North East England

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North East
North East, highlighted in red on a beige political map of England
North East region in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Status Region
 • Leaders' board Association of North East Councils
 • EP constituency North East England
 • Total 3,317 sq mi (8,592 km2)
Area rank 8th
Population (2011)
 • Total 2,597,000
 • Rank 9th
 • Density 780/sq mi (300/km2)
 • Per capita £15,688 (9th)
ONS code E12000001
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The North East is one of the nine regions of England that are classified at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It covers Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear, and the Tees Valley. The region is home to three large conurbations: Teesside, Wearside, and Tyneside, the latter of which is the largest of the three and the eighth most populous conurbation in the United Kingdom.[1] There are only three cities in the region; Newcastle upon Tyne is the largest city in the region with a population of just under 280,000 followed by Sunderland, both of which are located in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. The city of Durham is the county town of County Durham. Other large settlements in the region include Darlington; Gateshead; Hartlepool; Middlesbrough; Redcar; South Shields and Stockton-on-Tees.


Geography and early history

The region is generally hilly and sparsely populated in the North and West, and urban and arable in the East and South. The highest point in the region is The Cheviot, in the Cheviot Hills, at 815 metres (2,674 ft).

12th-century wall-painting of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral

The region contains the urban centres of Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside, and is noted for the rich natural beauty of its coastline, Northumberland National Park, and the section of the Pennines that includes Teesdale and Weardale. Its historic importance is very visible by Northumberland's ancient castles, the two World Heritage Sites of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle, and Hadrian's Wall. In fact Roman archaeology can be found widely across the region and a special exhibitions based around the Roman Fort of Segedunum at Wallsend[2] and the other forts along Hadrian's Wall are supplemented by the numerous artifacts that are displayed in the Great North Museum Hancock[3] in Newcastle.St. Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland and St. Pauls in Jarrow also hold significant historical value and have a joint bid to become a World Heritage Site.

The area has a strong religious past, as can be seen in works such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.[4] The work of the 7th-century Cuthbert (634–687 AD), Bede (673–735 AD) and Hilda of Whitby (614–680 AD) being hugely influential in the early church and are still venerated today.[5][6] These saints are usually associated with the monasteries on the island of Lindisfarne, Wearmouth – Jarrow, and the Abbey at Whitby but they are also associated to many other religious sites in the region. Bede is regarded as the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar. Working his whole life at the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow where he translated some forty books on all areas of knowledge, including nature, history, astronomy, poetry and theological matters such as the lives of the saints. His best known work is "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People".[7] One of the most famous pieces of both art and literature created in the region are "The Lindisfarne Gospels" thought to be the work of a monk named Eadfrith, who became Bishop of Lindisfarne in 698 and died in 721 AD. This body of work is thought to have been done in honour of Cuthbert and created around 710–720 AD.[8]

The arrival of the Vikings on 6 June 793 AD on the shores of Northeast England,[9] was an unprecedented attack that shocked the whole of Europe, a raiding party from Norway attacked the monastic settlement on Lindisfarne. The monks fled or were slaughtered while Bishop Higbald sought refuge on the mainland and a chronicler recorded- "On the 8th June, the harrying of the heathen miserably destroyed God's church by rapine and slaughter." British history changed forever that day and three hundred years of Viking raids, battles and settlement were to persist until William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at Hastings in 1066.[10] The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes the change from raiding to settlement when it records that in 876 the Vikings "Shared out the land of the Northumbrians and they proceeded to plough and support themselves"[11] The Viking kingdom of "Northumbria" was an area spreading from the Scottish borders (then Pictish borders) at the Firth of Forth to the north, and to the south of York, its capital, down to the Humber. The last independent Northumbrian king from 947–8 was Eric Bloodaxe who died in battle at the Battle of Stainmore, Cumbria, in 954. After Eric Bloodaxe's death, all England was ruled by Eadred the grandson of Alfred the Great and so began the machinery of national government.[12] Today the Viking legacy can still be found in the language and place names of Northeast England and in the DNA of its people.[13] The name Newcastle comes from the new castle built shortly after their conquest in 1080 by Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son.

Industrial heritage

After more than 2000 years of industrial activity as a result of abundant minerals such as salt and coal[14][15] the chemical industry of the Northeast England is today spread across the whole of the region[16] with pharmaceuticals being primarily being produced in the north of the region, speciality and fine chemicals spread across the middle of the region and commodity chemicals and petrochemicals on Teesside. These companies are members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). The early chemical industry in this region was however primarily Tyneside based and associated with the manufacture of soap and glass. The most important chemical activity in the 18th and 19th centuries was the manufacture of alkali to make soap, and when it was mixed with lime and sand it was used to make glass.[17] What came out of the industrial revolution was a period when the Northeast of England's economy was dominated by iron and steel, coal mining and shipbuilding.

Alkali manufacturing

Friars Goose Alkali Works had the highest chimney in England to disperse hydrochloric acid fumes

Before the industrial revolution alkali was mostly used to help with the beaching process of making cloth. As the industrial revolution took hold increasing demand for alkali came from higher levels of production of dyestuffs, and bleach. In 1798 John Losh and the Earl of Dundonald took out a lease on a rich supply of brine pumped from a nearby coal mine, the Walker pit and this became their raw material. The Losh, Wilson & Bell Alkali works were established by at Walker-on-Tyne in 1807 and bleaching powder manufacture there in 1830, Losh Brothers soon manufactured half the soda in England. By 1814 the Leblanc process of making alkali from common salt was introduced to Britain. This involves the production of sodium sulfate from sodium chloride, followed by reaction of the sodium sulphate with coal and calcium carbonate to produce the alkali sodium carbonate. An alkali works using this process opened at Tyne Dock 1822, Felling shore Tyneside 1826, Friars Goose Gateshead 1828 and again on Felling Shore 1834. Such works also produced soda, alum and Epsom salts. The river frontage at South Shore of the River Tyne at Gateshead was one of the main locations for the chemical industry such that in the 19th century, it was a conglomeration of industries; glass, soap and iron.[18] By 1828 one of the great problems associated with the alkali works was pollution from emissions of hydrochloric acid fumes which devastated the neighbouring countryside. One solution was to build tall chimneys to drive the fumes further away and in 1833 the highest chimney in England was built at the Friars Goose Alkali Works.[17][19] The passing of the Alkali Act of 1863 in the UK Parliament brought about a further reduced pollution from these processes and was the first industrial environmental legislation to come into practice in the world.

Teesside chemicals

Robert Wilson first produced sulphuric acid and fertilisers at Urlay Nook near Egglescliffe in 1833 and this was Teesside's first great chemical works. In 1859 rock salt deposits were discovered at Middlesbrough by Henry Bolckow and Vaughan while boring for water at a depth of 1,206 feet and this led to the move to Teesside of the heavy chemical industry. In 1860 William James established an alkali company at Cargo Fleet and in 1869 Samuel Sadler also set up a factory nearby. Sadler's works produced synthetic aniline and alzarine dyestuffs and distilled tar. The introduction of the Solvay Process to make alkali in 1872 made the Tyneside alkali industry uneconomic but it was a real boost to Teesside industry which was invigorated by the discovery of further salt deposits at Port Clarence near Seal Sands by Bell Brothers in 1874.[17] The Solvay process or ammonia-soda process is still today the major industrial process for the production of sodium carbonate. The process was developed into its modern form by Ernest Solvay during the 1860s and it requires salt brine and limestone as basic raw materials. The worldwide production of soda ash in 2005 has been estimated at 42 billion kilograms. Salt manufacture for human consumption by panning had taken place at Seal Sands since Roman times and in the 20th century, extraction of salt from the salt strata below ground in the Seal Sands area, known as the Saltholme Brine Fields, has left salt caverns which are now used as liquid/gas strorage facilities for the process industry.[20]

The Brunner Mond Company

By 1882 a number of salt works were established at Haverton Hill near to Port Clarance and nearby Seal Sands in 1882 by Bell Brothers. This company became the first firm to begin large scale salt production on Teesside and salt workers were brought in from Cheshire and housed at Haverton Hill. The salt-making interests of Bell Brothers were bought by Brunner Mond & Co of Cheshire in 1890. Brunner Mond became the giant of Teesside chemical-making in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Meanwhile, rationalization of chemical firms in 1891 left only four works on Tyneside.[17]

Chemicals at Billingham

The Chemical Industry was established at Billingham in 1918 by the Government for the production of synthetic ammonia. It was intended for use in the making of munitions for the Great War.[21] The 700 acre Grange Farm at Billingham was chosen for the site. The war was over by the time the plant opened and it had to be adapted to new manufacturing. It was taken over by Brunner Mond in 1920 and manufactured synthetic ammonia and fertilisers. Brunner Mond merged with other large scale chemical manufacturers in 1926 to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). In 1928 anhydrite was mined from 700 feet below Billingham for use in the making of sulphuric acid which is required to make detergents and fertilizers.[17]

Plastics and nylon manufacture

Manufacturing of plastics commenced at Billingham in 1934.[22] This is one of the first places in the world where large scale manufacture of these materials took place. A new chemical plant was established the following year for making oil and petrol from creosote and coal through a process called hydrogenation. In 1946 another large chemical works opened on Teesside at Wilton.[23] on the south side of the River Tees. Further lands were purchased by ICI in 1962 at Seal Sands where land had been reclaimed from the sea and this became the third large scale chemical manufacturing site on Teesside.[17] Today all three Teesside Chemical sites at Billingham, Wilton and Seal Sands remain in use for large scale chemical manufacture by the members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) and plastics and polymers continue to be manufactured there by Lotte Chemicals(PET), SABIC(HDPE), Victrex(PEEK) and Lucite International(Perspex). Nylon 66 manufacture ceased on Teesside in 2008 with the closure of the Invista manufacturing unit.

Petrochemical production

Coke ovens used in the making of chemicals at Billingham were replaced in 1962 by new plants utilising the steam naphtha process which enabled the use of crude oil as feedstock for the process known as "cracking". This proved to be a much cheaper process of making ethylene, aromatuics, petroleum derivatives and other chemicals such as ammonia on Teesside. From 1964 to 1969 four great oil refineries were erected at the mouth of the Tees, two by Phillips Petroleum and one each by ICI and Shell. Their main purpose was to supply the Billingham chemical industry.[17] A 138-mile pipeline was built in 1968 linking chemical works on Teesside with chemical plants at Runcorn for the transportation of ethylene.[24] Today the remaining oil refinery is operated by ConocoPhillips and two biorefineries, producing biodiesel and bioethanol for transport fuels, are operated by Ensus and Harvest Energy. SABIC operate the Ethylene Cracker and the Aromatics Plants while the Ammonia and Fertiliser works are operated by GrowHow.

