Following our recent article ‘Town with No Cheer’, which examined the reasons for Heaton not having as many public houses in the 1890s as some nearby areas, we now bring the story of Heaton and the licensed trade into more recent times with some surprising continuity of earlier themes and passions.
The growth of Heaton around the turn of the twentieth century saw a marked rise in the number of applications for licences. Many applications to the Brewster sessions involved houses that were about to be built or had been recently constructed. The background context for this was also changing and becoming more of a political battle overlaid on the temperance landscape. This however did not stop a frequent procession of applications to the magistrates which indicates some existence of potential clientele and an associated entrepreneurial spirit.
It is certainly the case that some locations became frequent and continued focuses for applications to the Brewster sessions. For example, on 5 August 1896 the following applications were made with subsequent decisions announced on 1 September.
Tale of Two Turnbulls
Henry Grose Nichol seemed to be hedging his bets in applying for a variety of different licences (just beer and wine, full licence including spirits or merely a beer ‘off’ licence) for premises to be constructed on the corner of Eighth and Second Avenue. According to his solicitor, this endeavour was ‘not for the purpose of catching visitors to Heaton Park but for the purpose of supplying that great and populous district’. It was also observed that only the Chillingham Hotel (previously known as the East End Hotel) and two ‘inconveniently situated beer houses’ were in the vicinity when the population, it was argued, had multiplied four or five times.
300 local residents had voted for a licence to be granted but builder Richard Heslop said that one benefit that newly constructed houses on Balmoral Terrace displayed was the understanding that there were no licensed properties nearby. The application, in all its variety, was refused without any explanation given.
Alexander Turnbull, a Byker Hill brick manufacturer of 69 Rothbury Terrace where he lived with his wife and eight children, applied for a beerhouse licence for his proposed property, the Falmouth Hotel, which was to be constructed at the corner of Heaton Road and King John Street (currently the Butterfly Cabinet). We have already written about these premises at 200 Heaton Road and about Turnbull himself, who went on to become chairman of Newcastle United, in Rothbury Terrace: the Magpies’ nest .
It was pointed out at the Brewster sessions that Alexander and William Turnbull, who had set up firstly his Assembly Rooms and then the East End Hotel, were unrelated despite possessing the same surname. 514 out of the 900 ratepayers who had been canvassed supported the application with only 50 opposed to it. Mr Potter of Heaton Hall as well as a local builder, John Wilson, spoke in favour. Opposition was voiced by Rev Benjamin Gawthorp of Heaton Baptist church on behalf of his congregation. Mr Veitch of 40 Rothbury Terrace objected, arguing that the development would deliver ‘moral injury to the district and depreciate the value of his property’. This application was also refused after some banter about people being unwilling to indulge in a short perambulation for a drink but happy to walk to Gosforth to cross the ‘three mile limit’ which marked the extent of the City of Newcastle jurisdiction.
Although the Bench did refuse both applications, it went to the extent of providing a written response stating that the future need of Heaton and its surrounding areas for more facilities was probable but that only the surrendering of some licences within more ‘congested areas’ would enable this to take place. This decision was reported in the ‘Newcastle Weekly Chronicle’ of 5 September 1896.
Maria Allon, a widow, of Holly Avenue in Jesmond applied for a six day ‘off’ licence to sell beer from 96 Falmouth Road, the property of Samuel Kirk, a slate merchant of Ridley Villas on New Bridge Street. The Bench declared that they would look favourably in a week’s time if a signed six year lease agreement between the owner and tenant could be produced. It is interesting to note that the phenomenon of the ‘corner shop’ was alive and well in this time period. Mary Alice Bell wished to be allowed to sell beer from her shop at the junction of Mundella Terrace and Second Avenue. Alice Ward wanted the same for her property at the corner of Second Avenue and King John Street. John Wilson asked for a beer ‘off’ licence for a rival concern where Second Avenue meets King John Terrace. The rapid growth of Heaton was leading to an increase in potential demand and a concomitant entrepreneurial desire to satisfy it. All these applications were refused.
The number of churches along Heaton Road and the proximity of a public park continued to exert an influence on public opinion. It is no surprise to find the Heaton Anti-Licensing Council state in 1897 that ‘with fairy lights the public house would tempt those passing by to turn aside from the path of rectitude’ and the fear that with more licensed premises ‘Heaton Road would become a bear garden’.
Just before the turn of the century on 2 Sept 1899 the following applications were made and, in most cases, refused. Fred Forster applied for a full licence for premises about to be constructed between 94 – 98 Falmouth Road and 61 – 63 Heaton Road which has seen a number of later commercial enterprises based there over the years. Mary Laws applied for an ‘off’ licence for the house at the corner of Heaton Road and Roxburgh place. John Wilson, the builder, applied for a full licence for his property, the Falmouth Hotel, at 200 Heaton Rd and 1 and 3 King John St. This was refused as was a subsequent application for a beer and wine licence for the Falmouth Hotel.
‘Off’ licence applications were continuing to be presented with Thomas Pickering asking for permission to sell beer from a shop on the corner of Heaton Rd and Guildford Place. William Pickering ran the Grace Inn on Shields Road. