River Tyne

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The Tyne at Bill Quay
Abandoned docks in South Shields harbour

The River Tyne is a river of Northumberland; a mountain river which becomes a great industrial port river.

The Tyne is formed by the joing of two rivers: the North Tyne and the South Tyne. These two rivers converge at Warden Rock near Hexham in Northumberland at a place dubbed 'The Meeting of the Waters'.


North Tyne

The North Tyne rises on the border of Northumberland with Roxburghshire, north of Kielder Water. It flows through Kielder Forest, and passes through the village of Bellingham before reaching Hexham.

South Tyne

The South Tyne rises on Alston Moor, Cumberland and flows through the towns of Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge, in a valley often called the Tyne Gap. Hadrian's Wall lies to the north of the Tyne Gap.

The source of the South Tyne is very close to the sources of the other two great rivers of the industrial north east, namely the Tees and the Wear. The South Tyne Valley falls within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Tyne

The North Tyne and South Tyne join at Hexham and the combined river flows down from there. In this reach, barbel stocks were first introduced in the mid 1980s and are currently thriving, to the delight of anglers.

The Tyne flows on through Corbridge and at Clara Vale it meets the border between Northumberland and County Durham. It marks the county boundary from here to the sea.

Soon the Tyne runs into the industrialised, urbanised areas of Tyneside. It divides Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank from Gateshead on the south. In a stretch of 13 miles, the Tyne is spanned by 10 bridges.

Below Newcastle and Gateshead, the Tyne divides Walker and Wallsend on the northern, Northumberland bank from Hebburn and Jarrow on the souther, Durham bank. Jarrow and Wallsend are linked underneath the river by the Tyne Tunnel. Finally the Tyne passes between South Shields and North Shields into the North Sea.

Port of Tyne

With its proximity to surrounding coalfields, the Tyne was a major route for the export of coal from the 13th century until the decline of the coal mining industry in North East England in the second half of the 20th century. The largest coal staithes were located at Dunston in Gateshead, Hebburn and Tyne Dock, South Shields. The dramatic wooden staithes (a structure for loading coal onto ships) at Dunston, built in 1890, have been preserved, although they were partially destroyed by fire in 2006.[1] And to this day in 2008 Tyne Dock, South Shields is still involved with coal, importing 2 million tonnes of shipments a year.

The lower reaches of the Tyne were, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the world's most important centres of shipbuilding, and there are still shipyards in South Shields and Hebburn to the south of the river.

To support the shipbuilding and export industries of Tyneside, the lower reaches of the river were extensively remodelled during the second half of the 19th century, with islands removed and meanders in the river straightened.

The tidal river is now managed by the Port of Tyne Authority.

Origins of name

Nothing definite is known of the origin of the designation "Tyne", nor is the river known by that name until the Anglo-Saxon period: Tynemouth is recorded as Tinanmuðe (probably dative case). There is a theory that Tīn was a word that meant "river" in the local Old Welsh language or even a pre-Celtic language. There is also a Tyne that rises in Midlothian and flows through East Lothian to the North Sea.

The River Vedra in Ptolemy's Geographia may be the Tyne, or may be the River Wear.

River crossings

River Tyne

The Tyne Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead
The Tyne at Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Shields Ferry (ferry service between North and South Shields
  • Tyne Tunnel
  • Tyne Pedestrian & Cycle Tunnel (foot, bicycle)
  • Gateshead Millennium Bridge (foot, bicycle)
  • Bambuco Bridge (temporary 2008 bamboo sculpture)
  • Tyne Bridge (road, foot)
  • Swing Bridge (road, foot)
  • High Level Bridge (rail, road, foot)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge (Metro light rail)
  • King Edward VII Bridge (rail)
  • Redheugh Bridge (road, foot)
  • Scotswood Bridge (road, foot)
  • Scotswood Railway Bridge (disused rail, now carries water and gas mains)
  • Blaydon Bridge (road, foot)
  • Newburn Bridge (road, foot)
  • Wylam Bridge (road, foot)
  • Points Bridge (foot, bicycle, disused rail)
  • Ovingham Footbridge (foot)
  • Ovingham Bridge (road)
  • Bywell Bridge (road, foot)
  • Styford Bridge (road, foot)
  • Corbridge Bridge (road, foot)
  • Hexham Bridge (road, foot)
  • Hexham Old Bridge (road, swept away 1771)
  • Warden Railway Bridge (rail)
  • Border Counties Bridge (former rail, only piers remain)
  • Constantius Bridge (road)

Artworks and sculpture

Salmon Trail

The Environment Agency is currently working with architects and cultural consultancy xsite, in collaboration with Commissions North, to create a travelling sculpture trail along the River Tyne.

The Tyne Salmon Trail[2] will serve as a celebration of the river, its heritage and its increasingly diverse ecosystem. Historically a major symbol in the regional identity of the North East of England, the river plays host to a plethora of different species, the number of which is growing year on year in line with the rivers improving health.

The Tyne Salmon Trail looks to capture the imagination of residents and tourists visiting the area - providing them with the ultimate 'fact finding' design experience, which celebrates the salmon's migratory journey in the Northeast of England.

FINS, REFLECTION and JOURNEY were the first 3 cubes to be launched in December 2007 from a family of 10. Each cube is inspired by the textures, changing colours, movement and journey of the salmon. With each offering a 'modern day keepsake' to take away, in the form of a designed Bluetooth message.

Bamboo Bridge

In 2008 a temporary bamboo sculpture was commissioned as the eighth bridge over the Tyne; the Bambuco Bridge was open between the 18th and 20 July 2008.


The River Tyne has a charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing its waters and surrounding areas. The Tyne Rivers Trust, established in 2004, is a community based organisation that works to improve habitat, promote better understanding of the Tyne catchment area and build the reputation of the Tyne catchment as a place of environmental excellence.[3]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about River Tyne)


  1. "Coal heritage goes up in flames". bbc.co.uk. 2003-11-20. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/tyne/3222530.stm. Retrieved 2008-08-25. ""The staithes is a lot more than just a lump of wood in the Tyne, it is a magnificent structure and very important to the area's industrial heritage." 
  2. "Tyne Salmon Trail". 2008. http://www.tynesalmontrail.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-08-22. "Ten cubes inspired by the textures, changing colours, movement and journey of the salmon will migrate along the River Tyne, following the amazing journey of the salmon." 
  3. "Tyne Rivers Trust". Charity. Tynerivertrust.org. 2008. http://www.tyneriverstrust.org. Retrieved 2008-08-25. "The Tyne Rivers Trust is an independent charity established to assist in management and improvement of the environment in the Tyne Catchment. The Trust aims to achieve this through Actions to: Improve Habitat; Get Better Information and Promote Better Understanding; Grow the Reputation of the Tyne Catchment and the Tyne Rivers Trust nationally and internationally"