Gateshead, my Gateshead

Sunday, November 26, 2006 9:42 | Filed in Life, Local Interest, The Pickards

I’m a Gateshead boy, born and bred. I’m proud of the place where I live. I’m proud of being from the North East as a whole, and from Gateshead specifically, and I think I’ve got lots of reasons to justify this. But it’s a lot easier to justify now than it used to be…

When I was a child in Gateshead and going to school, it gave the impression of being a run-down backwater, a deprived area of high unemployment and little hope and Saltwell Park, pitched as the “People’s Park” when it opened in the 19th Century, was and the park was an unpleasant litter-strewn environment, and not somewhere you’d want to be after dark.

When I was a student, I’d tell people I was from Newcastle, because they hadn’t heard of Gateshead. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of being from Gateshead; I never have been — if I thought someone was from the North-East, then I’d say Gateshead, but in general, Newcastle is the city people have heard of.

But over the last twenty years, Gateshead has come a long way, despite still being one of the more deprived regions of the country — in 2000, Gateshead was ranked as the 37th most deprived area out of 354 measured areas in England (source: Gateshead and Tyne & Wear summaries of IMD 2000), but despite this, we’ve still managed to come an awful long way, overcome a lot of the problems facing us. For example, despite having been ranked in the 15% of the country that is considered the most deprived, we’ve improved exam results every year for the last ten years, and have been achieving higher pass rates than the national average.

So we’re doing a lot of things right at grass roots level, and as well as that, we’re continuing to put Gateshead on the map for all of the right reasons:

  • Saltwell Park was voted the best park in Britain in 2005 and is a wonderful, safe and welcoming environment for me to take my small children
  • The Sage music centre is a fantastic venue, both in terms of the eye catching design and in its specially designed acoustic qualities
  • We now have the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary art, which hosts frequently changing exhibitions from internationally reknowned artists
  • We’ve seen the sheer graceful beauty of the international Tall Ships Race gliding down the Tyne river three times in the last twenty years
  • We’ve got that enormous great shopping complex called The Metro Centre, which some people seem to like, but personally I can’t bring myself to be proud of a shopping complex
  • We’ve got the iconic image of The Angel of The North, which has attracted visitors from across the world

Obviously, despite all that, we still didn’t win the nomination for the European City Of Culture award in 2008, but that’s bloody politics for you, isn’t it?

impression of 2007 pound coin showing the Gateshead Millenium Bridge

On top of that, I’ve just discovered last week, that the breathtaking Gateshead Millenium Bridge — one of the many jewels in our cultural crown — which has already won something like twenty-five different awards at last count, is to feature on the British One Pound Coin next year.

Like I said, we’ve come an awful long way in the last twenty years: Gateshead is now a town that’s very easy to be proud of…

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9 Comments to Gateshead, my Gateshead

  1. Mike says:

    November 27th, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    Personally, I’ve always found it hard to understand people who are proud of a *region*, especially when their pride is based on an accident of birth. Be proud of personal achievements, yes; but a region?
    I was born in Scotland, and lived in Gateshead for thirteen years and subsequently Manchester for eleven, and London for six. I’ve lived in England for thirty five years, and the UK for (almost) thirty eight. But I’m not *proud* of any of them – they’re just places to live, very nice too, mostly.
    I won’t be wearing a bulldog on my t-shirt next time I’m abroad either…

  2. Mike says:

    November 29th, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    BTW, I noticed you seem to have an awful lot to say these days – and (mostly) interesting too ;-)
    Have you considered hosting a Skypecast ?

    you seem made for each other !


  3. JackP says:

    November 29th, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    What’s that then? Live audio blogging or something?

  4. Nigel G.Lewty says:

    December 5th, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    Having been born in the Newcastle General back in `65,and afterwards living in Gateshead from then on-Swalwell 1965-1968,Whickham `68-77,Low Teams `77-81,Birtley `81-82,then the Bonny High Street `82-`98,I feel i am quite at liberty to say Gateshead is one hell of a town,and i`m proud to be a `Gatesheader`.I was lucky enough to have been educated in one of,if not the best,schools in the North-East,namely Whickham Comprehensive,now simply known as Whickham School.I now live in the South-West,having moved here back in `98,but i`m forever proud to say i came from GATESHEAD,and the changes up there over the last two decades have been amazing,certainly in the last several years.I love where i live now,Bonny Plymouth,but Gateshead is always in my heart.I joined the diaspora,not because of Gateshead though,just the same old silly `personal relationship` nonsense.I`m proud to be of Gateshead,and Gateshead is an amazing place,forever improving under the auspices of Gateshead Council,but always remember,the PEOPLE make the place,not the infrastructure! Cheers,Nige Lewty.x

  5. Malcolm Cook says:

    May 5th, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    All my family live in the North East, in Boldon where I spent every school holiday many many moons ago. Obviously, I love the area and I’m seriously thinking of moving there.
    I’ve experience the overnight Cup Final train from Brockley Winns to Kings X – corridors full of crates of Newcastle Brown Ale. That was for the Newcastle v Manchester City final. Oh happy days!
    Someone gave me a ladies silk headscarf which was a souvenier of the Newcastle v Arsenal final. Although I am personally a Spurs fan, for some reason I gave it to a friend, an Arsenal fan. He in turn donated it to the Arsenal FC museum!!!
    I’ve always followed the results of Spurs, Newcastle and (wait for it) Sunderland.
    All best wishes for a next season, Newcastle deserve success and it will come about.
    Regards, Mal

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  9. Nihal says:

    September 5th, 2012 at 4:17 am

    NewcastleGateshead (as some people would have you say it) is ineded rather imposing. And, similar to Manchester, when it’s slightly warm and there’s a ray of sun in the sky instead of cold and wetness, it looks rather much cheerier (although the architecture and stone may look a little drab in places; definitely imposing and impressive.)

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