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.