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A guide to some of the licensed premises that contribute enormously to Britain’s renowned pub culture. Most of them have featured in some form in publications such as The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, written – and researched – by Alastair Gilmour

– locally and regionally – presents The Steamboat with a pub-of-the-year certificate, the local press invariably leads on the “best boozer” line. They could, of course, use alehouse, inn or tavern, but boozer invites little expectation, so the reality of eight hand-pulled beers fronting an archaic interior with nautical paraphernalia covering every surface creates an intriguing prospect.

I took the ferry from North Shields, a six-minute, often choppy and blustery crossing that whets the appetite with blasts of North Sea breeze (and the occasional sniff of diesel). My mate was envious – he likes adventure.

The Steamboat’s main bar has only a smattering of furniture in what is clearly a traditional “vertical drinking” area which makes sense on weekends and Customs House theatre nights. A few steps beyond, however, are three timber-clad-with-comfy-seating snugs unveiling a similar relaxed attitude and conversational undertone.

I tap the glass on one of dozens of gauges and dials on display and try to fathom what a barometer is warning. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Flags from a multitude of nations cover every inch of ceiling above lifebelts, lobster pots and seafaring images – many of them ships built on this stretch of riverside with customers’ grandads’ tales welded into them, although few signs of that industry remain. Swish apartments, now there’s another story.

My locally-brewed pints – Durham South Island IPA, oozing vibrant New Zealand hops, and Cullercoats Ernest, owing its aroma and flavour to a new English hop variety – make my day. Then I examine an exhibit of knots in fascination at the function of Spanish bowline, round turn, sheepshank and clove hitch.

The return ferry wallows and dips. I should have trusted that barometer.

*The Steamboat, Mill Dam, South Shields NE33 1EQ. 0191 454 0134.

+44 (0)7930 144 846




When I mentioned I’d had a couple in The Steamboat in South Shields, a friend said: “Oh, I love that place, it’s a great old boozer.” In most respects, the term “old boozer” is not a compliment, but a pub sitting by the River Tyne close to the Customs House arts centre and the historic Mission To Seafarers satisfies that description in both association and syntax.

On the regular occasions that Camra ­



More than ever we need pub owners with the vision and determination to do something that will persuade people to venture out on a wet Tuesday when Holby City might seem the better option. We have plenty of them around the North East and the better ones are doing very well, thank you very much.

Entrepreneurial publican Dave Carr is one such chap.

[Read More]




Meet and Drink writer Alastair Gilmour regularly conducts beer events throughout the UK and internationally – tours and tastings that have included a platform suspended 30 metres above the River Tyne and a real ale festival in a Moscow nightclub – and was for several years on the judging panel of the Pilsner Urquell International Master Bartender programme. [READ MORE]


+44 (0)7930 144 846


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