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Published on October 30, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Stand clear of the doors please

Station platform pubs never fail to delight, writes Alastair Gilmour

Ale and rail have long been ideal companions when it comes to tackling a beer circuit. And this could become a regular feature of the Tyne & Wear Metro if plans to develop the station at Newcastle’s Monument come to fruition.

The Metro already features the amazing Left Luggage Room micropub on Monkseaton Station’s platform – having been joined in recent weeks by Platform 2 at Tynemouth Station, another pub newly converted from a coffee shop.

But a new venue is set to join them in early 2019 if plans lodged with Newcastle City Council are approved. The former travel shop at Monument could be converted into The Waypoint, a real ale and music bar run by the Beldon family (brother and sister Sam and Áine and dad Gerry) and designed by award-winning Collective Design to ooze an air of elegance.

Think first-class on the Orient Express, we’re told. The bar’s curved shape will bend around the station’s central pillar and is expected to have fixed seating attached to one wall – plus a grand piano.

So, in a few months’ time, beer enthusiasts will be able to take part in a circular Metro jaunt. Stand clear of the doors please, here comes the next stop.

THE LEFT LUGGAGE ROOM

Monkseaton Station buildings date from 1915; handsome solid brick contrasting with cantilevered ironwork and elegant glass canopies, so this tasteful conversion of a disused space into a pub in 2016 was perhaps inevitable.

It’s now worn in around the edges like a well-creased shoe and is a very pleasant spot to boot. The vaulted timber ceiling shows there’s beauty in utilitarian simplicity, while abandoned trunks and suitcases front the pub counter.

The outdoor seating area obviously attracted a lot of custom during the summer, although the glazed canopy overhead would have appeared somewhat greenhouse-like. A few drinkers were sitting outside on a breezy October Tuesday – watching all the Metros, as Elvis Costello might have it.

Beers revolve regularly from the likes of Almasty, Two By Two, Fyne Ales and Tiny Rebel breweries plus a superb Lukas Helles Lager (4.2% abv) from Thornbridge Brewery that has the ability to transport a body from “the best pub in Monkseaton Station” to a bar in Central Europe in one sip.

Complementing the beer range, a dozen whiskies displaying peat, mandarin and vanilla characteristics meet 20 gins steeped in honeysuckle, hibiscus and lavender.

I continue to be mesmerised by the herringbone-style flooring (actually shortened scaffold boards) and wonder where the boomerang on the windowsill acme from. Perhaps it keeps being thrown away.

The books on the windowsills are heavy on biography – we’d happily leaf through the life and times of David Gower, Jimmy Greaves, Eric Sykes, Peter Allis and Goldie Hawn, but draw the line at The Full Monty, The Autobiography of Jim Davidson.

PLATFORM 2, TYNEMOUTH

Compared to the Left Luggage Room and its knick-knackery, Platform 2 craft beer bar at Tynemouth Station is minimalist. It’s neat, tasteful and, after only a few weeks of opening, it has a lived-in ambience. 

Platform 2 is an incarnation of Porters Coffee Shop which was set up by Mick and Eve Bowman nearly 25 years ago, but still family-run by their kids Andrew and Jade.

The substantial timber-slatted counter is topped by a layer of zinc (I could be wrong on the metallurgy but classic French bars are called Le Zinc for that raison). A curious image of George Washington blowing bubblegum looks down on drinkers; an emu-like creature sits over the bar, as does a stag’s head, while a vintage jukebox offers the likes of Talking Heads, Police, Queen, David Bowie and Wilson Pickett, which, because of possibly dodgy speakers, all seem to sound disappointingly like cover versions. Chris Rea’s Stainsby Girl still manages to prickle neck hairs, however.

There’s a good choice of keg and cask beer, including Two By Two Ouseburn Farm Ale, Almasty Table Beer, Box Social Hybrid Theory, Anarchy Urban Assault and Thatcher’s Somerset Cider, plus Allendale Frank’s Fight, a dry-hopped version of the brewery’s Golden Plover, brewed for charity.

Décor-wise at Platform 2, exposed rough brickwork contrasts in colour and texture with flat greys that induce a relaxed rather soothing atmosphere (although regulars at busy times might have a different impression).

Eve Bowman says: “Twenty-five years ago, we were one of only a small handful of cafes in Tynemouth and now the village boasts some of the best food and drink across the region.”

A day-ticket on the Metro costs just over a fiver – not a bad price to pay for a magical micropub tour.


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Alastair Gilmour



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