A Walking Tour of Newcastle with Illes tours

September 11, 2015

Taking a walking tour of Newcastle with Illes tours is a great way to discover the amazing history of our city.

Newcastle Upon Tyne is an amazing city, which is rich in history, architecture and culture as well as being a lovely friendly place to visit. When you live in a city for a while you often take it for granted, walking past landmarks without realising their significance. Newcastle has had a big part to play in the rise of Britain across the centuries and a great way to learn about this history is to take a walking tour of Newcastle with Illes tours.

Taking a walking tour of Newcastle with Illes Tours

Illes tours is a friendly tour group that offer walking tours that last for around an hour and forty five minutes. There are three different tours you can take. The historical tour which takes you on a journey exploring how Newcastle has changed over the centuries. The cultural tour which explores how Newcastle changed the world with their discoveries. Finally for the bolder there is the gory tour which explores the dark side of the city.

A little while ago my son and I took one of the walking tours of Newcastle with our Travel Massive group. We really enjoyed the tour and leant a lot of new things about our city.

Grey Street

We started our tour under the shadow of Grey’s monument on Grey Street.  Charles Grey or Earl Grey sits on top of the monument surveying Newcastle. When you think of Earl Grey you probably instantly think of tea. He was also a British Prime Minister who was responsible for many reforms over his career.  The great reform act of 1832 introduced changes to government and he was also responsible for the abolition of slavery. Descended from a Northumbrian family, he is a man that Newcastle can be proud of.

Grey StreetGrey street itself is an impressive street, home of the Theatre Royal and with many lovely buildings.

Newcastle Public Library and the Laing Art Gallery

Newcastle public libraryNewcastle Public Library is a relatively new building which is a lovely place to look around inside. What you may not know is that the building is also called the Avison building, named after Charles Avison. He was an 18 Century music composer and church organist at St Nicolas cathedral in Newcastle. He was also a shrewd business man, making money from concerts and turning Newcastle into  England’s greatest provincial music centre at the time. The music and arts scene still thrives in the city today and it is interesting to find out its roots.

Just across from the Avison building is the Laing Art Gallery, a great place to visit for its changing exhibitions of artists. Less well known is the fact that the small building opposite was a lying in hospital. Set up by architect John Dobson, it was set up for poor married woman allowing them to have medical care to have their babies. John Dobson is best known for designing Newcastle central station and many buildings in Newcastle centre along with Richard Grainger.

Laing Art GalleryThe electric light bulb was invented in Newcastle

The electric light bulb was invented by Joseph Swan which he demonstrated in a lecture at the Lit & Phil in 1878. His house in Gateshead was the first in the world to be lit by electric light.The first street to be lit by incandescent light bulb was Mosley Street in Newcastle which is definitely something to be proud of.

Mosley StreetOn our tour we stopped and looked at the outside of the Lit & Phil which was a place where scientists and scholars used to go to network in the days before social media. If you get the chance it is worth going inside as it is a really interesting place to visit.

The Bigg Market used to be part of a thriving market place

These days the Bigg market is known as a drinking area, but it used to be part of a thriving set of markets. Bigg refers to a coarse type of barley that used to be sold in the market. Just off the Bigg market you will find other streets that give you an idea of the markets that used to be here, like the Cloth market and Groat Market. You will also find Pumprey’s coffee house here, next to the Bee Hive. This is a family run coffee house that has been here since 1750 and used to be a centre for intrigue and discussion over a cup of coffee.

Pumpreys coffee houseNewcastle Castle

Any tour of Newcastle needs to take in Newcastle castle. It is after all what the city is named after. We have visited Newcastle Castle before and it really is a fascinating place to visit. You really get to learn how it was a major part of city life since the Roman times. It is well worth climbing up to see the views from the top as well.

Newcastle Castle

 St Nicholas cathedral

We finished the tour at St Nicholas cathedral, a fascinating building in its own right. This was where Charles Avison was organist for many years. At the top of the building is a lantern spire that was used to guide ships.

Illes toursOutside the cathedral is a statue of Queen Victoria who used to often pass though Newcastle station on her way to Balmoral. It is strange that the city have a statue of her as she famously stated that she would never look upon Newcastle again. There are a few reasons given for this one of them being that she was given  the bill for a lavish dinner in the hotel where she was staying. How insulting! There are other theories but that is the one I like the most. If you wander down behind the cathedral you will also find a statue of the vampire rabbit,which is really a most curious figure glaring at the cathedral.

If you want to learn more about the history of Newcastle and spend a fascinating time learning about the city then it is definitely worth taking a walking tour of Newcastle with Illes tours. My son and I both really enjoyed it and learnt a lot.

Read more: Amazing Newcastle buildings to visit during Heritage Open Days.

12 responses to “A Walking Tour of Newcastle with Illes tours”

  1. sam fernley says:

    I am always telling people about the vampire rabbit and I’m sure they don’t believe me! I love Newcastle, a great city to explore, not been there for a while though. Do they still the light tours in the evening?

  2. I haven’t been to Newcastle yet but I love those honey coloured buildings, it reminds me a bit of Bath. Intereting about the light bulb too!

  3. Ninjacat says:

    I would love to see more of Newcastle I know who to take me on a guided tour next time I come up

  4. What a great way to spend a couple of hours 🙂 I love walking tours, we do them when we go to London, they are well worth it.

  5. Lindsay says:

    we really do live in a beautiful and interesting city don’t we. Like you living here I take it all for granted and don’t take much notice of the history of the city or wonderful sites. This sounds like a great tour xx

  6. Galina V says:

    Fascinating tour! A lot to learn, especially for someone who’s visiting the city.

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