Iron and steel were the building blocks of the Region's heavy industry.
From the Middle Ages North East England was one of the most important sources of iron. Steel production was a later development, beginning at Derwencote. Later mining and processing and use of metals clustered along the banks of the Tees and in Consett, enabling industrialists to manage the production from start to finish in the area.
Throughout the 20th century the Region's engineering giants used these raw materials to manufacture products notably bridges and ships, that can still be seen across the world.
As one of the great shipbuilding centres for the world there were hundreds of shipyards on the Tyne, in Sunderland and Hartlepool. The prowess of North East shipbuilders secured 40% of the world market in 1893 and even in the 1950s more than 20% of the ships in the world were built here. And the scale, noise and energy of the yards dominated the riverside and communities that built up around them.
Map of the Newcastle upon Tyne Electric Supply Co Ltd (NESCo) and The County of Durham Electrical Power Distribution Co Ltd electric power distribution network, about 1907