Published on February 5, 2014 | by Alastair Gilmour


Strangers in the right place

One of the North East’s newest microbreweries has been honoured with a spot on a bar at the House of Commons.

Blaydon Brick, from the Tyneside town’s Firebrick Brewery, was selected to appear in the Strangers’ Bar at Westminster – and brewery owner Alistair Lawrence was captured pulling the first pint for Blaydon MP Dave Anderson (right).

Blaydon Brick was the nickname of Joseph Cowen MP, who represented Newcastle from 1874 to 1886, succeeding his father (also Joseph). He was so-called because he would invariably turn up at the Commons in a cloth cap and refused to modify his Geordie accent – which some MPs thought was Latin.

Dave Anderson says: “Many ales get a spotlight in this Commons watering hole and it provides a good opportunity to alert drinkers to what is one of the finest beers from our region and in the whole country.”

A political reformer – the New York Times described him as “one of the most extraordinary men in Europe” – Cowen became proprietor of the Newcastle Chronicle in 1860 and during his career continued to identify with the North East mining community. He died in 1900 aged 70 and is commemorated with a statue on Newcastle’s Fenkle Street.

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