9 things you may not know about Newcastle

Newcastle is among the raft of additions to the growing rank of cities where O2 4G is now available. So we thought this might be a great time to brush up on our  knowledge of The Toon – here’s some facts about our latest 4G debutant:

1.   Originally a Roman settlement called Pons Aelius, Newcastle found its current name when William the Conqueror’s eldest son, Robert II, built a new castle on the River Tyne in 1080. The name stuck – although, strictly speaking, it should probably have become ‘Oldcastle’ by now.

2.   Seen Alien, Gladiator or Prometheus? Blockbuster movie director Ridley Scott hails from South Shields, just around the corner from Newcastle. His great uncle, Dixon Scott, designed and built the city’s Tyneside Cinema.

3.   More famous Novocastrian faces include those of veteran actor and singer Jimmy Nail, musical legend Sting, hairy comic Ross Noble, pop starlet Cheryl Cole and legendary crooner Hank Marvin. Ask anyone to name a sportsman from The Toon and you’re likely to get only one reply: Alan Shearer.

4.   Byker Grove, a 90’s kids’ TV hit, is responsible for the introduction of almost every successful British actor and presenter. Okay maybe not – but there were a canny few, like. Donna Air and Jill Halfpenny are among them, as is Pacific Rim star Charlie Hunnam. We’re not sure what happened to Spuggie, but you can’t watch TV these days without coming across Ant & Dec – we still have flashbacks of the time when PJ was blinded in a paintballing accident 🙁

5.   If you’ve ever driven a car in Britain, the chances are you’ll have used a windscreen wiper at some point. You can thank Newcastle boffin Gladstone Adams for that.

6.   Replacing your lost energy would be a challenge if it weren’t for The Toon. Lucozade (originally called Glucozade) was first concocted in 1927 by a Newcastle Chemist called William Owen.

7.   1927 was a big year for liquid innovation on Tyneside. As well as Glucozade, another world-famous drink was introduced to the world – Newcastle Brown Ale is the best selling imported beer in America.

8.   Town Moor, a green space which lies immediately north of the city, is larger than London’s Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath combined. The Freemen of the city (which includes Nelson Mandela, Alan Shearer and Bob Geldof) have the right to graze cattle on the land, a right which extends to the pitch of St James’ Park. The Freemen collect rent in lieu of exercising this right, so you’re unlikely ever to see Bob Geldof’s sheep chewing up the turf of the iconic Newcastle United ground.

9.   The city centre’s Grey Street was named ‘Best Street in the UK’ by Radio 4 listeners in 2010.

Got a fact about Newcastle? Know something you want to share with the world about any of our 4G cities? Let us know in the comments.