraction must certainly be this temple to retail! When it was built the Metrocentre was the biggest shopping mall in Europe. I think it was briefly overtaken by Lakeland, and possibly others, but it’s recently expanded and is now making the same claim. Whatever – it’s pretty huge, and you’ll need plenty of stamina and a real enthusiasm for shopping to do it justice!

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Christmas at the
Metrocentre

There are apparently nearly 330 shops (no I haven’t counted them for myself!) and these include most of the major high street names plus quite a few smaller and more individual shops. The major department stores include Debenhams, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer; my favourite UK fashion chain Monsoon has a large branch; there’s Gap, Next, Wallis and so on …… There are also a small number of independent retailers.

To help you navigate, the mall is divided into four colour zones, each on two floors. You can approach this place in several ways. We try to be systematic if we’re there for a serious shopping trip, e.g. during the sales, so take each zone in turn, one floor at a time. But if you’re looking for a particular shop or type of shop there are plenty of maps (located at each junction). Or you could just start walking and see what you stumble across!

In addition to the shops there are plenty of places to eat (over 50, according to the website), from fast food outlets to quite decent family style restaurants, many in the fairly new Metro Qube area near the Odeon cinema. Talking of the cinema, it has an IMAX screen and 11 others. It shows all the major releases and is modern and well fitted-out. The Funscape area in the same part of the mall has tenpin bowling, arcade games and a soft play area for children. At certain times of year entertainment is also laid on for children in the shopping malls, e.g. a panto show at Christmas.

Parking at the Metrocentre is free and there’s plenty of it, though you may have to hunt for a space if you don’t come early when the sales are on. The lots are colour-coded in the same way as the malls, so make sure you remember whether you’re in the blue, yellow, green or red car-park and use the exit from the corresponding mall when you want to go home – or you could be wandering outside for a long while! Alternatively take the bus – there’s a regular shuttle from Newcastle city centre (Monument and Central Station) or from Gateshead Metro station.

Posted by ToonSarah 08:11 Archived in England Tagged art architecture culture shopping restaurants music christmas angel gateshead Comments (8)

The Geordie nation

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Sign in a Newcastle shop

People who come from Newcastle (and usually the surrounding Tyneside area) are known colloquially as Geordies. There are various theories as to the origin of the nickname, although all take as their starting point the premise that it is a diminutive of George. The most popular is probably that it originates from the use by north east miners of the safety lamp designed by George Stephenson (rather than the Davy lamp more popular elsewhere). Another links it to Newcastle’s support for Hanoverian George during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, when other parts of the region mostly favoured the Jacobite cause. The latter explanation is the more likely, as the term Geordie for a native of Newcastle was in use before Stephenson invented his lamp, and also because that lamp was used in a wider area than Newcastle alone. But there seems though to be no evidence for either theory and it may simply be that George was an exceptionally popular name among the local mining families, becoming synonymous with that occupation and in turn with anyone from the region.

Geordies are among the friendliest people in the country, always ready to welcome and chat to a stranger – although their strong dialect may mean that their conversation is at times unintelligible even to fellow English speakers!

Geordie dialect

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Fans at St James' Park, at a time when we had lots of French players

Perhaps more than any other in the country, the Geordie dialect can seem impenetrable to a non-Geordie. The differences between this and standard English fall into three main groups:
- words that are pronounced differently
- words that are unique to Geordie
- words that are used differently, i.e. in phrases you won't hear elsewhere in the country.
Here are some examples of each:

Pronunciation:

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Sign on sale in a Newcastle shop
[The netty is the toilet]

A lot of vowels are diphthongs in Geordie pronunciation, and many words acquire an extra syllable when spoken by a Geordie. Film becomes ‘fillum’ and soap ‘so-ip’.

‘A’s are always short, as in axe, so the town is never pronounced, as it might be elsewhere in the country, as ‘Newcarrstle’ but always ‘Newcassel’, with the emphasis on the second syllable (get that one right and Geordies will warm to you!). But 'all' is pronounced with a long 'a' and usually written 'aal' - just to confuse you ;)

Other vowels are just plain different (!) so ‘first’ becomes ‘forst’, ‘burst’ becomes ‘borst’, ‘shirt’ becomes ‘short’ and so on, while the short English ‘ea’ is lengthened to a double e – ‘deed’ means dead, and ‘deef’ is deaf.

In another example of typical pronunciation, ‘ow’ is usually said ‘oo’ – so a cow is a ‘coo’, down is ‘doon', and town is ‘toon’ – more about the latter word later!

‘Aareet’ is ‘all right’, – a common greeting when friends meet (meaning ‘How are you?’, ‘How are things going?’)

Different words:

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Geordie tea towel

There are so many of these, and a lot of them can be traced back to early invaders of this region, the Angles or Vikings. Speakers of Scandinavian or Germanic languages will recognise some similarities.

As an example, Geordies use ‘bairn’ for a child (like the Norwegian/Swedish/Danish ‘barn’) – a popular local saying is ‘shy bairns get nowt’ meaning ‘if you don't get ask, you don't get’.

