Great Exhibition of the North: The Design Trail with Tyne and Wear Metro

This post contains a paid for advertorial by Tyne and Wear Metro

When I first came to Newcastle, I walked everywhere. I had lived in Newcastle for almost a whole year before I used a local bus or the metro. I was so sure I’d end up lost on it like I did with the tube. Fast forward five years, I commute everyday using the local buses and metro.

I’ve come to regard Newcastle as home now. Staying put. There is something so warm and inviting about this part of the country, and it really is a “hidden gem”, and I believe part of what makes it so good up here, is how easy it is to travel about. Within an hour, you can be at the coast or in the countryside.

In support of the Great Exhibition of the North, Metro have launched a limited edition Pop Pay As You Go card.

The Pop P.A.Y.G. card is perfect for those who want a day out exploring this lovely part of the world, especially for The Great Exhibition of the North.

The Pop P.A.Y.G. card itself is free, but you must buy it with a £10 balance. This means that as soon as it arrives, you can use it immediately. Don’t forget to register it online to protect your balance, just in case you lose it.

The Pop P.A.Y.G. card is cheaper than single and day tickets (30p cheaper for singles and 40p cheaper for day tickets). You can travel as many times as you want during the day, and you’ll never pay more than the daily cap per zone ( to a maximum of £4.70 for travelling in all zones). You can use it on buses, metro and the ferrys- so perfect for exploring!

We headed up to Gateshead Metro Station and a quick tap of our cards, we’re straight through the barriers and down to a metro that was just arriving. No fuss and no fumbling for the right change. We stayed on until the Haymarket metro station as this is the closest metro stop the Hancock Museum, the start of the design trail.

You can get your Pop PAYG card online here 

The Great Exhibition of the North Design Trail- The Hancock Museum

We headed off to explore the design trail of the Great Exhibition of the North. We decided on this trail as it sounded the most exciting to us. Rob is a born and bred geordie and me, well i’m an adopted geordie now. Both of us were intrigued in the design history of the area and to see what is currently going on. We downloaded the app ( I highly recommend this as you get so much information about each stage of the trail).

Our first stop: The Hancock museum. I have to admit, we got really stuck in here. There was simply so much to see! The museum has blended their original exhibits with pieces for the Great Exhibition of the North, meaning there is so much more to visit and it’s all for free.

For those of you who know me well, I’m dinosaur mad. I even considered getting tickets to the Walking with Dinosaurs arena show, but didn’t want to be the only adult there on their own! When I found out that the Hancock museum had a T-Rex in it- I was so excited to go. I’ve always loved dinosaurs and it was so cool getting to see all these fossils in real life.


Fun Fact: I used to be terrified of sharks. Not anymore thank goodness, but 9-year-old me was scared to go to swimming lessons in case there was a shark in the pool, daft I know! But I have to admit, I found seeing Damien Hirst’s “Heaven” pretty cool. A tiger-shark suspended in formaldehyde solution. A pretty ominous and strange piece of art, but it really was captivating!

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Upstairs in the Hancock was the exhibit I was most excited to see. The exhibit, “Human machine motion” features my favourite painting in the world. This is ‘Whistlejacket’, painted by George Stubbs. I was so excited to see it up here on loan from the National Gallery.

We carried on with our trail, following it through to Northumbria University and the city library. The design trail has over an hour of walking in it and I recommend that you split the route up into days out rather than a day out. You get to explore Northumbria University campus, where Jonathon Ive, chief designer for Apple went to university. The rest of the route takes you through the Ouseburn to the Biscuit Factory and the Toffee Factory before heading across the river to the Baltic and the Northern Design Centre.

We got caught up in the walking and talking about the exhibits that I forgot to take photos but I did vlog our day so please do check it out!

The Great Exhibition of the North- The Northern Design Centre

We ended our trail at the Northern Design Centre. Here we found an amazing wall covered in murals! Murals all to do with everything and anything northern- food, culture, products designed here! Rob was pleased to see Wallace & Gromit and Sooty and I really loved the beautiful mural of the angel of the north.

The Northern Design Centre is home to companies who are exporting designs and digital gaming content around the world and I think that it’s so cool that Newcastle is becoming a hub for tech businesses!

Inside, you will find a showcase of some of the most well known northern brands- Mamas & Papas, Barbour, Meccano. It was really cool to look through the design processes behind these brands, their sketches and development work.

What I found really cool about the trail is that it is family friendly. At each stage, kids can fill out design plans for their own product and submit them at the end! Metro have also launched their own activity pack to keep your kids entertained.

Which Great Exhibition of the North trail are you going to explore?