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THE HISTORY OF NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
"Coals to Newcastle" - the phrase indicates the dominating importance of the coal trade to the town. By the end of the fourteenth century the "sea cole" trade to London and other ports had been established, although coal mining had begun much earlier. Newcastle's chartered control of the river meant that even coal mined outside the town boundaries was shipped through its port, greatly increasing revenue. Between 1565 and 1625 the coal trade increased twelve fold, a growth which saved Newcastle from the slump which affected other towns as the wool trade declined.
There was a brief halt to the town's continuing rise during the Civil War. Royalist Newcastle was besieged for three months in 1644 and fell to the Earl of Leven's Scottish army. (It was from this defence that Newcastle was said to have been granted its motto by Charles I: "Fortiter Defendit Triumphans" (Triumphing by a bold defence). Critical damage was done to the coal trade during the Civil War, but prosperity was regained remarkably quickly after Restoration. According to Hearth Tax Returns of 1663-65 Newcastle was the fourth largest provincial town in terms of the population, after Norwich, York and Bristol.
From the late seventeenth century, other trades and industries joined coal as producers of wealth, whether or not the factories were actually in Newcastle - iron, slat and glass for example. The town became a regional centre: a commercial infrastructure was developed which was not present in other north- east towns: an Assay Office from 1702, Carr's Bank (probably the first outside London) in 1755.