The metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear encompasses Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Shields and Sunderland, as well as part of Hadrian’s Wall. The county is cut through by the two rivers after which it is named. The area grew prosperous on coal and shipbuilding, and buildings of Victorian grandeur reflect its heyday. George Stephenson established an ironworks here in 1826, and the first engine on the Stockton and Darlington railway was made in Newcastle.
Newcastle’s ‘new castle’ is believed to date from the 11th century, though the present keep dates from the 12th. Other ancient buildings include the cathedral and Guildhall, while contemporary constructions include the Metro, which links Newcastle to Gateshead (along with several bridges), and the Metro Centre in Gateshead, Europe’s largest indoor shopping and leisure complex.
Jarrow, five miles east of Newcastle, is remembered for the Jarrow Crusade of 1936, when 200 men marched to London to bring attention to the plight of unemployed shipbuilders. The town was also the home of monk-scholar, the Venerable Bede, whose 8th-century work, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, was the first important history written about the English.