Salt making

Salt-making in and around Greatham (between Hartlepool and Billingham) had been important in Roman and Medieval times[25][26] and it also took place on wearside from the 1580s but by the 16th century the industry had been eclipsed by South Shields on the Tyne.[27] In 1894 the industry returned to Greatham with the establishment of the Greatham Salt and Brine Company by George Weddell. The works was later purchased by the famous salt-making company Cerebos in 1903. Cerebos, by the mid-20th century, was owned by the food conglomerate Rank Hovis McDougall and the factory closed in 2002.[28] During the 20th century the extraction of salt on the north bank of the River Tees by aqueous hydraulic means, has resulted in a number of underground salt cavities that are completely impervious to gas and liquids. Consequently, these cavities are now used to store both industrial gases and liquids by companies that are members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). Today the Huntsman Tioxide is based close to Greatham operating one of the world's largest chemical plants for the manufacture of titanium dioxide which is the ubiquitous brilliant white pigment used in paints, polo mints, cosmetics, UV sunscreens, plastics, golf balls and sports field line markings.


Glass manufacture has been an important industry in the Northeast of England since stained glass glaziers worked on the Wearmouth and Jarrow monasteries in 674 AD.[29][30] Sunderland and Tyneside were noted for glass-making between the 17th and 19th centuries.[31] In 1827 about two fifths of all English glass was made in the Tyneside area and in 1845 South Shields was making more plate glass than anywhere else in England. Sunderland was also rising to prominence as a glass-making centre. James Hartley's Wear Glass Works was opened in Sunderland in 1836[32] and by 1865 one third of the sheet glass in England was supplied by his Sunderland works. The Candlish Glass Bottleworks was the largest in Europe, managed by John Candlish

Coal mining

Wynyard Park circa 1880 now a fine Country House Hotel, Wynyard Hall

Coal Mining was one of the first industrial activities in Northeast England because the region was fortunate to have shallow seams of coal near the coast, which meant that material could be transported in and out by sea.[33] This led to the growth of ports such as Newcastle, Teesport Middlesbrough, Seaham, Hartlepool and Blyth. The energy and carbon from coal underpinned the development of the iron and steel, chemicals, shipbuilding and other industries around these ports. As discussed in the classic historical review of "Victorian Cities" by Asa Briggs, Middlesbrough is a completely Victorian town was developed as a port downstream of Yarm and Stockton to take bigger coal ships.[34] The Northumberland-Durham coalfield was one of the earliest mining areas to be worked in the country, its shallow seams near the coast meant that the coal could be dug and sent out quickly and easily. The Romans extracted coal here and the area was an important source of coal in the 13th and 14th centuries.[35] Many current towns and villages across the region were originally settlements set up for the coal miners. As an example, Seaham is a port community that was completely developed to handle output of the coal mining interests of Charles William Vane-Tempest-Stewart the 3rd Marquis of Londonderry a military leader and business man who became one of the UK’s richest men on the back of these coal mining developments.[36][37] The Marquis built his business interests on the inherited wealth of his wife,Francis Anne, and employed as General Manager the mining engineer and entrepreneur John Buddle who invented a number of mining safety techniques such as water level monitoring and mine ventilation techniques.

John Buddle, mining engineer (1773–1843) instigator of many coal mining safety techniques

The Marquis of Londonderry built one of the country’s finest country houses in the region Wynyard Hall[38] as a pleasure palace for his family and his royal connections.

London was one of the places which received coal from the area and there are references to shipments of coal being sent to the capital, for example 526 cauldrons of coal from Tyneside to London in 1376 for smiths involved in building Windsor Castle. Before the growth of mining companies the coal from the North East was often sent by monks to London. The coal was often called sea coal because it was washed up from undersea outcrops on the Northumbrian coast. This could explain the name Se-coles Lane in London.[33] It also lead to the colloquial phrase "taking coals to Newcastle" meaning why take something to a place that already has an excess therefore it is a foolhardy or pointless action.

Improvements in technology meant equipment could be built to go deeper many technical developments in mining technology took place in this region. One example was the High Main seam at Walker Colliery on Tyneside, which became one of the deepest coal mines in the world, thanks to large engine cylinders which helped drain the mine.[39] Other mining developments from this region include water level and ventilation techniques introduced by John Buddle who also helped to introduce the miner's safety lamp which was invented here by Stephenson and Davy.

Miners in the cage ready for their descent, Monkwearmouth Colliery, 1993.

Sir Humphry Davy, after contemplating a communication he had received from Reverend Dr Robert Gray Rector of Bishopwearmouth (later Bishop of Bristol) the problem of gas in mines, took up the challenge of solving the problem of providing light in "fire-damp" ridden collieries in August 1815. He started the work with several days of discussions with John Buddle, then overseer at Wallsend Colliery, other colliery owners and the Reverend John Hodgson, Vicar of Jarrow, both these men had experience of mining tragedies. Davy also collected samples of "fire-damp" before returning with them to his laboratory in London. Two designs of his lamps emerged and were tested at the most hazardous pits in the land then at Newcastle-upon- Tyne and Whitehaven in Cumberland and they were a resounding success. He later published his paper on "The safety lamp for coal mines and some researches on flame" in 1818 and the world learned forever how to work underground coal mines much more safely. George Stephenson the colliery engineer at "Killingworth Main" Colliery, later famous for his steam engines, also invented a safety lamp which was successfully tested on 21 October 1815. This became known as the "Geordie" lamp. As a result, some in the Northeast of England then tried to challenge the delivery of some Ceremonial Plate to Davy but the Davy Lamper's won the day and on 25 September 1817 a gold plated dinner service as presented to Davy from the coal owners at the Queen's Head in Newcastle. Davy declined to take out a patent on his lamp design effectively giving it to the nation and of course the world's coal miners.[40]

The moment when the new safety lamp was first tested for real in Northeast England is recorded by John Buddle in a report from the Select Committee on Accidents in Mines on 4 September 1835 "I first tried the lamp in an explosive mixture on the surface; and then took it to the mine; it is impossible for me to express my feelings at the time when I first suspended the lamp in the mine and saw it red hot. I said to those around me: "We have at last subdued this monster [fire-damp]." Thus is recorded one of the most significant moments in the industrialization of the world.[41]

As an example of the many coal mines (colloquially known as pits) that were created in the Northeast of England Monkwearmouth Colliery' (or Wearmouth Colliery) was a large deep pit that went out under the North Sea. It was located on the north bank of the River Wear in Sunderland. It was the largest pit in Sunderland and one of the most important in County Durham. The mine opened in 1835 and was the last to remain operating in the Durham Coalfield. The last shift left the pit on 10 December 1993, ending over 800 years of commercial underground coal mining in the region.[42] The Colliery site has been cleared to make way for the Sunderland A.F.C's Stadium of Light which opened in July 1997. The mine is commemorated by a large sculpture of a miners lamp at the entrance to the stadium complex.

The Durham Coalfield remains a national resource for the UK economy today and for the future. Most of the mines in the region were closed during the years of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for mainly political reasons (see UK miners' strike (1984–1985)), despite 75% of the Durham Coal field reserves remaining untouched. This amounts to more energy than the UK has ever extracted as gas from the North Sea oilfield.[43] The company Five-Quarter has secured licences from the British Government, "which allow exclusive access to 400 square kilometres within which approximately 2 billion tonnes of gas source rocks exist under the North Sea, off the coast of Northumberland and Tyneside. In terms of energy, in this area alone, the potential gas deposits could be more than the total natural gas extracted from the entire North Sea to date." Several large open cast coal mines are still operational in this region for example at Cramlington where Banks have created the large scale public sculpture called Northumberlandia "The Lady of the North" a with the surface material.

Today companies like Five-Quarter are investigating the use of the latest technology for underground coal gasification to access the Durham Coalfield reserves. Professor Paul Younger of Newcastle University in 2011 reported[44] that "Around 75 per cent of the coal in the North East is still underground, even though we have been mining it on an industrial scale longer than anyone else in the world. Previously a lot of this coal was too deep for conventional mining, or too far off shore. Even today this resource this could never be exploited by conventional means, but the technology to harness that resource has now become cost effective." Accessing these reserves is of particular importance to the local chemical industry,[45] the members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC)

Iron and steel

File:John Marley, mining engineer (1823-1891).jpg
John Marley, discoverer of the Cleveland Ironstone which led to the enormous growth of the iron industry in the North East of England

Before 1846 Walbottle, Elswick, Birtley, Ridsdale, Hareshaw, Wylam, Consett, Stanhope, Crookhall,Tow-Law and Witton Park all had iron works[46] but the discovery of a rich seam of iron ore to the south of the region gradually drew iron and steel manufacture towards Teesside. In 1850 iron ore was discovered in the Cleveland Hills near Eston to the south of Middlesbrough and Iron gradually replaced coal as the lifeblood of that town. The ore was discovered by geologist John Marley and first utilised by John Vaughan, the principal ironmaster of Middlesbrough who along with his German business partner Henry Bolckow had already established a small iron foundry and rolling mill at Middlesbrough using iron stone from Durham and the Yorkshire coast. The new discovery of iron ore on their doorstep prompted them to build Teesside's first blast furnace in 1851.[46]

Many more iron works followed such as those built in the region by Losh, Wilson and Bell who when they opened their Port Clarence works in 1853 had 5 operating furnaces in the region according to Marley[47] the Geologist, who was commissioned to look for a deep seam of ironstone near Middlesbrough by Bolckow & Vaughan, yet he is reputed to have "accidentally" discovered the Cleveland Ironstone deposits on 8 June 1850.[48] It is this discovery that led to the expansion in iron manufacture in the region. Marley's 1857 report on his discovery to the Institution of Mining Engineers entitled "Cleveland Ironstone: Outline Of The Main Or Thick Stratified Bed, Its Discovery, Application, and Results, in connection with the Iron-Works In The North Of England" has a contemporaneous review of the many iron works across the region at that date.[47]

Watercolour painting of the Bell Ironworks under construction at Port Clarence, by John Bell, c. 1853

