Published on November 5th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour


The future is Rosie

A combination of Punch Pubs & Co plus publicans David Whitehead and Joanne Dwyer, have recognised the potential in one of Newcastle’s most popular pubs. The upstairs former living quarters that had lain empty for years above Rosie’s Bar on Stowell Street sparked an ambitious vision to bring a bit of history back to life.

A hefty investment in the pub has completely transformed the upstairs space to create a more contemporary bar called Mr Alexander’s with fixed booth seating, high stools and poseur tables. A large brick fireplace has been installed alongside white tiling and distressed paneling. Large screens at every viewpoint ensure nobody misses a second of live sport – upstairs and at ground-floor level where the bar has been given a contemporary makeover to attract a younger clientele.

Works have also included the creation of a new sun terrace overlooking the Chinese Arch and St James’ Park at Gallowgate. 

Pub history is notoriously woven with romance, mystery and drama and Rosie’s Bar is said to have once been owned by Rosie O’Shea, an Irish traveller, and her partner, a Mr Alexander – an unscrupulous character.

But what is certain is that the building dates back to the Victorian era. Brian Bennison’s Heady Days, A History of Newcastle’s Public Houses, recalls that the pub was once the Northumberland Arms and rebuilt around 1890. It was re-christened the Darn Crook in the 1970s then Rosie’s Bar in 1988 following a facelift. 

Rosie had a reputation for serving good ale – which the new operators are keen to replicate – and for her nightly singing performances in the bar. Rosie is believed to have left the pub around 1880 – allegedly for New York after Mr Alexander had been stabbed to death and she had fallen into depression – but her legacy has now been fully capitalised upon.

Former busker Don Partridge got it right in his 1968 hit: “Rosie, oh Rosie, your laughter brings the sunshine out to play.”

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Alastair Gilmour

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