The city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne was established at the lowest place the Tyne could be easily crossed. In 1080 the Normans constructed a wooden fort to safeguard the crossing. They also built a wooden bridge. (The 'new castle' was reconstructed in stone in the 12th century).
Like all 19th century cities Newcastle was dirty and unsanitary. An epidemic of cholera in 1832 killed 306 people. Another epidemic in 1848-49 killed 412. The worst outbreak was in 1853 when 1,533 people died.
Soon a little town grew up in the shadow of this new castle and it was named after it. In the Middle Ages towns often grew up by castles because the garrisons offered space for a market for the townspeople's goods.
In 1539 Henry VIII shut down the friaries in Newcastle. In 1540 he shut down the nunnery. However Henry also founded a grammar school in Newcastle which was incorporated in 1600.
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In the 20th century coal exports declined dramatically. The last coal mine within the boundaries of Newcastle closed in 1956. Shipbuilding also dramatically declined. During the 1930s Newcastle suffered from mass unemployment.
However, after 1945, as manufacturing industry contracted new service industries grew. More and more people were employed in public administration, retail and education. Newcastle University was formed in 1963. Newcastle Polytechnic was founded in 1969. It was made a university in 1992.