River Tyne
River Tyne Gateshead Quayside
CountryUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Physical characteristics
SourceSouth Tyne
 • locationAlston Moor, Cumbria, England
2nd sourceNorth Tyne
 • locationDeadwater Fell, Kielder, Northumberland, England
 • location
Tynemouth, North Tyneside, England
 • coordinates
55°0′37″N 1°25′8″W / 55.01028°N 1.41889°W / 55.01028; -1.41889
Length118 km (73 miles)[1]
Basin size2,933 km2 (1,132 square miles)[2]
 • locationBywell[2]
 • average44.6 m3/s (1,580 cu ft/s)[2]
Basin features
 • leftRiver Derwent
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists and the Tyne Bridge for vehicles in the background in Newcastle upon Tyne
Confluence of North (right) and South Tyne (left) near Warden

The River Tyne /ˈtn/ is a river in North East England. Its length (excluding tributaries) is 73 miles (118 km).[1] It is formed by the North Tyne and the South Tyne, which converge at Warden Rock near Hexham in Northumberland at a place dubbed 'The Meeting of the Waters'.

The Tyne Rivers Trust measure the whole Tyne catchment as 2,936 km2 (1,134 square miles), containing 4,399 km (2,733 miles) of waterways.[3]


North Tyne

The North Tyne rises on the Scottish border, north of Kielder Water. It flows through Kielder Forest, and in and out of the border. It then passes through the village of Bellingham before reaching Hexham.

A stone marker shows the source of the River North Tyne

South Tyne

The South Tyne rises on Alston Moor, Cumbria 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. Coincidentally, the source of the South Tyne is very close to those of the Tees and the Wear. The South Tyne Valley falls within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – the second largest of the 40 AONBs in England and Wales.


From the confluence of the North and South Tyne at Warden Rock just to the north west of Hexham, the river enters the county of Tyne and Wear between Clara Vale (in the Borough of Gateshead on the south bank) and Tyne Riverside Country Park (in Newcastle upon Tyne on the north bank) and continues to divide Newcastle and Gateshead for 13 miles (21 km), in the course of which it flows under ten bridges. To the east of Gateshead and Newcastle, the Tyne divides Hebburn and Jarrow on the south bank from Walker and Wallsend on the north bank. The Tyne Tunnel runs under the river to link Jarrow and Wallsend. Finally the river flows between South Shields and Tynemouth into the North Sea.[2]


Thomas John Taylor (1810–1861)[4] theorised that the main course of the river anciently flowed through what is now Team Valley, its outlet into the tidal river being by a waterfall at Bill Point (in the area of Bill Quay).[5] His theory was not far from the truth, as there is evidence that prior to the last ice age, the River Wear once followed the current route of the lower River Team and merged with the Tyne at Dunston. Ice diverted the course of the Wear to its current location, flowing east the course of the Tyne) and joining the North Sea at Sunderland.[6]

The River Tyne is estimated to be around 30 million years old.[7]


The conservation of the Tyne has been handled by various bodies over the past 500 years. Conservation bodies have included: Newcastle Trinity House,[8] and the Tyne Improvement Commission.[8] The Tyne Improvement Commission conservation lasted from 1850 until 1968.[8] The 1850–1950 era was the worst period for pollution of the river.[8] The Tyne Improvement Commission laid the foundations for what has become the modern day Port of Tyne.[9] Under the management of the Tyne Improvement Commissioners, over a period of the first 70 years the Tyne was deepened from 1.83 to 9.14 m (6 feet 0 inches to 30 feet 0 inches) and had 150 million tonnes dredged from it.[9] Inside these 70 years, the two Tyne piers were built;[9] Northumbrian, Tyne and Albert Docks were built,[9] as well as the staithes at Whitehill and Dunston.[9] This infrastructure enabled millions of tonnes of cargo to be handled by the Port by 1910.[9] The tidal river has been managed by the Port of Tyne Authority since 1968.[8][9]

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.[10]

Port of Tyne

Main article: Port of Tyne

The River Tyne at Bill Quay

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 (a structure for loading coal onto ships) were located at Dunston in Gateshead, Hebburn and Tyne Dock, South Shields. The wooden staithes at Dunston, built in 1890, have been preserved, although they were partially destroyed by fire in 2006 and then a further fire in May 2020 means that the Staithes is becoming more vulnerable to vandalism and would need extensive financing to preserve it and make it secure.[11] In 2016, Tyne Dock, South Shields was 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 (including Kings Meadow, the largest) removed and meanders in the river straightened.