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T-shirt produced to celebrate the
Toon's recent promotion
(and relegation of bitter rivals, Sunderland)

Similarly, ‘gan’ means go (like the German ‘gehen’). When you learn that ‘hyem’ means home, you can work out that ‘Ah'm gannin hyem’ means ‘I'm going home’.

‘Wor’ means our, or sometimes my (‘wor lass’ means ‘my wife’, while ‘wor Sarah’ refers to a family member called Sarah)

‘Hinny’ means honey, and is a term of endearment used for women and sometimes even for men. Another term of endearment used very frequently is ‘pet’, usually for a woman ('Wey-aye pet' = 'yes dear').

‘Canny’ can mean several things, including fairly/quite, nice and shrewd - you'll hear it a lot in phrases like ‘canny good’ (quite good) or ‘a canny pint’ (a well-poured, pleasant-tasting beer). Another common positive adjective is ‘champion’ – you can be feeling champion, have a champion night out, etc.

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Coffee stall at the Quayside Market

‘Wey’ is another of those multipurpose words scattered across sentences but can be translated as ‘well’ (used for emphasis, not the opposite of ill) – ‘wey Ah divvint knaa’ ('well, I [certainly] don’t know'), or ‘Wey it's nee use at aal’ ('well, that’s of no use at all').

If someone says they are ‘clamming’ they are hungry, possibly for their ‘bait’ – a packed meal, usually taken to work.

‘Clarts’ is mud, and ‘clarty’ is therefore muddy. ‘Claes’ are clothes, so ‘bairns’ will often come ‘hyem’ with ‘clarty claes’!

‘Divvint’ means don’t, as in ‘Ah divvint knaa’ – 'I don’t know'. And to ‘fash’ is to bother or take trouble, as in the phrase ‘Ah’m aareet – divvint fash yersel’ ('I’m fine, don’t trouble yourself'), if someone is fussing over you unnecessarily perhaps.

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Political poster, Geordie-style

‘Howay’ is another very common word, with several meanings including let's go (‘howay hyem’ – let’s go home), or come on. As ‘toon’ means town, and by transference the town's only football team, Newcastle United, anyone shouting ‘Howay the Toon!’ or ‘Howay the lads!’ is cheering on the football players - 'Come on the Town!' It can also mean ‘get away’, as in expressing incredulity – ‘howay man, he nivver did!’

By the way, ‘man’ just adds emphasis when talking to someone and can quite easily be used when speaking to a female. The phrase ‘Howay-man-woman-man’ might be addressed to a woman who needs to catch up or speed up (yes, really!)

It's important to know that ‘haway’ is the Sunderland version of the same word. Don’t let anyone in Newcastle hear you saying ‘haway’ rather than ‘howay’, as you’ll find the friendly welcome you’ve almost certainly have received will turn decidedly cool! The rivalry between Geordies and ‘mackems’, as they call their near neighbours, is intense, never more so than when it comes to football.

‘Hoy’ is to throw (‘hoy that ower here’) but ‘gannin on the hoy’ is to go out drinking. And if you do that you could get ‘mortal’, meaning drunk.

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Shop in the Grainger Market

A ‘tab’ is a cigarette – someone leaving the pub briefly to smoke outside might say ‘Ah’m away ferra tab’ (I’m going out for, i.e. to smoke, a cigarette’).

‘Nee’ means no, but not as in the opposite of yes – it’s only used adjectively in a phrase such as ‘nee bother’ – a common reassurance if you suggest you might be putting someone to any trouble.

Words and phrases used differently:

Some regular English words are also used differently here, so ‘bad’ can mean ‘ill’ – ‘wor John’s reet bad so ah kept him hyem the day’ (‘my son John isn’t at all well so I kept him at home today’). And long before the current unfortunate general habit (mainly among younger English speakers) of using 'like' as if it were punctuation, Geordies have been using it to add emphasis to a sentence or question - as with the football fans in my photo above.

Another variation on standard English is that the plural form of ‘you’ will often have an ‘s’ added to it, as in ‘Yous aal aareet?’ meaning ‘Are you all well/OK?’

And here are a few phrases that I like:

‘She suits red’ = she looks good in red, or as we'd say elsewhere in the country, red suits her.
‘He belongs London’ = he comes from London.
‘You’ll get wrong off your Da’ = you’ll be in trouble with your father.
'She takes a canny photo' = not, as you might think, she's a good photographer, but she's photogenic and looks good in photos.
‘His name’s William but he aalways gets Billy’ = his real name is William but everyone calls him Billy.

If you want to get to grips with all of this there’s a popular book, sold in shops ‘aal ower the toon’, called ‘Larn Yersel Geordie’ – ‘Teach Yourself Geordie’. While tongue in cheek, it does include all the main differences between this and standard English and is a fun read. But it’s no substitute for a visit to Newcastle to hear how the natives do it!

Posted by ToonSarah 02:12 Archived in England Tagged culture city language customs dialect Comments (5)

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