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Tyneside - United Kingdom

Tyneside is a conurbation in North East England which includes a number of settlements on the banks of the River Tyne. As defined by the Office for National Statistics, the conurbation comprises Newcastle upon Tyne—a city forming the urban core—as well as a number of other towns including Gateshead, Tynemouth, Wallsend, South Shields, and Jarrow. The population of the conurbation was 774,891 according to the 2011 census.

Tyneside is historically part of the counties of Northumberland and County Durham. Today it spans four local authority districts: the City of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside. According to data from 2013 ONS population estimates; the Tyne population, including the four local authority districts, was 832,469.

Tyneside is the 7th largest conurbation in England, and home to over 70 percent of the population of Tyne and Wear. The other two large settlements in Tyne and Wear: Sunderland and Washington—form the separate Wearside conurbation.

From early in the 19th century, it was a custom to hold boat races on the Tyne. The Tyne had a large number of keelmen and wherrymen, who handled boats as part of their jobs. As on the River Thames, there were competitions to show who was the best oarsman. As a wherryman did not earn very much, competitive rowing was seen as a quick way of earning extra money. Regattas were held, and provided modest prizes for professionals, but the big money was made in challenge races, in which scullers or boat crews would challenge each other to a race over a set distance for a side stake. The crews would usually have backers, who would put up the stake money, as they saw the chance of financial gain from the race. In the days before mass attendances at football matches, races on the river were enormously popular, with tens of thousands attending. Betting would go on both before and during a race, the odds changing as the fortunes of the contestants changed. Contestants who became champions of the Tyne would often challenge the corresponding champions of the River Thames, and the race would be arranged to take place on one of the two rivers.

Rivalry between the Tyne and the Thames was very keen, and rowers who upheld the honour of the Tyne became local heroes. Three such oarsmen, who came from humble backgrounds and became household names in the North East, were Harry Clasper, Robert Chambers and James Renforth. Clasper was a champion rower in fours, as well as an innovative boat designer and a successful rowing coach. Chambers and Renforth were oarsmen who excelled at sculling. Both held the World Sculling Championship at different times. The popularity of all three men was such that when they died, many thousands attended their funeral processions, and magnificent funeral monuments were provided by popular subscription in all three cases. At the end of the 19th century professional competitive rowing on the Tyne began a gradual decline and would die out entirely leaving the amateur version.

North East England is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It covers Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear, and the area of the former county of Cleveland in North Yorkshire. 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. There are only three cities in the region; with Newcastle upon Tyne being the largest 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, South Shields, Stockton-on-Tees and Washington. In common parlance, and geographically, more of north Yorkshire would usually be regarded as part of north-east England.

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).

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. The regions historic importance is displayed by Northumberland's ancient castles, the two World Heritage Sites of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle, and Hadrian's Wall one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. In fact, Roman archaeology can be found widely across the region and a special exhibition based around the Roman Fort of Segedunum at Wallsend and the other forts along Hadrian's Wall are complemented by the numerous artifacts that are displayed in the Great North Museum Hancock 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. The work of the 7th-century Cuthbert (634–687 AD), Bede (673–735 AD) and Hilda of Whitby (614–680 AD) were hugely influential in the early church, and are still venerated by some today. These saints are usually associated respectively with the monasteries on the island of Lindisfarne and at Wearmouth – Jarrow, and the Abbey at Whitby, but they are also associated with many other religious sites in the region. Bede is regarded as the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar. He worked at the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, translating 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". One of the most famous pieces of art and literature created in the region is the Lindisfarne Gospels, and are thought to be the work of a monk named Eadfrith, who became Bishop of Lindisfarne in 698. This body of work is thought to have been created in honour of Cuthbert, around 710–720.

Salt-making in and around Greatham (between Hartlepool and Billingham) had been important in Roman and medieval times, and salt was also produced on Wearside from the 1580s, but by the 16th century the industry had been eclipsed by South Shields on the Tyne. 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. By the mid-20th century, Cerebos was owned by the food conglomerate Rank Hovis McDougall, and the factory closed in 2002. During the 20th century the extraction of salt on the north bank of the River Tees by aqueous hydraulic means 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 which 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 brilliant white pigment used in paints, Polo mints , cosmetics, UV sunscreens, plastics, golf balls and sports field line markings.

Before 1846 Walbottle, Elswick, Birtley, Ridsdale, Hareshaw, Wylam, Consett, Stanhope, Crookhall,Tow-Law and Witton Park all had iron works 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 using iron stone from Durham and the Yorkshire coast, with the new discovery prompting them to build Teesside's first blast furnace in 1851. Many more iron works followed, such as those built in the region by Losh, Wilson and Bell (see Sir Issac Lowthian Bell) who in 1853 were operating 5 furnaces in the region.

The success of John Vaughan and Henry Bolckow's first blast furnace meant that by 1873 Middlesbrough was producing 2 million tonnes of pig iron a year. Iron was in big demand in Britain in the late 19th century, particularly for the rapid expansion of the railways. 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. Middlesbrough, which became known by its nickname "Ironopolis", was visited in 1862 by then prime minister William Ewart 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 then become known as "The Steel River" leaving its old nickname "Ironopolis" behind. In 1881 Hugh Reid (Liberal politician) described how "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"