I have a fascination with trying to look at things in their historical and geographic perspective. Newcastle is my hometown and there is always something special about coming home. Especially for a Newcastle Christmas when history, families, and shopping mingle together.
“True the free fresh moors, the fairy nooks and anglers haunts, the waterfalls and sparkling streams, are left behind, away in the west and the north, whilst seaward we have only the vision of black country, and, when with memory’s image still clear of the “bosky-burns” of upper Tyne, we look for Pandon-burn Lort-burn, and Ouse-burn of the old maps of Newcastle, our feeling for nature suffers an outrage.”
“ .. now vast volumes of smoke with mingled steam are borne rapidly across the heavens, before a gale from off the sea, and when a lull comes, the murky vapour is saved up in sullen black masses, giving high relief to numerous seagulls, whose witness is repeated by that of scudding steam spray; – again the cloud is broken up, and drawn out into a broad filmy screen, penetrated by the sunlit sky behind, and through the ever changing spaces are – half seen – chimneys and furnaces, made weird in their indistinctness, whilst, through rifts high up, we get glimpses of the fair sky itself, fleecy clouds, and depths of azure.”
1882 W. J. Palmer
Today Newcastle is greatly recovered from the polluting effects of the industrial revolution. At night a lucky person may even spot an otter or two under the famous Newcastle bridges. As Christmas approaches, It is interesting to look at Newcastle from a “Dickensian” perspective. Palmer’s 1800 style of writing reminded me of Dickens. Because of the Dickensian association with Christmas when I read the text it made me feel Christmassy! The heavily descriptive element paints a vivid picture of the industry on the Tyne during the later 1800’s.
Newcastle Christmas 2018
One week before Christmas and high on the banks of the animated Tyne preparations are afoot. In the flat light of short December days, the people of Newcastle are busy making preparations for the festive season.
When I dipped into Starbucks on Dene street for a quick break from my own Christmas shopping I tried to imagine the old Pandon Dene, with the Pandon burn flowing through it. After finishing my coffee and returning to the street I noticed that the flat winter light had deepened. Up the bank towards the city center, buskers were singing on street corners and in the arcades. Christmas lights hung across the streets and shoppers milled through the stores.
It was quieter down the hill towards the Tyne, colder. There is a warm comfort in the thought that the Tyne has run through the generations of my family. Maybe it will run through the lives of my children and perhaps their children’s children. When I walked down to the river I tried to listen for the whispers in the water. Whispers that have been carried to the city from the far-off hills. From “the fairy nooks and anglers haunts, the waterfalls and sparkling streams, …” of Pamer’s North Tyne. Little snippets of lives past and present that have mingled in the flow and flux of the Tyne before they are carried to the sea.
“.. now vast volumes of smoke with mingled steam are borne rapidly across the heavens,”
I love the city in the winter. When the winter gloom hits the lights of a Newcastle Christmas beckon.