2016 – 2017 is the 800th anniversary of the creation, by King John, of Newcastle’s Mayoralty, and of Newcastle’s Burgesses (Freemen). King John, by Charter, granted Newcastle to the Freemen at an annual payment of £100 which appeared until quite recently in the City's annual accounts. This Charter and its successors were repeatedly confirmed by successive Sovereigns. The Council and the Freemen are have taken a joint approach to mark this landmark 800th anniversary.

History of Newcastle’s Mayors - To view, click here

This is therefore a landmark year in the history of Newcastle. Few cities in Europe will have the same office handed down to known recipients over so many years in an unbroken sequence. This reflects the history of Newcastle which is one where, apart from a few incursions, Newcastle has enjoyed the benefit of stability, social cohesion, and systems of law, justice and administration along with a strong trading base, innovative businesses and strong communities which have enabled Newcastle throughout the ages to be the great city it is.

The Lord Mayor outside The Civic Centre in 1985

Successful events over the summer months have included the Picnic in Exhibition Park where the Lord Mayor’s coach was on display, the Allotments Show in Leazes Park (schools were invited to submit recycled 800 artwork) and Heritage Open Day tours of the Guildhall, Civic Centre and Mansion House (further tours can be arranged to meet demand).

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums will continue to deliver an education programme for school children pitched at key stage 2 and also key stage 3 age groups over the coming months.


Anniversary banners (financed by the Freemen of the City) are on display on lampposts in the City Centre depicting the 800 logo and the crests of all of the company guilds of the Freemen of Newcastle. Replica banners are also on display in the City Library. Pop up information stands with a wealth of historical information can be made available for community events; the stands provide details of Newcastle’s First Mayor, the outbreak of Civil War, Times of Change and the Origins of the Freemen. If you would like to book the banners contact Fiona.hill@newcastle.gov.uk at the City Library.

The City Library is currently holding an exhibition on Level 6 - 800 Years: an Unbroken Chain – featuring historic mayoralty regalia, silver normally on display in the Silver Gallery, and paintings and artefacts including the crest from old Town Hall. There will also be a collection of documents and books highlighting the history of the city, including loans of rare material from the universities and the British Library. The exhibition will run until the end of January 2017. See The Story of the Exhibition here.

Five Lord Mayor 800 Awards have been presented to very worthy recipients so far this year. Please contact your ward members if you would like to put forward any outstanding individuals or groups for a nomination in recognition of their contribution to the community (see the criteria for Lord Mayor’s Award).

A specially commissioned book by John Grundy has recently been published. John Grundy, the North East’s favourite TV historian turns his attention to the history of Newcastle upon Tyne. In his inimitable style he tackles questions such as:

  • Where did the Roman bridge at Newcastle actually lead to?
  • What did St Wilfred choose as a holiday souvenir from his trip to Rome?
  • Why did medieval Newcastle need town walls?
  • How was Newcastle reviewed on the 17th century version of Trip Advisor?
  • Where did Newcastle imprison the King?

Always knowledgeable, often funny and sometimes irreverent, this book will be treasured by anyone who is interested in our great regional capital

The book is available from: Local bookshops (Waterstones and Blackwells), the City Library, by calling David Hepworth on 0191 277 4174 and online at: www.tinyurl.com/toonbooks

In early November the ‘ceremonial oar’ (a replica of an oar from the Lord Mayor’s barge) will be paraded from Trinity House to a naval vessel on the river.

In early December it is hoped that there will be a ceremony to mark the naming of a Virgin East Coast train ‘The Lord Mayor of Newcastle’. 

Also in December, City Council will witness five people intrinsically linked to the city have the Honourary Freedom of the City bestowed on them in this special anniversary year. The recipients of the highest honour the City can award are  

Brendan Foster CBE, Sir Terry Farrell CBE, Olivia Grant OBE, Sir Leonard Fenwick CBE and Professor Chris Brink.

We continue to celebrate this historic civic year and are planning a series of finale events for the end of the 800th year in the New Year. These include:-

  • a Question and Answer session for students involved in Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums education programme with the Lord Mayor in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre.
  • a major lecture and symposium on civic leadership in the modern age will take place at Northumbria University on 9th February in which the Leader of Council and the Lord Mayor of Gelsenkirchen will take part.
  • a cathedral trail will be available in February 2017 highlighting some of the City’s Mayors. 
  • a year in the life of a Lord Mayor. A retrospective photographic display which will chart the events that have taken place during this special 800th year in the City Library March - April 2017.
  • a milestone year and a message for the future….The Lord Mayor will bury a time capsule in Exhibition Park March 2017.

The webpage will be updated to include further details of all events.

Newcastle's Mayoress Margaret Collins in 1974Lord Mayor's session to the cathedral in Newcastle in July 1927.Coronation Pagentry on the Tyne

The Lord Mayor's Barge in 1980

Page last updated: 
23 November 2016
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