Newcastle upon Tyne Stories and Tips

Around the Central Station - to the West

Newcastle Central Station Photo, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Whilst this part of town is certainly not the most happening or, indeed, the most attrative, things are improving here and there are a number of interesting things to see. I'll talk about the station at the end because I'll assume you'll start this mini-tour in front of the station with your back to it. If you've just got off a train, you might fancy a bite to eat or a drink and there's a good choice round here. Directly opposite you is O'Neill's, an Irish-style chain pub which offer average bar food - a little over-priced but OK.

Just slightly to the left is Gotham Town - you'll see some huge vampire bats on the wall outside. Contrary to what you'd think, this pub isn't full of white-faced, black-clad Goths; while the decor is very much Gothic and could be a haunted house straight from Hammer films, the pub attracts amain-stream crowd and has a DJ at week-ends as well as very good drinks promotions. During the day it offers an extensive menu at very reasonable prices (pizzas, burgers, salads, chilli, pasta, fries, nachos, fish and chips,etc). Just over the road you'll see a new statue erected in memory of Cardinal Basil Hume who was born and raised in the city. The statue of him stands on sandstone which has been cut into the shape of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and Inner Farne, the two main isalnds where the first monk-like bishops Aidan and Cuthbert lived in retreat.

Behind it is a "Garden of Contemplation" and the two commemorate the region's rich Christian heritage. The garden is an oasis next to the busy road over the wall. The garden and statue are attached to the Cathedral Church of St. Mary - follow the path round to the main entrance on Clayton Street. In 1838 Augustus Pugin was commissioned to design a Catholic Cathedral; it was paid for by public subscription with some of the city's poorest people paying a half-penny each. Built in the Gothic Revival style with an unusual triple roof it is an attractive building but sadly it's charm can often be overlooked because it stands so close the pavement on a narrow and busy road. The huge east window is particularly pretty; it shows the family tree of Christ and was designed by Pugin and made by William Wailes who worked around the corner in Bath Lane.

Turning immediately right as you leave Gotham Town is a new bar, Coco V, which is very stylish. If you can put up with the loud music it's worth a look at the North African-influenced decor.

And next to that is the Forth Hotel - a pub which recnetly transformed itself into a bright and airy place with a new menu and sadly inflated prices. The food is nice (ciabatta sandwiches with fillings like hoummous and char-grilled vegetables, or feta and olives) but again a little over-priced. Sunday afternoons are great here, when a DJ plays mellow soul and reggae, a good way to relax.

If you've got a little while to wait for a train connection maybe or just passing an hour or two, there's enough around here to keep you happy.

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