Newcastle upon Tyne is a vibrant technology and business hub. Home to George Stephenson, "Father of Railways", Newcastle has been shaping the industrial world for centuries. This heritage is best displayed by the Tyne river's array of architectural triumphs, including the Gateshead Millennium bridge, High Level Bridge, Swing Bridge, and iconic Tyne Bridge.
Newcastle's historical contributions to the world of science and technology include the 1878 onwards activities of Joseph Swan, inventor of the first practical light bulb, whose developments would result in the widespread use of electric light throughout the world. Newcastle was one of the first towns to be lit with electricity. Furthemore, Sir William Armstrong installed a small hydro electric plant on his estate for generating electric light in his picture gallery at Cragside. Using lakes in the grounds, Cragside is the first house in the world to be lit by electricity generated from water power. Finally, Newcastle's history as the origin of steam power is well established, with work by the likes of Stevenson and Parsons changing the world of industry.
Newcastle was also home to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, one of the UK's greatest reformers. Earl Grey was a key figure in the development of the 1832 Reform Act, which dramatically increaced the democratic power of the UK's electoral system, before becoming Prime Minister. His government also saw the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. In addition to his political achievements, he has come to be associated with Earl Grey tea.
In modern times, The north-east is home to one of the UK's strongest tech hubs, and boasts not only one of the fastest up-and-coming startup centres in the UK (thanks to organisations like Digital Cities Business), but also a strong representation in the world of gaming, with companies like Ubisoft and EpicGamesUK (foremrly Pitbull Studios) producing hardcore coding and astonishing design throughout Tyne and Wear.
Newcastle and Gateshead also make tremendous contributions to the UK culture. The love for football in the UK and across the world is strongly represented by Newcastle's premiership team, the "Toon Army", with their iconic home at St. James Park. Furthermore, Newcastle has a wide range of well respected galleries and museums, with the Baltic Center for Contemporary Art hosting the Turner Prize in 2011.
In september, Newcastle generally has a pleasantly warm and sunny climate. It's a great time to be out and about. This is not always the case in the north-east, as the somewhat damp #DrummondPuddleWatch viral phenomenon showed. Over 20,000 internet users tuned in at any one time to watch the hapless residents of Newcastle try to navigate an annoyingly large puddle. We would not expect this to be the case during the conference, which should give attendees the opportunity to explore the wonderful north-east UK surroundings after the conference, should your schedule allow you to do so.