Published on September 3rd, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Two pennies for your thoughts
The rich industrial heritage and social history surrounding North Shields is being celebrated by the latest café-bar that has opened in the town. The Two Pennies is a coffee-and-cakes café by day that gradually morphs into a music bar in the evening and into the night.
The premises on the once-grand (but could still be again) Northumberland Avenue has seen a number of businesses in recent years – tearoom, offices and a pizzeria – but three young local men, Scott Wall, Anthony Winter and Noel Dailey, have taken it on and are doing things their way.
The Two Pennies, named after the coins used in a shipyard pitch-and-toss gambling school, opened in late July and is still finding its feet, although the signs are looking good.
Anthony says: “It’s strange, it went quiet on Mondays and Tuesdays then the weekends were great, then the next thing we’re having our best days ever on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“One night we went through 55 pints of Cruzcampo in just over three hours. I quickly ordered two more kegs but then everyone was drinking Pravha and nobody wanted Cruzcampo. You can never work it out.”
Scott, Anthony and Noel have known each other for 20 years and always talked about having some sort of place where they could hang out with money not being the driving force. We all have those dreams and conversations after a pint or two, but Anthony was made redundant in February and that was the catalyst for change.
He says: “I thought do I pay off some of the mortgage or do I do something with the redundancy? Noel has always been a bit of a go-getter and after talking about it he phoned the next day to say we had five properties to look at. That night we put a deposit down on this place.
“We still didn’t know what we wanted to do with it but Scott is very into his music and beer so we decided it would be something different for North Shields.”
They did most of the work themselves, hacking away layers of plaster to expose areas of brickwork and stripping back floorboards. The two-roomed premises quickly took on the feel of a place that lends itself to live music, beer and conversation.
The drinks offer includes Camerons Röad Crew and Beavertown Neck Oil, while the menu, based on sharing dishes, is simple, well prepared and good value.
“Industry support has been brilliant,” says Anthony. “Molson Coors and LWC Distribution have been fabulous with us, so supportive, and a lot of other pub managers and club stewards have been impressed with what we’re doing.
“There’s an affluence in North Shields now with a lot of new developments going on, but you’ll still get a pint of Fosters for £2.10. We’re attracting custom between 4pm and 7pm who want a drink and a bite to eat, while during the day it’s coffee and cakes which is very profitable. Three lattes pay for a kilo of coffee beans.
The two pennies handed down through the family to Scott Wall from his great-grandfather were used in games of pitch-and-toss during his time in the shipyards. Workers would gamble at every break time, at lunchtime, after work and at every opportunity.
“My great-granddad never gambled, he just ran the game and got a cut so he lost nothing,” says Scott. “He was a bit of a hard man – that’s how he ended up running the game.”
Scott was featured in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Cheers. A psychiatric nurse by day, he makes guitars out of cigar boxes that end up making the raunchiest blues sounds you can ever imagine. He has plans to revive guitar-making workshops and to host live music sessions at the Two Pennies. “We didn’t expect this place to make money and not everything is about the bottom line. It was originally a place to hang out in, but so many people are coming in and we’ve had loads of lush compliments. It’s really great when you get that sort of feedback.” AG