If there is one part of the UK which has changed dramatically since the 1970s, Tyne and Wear fits the bill perfectly. Its main city, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and nearby Sunderland were synonymous with coal and shipbuilding. The banks of the Tyne were so grim to Queen Victoria's eyes that she closed the curtains on her Royal Train carriage each time she reached Newcastle.
Today, the shipbuilders and collieries have long gone, and the new public face of Tyne and Wear are its universities and the recently improved Tyne estuary. On the Gateshead side of the Tyne lies the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Situated in the former Baltic Flour Mills it is accessed from Newcastle by a modern day icon: the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. Another icon of the 21st Century is The Sage, a centre for musical education, performing arts and a world class conference venue.
On the opposite side of the River Tyne, the modern day Newcastle-upon-Tyne is defined by its reinvigorated waterfront, modern shopping centres and the Centre for Life. It is a real shoppers' paradise with Northumberland Street, Grainger Street and the Eldon Square Shopping Centre. In Gateshead, there's the out of town Metrocentre, Europe's biggest covered shopping precinct.
Tyne and Wear is also a sports mad part of the United Kingdom. Whether it is rugby union, horse racing, golf or football, this locality is intensely passionate about sport - best epitomised by the rivalry between Newcastle United and Sunderland Football Clubs. Rugby Union fans are catered at Kingston Park, home of Newcastle Falcons. Lovers of four-legged sports are well catered for: venues include Gosforth, home to the Newcastle Racecourse, and Brough Park, a greyhound racing venue shared with the Newcastle Diamonds speedway team. All the above stadia are conference venues in their own right.
Athletics is well catered for at the Gateshead International Stadium. As well as being home to the Gateshead Harriers athletics team, it is also shared with Tyne and Wear's best known Rugby League side Gateshead Thunder, and non-league football club Gateshead. Non-league football is well represented with a host of Tyneside and Wearside clubs playing in the Northern League, such as Whitley Bay F.C and West Allotment Celtic.
Away from Newcastle and Sunderland, other parts of Tyne and Wear worth visiting include the seaside resorts of Whitley Bay and South Shields. If you're looking for post-conference live entertainment, look no further than the Metro Radio Arena, O2 Academy, Newcastle City Hall, or the locality's theatres. Venues include The Mill Volvo and the Theatre Royal. Sunderland has the Empire and Royalty theatres.
Getting to the Tyne and Wear is pretty easy. By road, the A1, A1(M) and A19 are the main roads which penetrate the area. Newcastle Central railway station is on the East Coast Main Line with regular Anglo-Scottish East Coast and Transpennine Express services to Edinburgh Waverley, York and most Manchester stations. Sunderland has regular local trains, and is also served by the Tyne and Wear Metro (which continues to Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Whitley Bay and South Shields). Newcastle Airport has a number of scheduled and chartered flights for domestic and European destinations.
All of the above credentials add up to Tyne and Wear's suitability as a conference venue. With a wealth of hotels in town or city locations, or a little off the track, there's bound to be something for everyone.