LONDON (Reuters Life!) - For decades, Newcastle upon Tyne was blackened by coal dust and known around the world for its clanking shipyards and smoke-belching factories.
But after years of redevelopment following its industrial decline, the northern metropolis has been transformed and was named on Thursday as Britain's "greenest" city.
It pushed last year's winner Bristol down to second place, with Brighton on the south coast ranked third in the annual list compiled by Forum for the Future, an environmental think-tank.
Newcastle won praise for its excellent air quality, low levels of waste, low carbon emissions and high recycling rates.
"Cities with an industrial heritage face genuine challenges, but Newcastle's success shows that it is possible to overcome the legacy of the past," said forum Chief Executive Peter Madden.
The third annual "Sustainable Cities" study ranked 20 places based on 13 factors, including recycling, pollution and how they plan to respond to the threat of climate change.
With a regenerated quayside, new arts centers and a lively nightlife, Newcastle and neighboring Gateshead have radically changed since their industrial heyday.
J.B. Priestley once said the area was "blacker than Manchester and might have been carved out of coal."
Newcastle rose from fourth place last year and eighth in 2007. Bottom of the pile for a second year running was Hull, followed by Glasgow, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
The full report is online at: www.forumforthefuture.org/files/Sustainable-Cities-Index2009.pdf
Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Steve Addison