Traditionally, the Port of Tyne was famous for its coal exports but the radical changes in the UK's mining industry during the 1990's created an urgent need to diversify to remain viable.
Today, the results of a decade of development and £100 million of investment has culminated in being named Port Operator of the Year in the Lloyd's List London Awards 2008 and are clearly seen in the Port's five commercial business areas, its three rail terminals and its modern international cruise and passenger terminal building.
The Port of Tyne bulk and conventional cargo business handles grain, scrap, steel, forest products and other cargoes, but it is the volume of imported coal, which has increased dramatically from zero in 2003 to 3 million tonnes in 2008, that has earned the Port its place as the UK's fourth largest coal importer.
Port of Tyne Logistics offers customers an integrated package of container handling, warehousing and distribution, with many customers already experiencing the advantages of feedering into the Tyne rather than bringing their goods through Felixstowe or Southampton and trucking them all the way up country. Not only does it help reduce the carbon footprint, it also offers cost efficiencies.
In addition to Cruise and Ferries, other business areas include two Car Terminals, developed by the Port to support manufacturing giants Nissan and VW, and Estates, which manages a growing portfolio of commercial properties and land holdings.
And the future? As well as being a facilitator of business activity, the Port is also a barometer of the economic climate. Growth opportunities continue to exist and current projects involve the creation of over 13 acres of land by recycling the spoil from the construction of the second Tyne Tunnel to infill Tyne Dock and exciting opportunities in the areas of renewable energy.