Swalwell that ends well

This is Davie Cook, a local beer hero who owns the Sun in Swalwell then crosses the road to put in a shift at, appropriately enough, Owa’ the Road, his micropub. And as if life wasn’t tough enough he also supports Newcastle United.

Swalwell is a small town near Gateshead. It once had a pit and the largest ironworks in Britain. Now it is stripped bare of industry and almost engulfed by the Metro Centre, a vast shopping hell full of colour coded pathways, Love Island contenders and a mediocre Wetherspoons that even Vasco da Gama would have struggled to find.

The Buildings Past and Present board erected for the Millennium tells its own story in that most of the buildings listed are past.

The ironworks that employed Crowley’s Crew, a fiercely organised workforce, is now a Lidl.

The Sun, though, is a most handsome building dating from 1895.

Next door is the rapidly deteriorating Three Tuns.

While the Highlander has enjoyed a less unkind fate.

Owa’ the Road opens an hour later midweek than the Good Beer Guide says so an hour in Swalwell it was. I was glad of the time to look around.

Some families lost more than one member. You wonder what those who sacrificed their lives would make of today’s self-serving, bitterly divided, ego-driven, hedge-funded echo chamber that is Britain a century later.

Owa’ the Road was lovely, the Farne Islands bitter was very good (one of two served from the wood) and the space lovingly cared for. One of the things I liked about Davie is that he is obviously a force for the regeneration of his town. He encourages local artists and poets and recognises the role of a pub in its community. He is also a man ahead of his time – he was drinking gin thirty years ago.

After a lovely chat about his love of Belgian beer I went to the toilet. When I came back Davie said “I’ve got a little gift for you” and produced a can of Firebrick Little Belgium, which features in the latest edition of Cheers magazine, as does Davie. It’s an essential read when in the north east https://www.cheersnortheast.co.uk/

It’s people like Davie that keep towns like Swalwell resilient. Well done https://tynland.camra.org.uk/ – another classic in your area.

17 thoughts on “Swalwell that ends well

  1. Really enjoyed the extended feature on Swalwell. Hope the two pubs see this.

    I missed this one but sounds a fun walk from the Metro Centre. I didn’t realise the Wetherspoons was still going; distinctly remember getting free children’s meals here years ago. Canny.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I don’t usually do single pub blogs but thought this merited it. Have forgotten how to tag. It takes as long to walk around the Metro to the Spoons than it does from the Sun to the centre. You will enjoy it.

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      1. Thinking about it, the industrial villages between Newcastle and Durham have done well recently, enjoyed exploring High Spen a lot.

        You do single place/pubs well and they’re more interesting to write/read than the annual revisits to better known cities.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a mixed picture and some have not recovered from the decimation of heavy industry but perhaps other places have benefited from the likes of Tynemouth becoming unaffordable to most. He opened up a little early so I was the only customer. Maybe a bit later I would not have been able to have that chat.

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      3. Always enjoy reading about the tickers visits to Tyneside and this is no exception but I’m confused about places like Tynemouth becoming unaffordable to most. Maybe on the house price front but the Tynemouth pubs and club have never been more accessible. The only areas that are becoming unaffordable to many are the city centre, Jesmond, and unfortunately the ever-expanding Ouseburn where the £4.50 pint of an average strength beer is becoming the norm. Interesting point about people sacrificing their lives – the people they often worked for were largely industrialists who cared little for their workforce and less for their safety and weren’t tied down by much in the way of legislation.

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      4. Good points. My daughter lives in Newcastle so I was referring to house prices not beer prices, which isn’t clear from the text. You are, of course, absolutely right about Victorian (and later) industrialists. If I was writing a more political or sociological blog I would argue that the subsequent unionisation of the workforce helped to achieve checks in those respects; but that the collapse of manufacturing has led to concepts like zero hours contracts prevailing in the service sector in ways that partially mimic the issues you describe, obviously in different ways (and probably to the detriment of mental rather than physical health). Some sound say it’s a good job I don’t write that type of blog! On the same trip I went to the other new GBG entries in Monkseaton etc but Chris and Martin have already written well about them so not sure if I will cover those. The north east is booming for good beer. Thanks for your thought provoking comments.

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    1. Not just politicians (though many fit that bill) – social media is an echo chamber that seems to reinforce people’s views, however prejudicial they may be. You would enjoy a lot of north east pubs. Never mind Cornwall, next family holiday to Gateshead?

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  2. “to put in a shift at, appropriately enough, Owa’ the Road”

    A slow golf clap right off the bat!

    “And as if life wasn’t tough enough he also supports Newcastle United.”

    Make that a double! 🙂

    “and a mediocre Wetherspoons that even Vasco da Gama would have struggled to find.”

    Good lord. This is turning into the slow golf clap post.

    “The Sun, though, is a most handsome building dating from 1895.”

    Isn’t Martin’s local called the Sun?

    “Next door is the rapidly deteriorating Three Tuns.”

    Crikey!

    “Some families lost more than one member.”

    Had a semi strange long conversation this morning with a 95 year old gal who now lives where I do but hails from Birmingham. She wandered off into WWII stories (just like my dear old mom did before she passed away) and it really does make you think.

    “After a lovely chat about his love of Belgian beer I went to the toilet. ”

    Talk about a non sequitur! (or segue perhaps?) 😉

    “It’s people like Davie that keep towns like Swalwell resilient.”

    Good for him (doffs hat).

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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