Published on December 16th, 2014 | by Alastair Gilmour


Toursit traps

Newcastle has been voted the UK’s favourite holiday city by The Guardian and Observer Travel Awards 2014. We all know what a great place it is to live around and to visit, but it’s nice all the same to be nationally recognised. Second was Bath with Edinburgh picking up third spot.

The North East Travel Awards therefore has a particular significance for the winners of the best tourism pub category. The year-old Bridge Tavern in Newcastle took the title with runners-up being The Staith House on North Shields Fish Quay, and South Causey Inn, Stanley, County Durham.

Congratulations to all – the Cheers advice is to take the tourist route and visit all three.

The Bridge Tavern now goes on to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence being held at The Sage, Gateshead, in May 2015. The pub also came top in the Publicans Morning Advertiser Awards in the new pubs category earlier this year for the North and Scotland.

“It’s a nice end to our first year,” says pub co-owner Dave Stone. “It’s great to win and it’s also great for all the people in the team and particularly for head chef Tony Renwick, manager Jack White, and brewer Joe Roberts.
“The Craft Beer Calling event we organised last month was also a huge success and we can all bulid on that for the future.”

It’s a complete transformation from virtually-derelict pub into a high quality venue in a unique location directly below the iconic Tyne Bridge, featuring a stainless steel and copper work-of-art microbrewery. The pub’s “innards” are exposed; the lengthy sculpted bar top is pewter; viewing panels highlight 86-year-old Tyne Bridge rivets; lampshades are original Bauhaus, and the bridge’s underbelly shelters an al fresco terrace.

The Staith House (top right) is bright and welcoming, uses its space well, and is complemented by considerate use of reclaimed timber and brick. Ship’s portholes, a wheelhouse bell and other fittings have come from a scrapped vessel which envelop the pub in a site-specific ambience. Quality ales and premium lagers are the core of the drinks side, while the kitchen team is developing a reputation for creativity and craftsmanship.

The extensive (and immaculate) grounds are full of the sound of chickens, sheep, horses, a donkey, alpacas, geese and piglets. But there’s plenty for grown-ups too. Four bars – one with a huge stone fireplace – feature several local ales in very good order. Lounges and a restaurant are popular with social groups while corporate events and family occasions – some 200 weddings this year alone – are in high demand.

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Alastair Gilmour

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