The success of John Vaughan and Henry Bolckow’s Teesside's first blast furnace which opened in 1851 followed by several others, meant by 1873, Middlesbrough was producing 2 million tonnes of pig iron a year, a third of Britain's total pig iron output. Iron was in big demand in Britain in the late 19th century, particularly for the rapid expansion of the railways being built in every part of the country. More and more blast furnaces were opened in the vicinity of Middlesbrough to meet this demand such that by the end of the century Teesside was producing about a third of the nation's iron output.[49] The growth of Middlesbrough which became known by its nickname "Ironopolis" was visited in 1862 by the Victorian prime Minister Gladstone who said "This remarkable place, the youngest child of England's enterprise, is an infant, but if an infant, an infant Hercules" By the 1870s, steel, a much stronger and more resilient metal was in big demand and Middlesbrough had to compete with Sheffield as the major producer. In 1875 Bolckow and Vaughan opened the first Bessemer Steel plant in Middlesbrough and the River Tees was destined to become known as "The Steel River"[50] leaving its old nickname "Ironopolis" behind. In 1881 one commentator described how the ironstone of the Eston Hills had been used in the building of structures throughout the world, Sir H G Ried, the British politician, was to say in reference to the great railways and bridges of the world "The iron of Eston has diffused itself all over the world. it furnishes the railways of the world; it runs by neapolitan and papal dungeons; it startles the bandit in his haunt in cicilia; it crosses over the plains of Africa; it stretches over the plains of India. it has crept out of the Cleveland Hills where it has slept since Roman days, and now like a strong and invincible serpent, coils itself around the world"[51]

By 1929 the great depression was to bite and the famous name of Bolckow-Vaughan passes into history merging with neighbour Dorman-Long & Co. who became Britain's biggest iron and steel maker employing 33,000 men. By 1954 the post-war boom sees Britain's premier steel-making centre remaining on the Tees as Dorman-Long builds a state of the art steelworks at Lackenby and then new blast furnaces at Clay Lane. 1967 sees Dorman-Long become part of the nationalized British Steel Corporation as production booms in Britain and in 1979 The largest blast furnace in Europe is erected at BSC's new Redcar plant. This plant which was subsequently acquired and operated by Chorus, Tata Steel and then most recently Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) is still operating today.[52] To illustrate the scale of this steel manufacturing unit, in 2011 GB Railfreight won a contract to operate the rail system at the SSI steelworks in Redcar (UK) and the company purchased 10 NSB Di 8 is a class of diesel-electric locomotives for use on internal torpedo trains between the steelwork's blast furnaces and continuous casters. The locomotives were delivered to the UK in December 2011.[53]

British Steel Industrial Archive

The British Steel Collection now housed at Teesside University contains the records of over forty iron and steel companies based in the Teesside area of the North East of England and covers the period c. 1840–1970. The history of Teesside and its rapid growth during the 19th century is directly linked to the expansion of the railways from Darlington and Stockton towards the mouth of the Tees estuary and the subsequent discovery of ironstone in the Cleveland Hills which attracted iron companies to the area. The British Steel Collection archives the company records of many Teesside iron and steel companies such as Bolckow & Vaughan, Bell Brothers, Cochrane & Co. Ltd., Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd., South Durham Steel & Iron Co. Ltd., Cargo Fleet Iron Company and Skinningrove Iron Co. Ltd. Furthermore, the records of associated institutions as the Middlesbrough Exchange Co. Ltd. and the Cleveland Mineowners’ Association have been preserved in this unique Industrial Heritage Archive.[54]


Shipbuilding has been one of this region’s main industrial activities. In 1294 shipyards in Newcastle upon Tyne built a galley for the King's fleet. Ships were built on the River Wear at Sunderland from at least 1346 and on the River Tees at Stockton from at least 1470.[55] In more recent times the Northeast of England was the birthplace of some of the world’s greatest vessels and in 2013 that heritage and its impact globally was recognized by UNESCO and placed on their Memory of the World Register ranking this regions shipbuilding heritage alongside iconic items like the Domesday Book in terms of historical importance.[56]

Wood to iron and steel

The early ships were built of wood but in the 19th century there was a move towards building ships of iron then steel. Ships were built on Tyneside near Newcastle and Jarrow, Wearside in Sunderland, and Teesside Stockton, Yarm and Middlesbrough and also in smaller ports like Blyth, Whitby and Hartlepool. Sunderland’s early development was as a coal port but it became the largest shipbuilding town in the world[57] that gave the town its fame. The first recorded shipbuilder was Thomas Menville at Hendon in 1346.[58] By 1790 Sunderland was building around nineteen ships per year making it the most important shipbuilding centre in the United Kingdom. By 1840 there were 65 shipyards such that over 150 wooden vessels were built at Sunderland in 1850. By this time 2,025 shipwrights worked in the town and some 2,000 others were employed in related industries. Sunderland's first iron ships were built from 1852 and wooden shipbuilding ceased here in 1876. Sunderland shipbuilders included Austin and Son 1826, William Pickersgill 1851 and William Doxford 1840.[55]

In 1678 Stockton was building ships and Yarm also had a shipbuilding activity at that time. It was between 1790 and 1805 that Thomas Haw of Stockton was a building ships for the Napoleonic wars. Shipbuilding did not begin in Middlesbrough until 1833 when a wooden sailing ship called The Middlesbro' was built. Teesside's first iron ship was built in Thorneby in 1854, it was a screw steamer called The Advance, and Teesside's first steel ship was Little Lucy built in 1858. One famous Teesside-built ship was the 377 feet long Talpore, built by Pearse and Co of Stockton in 1860. It was a troop ship for the River Indus, and was the world's largest river steamer at the time.[59] An archive of the ships built on Teesside has been created,[60] In Hartlepool Thomas Richardson of Castle Eden and John Parkin of Sunderland established a shipyard at Old Hartlepool in 1835 and built The Castle Eden ship. The shipbuilding company of William Gray was established here in 1862 and Gray became one of the most influential men in the town. He was the first mayor of West Hartlepool in 1887. William Gray shipbuilders won the Blue Ribband prize for maximum output in 1878, 1882, 1888, 1895, 1898 and 1900. The yard closed in 1961.[61]

RMS Mauretania on its Tyneside builder's ways before launch in 1906

On Tyneside South Shields born Charles Mark Palmer established a yard at Jarrow in 1851 and built its first iron collier 'The John Bowes' in the following year. It was the first ever seagoing screw collier and was built for John Bowes of Barnard Castle for shipping coal to London. Palmers were also famed for building the first rolled armour plates for warships in 1854. William Smith and Co launched the 1600 ton Blenheim in 1848. W.G.Armstrong, the famous northern engineer, gained interests in the Tyneside shipbuilding firm of Mitchells in 1882 and the company of W.G.Armstrong, Mitchell and Co was formed. The yard built battleships as well as a ship called The Gluckauf, which was arguably the world's first oil tanker. It was launched by the yard in 1886. Scotsman Charles Mitchell started building ships at Walker on Tyne in 1852 and purchased a 6.5 acre site at Wallsend in 1873 to soak up excess orders from his Walker shipyard. The new yard failed financially and was handed to his brother-in-law Charles Swan. Charles and his brother Henry were directors of the Wallsend Slipway Company, a repair yard established by Mitchell in 1871. In 1878 Charles arranged a partnership with Sunderland shipbuilder George Hunter, but in 1879 Charles died after falling overboard from a channel steamer whilst returning from the continent with his wife. Hunter went into temporary partnership with Swan's wife before becoming Managing Director in 1880. Swan Hunters built their first steel ship at Wallsend in 1884 and their first Oil Tanker in 1889. A Most early ships built on the Swan Hunter yard were smaller ships, like colliers and barges, but in 1898 it built its first ocean liner 'The Ultonia'. It would build a further 21 liners in the period 1898–1903. The most famous ship ever launched was undoubtedly The Mauretania, a Transatlantic ocean liner launched on 20 September 1906. The ship was 790 feet long with a beam of 88 ft and a gross tonnage of 31,938 tons. It carried 2000 passengers on its maiden voyage on 16 Nov 1907 and captured the Blue Ribband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, a record held for twenty-two years.[55]

Maritime innovation

A major pioneering innovation in marine engineering was the steam turbine, invented by Charles Algernon Parsons. He patented the first steam turbine on Tyneside in 1884. Parsons, born in Ireland in 1854, was the youngest son of the Earl of Rosse and a keen inventor who worked as Junior Partner in the Tyneside engineering firm of Clarke Chapman. In 1894 Parsons' Marine Turbine Company launched The Turbinia, a famous vessel, the first powered by electric turbines.The vessel can be still be seen (and boarded!)at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne.[62]

20th-century decline

Shipyard closures in the 20th century took place during economic slumps and occurred in two phases, between 1909–1933 and 1960–1993. Early closures included Smiths Dock at North Shields in 1909, which became a ship repair yard, Armstrongs of Elswick in 1921, Richardson Duck of Stockton (1925), Priestman's of Sunderland (1933) and Palmers of Jarrow and Hebburn (1933). There were 28 North East closures in this period of which 14 were on the Tyne, 7 on the Wear, 6 on the Tees and 1 at Hartlepool. Six shipyards closed in the 1960s including W.Gray of Hartlepool (1961), Short Brothers of Sunderland (1964) and The Blyth Shipbuiding Company (1966). There were five closures in the region in the 1970s including the Furness yard at Haverton Hill, near Stockton, in 1979.[55]

Maritime history

James Cook, portrait by Nathaniel Dance-Holland circa 1775, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

In terms of Maritime History, from the above it is not surprising that this region was home to perhaps the most influential sailor of all time Captain James Cook who sailed his ship the HM Bark Endeavour from Whitby to discover and name for the western world the antipodean continents and islands as well as many islands in the Pacific Ocean. His family home and early personal history is from Teesside.[63]

Science and engineering

The coal and shipbuilding industry that once dominated the North East suffered a marked decline during the second half of the 20th century. Tyneside is now re-inventing itself as an international centre of art, culture and through The Centre For Life, scientific research, especially in healthcare and biotechnology. Newcastle University is now a leading institution in the development of stem cell technology being the first in the United Kingdom and the second institution in Europe to obtain a license to do such work.[64] Sunderland suffered economic decline during the last century, but is now becoming an important area for quaternary industry, bioscience, computing and high technology. The Sunderland economy is now dominated by the Nissan's European car manufacturing facility and supply chain which is also leading that company's development of electric vehicles.[65] The economy of Teesside continues to be largely based on the petrochemical, commodity chemical and steel industries that form a significant part of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), but newer industries such as offshore engineering and digital computing, particularly in the new field of "gaming" have emerged from Teesside University.[66] Northumberland, although largely rural and an important tourist location with its castles, beaches and history has a nationally significant concentration of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies around Cramlington and Prudhoe.[67] The County also has seen a huge investment into the creation of the UKs largest reservoir Kielder Water which enables the whole Northeast region to have excess water reserves that it can use to attract more industry. Kielder forest around the reservoir is known to be the darkest place in England,[68] making it an ideal location for professional and amateur astronomers. The City of Durham with its highly regarded University, Castle and Cathedral City attracts many tourists and is based in largely rural County Durham which also has a significant number of knowledge intensive businesses (KIBS) in architecture, engineering, technology and measurement science. At Sedgefield in County Durham, Netpark is home to the Centre for Process Innovation's Printable Electronics Technology Centre, a nationally important centre for the development of printed electronics and a number of other emerging electronics companies such as Kromek.

