Features FEATUREDLowFell

Published on March 5, 2014 | by Alastair Gilmour


Area focus: Low Fell

Low Fell, Gateshead is made up of small settlements, communities and colonies, each with their own identity. Impressive stone crescents give way to terraced streets while huddles of hamlets sit right behind Durham Road, its main thoroughfare.

Low Fell is as diverse as can be – it’s a desirable location and that is part of its appeal. But this mix of communities is also what makes Low Fell’s pubs so distinct. There’s a full range of styles from gentlemen’s club to bar/bistro, food-led national chains and local independent boozers. All in all, Low Fell is different, it’s vibrant, it’s down-to-earth, and it’s well worth tarrying a while.

TheVictoriaThe Victoria
Are we there yet?
On the corner of Kells Lane and Beacon Lough Road. It’s a traditional inn, but much altered over the years.
How do I look?
Décor-wise, it’s from the exposed brick and stonework school of pub design with a riot of high tables, low tables, metal chairs, plastic stools, leather armchairs, chesterfields, benches, settles, armchairs, bookshelves and possibly the widest, heaviest, tallest timber table outside of a Borrower’s film set.
What can I get you?
The 1810-vintage pub is popular for its extensive lunchtime and evening menu, not forgetting Sunday roasts. Stuffed pork loin, free range chicken, honey glazed gammon with burgers a speciality. Hand-pulled ales include Black Sheep Bitter, Greene King IPA and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. Timmermans Strawberry, Stella Artois and San Miguel create a continental feel.
The Vic is divided into four areas, each with a separate function that means you could be in four different pubs at once. Very dog‑friendly.

TheAletasterThe Aletaster
Are we there yet?
Right on Durham Road at the top of Chowdene Bank. It’s a high and handsome detached building sitting proudly on the main road. It’s always been well supported by its local community but has unfortunately suffered from “is-it-open-is-it-shut” syndrome over the past couple of years. We can happily report that The Aletaster is definitely open for business.
How do I look?
The pub has changed hands once or twice over the past few years but it admittedly appears much tidier and sparkles more than it ever has. Its surfaces shine, its brasses shimmer. The bar back is well worth appreciating for its age-worn functionality.
What can I get you?
An impressive range of ales shouts Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, Sharps Doom Bar, Black Sheep Bitter, Copper Dragon Best and Old Rosie Cider. All in fine fettle.
The traffic may rumble constantly by outside but this is an oasis of calm and comfort. The tucked-away snug is, as ever, a hideaway treat. The toilets are immaculate.

TheBlackHorseThe Black Horse
Are we there yet?
On Kells Lane, a long road that dissects Low Fell and takes in its whole range of crescents, small streets and wide avenues. It’s a family-run pub – Tim and Pat Robinson took over more than 30 years ago and he and his son Chris still run it.
How do I look?
The bar is long and old-fashioned – in a good way – with lots of dressed timber, stained glass, hard-wearing fabric upholstered seating and tiled flooring. The lounge is a real feature with a large bar and bags of space to move around in. A small outside area is a bit of a suntrap and a little oasis. More bench-style seating is at the front of the pub where you can sit and watch Kells Lane unfold.
What can I get you?
Deuchars IPA, Anarchy Brew Co Blonde Star and Wylam Bitter. The local ales are rotated with regulars from Mordue and The Stables at Beamish Hall. You get the impression if you recommended an ale, they’d do their best to source it. It’s believed to be the only pub in Low Fell with a Cask Marque certification. Bar snacks include prepackaged sandwiches, toasties, crisps and nuts.
Another very community-focused pub and one you’d like at the end of your street – or more conveniently, the middle of your street. It features paintings and prints by local artist – and pub quiz regular – Jim Harker, who takes inspiration from Picasso, Matisse and Van Gough to do his own thing.
Its place in the local psyche is underlined by framed photos of the pub through the years – a 1940 outing depicts around 50 men, most of them in collar and tie, but the daddy of them all is the original handwritten lease from July 1798 which permits “the sale of beer and porter”.
The toilets are a credit to the cleaning staff and a car park is a huge advantage in Low Fell.

TheBankThe Bank
Are we there yet?

A bar/bistro on the west side of Durham Road that wouldn’t look out of place in The Smoke.
How do I look?
Set in a grade-II former Lloyds Bank building dating from 1841, it’s ultra stylish, wine and cocktail-orientated and very food friendly with most tables on our visit sharing cakes and fancies. Definitely the only bar in Gateshead with a bowler hat above the door. Its greys and sage greens are curiously calming.
What can I get you?
No handpulled ales but draught Kaltenberg Royal Lager which looks Dutch but is actually from Lancashire, plus Guinness, Thwaites Smooth, San Miguel and Kingstone Press Cider, while bottles include a selection from Sonnet 43. Sunday lunches come highly recommended.
The Bank is opulent and casual, but warm and relaxing at the same time. The upstairs brasserie is renowned for highly creative chefmanship.

GatesheadArmsThe Gateshead Arms
Are we there yet?

On Durham Road, Low Fell’s main thoroughfare, and convenient for services and amenities.
How do I look?
Polished timber floorboards and exposed brickwork are a nod towards shabby-chic. We liked the 1910 Newcastle United framed poster – how today’s team could do with a Rutherford, a Higgins and a McCracken. The rear beer garden is hugely impressive but mind the slippery-when-wet decking.
What can I get you?
Sharps Doom Bar and Deuchars IPA on handpull. while McEwans Best Scotch and Newcastle Exhibition head up the keg offer. This is a real community pub where conversation invariably starts with: “Can I get you a pint?”
It’s a big pub and has always been a popular community focus with little in the way of pretention. It’s proud of its 1830s roots too, as framed photos of old Gateshead and Low Fell show.

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Alastair Gilmour

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