Pub walking tour of Newcastle and Gateshead with Alastair Gilmour
A walk that takes in four historically significant pubs in Newcastle and Gateshead absorbing their culture, heritage and social change while exploding a few myths – plus a chance to enjoy some local beer along the way.
On a three-hour stroll, we’ll check out Irish entrepreneurship, Queen Victoria’s snub to the city, a Spanish mistress, world-class interiors and sit where Glenda Jackson met Oliver Reed. And again, enjoy the beer on offer. Ready? Let’s get started…
+44 (0)7930 144 846
WE STOP OFF AT: The Crown Posada, Newcastle
A late 19th Century pub that retains its plan form and most of its fittings. Built in 1880 by William Lister Newcombe, it is the second-oldest pub in Newcastle – the oldest is reckoned to be The Old George in the Bigg Market (1582).
The Pre-Raphaelite style stained glass windows were designed by George Joseph Baguley (1834-1915) and manufactured by William Wailes, whose private residence was Saltwell Towers in Gateshead. And, what’s its connection with Spain? Could it be love? Find out.
Local beers include Allendale Pennine Pale.
ON THE WAY TO THE NEXT PUB WE PASS...
NEWCASTLE AND GATESHEAD'S BRIDGES
The High Level (1849)
The Queen Elizabeth II (Metro) Bridge (1981)
The Swing Bridge (1876). In the days of Henry I, salmon were so plentiful in the Tyne that the city’s apprentices covenanted in their indentures that they were not to be fed with it more than twice a week.
Gateshead Millennium Bridge (2001)
The Tyne Bridge (1928)
King Edward Bridge (1906)
Redheugh Bridge (1980s)
WE STOP OFF AT: The Central, Gateshead
The Central is a four-storey, “flat-iron”, mid-Victorian building, designed in 1856 by local architect M Thompson. It was built as commercial premises for Alderman Potts, a wine merchant; it became a hotel around 1890 then was refitted in the early 1900s.
Various alterations were made to the pub in the 1950s and again in the 1980s, but since the original owners of the Head of Steam group took it over in October 2009 it has slowly and carefully restored, replaced and refitted many of the original features in the Grade II-listed structure, the £1.25m project benefitting from grants from Gateshead Council’s Town Heritage Initiative and the Townscape Heritage Initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Exterior work on the building was estimated at £400,000 while the internal work cost a further £850,000.
So, what have Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed got to do with it? Discover…
Local beers include a regular selection from Wylam Brewery.
ON THE WAY TO THE NEXT PUB WE SEE...
THE HIGH LEVEL BRIDGE
Built by Robert Stephenson in 1849 at a cost of £491,153, the first major example of a wrought-iron tied arch girder bridge constructed for the York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway Company, completing the London-Edinburgh link. It was officially opened by Queen Victoria in September of that year when 100,000 spectators lined both Quaysides in the pouring rain while Her Majesty’s train paused on the bridge for five minutes. Then what happened next?
THE CASTLE KEEP
The “new castle” was on the high ground overlooking a crossing point on the River Tyne. The Keep was the principal stronghold of what would have been a much larger castle complex where early Norman kings would hold court, sit in judgment and entertain. Beside the Keep are cobblestones set into the pavement. These mark the position of the Roman fort, Pons Aelius.
WE END AT: The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle
The elegant Bridge Hotel was designed in 1899 and finished in 1901. Architects were James Cackett and Robert Burns Dick, who was also responsible for the Laing Art Gallery and architectural portions of the Tyne Bridge. The exquisite original elevations are on view in the pub.
It replaced the old Bridge Inn which was run in the 1870s by Robinson’s wine merchants and when the Fitzgerald company acquired it in the early 1890s it consisted of a bar, sitting and smoke rooms, kitchen, two bedrooms, two cellars and an adjoining tenement. John Fitzgerald, born in Tipperary in 1857 and later to become Lord Mayor of Newcastle, helped inaugurate a public house system which ushered in an air of respectability to Newcastle hotel life. He was knighted in 1920.
The current owners of the Sir John Fitzgerald (SJF) company are direct descendants.
Local beers include Anarchy Blonde Star.
JOIN THE TOUR
Through Meet-And–Drink, beer and pub writer Alastair Gilmour organises tours like this for individuals, tourists, visiting journalists, social clubs and corporate groups of up to 12 people. Other venues can be arranged to suit, and prices include a half-pint of beer in each of the four pubs. Simply get in touch for more details:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 07930 144 846.
IT'S ABOUT EVERY AGE GROUP
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.
START: First, we meet under the clock in Newcastle Central Station and head for…
The Centurion, Newcastle
The Central Station First Class Refreshment Rooms closed in the 1960s when the British Transport Police started using part of it as cells. British Rail which then owned it cared very little for the building’s grade-I listed status, taking sledgehammers to walls and painting the priceless in tiles their corporate red.
In 2000, Keeping Inn Ltd acquired the building and painstakingly restored The Centurion to its former John Dobson-designed glory with the help of The Railway Heritage Trust and Network Rail. Today, worth an astonishing £3.8m, the bar is quite literally a work of art. The Victorian tiles adorning the walls are said to be the finest example of Burmantoft (Leeds) baroque tiles outside a museum.
Local beers include Rivet Catcher from the Great North Eastern Brewing Co.
ON THE WAY WE PASS...
THE LITERARY AND PHILOSPHICAL SOCIETY
The Lit & Phil, library and study centre, was the first public room in the world to be lit by electric light when Joseph Swan demonstrated his incandescent light bulb at a public lecture in 1879. Nearby Mosley Street was the first in the world to be illuminated by this method.
THE MINING INSTITUTE
The world’s oldest professional mining organisation is dedicated to King Coal and its mining, mechanical and electrical engineering and related professions.
This massive gateway originally strengthened the defences of the castle on its vulnerable west side.
Former shipping company offices and the interior floors are still called “decks”. The bust is of Admiral Lord Collingwood who was born in 1748 in a house previously on the site. During the Battle of Trafalgar, it was Collingwood who took over command of the fleet after Lord Nelson was killed.
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