The city of Newcastle takes its name from the stone keep, or castle, which was used to guard the bridge across the Tyne. The new structure was built 1172-77 as a replacement for the original Norman castle of King Robert II, the eldest son of William the Conquerer, and is visible in this picture.
The picture depicts Newcastle as viewed from Gateshead. Beyond the old Tyne bridge stands St Nicholas's Cathedral which dates from the 14th Century, but which had previously been the site of a Norman church.
Richardson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and maintained an enduring affection for his home town throughout his life, frequently illustrating it in his work. In 1816 he began a publication on Newcastle and its surrounding area which he illustrated with aquatints, but very few copies were eventually printed. Between 1818 and 1847 Richardson exhibited extensively in London, predominantly at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institution. Under his tutelage Richardson's son, also called Thomas Miles Richardson, became an established watercolourist and lithographer. By the time of this picture Newcastle had become an important industrial centre and the River Tyne was a major centre for shipbuilding.