At the start of the 20th century, Middlesbrough produced one third of the nation’s iron output.[49] Middlesbrough firm Dorman Long put that steel to good use building bridges across the world. The firm’s most famous creations include not only the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Tyne Bridge in nearby Newcastle upon Tyne, but also the distinctive Newport Lifting Bridge in Middlesbrough. The town's most famous bridge, though, is the Transporter Bridge, built over 100 years ago. Bridge Building and large structure works is still a significant engineering capability on Teesside, for example local firm Cleveland Bridge[69] built the arch that now towers over Wembley Stadium.

Tyne Bridge built by Middlesbrough Company Dorman Long

Today, the members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) represent about one third of the regional industrial economy. They are commodity chemical, petrochemical, speciality chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, polymer, renewable material and renewable energy companies and associated supply chain. The commodity chemical companies are mostly based in Teesside whereas the pharmaceuticals are based in Northumberland and County Durham. The Teesside industry is located on three large chemical sites at Wilton, Billingham and Seal Sands at the mouth of the River Tees and Teesport, the third largest port in the UK and the tenth in Western Europe and is important logistical infrastructure supporting the commodity chemical and steel members of NEPIC. In the 21st century PD Ports, owners of Teesport, have been developing it as a Port Centric Logistical Centre. This strategy has seen a number of significant importing and distribution facilities for the north of the UK being built at this port including distribution centres for the large distribution operations of Asda/Walmart and Tesco supermarket chains.[70]

NEPIC has two offices in the region: one in the north in Sunderland, serving the pharmaceutical and speciality chemical industries on Tyneside and in south Northumberland, and one in the south at Wilton near Redcar, serving the commodity chemical and steel industry of Teesside and operating amongst several process sector and supply chain companies that work out of the process industry research centre, The Wilton Centre, one of Europe's largest technical development laboratory facilities. The head office of the Centre for Process Innovation, part of the UK's High Value Manufacturing Catapult, is based in this multi-occupancy technical development centre along with their pioneering National Industrial Biotechnology Facility.[71][72]


This region has a strong history in technological innovation:

The friction match was invented in Stockton-on-Tees in 1826 by John Walker.

George Stephenson (9 June 1781 – 12 August 1848) was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use steam locomotives. Renowned as the father of railways[73] George Stephenson was born in Wylam, Northumberland, 9.3 miles (15.0 km) west of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (31 October 1828 – 27 May 1914) was a British physicist and chemist from Sunderland, County Durham now the (City of Sunderland). He is most famous for inventing an incandescent light bulb before its invention by the American Thomas Edison. Swan first demonstrated the light bulb at a lecture the Literary and Philosophical Society and Miners Institute on Mosley Street, Newcastle upon Tyne on 18 December 1878. Mosley Street, Newcastle upon Tyne is reputed to be the first street in the world to be lit by electric light.[74]

The Turbinia

Charles Algernon Parsons invented the steam turbine in 1884, and having foreseen its potential to power ships he set up the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company with five associates in 1893. To develop this he had the experimental vessel Turbinia built in a light design of steel by the firm of Brown and Hood, based at Wallsend on Tyne. He also pioneered in the field of electricity generation, establishing the Newcastle and District Electric Lighting Company in 1889. The company opened the first power station in the world to generate electricity using turbo generators in 1890, at Forth Banks in Newcastle.

William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong, CB, FRS (26 November 1810 – 27 December 1900) was an effective Tyneside industrialist who founded the Armstrong Whitworth manufacturing empire. He was responsible for the development of the hydraulic crane and many military armaments. His house at Cragside, Northumberland was the first in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity, using incandescent lamps provided by the inventor Joseph Swan.

In 1936 the first commercially viable production of acrylic safety glass, Perspex, began by ICI Acrylics and the material is still manufactured in the region by Lucite International now part of Mitsubishi Corporation. During the Second World War acrylic glass was used for submarine periscopes, windshields, canopies, and gun turrets for airplanes.[75] Shortages in raw materials and price pressures have led to innovation by Lucite who developed their patented Alpha Technology in this region. This technology is now the leading technology used in the manufacture of acrylics around the world. It uses new feedstock’s and has a cost advantage of 40% over conventional processing methods.[76]

Newcastle University was the first in the UK and the second in Europe to receive a licence to perform research on stem cells and is a leading centre for such research today. Dr Karim Nayernia was the first to isolate spermatagonial stem cells at this University. Many new healthcare developments have arisen from this stem cell expertise in the region.

Today the region has five universities with a number of research departments: Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University, which have a portfolio of many innovative businesses that have spun out of their research and teaching departments.[77]


Business support organisations in the region

Businesses in Northeast England are supported by a chamber of commerce.[78] The Northeast Chamber of Commerce (NECC)is based in Durham and has active sub committees working in all sub regions.

To further encourage SMEs in the North East of England to Export, the Northeast Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) has collaborated with the Northeast Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and RTC North Limited to create a jointly owned subsidiary company Go Global Limited to manage the contract they have to deliver the United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI), Government funded, support products and programme for all business sectors in their region. The UKTI business support products, to help grow international trade, are focused on supporting individual SMEs to grow their exports and they also support Trade Missions to new markets.[79]

The Northern Business Forum is an organisation created in the region to share knowledge and best practice between membership based business support organisations in the Northeast of England. The Forum creates a single voice for business when this is needed. This business led forum also links its member organisations to wider business issues, both locally and nationally, through the local and national business membership organisations that are also represented. Members of the forum include NECC, NEPIC, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Confederation of British Industry (CBI)North East, the Engineering Employers Federation Northern (EEF), The Institute of Directors (IOD), The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC),Service Network, RTC North and NEPIC. The Association of North East Councils (ANEC) are amongst the observers of the forum.

Businesses investing in the region are supported by the Local Enterprise Partnerships Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP). Both these organisations manage enterprise zones to encourage new business investors. There are also several Industry and Business led Cluster bodies in the region to network and engage companies on a sector basis and give local business to business advice and supply chain intelligence: the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) (chemicals-polymers-pharmaceuticals-biotech), the Northern Offshore Federation (NOF) (energy and offshore engineering), Service Network (accountants-finance-law firms-HR) and Northern Defence Industries (NDI) (defence related engineering), Design Network North (DNN) (design issues for all sectors.)

RTC North provide business expertise in specific growth areas such as product innovation, market research, technology transfer, commercialisation, business growth. North East Access to Finance (NEA2F) operates a business growth fund to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMES).

Enterprise zones

The North East Enterprise Zone, initiated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, was announced by the government in 2011.[80] The zone focusses on technology for low carbon vehicle development, marine offshore and subsea engineering, petrochemicals and renewable energy.[81] At the time of announcement the enterprise zone included two clusters of sites, an Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle zone in Sunderland and a zone on the River Tyne North Bank.[80] The Sunderland cluster is close to the Nissan plant and includes Turbine Business Park. It hosts Gateshead College's Future Technology Centre.[81] The cluster on the Tyne includes the Port of Tyne North Estate, Swan Hunter in North Tyneside, and Neptune Yard in Newcastle.[80] The zone was launched in April 2012.[81] In that year another cluster of sites, comprising the Blyth Estuary Renewable Energy Zone at Port of Blyth, was added to the zone.[82] The enterprise zone contains ten sites over the three clusters, covering 115 hectares (280 acres) in total.[83]

There is also an enterprise zone in Teesside, the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone.[84]

Teesside businesses

BOC plant on Teesside

Teesport on the River Tees is the third biggest port in the country in terms of tonnage shipped largely due to the local steel and chemical industries. Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) operated here until the late 1990s on three chemical sites at Wilton, Billingham and Seal Sands. However, due to the fragmentation of that company it no longer exists and its many chemical manufacturing units are now operated by a large number of companies that have acquired their assets. The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) a national innovation catapult is at based at the Wilton Centre, the former corporate headquarters of ICI, which has become a multi-company research and development centre such that along with CPI this facility now has some 60 other companies, including the cluster body NEPIC, utilising these R&D and business development facilities. This facility is now one of Europes largest R&D facilities focusing on developments for the chemistry based process industries. The area is a chemicals processing area but most recently it has diversified into the UK's leading site for renewable biofuel research. This industrial activity is taking place in a collaborative environment via the economic cluster body the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC).

Hartlepool has a nuclear power station, and there is a conventional CHP power station and a biomass power station operated by Sembcorp on the Wilton Chemical site.Hereema Fabrication Group make North Sea platforms at the A1048/A179 roundabout in Hartlepool. Wilton Engineering's 50 acre fabrication and maintenance site is in Port Clarence. Barker and Stonehouse make furniture north of Middlesbrough next to the A66/A178 junction, and PD Ports, who own Teesport the third biggest port in the UK, is headquartered in Middlesbrough adjacent to the Middlesbrough railway station. The Teesside Steelworks near Redcar has the biggest blast furnace in Europe which is operated by Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI). Tata steel operate their pipe and steel beam works at Hartlepool and Skinningrove Able UK operate the biggest dry dock in the UK near Seaton Carew, Hartlepool where ships can be dismantled and oil rigs can be dismantled or refurbished.

