Where have all the good pubs gone? taste OF THE NORTH EAST beer WITH ALASTAIR GILMOUR GLENFIDDICH FOOD & DRINK AWARDS 2007: REGIONAL WRITER.
IT'S going to rain on Tuesday. It always does when Steve Ellwood takes people for a walk.
Steve, a member of the Ouseburn Heritage Group in Newcastle - and HM Revenue & Customs man by day - has devised Where Have All The Pubs Gone?, a stroll around the Ouseburn's former hostelries, in which he brings history to life through a social narrative of the former industrial hub nestling beneath Byker Bridge. He concedes, however, that folks "must be able to use their imagination". In other words, of the 38 pubs that once throbbed, bustled and pulsed among lime kilns, glue factories, lead works, tanneries, flour mills, boat builders' and potteries, not many remain.
Cut Bank (City Road to Shields Road), which in the 1800s was part of the main route between Newcastle and North Shields, boasted a total of 13 pubs on its half-mile. Only six operate in today's Ouseburn - the Tanners at the top of Stepney Bank, The Cumberland Arms, The Tyne, the Ship Inn, The Free Trade Inn and The Cluny. What remains, though, is a distinctive clutch of pubs that could hardly be described as quaint, but prefer to hover around the eccentric, the unconventional and the idiosyncratic. They are nononsense with no themes and no identikit identity.
Steve considered visiting all six with his group but quickly dismissed the idea - "40- odd walkers getting served then prising them out again could be a problem" - but the walk ends with a pint in The Free Trade Inn, overlooking the Tyne and its Quayside attractions. Property developers continue to submit plans that would block the pub's unique panorama, which is an ongoing concern for habitues of pubs with character. Similarly, The Cumberland Arms could have trendy apartments as neighbours which could potentially curtail its music activities and regular outdoor festivals if planning permission is approved. Visit both and sign the pledge.
Step this way to:
The Tyne - until 1994 the Ship Tavern and known as the Bottom Ship to avoid confusion with the Ship Inn on Stepney Bank. It's a terrific music venue, serves several well-kept caskconditioned beers and, as a tartan carpet testifies, doesn't take itself too seriously. Appearing on Thursday August 16 is "great fun band" The Three Mustgetbeers. Yes, that kind of place. The present building replaced the original pub in 1895 when it was damaged by fire. It was once better known for "the horizontal refreshment on offer in the rooms above than the liquid refreshment at the bar".
The Free Trade Inn was rebuilt in 1896 with further alterations when Scottish & Newcastle took it over in 1919. It closed in 1947 when S&N wanted to transfer the licence. Reopened as a beer house, it had to wait until 1963 before gaining a full drinks licence. Though it is much-loved, its welltrodden shabbiness really doesn't do it any favours.
The Cumberland Arms was first licensed as a beer house in 1862 and converted into a pub in 1898. It wasn't granted a spirits license until 1956. The bar from the former Haymarket Hotel in Newcastle is now in the upper room. It was once owned by "Jocker" Woods, who also owned a number of other Ouseburn pubs. He was a sporting legend and champion at quoits, bagatelle, golf, cycling and pigeon racing. It's another great beer and music centre.
The Ship Inn's earliest mention in trade directories is 1827. The present front elevation was rebuilt in 1905. Original George Younger/Alloa Brewery advertising windows retained at the rear.
The Cluny manages to straddle the traditional with the contemporary. Occupying a former whisky warehouse, it features an extensive range of real ales and bottled beers from all over the world. The music verges on "legendary" as does the Cluny Kitchen menu.
The Tanners Arms is renowned for its live music and DJs, and it does try hard with its beer and cider offer.
The Brown Jug, also known as the Stepney Vaults, Stepney Bank. It was managed by Farquar Deuchar in the 1800s. He was fined the princely sum of pounds 10 in 1897 for selling whisky which contained 21% water. Other pubs on Stepney Bank included the Bricklayers Arms and the New Fox Inn (also known as New Flax Mill and Brown Kiln).
Lorraine Arms, Crawford Row, sat more or less under the Metro bridge. One T Crawford owned the land in that area and was the owner/licensee. It eventually closed in 1905.
Phoenix Tavern, Leighton Street (formerly Brewery Bank) stood three storeys high. Lost its licence in 1931.
Wheatsheaf Inn, Lime Street, had its license revoked in the early 1900s.
Newcastle Arms, Lime Street. Proposals and plans submitted in 1906 to have the pub converted into a house were rejected and it later became a provisions shop.
Royal Sovereign Inn. A coaching inn with rooms for rent and stables for horses. Three storeys in height but only one room's width.
Masons Arms. Known locally as O'Toole's, after long-term landlord Mick O'Toole.
Plumbers Arms. One landlord carried out the trade of tallow making on the premises - no doubt from products from nearby abattoirs. The pub had a reputation as an unlicensed bookies.
Blue Bell. This pub stood at the City Road end of Cut Bank and was originally a farm.
Old Hawk Inn. When this pub closed it became Shepherd's Rag Shop. The site is now occupied by a tool-hire business. It lost its spirits licence in 1905 but continued to trade as a beer house. In that year its takings were pounds 10 a week.
New Hawk Inn stood on the other side of Cut Bank and both traded at the same time. Built in 1881, it was last owned by Hope & Anchor Breweries from Sheffield but closed in 1967. Known affectionately as Dyer Brown's after the manger, Archibald Brown, at one time it was owned by Seaman Tommy Watson, a British featherweight boxing champion. In 1933, he was narrowly defeated in a world title fight in New York, against the colourfully-named Kid Chocolate, the Cuban Bon-Bon.
Talbot Hotel, originally known as Melton's Lodging House.
Steam Boat Inn, Quality Row, closed in 1935 and is now a scrapyard. At one time owned by Robert Emmerson Brewery (Sandyford).
Byker Tavern. Known locally as the Police Bar as it was managed by an expoliceman. Closed in 1970.
Half Moon Inn. Closed in 1896 with the licence being transferred to the newly-built Half Sovereign on Cut Bank.
Bay Horse Inn. Purchased by wine merchants White & Co in 1931 for pounds 4,000 and sold to Fenwick & Co of Sunderland in the late 1930s. Demolished in the 1970s.
Duke of York. Built in 1880 and claimed to have been built using the ballast from Ballast Hills Burial Ground as its foundations. When the pub closed in 1952 a regular took one of the quoit posts as a memento. Unfortunately, he was knocked down and killed on Shields Road whilst carrying away his "prize". The remaining quoits post was considered to be cursed and remains there to this day.
Rose & Crown. Now replaced by an apartment block and not to be confused with the Rose & Crown on City Road (which has been replaced by a casino). Reconstructed in 1914 when owned by Newcastle Manor Brewery. It changed its name to Tynesider before its closure in 1989. It once featured a sign in the window: "Free Pie With Every Pint".
Next week, hopefully, the Ouseburn Heritage Group will take as its motto: "It never rains, but it pours".
Ouseburn Heritage Group Walk: Where Have All The Pubs Gone? is on Monday August 7 at 7.00pm. Meet outside the Ship Inn on Stepney Bank.
FIGHTING MAN: Boxing champion Seaman Tommy Watson had the New Hawk Inn.; STILL IN BUSINESS: The Free Trade Inn, pictured in 1913 is one of the Ouseburn survivors.