Birtley is a moderate sized town of around 25,000 (2001 Census) in the Borough of
Gateshead, on Tyneside, England. It lies between the local cities of Newcastle (5
miles north), Sunderland (9 miles east) and Durham (10 miles south) and nestles
between the A1 motorway to the east and the main east coast railway line to the west
of the town.
Birtley was originally in Co Durham until 1974, when it transferred to Gateshead
in the new Metropolitan Borough of Tyne and Wear. Despite this, it kept the postal
address of Co Durham, so may be listed as 'Co Durham' or 'Tyne and Wear' or ‘Gateshead’
(or any combination of the three). Just to totally confuse the situation, there is
also a small village called Birtley in Northumberland about 20 miles north west of
us, near Hexham.
Probably our greatest claim to fame, and best landmark, is Antony Gormley's famous
'Angel of the North' which overlooks the town from the north and can be seen from
much of the town.
Birtley has a long industrial past, mainly in coal mining, brick making and heavy
engineering. The present day town has formed from the various communities, mainly
around former coal mines, which have grown and merged, many of the original locality
names are still used within the town.
'The Angel' is actually situated on the site of one of the former coal mines.
The mining has now gone and much of the industry has changed, but Birtley remains
a thriving industrial and business centre for both the local community and the region.
Today it's major industries includes a broad mix of engineering, chemicals and distribution
warehouses, with numerous smaller manufacturing and service industries.
There is a busy shopping area along the main road through the Town Centre which hosts
a range of retail outlets, and business services.
At present the town has four Churches - St John's (Anglican), St Joseph's (Roman
Catholic), a Methodist Church and a Community Church. There is a large cemetery at
the north of the town, with attached Chapel and Crematorium serving the surrounding
Birtley also has a 9 hole golf course, a sports centre with a local football team,
a large swimming pool, library and medical centre.
We are quite central for many of the regions attractions, including:
Beamish Open Air Museum,
Gateshead Metro Shopping Centre,
Gateshead & Newcastle Quay side (notably The Sage, The Baltic Arts Centre and Millennium