The many chemistry based business on Teesside[85] include Huntsman Tioxide plant at Greatham makes titanium dioxide. Huntsman's European headquarters are in Wynyard. Johnson Matthey Catalysts and Fujifilm Dyosynth Biologics have a manufacturing units in Billingham while the Lucite International Acrylics factory and the Mitsubishi Battery Chemical Plantare on the other side of the town. Exwold Technology operate their 2 extrusion and packaging facilities in Hartlepool. Banner Chemicals are adjacent to the A66 in Middlesbrough. Aldous Huxley's visit to the former ICI plant in Billingham inspired Brave New World and this unit now makes fertiliser for Growhow, using 1% of the UK's natural gas. SABIC perochemicals and polymers, Lotte Chemicals PET and PTA plants, Biffa recycled polymers, Huntsman polyurathanes and the Ensus Biofuels all operate at Wilton. ConocoPhillips refinery, BP Cats, Harvest Energy Biodiesel unit, Greenery Fuels, Fine Organics, Vertelus speciality chemicals and Ineos Nitriles are all based at Seal Sands with Vopak and Simon Storage tank storage businesses near by. Air Products are building two waste to energy units at Seal Sands and Sita are upgrading their unit at Haverton Hill. Marlow Foods produce Quorn and KP Snacks make McCoy's Crisps in Billingham. Santander UK's mortgages division is located in Thornaby-on-Tees. Tetley Tea have had their only tea bag factory in the UK at Eaglescliffe, in the borough of Stockton-on-Tees, since 1969. It is the largest tea bag factory in the world and makes 18 billion tea bags a year. Its distribution centre is at nearby Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.

Tyne and Wear businesses

Newcastle Brown Ale – the yen an anny (which means "the one and only" in Tyneside dialect.)

Offshore Group Newcastle make oil platforms. Sage Group, who produce accounting software, are based at Hazlerigg at the northern end of the Newcastle bypass. Northern Rock, which became a bank in 1997 and was taken over by Virgin Money in November 2011, and the Newcastle Building Society are based in Gosforth. The Gosforth-based bakery Greggs now has over 1,500 shops. The Balliol Business Park in Longbenton contains Procter & Gamble research and global business centres and a tax credits call centre for HMRC, and is the former home of Findus UK. The Government National Insurance Contributions Office in Longbenton, demolished and replaced in 2000, had a 1 mile (1.6 km) long corridor.[citation needed] Be-Ro and the Go-Ahead Group bus company are in central Newcastle. Nestlé use the former Rowntrees chocolate factory on the east of the A1. BAE Systems Land & Armaments in Scotswood, formerly Vickers-Armstrongs, is the main producer of British Army tanks such as the Challenger 2. A Rolls Royce apprentice training site is next door.[86] Siemens Energy Service Fossil make steam turbines at the CA Parsons Works in South Heaton. Sir Charles Parsons invented the steam turbine in 1884, and developed an important local company. Domestos, or sodium hypochlorite, was originated in Newcastle in 1929 by William Handley, and was distributed from the area for many years. Rotary Power make pumps at St Peter's on the Tyne.

Clarke Chapman is next to the A167 in Gateshead. The MetroCentre, the largest shopping centre in Europe, is in Dunston. Scottish & Newcastle was the largest UK-owned brewery until it was bought by Heineken and Carlsberg in April 2008, and produced Newcastle Brown Ale at the Newcastle Federation Brewery in Dunston until production moved to Tadcaster in September 2010. On Team Valley are De La Rue, with their largest banknote printing facility, and Myson Radiators, the second largest in the UK market. Petards make surveillance equipment including ANPR cameras, and its Joyce-Loebl division makes electronic warfare systems and countermeasure dispensing systems such as the AN/ALE-47. Sevcon, an international company formed from a part of Smith Electric, is a world leader in electric vehicle controls. AEI Cables and Komatsu UK construction equipment at Birtley.

J. Barbour & Sons make outdoor clothing in Simonside, Jarrow. SAFT Batteries make primary lithium batteries on the B1344 on the Tyne. Bellway plc houses is in Seaton Burn in North Tyneside. Cobalt Business Park, the largest office park in the UK, is at Wallsend, on the former site of Atmel, and is the home of North Tyneside Council. Swan Hunter until 2006 made ships in Wallsend, and still designs ships. Soil Machine Dynamics in Wallsend on the Tyne makes Remotely operated underwater vehicles, and its Ultra Trencher 1 is the world's largest submersible robot.

Nissan UK off the A19 near Sunderland

The car dealership Evans Halshaw is in Sunderland. The car factory owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK between North Hylton and Washington is the largest in the UK. Grundfos, the world's leading pump manufacturer, build pumps in Sunderland. Calsonic Kansei UK, formerly Magna, make automotive instrument panels and car trim at the Pennywell Industrial Estate. Gestamp UK make automotive components. Smith Electric Vehicles, the world's leading manufacturer of electric vehicles,[citation needed] originated in Washington. The LG Electronics microwave oven factory opened in 1989, closed in May 2004, and later became the site of the Tanfield Group. Goodyear Dunlop had their only UK car tyre factory next to the Tanfield site until its 2006 closure. BAE Systems Global Combat Systems moved to a new £75 million factory at the former Goodyear site in 2011, where they make large calibre ammunition for tanks and artillery. The government's child benefit office is in Washington. Liebherr build cranes next to the Wear at Deptford. The outdoor clothing company Berghaus is in Castletown. Vaux Breweries, who owned Swallow Hotels, closed in 1999. ScS Sofas are on Borough Road. There are many call centres in Sunderland, notably EDF Energy at the Doxford International Business Park, which is also the home of the headquarters of the large international transport company Arriva and Nike UK. Rolls Royce plan to move their production of fan and turbine discs to BAE Systems' new site in 2016.

Northumberland businesses

Ashington has the Alcan Lynemouth Aluminium Smelter, next to the Lynemouth Power Station. Hammerite and Cuprinol are made in Prudhoe by ICI Paints. A Procter & Gamble factory in Seaton Delaval makes Hugo Boss aftershave and Clairol and Nice 'n Easy hair dye at a site formerly owned by Shultons, who originated Old Spice and were bought by P&G in 1990. McQuay UK makes air conditioning systems on the Bassington Industrial Estate at the A1068/A1172 junction in Cramlington, and Avery Dennison UK make labels on the Nelson Industrial Estate off of the A192. Schweppes' Abbey Well mineral water, the official water of the London 2012 Olympic Games, is made by Coca-Cola in the east of Morpeth. The National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) is at Blyth.In Cramlington Aesica Pharmaceuticals, one of the UKs fastest growing pharmaceutical companies, and the global company MSD both manufacture Pharmaceuticals and are founder members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). Pharmaceuticals. Aesica have also opened their corporate headquarters in Longbenton, from which they now manage their global multinational pharmaceutical business.

County Durham businesses

Phileas Fogg snacks are made by the United Biscuits subsidiary KP Snacks in Consett on the Number One Industrial Estate. Nearby CAV Aerospace make ice protection systems for aircraft. Thomas Swan, an international chemicals company, is in Crookhall. The Explorer Group, who own Elddis, make caravans at Delves. The LG Philips Displays cathode ray tube factory at Carrville, Durham was the second largest employer in the north east after Nissan, before the company went bankrupt in 2006. Northumbrian Water is in Pity Me, Framwellgate Moor. Esh Group is a large construction company based south of Durham in Bowburn. Schmitz Cargobull UK is the UK's biggest trailer manufacturer, notably for refrigerated trailers, and is based at Harelaw near the Pontop Pike mast.

Flymos are made in Newton Aycliffe

Black & Decker and Electrolux had large factories at Spennymoor, but moved production overseas. Thorn Lighting of the Zumtobel Lighting Group are on the Green Lane Industrial Estate at Spennymoor. Since 2007 RF Micro Devices (RFMD) have made electronic wafers on the Heighington Lane Business Park at Newton Aycliffe, on the site formerly owned by Fujitsu. Slightly to the north, TKA Tallent make automotive axles and chassis components. Husqvarna-Flymo, formerly owned by Electrolux, are on the Aycliffe Industrial Estate, where the world's first hover mower was built in 1965. In West Auckland, Potters Europe make road reflectors. GlaxoSmithKline has a site at Barnard Castle that makes pharmaceuticals.

NSK make ball bearings on the North West Industrial Estate at Peterlee, and GWA International subsidiary Gliderol UK build garage doors. Mecaplast Group UK produce automotive components on the Low Hills Industrial Estate in Easington Village near Peterlee. Reckitt Benckiser make cough syrup and indigestion remedies at Shotton, near Peterlee until 2014. Walkers Crisps have a site north of Peterlee.

Darlington stayed relatively un-industrialised throughout the 20th century, with finance and manufacturing as the main elements of its economy. Darlington today is recognised primarily for its railways, as the first steam-hauled public passenger railway in the world was constructed through the town. Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company, which is responsible for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Tyne Bridge, is still based in Darlington. The Orange mobile network provider, Argos and Aldi, and the American engineering company Cummins all have sites in Darlington. The town centre continues to develop into a successful retail hub for the region, and a large new £110m shopping centre, 'The Oval', is under construction. The national safeguarding authority has set up its national office here. The Student Loans Company has begun operations in Lingfield Point, and Magnet Kitchens is in Lingfield east of town.


Football – from its earliest times to the Premier League

Alf Common of England, the world's first £1000 footballer

A precursor of modern football is still seen in the region at some annual Shrove Tuesday games at Alnwick, Chester-le-Street and Sedgefield and many of such games have pre-Norman origins.[87] In 1280 at Ulgham near Morpeth Northumberland, records show that Henry of Ellington was killed playing football when David Le Keu's knife went into Henry's belly and killed him.[88][89] Organised football teams as we know today did not appear until the 1870s. Middlesbrough Football Club was formed by local cricket players in 1876 and Sunderland Football Club in 1879 and Newcastle United Football Club was formed in 1892 by uniting Newcastle West End FC with Newcastle East End.[90]

Darlington formed in 1861 (re-formed 1883 and in 2012) and West Hartlepool of 1881 became Hartlepool United in 1908. In 1888 Sunderland and Middlesbrough were troubled by rival break-away teams called Sunderland Albion and Middlesbrough Ironopolis, both of which were lost before the 20th century began. Sunderland won the league championship three times in the 1890s and Newcastle United were first division champions three times in the early 1900s, reaching the FA Cup Final three times before winning it at the fourth attempt in 1910.[91] Today top quality professional football remains in the northeast of England. In 2013, Newcastle United and Sunderland remain Premier League teams, Middlesbrough are in the Football League Championship and Hartlepool are in the Football League 2. St James' Park in Newcastle, the Stadium of Light in Sunderland and The Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough are all first class football venues often used for international games at all levels.

