Tyne & Wear

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Tyne and Wear (/ˌtaɪn ənd ˈwɪər/) is a metropolitan county in north east England around the mouths of the Rivers Tyne and Wear. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. It consists of the five metropolitan boroughs of South Tyneside, North Tyneside, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and the City of Sunderland.

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Prior to reforms in 1974, the territory comprising the county of Tyne and Wear straddled the border between the counties of Northumberland and County Durham. North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne had previously existed within of Northumberland, whereas South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland were all previously within the borders of County Durham, with the River Tyne forming the border of the two counties.

Tyne and Wear is bounded on the east by the North Sea, and as a Ceremonial county, shares borders with Northumberland to the north and County Durham to the south.

Tyne and Wear County Council was abolished in 1986, and so its districts (the metropolitan boroughs) are now effectively unitary authorities. However, the metropolitan county continues to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference.

Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and Sunderland were all constituted as county boroughs under the Local Government Act 1888 (Newcastle had had ‘county borough’ status as the County and Town of Newcastle upon Tyne since 1400). These were joined by Tynemouth in 1904. Between the county boroughs various settlements were part of the administrative counties of Durham and Northumberland.

The need to reform local government on Tyneside was recognised as early as 1935, when a Royal Commission to Investigate the Conditions of Local Government on Tyneside was appointed. The three commissioners were to “examine the system of local government in the areas of local government north and south of the river Tyne from the sea to the boundary of the Rural District of Castle Ward and Hexham in the County of Northumberland and to the Western boundary of the County of Durham, to consider what changes, if any, should be made in the existing arrangements with a view to securing greater economy and efficiency, and to make recommendations.”

The report of the Royal Commission was published in 1937. It recommended the establishment of a Regional Council for Northumberland and Tyneside (to be called the “Northumberland Regional Council”) to administer services that needed to be exercised over a wide area, with a second tier of smaller units for other local government purposes. The second-tier units would be formed by amalgamating the various existing boroughs and districts. The county boroughs in the area would lose their status. Within this area, a single municipality would be formed covering the four county boroughs of Newcastle, Gateshead, Tynemouth, South Shields and other urban districts and boroughs.

A minority report proposed amalgamation of Newcastle, Gateshead, Wallsend, Jarrow, Felling, Gosforth, Hebburn and Newburn into a single “county borough of Newcastle-on-Tyneside”. The 1937 report was not acted upon : local authorities were unable to agree on a scheme and the legislation of the time did not allow central government to compel one.

Tyneside (excluding Sunderland) was a Special Review Area under the Local Government Act 1958. The Local Government Commission for England came back with a recommendation to create a new county of Tyneside based on the review area, divided into four separate boroughs. This was not implemented. The Redcliffe-Maud Report proposed a Tyneside unitary authority, again excluding Sunderland, which was to form a separate East Durham unitary authority.

The White Paper that led to the Local Government Act 1972 proposed as “area 2″ a metropolitan county including Newcastle and Sunderland, extending as far south down the coast as Seaham and Easington, and bordering “area 4″ (which would become Cleveland). The Bill as presented in November 1971 pruned back the southern edge of the area, and gave it the name ‘Tyneside’. The name ‘Tyneside’ was controversial on Wearside, and the name changed to ‘Tyne and Wear’ by a government amendment upon the request of Sunderland County Borough Council.

Although the metropolitan county council was abolished in 1986, several joint bodies exist to run certain services on a county-wide basis. Most notable is the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority, which co-ordinates transport policy. Through its passenger transport executive, known as Nexus, it owns and operates the Tyne and Wear Metro light rail system, and the Shields ferry service and the Tyne Tunnel, linking communities on either side of the River Tyne. Also through Nexus, the authority subsidises socially-necessary transport services (including taxis) and operates a concessionary fares scheme for the elderly and disabled.

Tyne and Wear is divided into 13 Parliamentary constituencies. Historically, the area has been a Labour stronghold, South Shields is the only Parliamentary constituency that has never returned a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons since the Reform Act of 1832.

Places of interest include:

  • Gateshead
    • Angel of the North
    • Beamish Museum, which crosses the Gateshead/Chester-le-Street boundary
    • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
    • Gateshead International Stadium
    • Gateshead Millennium Bridge
    • Gibside
    • MetroCentre
    • Saltwell Park
    • Tanfield Railway, Sunniside (crosses boundary into Derwentside)
    • The Sage Gateshead
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
    • Discovery Museum (previously Museum of Science & Engineering)
    • Hadrian’s Wall
    • Hancock Museum
    • Jesmond Dene public park
    • Newcastle Castle Keep
    • St James’ Park
    • Leazes Park
    • Centre for Life
    • Town Moor
    • Tyneside cinema
    • Chinatown, Newcastle
    • Quayside
    • Metro Radio Arena
    • Laing Art Gallery
    • Theatre Royal
    • Northumberland Street
    • Grey Street
    • Grey’s Monument
    • The Biscuit Factory
    • Tyne Bridge
  • North Tyneside
    • Segedunum Roman Fort & Museum, Wallsend
    • St Mary’s Island bird reserve
    • Tynemouth Castle
  • South Tyneside
    • Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum, South Shields
    • Marsden Rock bird reserve
    • Souter Point Lighthouse
    • Bede’s World, Jarrow
  • Sunderland
    • The Museum and Winter Gardens
    • Mowbray Park
    • The National Glass
    • Hylton Castle
    • Penshaw Monument
    • St. Peter’s Church
    • Stadium of Light
    • The Empire Theatre
    • Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art

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