The history of the North East of England is inextricably linked with the traditions of Newcastle upon Tyne as a major shipping centre.
The importance of shipping in Newcastle dates back to Roman times when a port was established on the Tyne and formed a vital part of an early supply chain that kept the Forts along Hadrian's Wall stocked with food and supplies.
Newcastle was famous for many exports in medieval times but the most famous was undoubtedly coal. Newcastle was to benefit from the shallow coal seams that lay close to the River Tyne and coal began to dominate the port's business from the late 13th century. By 1378 Newcastle was shipping 150,000 tonnes of coal per year to destinations in the UK and mainland Europe and it is no surprise that the phrase "carrying coals to Newcastle", basically meaning a pointless action, developed and indeed was first recorded in 1538.