First "world cup" winners and influential amateurs

Amateur and semi-professional football clubs like Bishop Auckland and Blyth Spartans A.F.C. have had success and public attention through Football Association Cup runs, but the most famous achievement was by West Auckland FC in 1910 which was invited to take part in a competition in Italy to compete for what was then labelled the soccer World Cup. West Auckland won the competition against some of Europe's biggest sides and defeated the mighty Juventus 2-0 in the final. What's more, West Auckland successfully defended the title the following year. The first world cup trophy played for in these tournaments, Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy has an interesting history of its own.In January 1994 the trophy, which was being held in West Auckland Workingmen's Club, was stolen and never recovered. An exact replica of the original trophy was commissioned and is now held by West Auckland FC. The story of West Auckland's success was made into a film called "A Captain’s Tale" starring actor Dennis Waterman as club captain Jones.

Players from some of the region's minor league teams have gone on to influence football on the world stage. Jack Greenwell (John Richard Greenwell) an ex-coal miner who played non-league football for Crook Town A.F.C. from 1901 to 1912 went to Spain and played 88 games for Barcelona before becoming their manager in 1917. Mr Greenwell was so highly regarded by the Barcelona Club that they incorporated the English Flag into their club badge in his honour, thereby recognising Mr Greenwell’s achievements of winning 5 Catalonian championships and two Copa del Reys. He also managed Espanyol, Mallorca and Valencia. On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Mr Greenwell moved to South America to manage the Peruvian and Columbian National teams, he died in 1942 in Bogota.[92]

Notable footballers associated with the region

There are many notable footballers from the Northeast of England. Sunderland's Alf Common became the world's first £1,000 player when he was signed by Middlesbrough in 1905.[93] Other pre Second World War and immediate post war greats were Charles Buchan, who created and edited the iconic magazine "Football Monthly",[94] George Camsell, Hughie Gallacher, Wilf Mannion, Raich Carter, Bob Gurney all of whom are described in a famous book by the "Clown Prince of Football" Len Shackleton. Mr Shackleton's book shot to immediate fame and caused a storm when first published because chapter 9, named "The Average Director's Knowledge of Football", was produced as a blank page.[95] Local Heroes after the Second World War included Joe Harvey, Jackie Milburn,[96] Brian Clough[97] and Newcastle's Bobby Moncur who led his team to win the Inter City Fairs Cup in 1969.[98]

Wilf Mannion's Statue at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium

Perhaps the two most significant English players to come from this region are Bobby Charlton and Jackie Charlton who learnt their early football after being born and raised in the coal mining town of Ashington.[99][100] They were incidentally related to Jackie Milburn who was their uncle. Bobby joined Manchester United and Jackie Leeds United both contributing much to the success and history of their respective clubs. They both became permanent fixtures in Alf Ramsey's 1966 England World Cup winning team.[101] Malcolm Macdonald[90] was a successful Newcastle player of the 1970s, goalscorers like McDonald often attract fame but Sunderland goalkeeper Jim Montgomery's double save, which helped Sunderland then a second Division club, beat at that time an all conquering Leeds United team to win the 1973 FA Cup Final by an Ian Porterfield goal, is an incident that is frequently and fondly recalled. Great players of the 1980s and 1990s include local born internationals like Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle and Alan Shearer. Shearer remains the highest scoring player in Premier League history with 260 goals in 441 appearances.[102] In the early 2000s Middlesbrough also joined the top clubs in English Football and played for a number of years in the Premier League and winning the League Cup in 2004. The Brazilian "Juninho Paulista" was an influential player for Middlesbrough during their time in the top flight, a time when the Middlesbrough football academy became famous for producing a number of young top flight players such as Stuart Downing.

Horse racing

Early races were mentioned in 1613 at Woodham near Aycliffe and were held at Newcastle's Killingworth Moor from 1632 before moving to the Town Moor. The 'Pitmen's Derby' or Northumberland Plate was held from 1833 and moved to Gosforth in 1882. Georgian races were held at places like Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland, Blaydon, Chester-le-Street, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Hebburn, Heighington, Lanchester, Ryton, Sedgefield, South Shields, Stockton, Sunderland, Tanfield, Whickham and Witton Gilbert. A 1740 Act banned smaller meetings but some meetings like Durham survived into the late 19th or early 20th centuries.[103] Modern day horse racing is still popular and regular events still take place at Redcar, Newcastle and Sedgfield Race Courses.[104]

Blaydon Races

The Blaydon Races, a popular musical hall song first sung by Geordie Ridley at Balmbra's Music Hall in Newcastle in 1862, gives an idea of some of the characters attending the old meetings. These races were held on an island in the middle of the Tyne and were last held on 2 September 1916. A riot broke out after the winning horse was disqualified and the event was discontinued but remembered in the famous English folk song The Blaydon Races and the event and its characters are vividly depicted in William Irving's 1903 painting. 'The Blaydon Races – A Study from Life' which is on show at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.


Golf is a Scottish import to many countries but it is said to have been played in this region by St Cuthbert on the dunes of the Northumberland coast. The oldest club in Northeast England was Alnmouth founded in 1869 – the fourth oldest in the country and is now Alnmouth Village Club and an interesting 9 hole links course.[105] There are three fine old links courses in this region at Seaton Carew, Goswick and Redcar.

"The Doctor", a testing golf hole named after Dr McCuaig, founder of Seaton Carew Golf Club. (par 3 encircled by 8 bunkers)

The first golf course appeared in County Durham in 1874[106][107][108] at Seaton Carew Golf Club near Hartlepool.[109] It was to become the only course in the whole of the counties of Durham and Yorkshire and was originally called the Durham and Yorkshire Golf Club and reference to this today remains in the Club's badge. Seaton Carew is the 10th oldest Golf Club in England.[110] The Club was set up by a newly qualified surgeon from Edinburgh, who played at Musselburgh, when he realised there was nowhere for him to continue to practice his passion for the game. This was Dr. Duncan McCuaig, who had moved down to Teesside shortly after qualifying at University of Edinburgh. His memory can be recalled when one plays the third hole, a challenging par 3, named "The Doctor". Over the years the finest golfers in the country have played the links at Seaton Carew, including the legendary "Great Triumvirate" of Golf Harry Vardon, John Henry "J H" Taylor and James Braid and several other Open Champions. Jimmy Kay, a long serving professional at Seaton Carew, was quite successful when playing against members of the triumvate for cash prizes. Only Vardon managed to defeat Kay on his home course. Kay appeared in 22 Open Championships finishing higher than 6th place on two occasions in 1892 and 1893.[106][107] Dr Alister MacKenzie, the designer of The Masters course in Augusta, Georgia and Cypress Point golf courses in the USA, lengthened the Seaton Carew Course in 1925 to 6,500 yards and designed new holes eastwards including the planting of over 2,000 buckthorn bushes. In 1937, Walter Hagen played an exhibition match at Seaton Carew during a tour of Europe and commented "It is a splendid course, the links are well groomed. It is not an easy course and provides a good test of golf. It is one I would like to play quite often".[111] This Club by varying the playing sequence of the 22 holes can create 5 different course layouts. In 2014, "flyovers" of all 5 Seaton Carew Golf Course layouts were created with commentaries by well known golf TV commentator Peter Alliss.[112] Alliss comments: "The tenth oldest in England and a true championship links to challenge all levels of players." [113]

Seaton Carew Golf Club is regular host to top amateur golf competitions. Golf England’s Brabazon Trophy was held at this Club in 1985 and the winner, Peter Baker (golfer), went on to Ryder Cup and European Tour success after sharing this amateur title with the North East’s Roger Roper (Roper famously turned professional at the age of 50 in 2007 to compete on the Seniors Professional Tour.[114][115]) The 2013 US Open Champion Justin Rose talked glowingly about Seaton’s undulating links course when in 1966 he came second behind the then amateur, now established tour professional Graeme Storm from Hartlepool, in the Carris Trophy (the Boys’ equivalent to the Brabazon Trophy). In June 2014, The Brabazon Trophy tournament returned to Seaton Carew and in line with the illustrious outcomes for past winners on this course a bright future is predicted for the winner Ben Stow from Wiltshire. Stow equalled the course record on the final day with a "birdie" on the final hole to win the Barabzon Trophy by one shot.[116]

Goswick near Berwick on Tweed is a James Braid design masterpiece which is widely acknowledged as a classic Northumberland links Golf course,[117] so much so, that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) chose Goswick as a regional qualifier for the Open Championship for five years from 2008. At Redcar on Teesside, the Cleveland Golf Course of 1887 is the oldest in Yorkshire. The Tyneside Golf Club at Ryton dates from 1880 but there may have been earlier courses in the region. During the English Civil War of 1642–1651, King Charles played 'Goff' in the Shield Fields of the suburb of Pandon near Newcastle during his imprisonment in the town.[118]

Today inland golf courses are abundant in the northeast of England,[119] Middlesbrough's Brass Castle Golf Club and Brancepeth Golf Club being two excellent examples from many but those new courses created in the late 20th and early 21st centuries at Wynyard, Rockciffe Hall, Slalely Hall and Close House have rapidly gained an international reputation and regularly hold professional events such as the Seve Trophy[120] and the Seniors Tour.[121]

The region has two professional golfers who are currently prominent in many the professional Golf Tour events. Kenny Ferrie from Ashington and Graeme Storm from Hartlepool both of whom have had wins on the prestigious European Tour.

The largest corporate golf day in the United Kingdom is held annually each September by the members of the Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) when 180 golfers play both the Slaley Hunting and Priestman courses simultaneously, after a shot gun start.[122]


The Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street

Cricket has long been a popular sport in the Northeast of England and is said to date back to Elizabethan times. Yorkshire County Cricket Club was formed in 1863 and Durham County Cricket Club in 1882. After many years of success in the Minor Counties Championship, Durham joined Yorkshire in the senior counties championship in 1992. The development of the Riverside cricket stadium into the home of Durham County Cricket Club[123] in Chester-le-Street,in full view of Lumley Castle is now one of the most picturesque cricket venues in the UK. This venue now regularly hosts international Cricket putting on its first "Ashes" Test Match between England and Australia in August 2013.[124] With 320 runs and 15 wickets on the last day of the match, the venue provided "the most high-octane day of a thrilling Test match" to enable England to take an unassailable 3-nil lead against the Australians in the 2013 5 game Ashes Test Series.[125]


Athletics is a sport of rising popularity since the olympic and international success of Northeast athletes Brendan Foster in the 1970s and Steve Cram in the 1980s. Both won international medals and broke world records in middle and long distance running. Brendan Foster established the annual Great North Run, one of the best known half marathons in which thousands of participants run from Newcastle to South Shields. Brendan Foster, a former school teacher in this region, is also recognised as the driving force behind the creation of the Gateshead International Athletics Stadium which now regularly hosts International Athletics meets and other sporting events.