Name and etymology

Nothing definite is known of the origin of the designation Tyne, nor is the river known by that name until the Saxon period: Tynemouth is recorded in Anglo-Saxon as Tinanmuðe (probably dative case). The Vedra on the Roman map of Britain may be the Tyne, or may be the River Wear. Ptolemy's Tína could be a "misplaced reference" to either this river or the Tyne in East Lothian.[12] There is a theory that *tīn was a word that meant "river" in the local Celtic language or in a language spoken in England before the Celts came: compare Tardebigge.

A supposed pre-Celtic root *tei, meaning 'to melt, to flow' has also been proposed as an etymological explanation of the Tyne and similarly named rivers,[13] as has a Brittonic derivative of Indo-European *teihx, meaning 'to be dirty' (Welsh tail, 'manure').[13]

River crossings

Main article: List of crossings of the River Tyne

In popular literature

LJ Ross' thriller Seven Bridges from the DCI Ryan series evolves around the Tyne bridges.[14]

Artworks and sculpture


River God Tyne by David Wynne at Newcastle Civic Centre

The river is represented, and personified, in a sculpture unveiled in 1968 as part of the new Civic Centre (seat of Newcastle City Council). Sculpted by David Wynne, the massive bronze figure River God Tyne incorporates flowing water into its design.[15]

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 will serve as a celebration of the river,[16] 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 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 three cubes to be launched in December 2007 from a family of ten. 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.

The other cubes will be moving along the River Tyne over one year visiting different locations from Kielder to the Mouth of the Tyne in the summer 2008 before starting their long journey back to their birthplace.

Conversation Piece

Created by acclaimed Spanish sculptor, Juan Muñoz in 1999. Celebrating the Tyne Salmon;[16] here with the 2008 River Tyne Bluetooth Salmon Trail Cubes,[17] are the 22 bronze life size figures that command and celebrate a superb view of South Shields Harbour and the Tyne Piers.

Bamboo Bridge

For three days, from 18 to 20 July 2008, a temporary bamboo artwork was installed over the Tyne close to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The Bambuco Bridge was created as part of that year's 'SummerTyne' festival.

See also


  1. ^ a b Owen, Susan; et al. (2005). Rivers and the British Landscape. Carnegie. ISBN 978-1-85936-120-7.
  2. ^ a b c d "Environment Agency – River Tyne Salmon Action Plan Review" (PDF). Environment Agency – APEM REF EA 410230. July 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  3. ^ "The River: Fascinating Facts about the River Tyne". Tyne Rivers Trust. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Thomas John Taylor". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  5. ^ James Guthrie (1880). The river Tyne: its history and resources. Andrew Reid and Company Limited. p. 2.
  6. ^ Land Use Consultants (2003). "Urban Landscape Study of the Tyne Gorge" (PDF). Gateshead Council. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  7. ^ Tyne river trust staff. "The Tyne's origins". Archived from the original on 26 March 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e Henderson, Tony (16 January 2015), "River Tyne's story revealed in study by environmental historian", The Journal, North East England, archived from the original on 20 January 2015, retrieved 30 July 2017
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Port of Tyne staff (30 July 2017). "Tyne Improvement Commission". portoftyne.co.uk. Port of Tyne. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Tyne Rivers Trust". Charity. Tynerivertrust.org. 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2008. 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
  11. ^ "Coal heritage goes up in flames". BBC. 20 November 2003. Retrieved 25 August 2008. "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.
  12. ^ Watson, W J (1926). The History of the Celtic Placenames of Scotland. Chippenham: Irish Academic Press. p. 51.
  13. ^ a b "The Brittonic Language in the Old North" (PDF). Scottish Place Name Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  14. ^ See the author's website, retrieved 21 January 2023.
  15. ^ Usherwood, Beach & Morris (2000). Public Sculpture of North-East England. Liverpool University Press.
  16. ^ a b "Tyne Salmon Trail". 2008. Archived from the original on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2008. 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.
  17. ^ Strug, Leah (21 July 2008). "Attraction's sending art lovers fishy messages". South Shields Gazette.