Newcastle Arms (The Bridge Tavern)
5 Dec 2023
This is a
Current status is
Designer (if known):
Still in use as a public house
The Newcastle Arms - a pub severed and rebuilt following the construction of the Tyne Bridge above.
The original, seen on the shot a few months before its demolition in the mid 20s, had been here since at least 1874 when it was under the ownership of a Tom Winship, son of William Winship who was a Scotswood boatbuilder.. The first reference to the pub is that relating to wagers on a "pair oared race" between Winship himself and Robert Bagnall, indicating he was the owner of this institution. Interestingly, they were both on the crew of Adelaide - often competing against the more well known Chambers crew from the High Level Bridge to Lemington Point. Rowing was the sport of the masses on Tyneside during the winter in the years before football became a regular sight. Winship remained the landlord of the Newcastle Arms until the late 1880s/early 90s when it was passed to a Mr Hogg. He continued the tradition of the inn's intrinsic relationship with oarsmen, and remained the meeting point for key meetings.
The landlord was later a Joseph McLean in the 1900s, and it was around this time the rowing connection subsided.
The 1920s saw great change at this public house. The demolition of this building, owned by WB Reid of Leazes Brewery (a brewer with a vast portfolio in the 20s inc. The Neptune at Wallsend and The Gladstone on Scotswood Road), was required for the bridge’s steel columns alongside offices for the Mickley Coal Co., a printing works and others. The London & North Eastern Railway James Deuchar and the Akenside Property Co. Ltd. were also affected. The construction also ridded of the George Stairs to Pilgrim Street, which featured another pub the Nag's Head.
This iteration of the pub reappeared within the next few decades. Some sources state it was immediately rebuilt in 1926, however little reference is made to the boozer until the 1960s. The lovely front tiles would indicate its earlier date however, though the brick "towers" imitating the keep had been erected after the 60s. The building came under a not of guises in the 90s and early 2000s, corresponding to the trend of one word clubs. Muse was one given name, with its gharish colour scheme. The Newcastle Arms branding has since returned, though it has been named The Bridge Tavern presumably to prevent confusion with the Newcastle Arms on St Andrews Street.
Listing Description (if available)
Both maps above illustrate the area around Side and Akenside Hill before the advent of the Tyne Bridge. It was at this time even more dense than today, with many buildings dating from the 18th or early 19th century along Pilgrim St and Side. It was also intensely working class, with even a smithy still in situ off Side.
The Newcastle Arms can be seen in the centre of both surveys, occupying a space next to the George Stairs and the Nags Head. These steps up to Pilgrim Street have long since vanished alongside the other buildings up the north side of Akenside Hill - previously known as Butchers Bank. It changed its name given Mark Akenside, the renowned poet, lived on the street.
The 1947 map surveys the area after the construction of the Tyne Bridge, and you can see how the road scales right over the old pub. The buildings on Akenside Hill were almost entirely demolished, and Lower Pilgrim Street effectively became an isolated side lane to allow access down to the Quayside. In later years it was severed to build the Central Motorway and roundabout.
The triangular piece of land stretching between here, Side and Painter Heugh suffered in later decades also, with almost every building except those on Side being demolished. Even these were redeveloped, giving us the vista we see today next to the railway viaduct.
The Newcastle Arms in 2023, wedged between the steel columns.
The original Newcastle Arms in the 1920s, not long before demolition. Unknown original source.
Photograph of the Tyne Bridge Works, post demolition of the Newcastle Arms. The pub signage has been placed on the ground, but was presumably lost or destroyed thereafter. Photograph taken by J Bacon & Sons in 1926