Local Dopers: How bad is Gateshead?

Ok so how bad is Gateshead (from the London perspective)?

Would anyone holiday there for a week?

Eh, it’s unlikely, especially when you could just cross the Tyne Bridge and stay in Newcastle, which is a lovely little city (I grew up in the area). Gateshead isn’t a typical tourist area, although it does have both the Sage (music venue) and the Baltic Centre (contemporary arts centre). But it’s more of a working town (non-working to a large extent, due to current unemployment rates) with some very deprived areas, so I can’t see many people who didn’t have a local connection wanting to stay there - unless it’s just that the accommodation is much cheaper that side of the river, which is likely.

Still, I suspect there’s more to that story than Gateshead being an undesirable destination.

Yeah, I’m not aware of Gateshead having an especially grim reputation. There must be hundreds of towns in the UK just like it. Immigration would have to have a very long list - “…Slough, Staines, ah here we are, Swindon. I’m sorry sir, I can’t let you in. You can’t possibly be visiting Swindon voluntarily.”
I suspect a certain amount of journalistic licence in this story, wherever it came from.

It’s just a town, a pretty ordinary town, not a tourist place, so it would be an extremely unusual choice for a holiday, rather than staying with friends. It wouldn’t be particularly good as a base for exploring other parts of the country either; Newcastle would be OK for that.

I was born in Newcastle, but I was brought up in the Borough of Gateshead (so not the town itself). Gateshead does have a grim reputation, going back as far as Dr Johnson’s description of it as “a dirty little back lane out of Newcastle” and somewhat more recently J.B. Priestley said that “no true civilisation could have produced such a town”, and that it appeared to have been designed “by an enemy of the human race”. Indeed, so dark was the town in the 19th century that a light bulb had to be invented there.

Gateshead had a truly awful town centre mostly developed in the 60’s and 70’s - and features some of the worst examples of public art I have ever seen, which were added in the 80’s to try to cheer the place up a bit. The now demolished and unlamented (except by the insane) Trinity Car Park loomed over all. It’s getting better though. Starting with the Angel of the North to the south and then the Baltic, Millennium Bridge and the Sage on the riverside, it’s getting a bit more appealing - the council seems to have switched from effectively saying you might as well go to Newcastle [later, or the MetroCentre] to trying more to be the music and arts focus of Tyneside. They’re about 10-15 years behind Newcastle in terms of regeneration efforts (Newcastle kick-started the Quayside development programme with a flashy new court building - make of that what you will)

Stay there for a week though?

The extra half a mile or so to get over the Tyne makes such a difference to your journey… it’s as good a base as Newcastle, although I doubt that I could come up with a week’s worth of vaguely exciting things to do in Gateshead itself even adding a visit to Saltwell Park and the International Athletics Stadium (which has witnessed a surprising number of world records) to the things already mentioned.

To be honest, I’m usually amazed when people refer to the town on its own without prefixing it by Newcastle. Few who are from further away than Darlington know it exists.

I like this one -

…I’ve never heard of Gateshead! Now I have a sudden urge to vist…maybe even spend a week!


Probably the original article…