In 2013 the 33rd Great North Run had 56,000 participants most of whom were raising money for charity. The elite races had Olympic gold medalists and world champion long distance runners participateing including in the men's race, Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and a regular supporter of the event Haile Gebrselassie. Ethiopian Bekele won the men's event just ahead of Farah. Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo came first the women's race and multi Olympic gold medalist David Weir won the wheelchair event.[126] The founder of the event, Brendan Foster is reported to be looking forward to 2014 when the Great North Run have its millionth finisher – becoming the first International Athletics Association Event (IAAF) event in the world to reach such a milestone.[127] The 2014 Great North Run did indeed make history with olympic gold medal and UK athletics star Mo Farah winning the men's race in a new personal best of just 1 hour. He was challenged all the way but he held off strong competition from Kenya's Mike Kigen.[128] The millionth finisher of the race was a mum-of-two and grandma-of-two Tracey Cramond of Darlington. 51 yearold Tracey ran the race to raise funds for the local Teesside charity Butterwick Hospice.[129]

Local government

The official region consists of the following subdivisions:

Map Ceremonial county Unitary authority Metropolitan districts
North East England counties 2009 map.svg 1. Northumberland
2. Tyne and Wear
metropolitan county
a Newcastle upon Tyne, b Gateshead, c North Tyneside, d South Tyneside, e Sunderland
Durham 3. County Durham
4. Darlington
5. Hartlepool
6. Stockton-on-Tees (North of River Tees)
North Yorkshire
(part only)
6. Stockton-on-Tees (South of River Tees)
7. Redcar and Cleveland
8. Middlesbrough

The Association of North East Councils, and before 2009 the North East Assembly, is based in central Newcastle upon Tyne.

Recent political history

Kielder Forest – the largest man-made forest in Europe


The region was created in 1994 and was originally defined as Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Cleveland. A reform of local government abolished Cleveland and created several unitary districts. The region now consists of three counties plus a small part of a fourth:

2004 regional assembly referendum

In November 2004 a referendum on whether a directly elected regional assembly should be set up for North East England resulted in a decisive "no" vote. The number of people who voted against the plans was 696,519 (78%), while 197,310 (22%) voted in favour. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister at the time, admitted that his plans for regional devolution had suffered an "emphatic defeat". Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative spokesman for the regions, said the vote would mean the end of plans for a North East Assembly. He told the BBC: "The whole idea of regional government has been blown out of the water by this vote".[130]

Combined authority

The North East Combined Authority was established in 2014 and covers much of the region, except for the Tees Valley boroughs of Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar & Cleveland, and Middlesbrough.


The region has a diverse landscape that includes maritime cliffs and extensive moorland that contains a number of rare species of flora and fauna. Of particular importance are the saltmarshes of Lindisfarne, the Tees Estuary, the heaths, bogs and traditional upland hay meadows of the North Pennines, and the Arctic-alpine flora of Upper Teesdale.

The beauty of the Northumbrian coastline has led to its designation as an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) stretching 100 miles from Berwick-Upon-Tweed to the River Coquet estuary.[131] Among the 290 bird species identified on the Farne Islands, is the rare seabird the roseate tern. One of the foremost bird sanctuaries and observatory for migratory and wading birds in the UK is now operated at "Saltholme" which is part of a wider site of special scientific interest called Seal Sands. The Saltholme reserve is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds(RSPB). This project has been pronounced as one of the best places to view birds by Bill Oddie, the celebrity bird watcher and former host of the BBC's Spring Watch Programme. In December 2012 he also presented the project with a prize as the UK's favorite National Lottery funded project.[132] The seal colony at Seal Sands on the mouth of the River Tees is thriving and stands at more than 60 harbour seals and this is the only breeding colony of this species on the northeast coast.[133]"Rainton Meadows" is also a recently created bird-watching site.[134] The region is also the English stronghold of black grouse[135] and contains 80–90% of the UK population of yellow marsh saxifrage.[136]

The Magnesian Limestone grasslands of East Durham are a unique habitat not found nowhere else in the world which is particularly important to many species of butterfly and moths.[137]

The Northeast of England also features woodland such as Kielder Forest, the largest man-made forest in Europe.[138] This is located within Northumberland National Park and contains an important habitat for the endangered red squirrel.[139]


The Northeast of England as a region has the lowest rate of HIV infection in the UK,[140] but has the highest rate of heart attacks among men and of lung cancer among women in England, and the highest lung cancer rate in the UK for men.[141] The region has the highest unemployment "rate" in the UK at 10%, but this is in fact the third lowest in terms of numbers of all 12 UK regions.[142] In April 2013 youth unemployment in the North East is 24.8% of the unemployed, with 51,000 out of work,[143] but again in terms of the actual numbers rather than percentages this by far the lowest Youth Unemployment of all UK regions. In 2010 the region had the second highest trade union membership among UK men.[144] Higher education students from the North East are most likely to pick a university in their home region.[145] The Northeast, as part of the "North" demographic region, has the highest proportion of Christians in the UK.[146]

Teenage pregnancy

The Office for National Statistics in April 2013 report that the estimated number of conceptions to women aged under 18 in England and Wales in 2011 is the lowest since records began in 1969.[147] In comparison, the estimated number of conceptions to women of all ages is the second highest since records began. Conception statistics include pregnancies that result in either one or more live births or stillbirths or a legal abortion.

A comparison of rates across regions in England shows that the North East had the highest of under 18 conception rates in 2011, with 38.4 per thousand women aged 15–17. The South East had the lowest rate for women aged under 18 in 2011 with 26.1 per thousand women aged 15–17.[147]

Social deprivation

A study into social deprivation was published in 2010 to help the local partners developing a Regional Strategy for the North East better understand the factors influencing deprivation in the region. The study had two main aspects: Firstly to establish if there are different types of deprived neighbourhoods in the Northeast, and if so, how deprived neighbourhoods can be better recognised. Secondly to present a summary of ‘what works’ in tackling deprivation in each of these types of area.[148]

The report discusses the factors influencing deprivation and points out that it is a significant problem for the North East with 34% of the regions Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) are amongst England’s 20% most deprived in the 2007 Indices of Deprivation(these indices have been updated in 2010). It takes many years for areas to become deprived, suggesting that the underlying causes of area-based deprivation are long-term such as:

  • Major changes in the employment base, which has changed the nature and spatial distribution of jobs in the UK and within specific regions and localities.
  • The ‘residential sorting’ effects of the public and private housing markets.

Industrial restructuring has disproportionately affected some communities and groups. In particular:

  • Job losses in manufacturing and coalmining were most severely felt in the north of England, Scotland and Wales – and particular communities within these areas.
  • As a result of the types of jobs that were lost, some demographic groups – particularly older working age males in skilled manual work – were more likely to be affected than others.

The region's most deprived council districts, as measured by the LSOA data[149] before County Durham and Northumberland became unitary authorities in 2007, are in descending order Easington (7th in England), Middlesbrough (9th), Hartlepool (23rd), Wear Valley (33rd), Sunderland (35th), Newcastle upon Tyne (37th), South Tyneside (38th), Wansbeck (46th), Redcar and Cleveland (50th), Gateshead (52nd), Sedgefield (54th), Derwentside (73rd), Blyth Valley (80th), and Stockton on Tees (98th).

The least deprived council districts in 2007 were, in descending order, Tynedale, Castle Morpeth, Teesdale, then Alnwick. Since the April 2009 abolition of these four districts, Northumberland is the least deprived, followed by North Tyneside.

Unemployment is a severe problem in the North East, where many children grow up in households where no adult works. in 2010 Easington has the highest rate in the country, as 40.3% of its households with children have no working adult, followed by Sedgefield with 34%.[150] In 2013 the Office for National Statistics report issued the statements highlighted below[151] However these unemployment percentages or "rates" do not adequately reflect the "actual numbers" in the report which show that the number unemployed people in the Northeast is the third lowest of the 12 UK regions.[152]

  • Employment rate highest in the South East (74.8%) and lowest in the North East (66.6%).
  • Unemployment rate highest in the North East (10.1%) and lowest in the South West (6.2%).
  • Inactivity rate highest in the North East (25.8%) and lowest in the South East (19.8%).
  • Claimant Count rate highest in the North East (7.2%) and lowest in the South East (2.7%).


The North East has a strong tendency to vote Labour. In the 2015 election, 47% of the electorate voted Labour, while 25% voted Conservative, 17% UKIP, 6% Liberal Democrat and 4% Green. At the 2009 European election, Labour got 25% of the region's vote, the Conservatives 20%, the Liberal Democrats 18%, and UK Independence Party 15%.[153]

Eurostat NUTS

In the Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), North East England is a level-1 NUTS region, coded "UKC", which is subdivided as follows:

NUTS 1 Code NUTS 2 Code NUTS 3 Code
North East England UKC Tees Valley and County Durham UKC1 Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees UKC11
NUTS 3 regions of North East England map.svg South Teesside (Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland) UKC12
Darlington UKC13
County Durham UKC14
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear UKC2 Northumberland UKC21
Tyneside (Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside) UKC22
Sunderland UKC23



The East Coast Main Line (ECML) calls at Newcastle, Durham and Darlington, and provides fast connections to London and Edinburgh. The Durham Coast Line connects Sunderland, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough with the main line. York-based Virgin Trains East Coast serves the full length of the ECML and operates most of the stations on the route. Grand Central Railway has linked Sunderland, and Teesside with London since December 2007, and is non-stop from York onwards. It does not have electric trains, and uses the Northallerton–Eaglescliffe Line and Durham Coast Line. Local services along these and most other local routes in the North East are provided by Northern, based in Manchester. First TransPennine Express, also based in Manchester, have long-distance services from Newcastle, Scarborough and Middlesbrough to Manchester, via West Yorkshire.

The Tyne and Wear Metro is a light rail network which serves the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. It has stations in Newcastle and Sunderland city centres and other towns and suburbs in the county, as well as at Newcastle Airport and attractions such as the St James' Park, the Stadium of Light, and Gateshead International Stadium.


The North East's main arterial carriageway the A1(M), mirrors the railway trajectory.[clarification needed] However, the A1(M) is only motorway standard through County Durham, is the A1 road throughout parts of North Yorkshire, and is an A Road through the entirety of Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. The road is controversially still single carriageway north of Morpeth, despite being the main trunk route connecting Edinburgh and Newcastle upon Tyne. The Tyne Tunnel was opened as a single-carriageway in 1967, and an adjoining new tunnel was opened in February 2011. The A1 Newcastle Western Bypass was completed in the early 1990s. The A66 connects Teesside with Darlington, County Durham. The A68 takes a cross-country central route over the North Pennines and Cheviot Hills to Scotland, often following the Roman road Dere Street.


Queen of Scandinavia berthed at North Shields

The ferry terminal at North Shields is accessed via the A187 from the Tyne Tunnel. DFDS operate two ferries a day to Amsterdam and, formerly, one a day on the StavangerHaugesundBergen route.


The two main airports are Newcastle Airport, located north of the city near Ponteland, and Durham Tees Valley Airport, located east of Darlington.

The region's population is served by a charitable service known as the Great North Air Ambulance for those who need rapid transfer to a hospital or medical assistance in difficult or remote locations.

Transport policy

Long term planning for transport in the region has involved the development of sub regional strategies. This planning also needs to take into account region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by the Highways Agency and Network Rail.[154] These activities in the United Kingdom now fall into the remit of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) which in the Northeast of England are Tees valley Unlimited and the North East LEP.[155] Bodies such as the Northeast Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) are providers of significant practical insights to policy makers.[156][157]

Within the region the local transport authorities plan for the future by producing Local Transport Plans (LTP) which outline their strategies, policies and implementation programmes.[158] The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006–11. In the North East region the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Darlington,[159] Durham,[160] Hartlepool,[161] Middlesbrough,[162] Northumberland,[163] Redcar and Cleveland,[164] Stockton-on-Tees[165] and Tyne and Wear.[166]

Economic data

See the earlier sections on NE Economy and Businesses

The latest statistical report from the Office for National Statistics comparing the Northeast of England to other regions of the United Kingdom,[167] dated May 2012, states:

The North East has the highest value of goods exports relative to the size of its economy, the highest percentage employed in the public sector and lowest gross household income per head of the English regions.

The North East’s exports of goods, expressed as a percentage of gross value added (GVA), were the highest of all the English regions at 29 per cent in 2010, compared with the UK average of 20 per cent. Over half the region’s goods exports were to the EU (55 per cent).[168]

A quarter of employed people in the region worked in the public sector in Q4 2011 (24.6 per cent), the highest proportion among the English regions, down from 26.9 per cent in Q4 2009. In 2010, at local authority level the highest shares of public sector employee jobs were to be found in Newcastle upon Tyne and Middlesbrough (both over 33 per cent of all employee jobs).

Gross disposable household income (GDHI) of residents in the North East, at £13,300 per head in 2010, was 15 per cent below the UK average and the lowest of the English regions. It ranged from £12,400 in Sunderland to £16,090 in Northumberland.

The North East region contributed 3 per cent of the UK’s GVA. The region’s headline GVA was £41.0 billion in 2010. The latest subregional data (2009) show that Tyneside generated 37 per cent of the region’s GVA at £14.6 billion.

In 2009 manufacturing industries generated 14 per cent of the region’s total GVA, which is the largest industry contribution for the region.

Productivity in 2010 (measured by GVA per hour worked) was 88 per cent of the UK rate – one of the lowest of the English regions. Within the region, Northumberland’s productivity was the third lowest in England at 75 per cent of the UK rate in 2009.

The region’s employment rate was the lowest in England at 66.2 per cent for Q4 2011. The latest subregional data for the year ending September 2011 show that North Tyneside had the highest employment rate at 72.6 per cent.

The North East had the highest rate of economic inactivity of the English regions, 25 per cent of the population aged 16 to 64 in Q4 2011.

The unemployment rate was 11.2 per cent, among the highest of the English regions (although this fell to 9.7% by 2013.)[169]


Primary education

There are over 250 nursery/primary schools in the County Durham area of the north east, which range from schools with their own nursery, to schools that are either infant only or junior only.[170] Areas such as Gosforth have first schools which have neither years 5 nor 6, and therefore educate children up to the age of 8 and 9.

Secondary education

Hummersknott School near Darlington

The North East education system consists largely of comprehensive schools, but a number of private and independent schools are found in Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Darlington, Stockton and in particular, Northumberland.

in 2014 a number of the regions schools were in the top 20% of schools as measured by SSAT — the UK organisation for school improvement and collaboration — and have been awarded an SSAT Educational Outcomes Award recognising their successes. These schools are Burnside Business & Enterprise College, in Newcastle, Castle View Enterprise Academy, in Sunderland, Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, Greenfield Community College, in Newton Aycliffe, Northumberland Church of England Academy, in Ashington and The North Durham Academy in Stanley.[171] The awards, recognised high attainment and outstanding continuous improvement.

The schools in the top 20% for high attainment in GCSE exams were Burnside Business and Enterprise College and Northumberland Church of England Academy

The region's secondary school attendance is the lowest in England at around 125,000, with the next lowest in the East Midlands. Truancy at its schools is a mixed picture. It has the second highest overall rate for urban areas, after Yorkshire and the Humber, but the lowest rate in England in its rural areas. Middlesbrough has the region's highest rate with 7.2% persistent truants, which is the second highest rate in England after Manchester (7.3%). Next is Newcastle upon Tyne, with 6.4%, then the former district of Wansbeck, with 6.3%

At General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) level, the region's performance is similar to that of other largely urban areas, although its results are generally below the national average. Middlesbrough tends to perform the worst, and to produce results well below the national average. Local education authorities (LEAs) in the North East have improved at GCSE in recent years. North Tyneside performed the best in 2011, followed by Gateshead, Northumberland, and Darlington. No LEA in the North-East was above the 2011 national GCSE average. South Tyneside was the lowest for the English Baccalaureate, followed by Middlesbrough and Hartlepoool. Gateshead and North Tyneside were the highest, and Gateshead was the only LEA above the national average for this measure.

The region's parochial schools tend to perform better at GCSE. These include St Thomas More Catholic School in Blaydon, the selective independent state school Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead, All Saints C of E School in Ingleby Barwick, English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College in Hartlepool, St Bede's Catholic School and Sixth Form College in Lanchester, County Durham, and the Carmel RC Technology College in Darlington. Other regional schools that perform well include Whitley Bay High School the Macmillan Academy in Middlesbrough, Park View School in Chester-le Street, and the Hurworth School near Darlington. Many area schools do not have a sixth form, especially in Teesside, Sunderland and South Tyneside, but all Northumberland schools have a sixth-form along with a three-tier system of education. Middlesbrough and Newcastle have the most students who pass no GCSEs.

QE Sixth Form College in Darlington

North East LEAs at A-level are improving, but produce results below those of other areas of England. Sunderland performed the best in 2011, with consistently good results, followed by Hartlepool and Darlington, which are above the national average, and unrepresentative of most areas in the North East. Darlington's Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College is one of the highest-rated colleges in England. The area's Catholic schools all do reasonably well at A level. Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, and Cleveland and Newcastle were also above England's average. Newcastle does significantly better at A-level than at GCSE, with consistent improvement, while Gateshead does much worse at A-level than GCSE, and produced the second lowest A-level results in the region in 2009. The worst results at A-level were from Middlesbrough, Durham, South Tyneside and Gateshead. South Tyneside had in previous years been consistently the region's worst performing LEA at A-level.

The independent and private schools in the area perform highly. Dame Allan's Schools, Royal Grammar School (NRGS), Barnard Castle School and Durham School are all members of the prestigious The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The Central Newcastle High School and the Royal Grammar School were named as among the nation's top 100 independent schools in 2006. Durham School is considered to be one of the oldest schools in the UK, and its Old Boys were the founding members of the original Newcastle Falcons Rugby club. Mowden Hall School, a selective day and boarding prep school in Northumberland, is another well-established and reputable independent school. The private schools out-perform the state schools in the urban areas.[citation needed] In the region, school children from Northumberland are most likely to attend university, followed by Stockton on Tees and North Tyneside.

Top fifteen state schools in North East England (2011 A-level results)

St Robert of Newminster RC School, between Fatfield and Biddick in Washington
  1. St Anthony's Girls' Catholic School, Sunderland (958)
  2. Carmel RC Technology College, Hummersknott, Darlington
  3. Durham Johnston Comprehensive School
  4. Conyers' School, Yarm
  5. Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Darlington
  6. The King Edward VI School, Morpeth
  7. Whitley Bay High School
  8. Haydon Bridge High School
  9. St Robert of Newminster Catholic School, Washington
  1. English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool
  2. Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham
  3. Berwick Community High School
  4. Ponteland Community High School
  5. Hartlepool Sixth Form College (835)

Further education

There are sixteen further education colleges in the region.[172] The main such colleges are Newcastle College, New College Durham, Darlington College, Gateshead College, Bishop Auckland College, Stockton Riverside College, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Hartlepool College of Further Education, Middlesbrough College, Cleveland College of Art and Design along with Sunderland College.[citation needed]

Tertiary education

At the higher education level the North East contains a number of universities. These include Durham University, which is the third oldest in England and is often ranked among the ten leading UK universities; Newcastle University, a member of the Russell Group; and the newer universities of Northumbria University, University of Sunderland and Teesside University, which was voted Best University in the United Kingdom at the 2009 Times Higher Education awards. There are no higher education colleges in the region.

The main university in the region is Newcastle University.[173] It offers the broadest range of courses and has the largest research budget. The next largest university by funding is Durham University, which has a research grant of about 70% that of Newcastle's. Newcastle has the most total income, followed by Durham, while Sunderland has the least.

Queen's Campus (of Durham University), Stockton-on-Tees

Over 50% of the region's students come from the region, and around 35% are from other regions. At first degree level, around 55% are from the North of England, and about 30% are from the North East. More students come from elsewhere than leave the North East for other regions, due to the distances involved. Of students native to the region, 80% study in the North of England, with Yorkshire and the Humber more popular than the North West, and around 55% study in the North East. The region has a higher proportion of students from so-called low participation neighbourhoods, as compared to elsewhere in England. Durham University has the least from these neighbourhoods. Northumbria University has the most students, followed by Teesside University. Durham University has the fewest total students.

Almost 60% of graduates stay in the region, while 10% go to Yorkshire and another 10% go to London. Both areas are accessible via the East Coast Main Line.

Local media

BBC building in north Newcastle

Local media include:

There are also free publications such as The Ferryhill Chapter, Bishop Press, The Hartlepool Post and Shildon Town Crier.

  • Great North News Services, a new media company in Newcastle upon Tyne.

See also


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External links

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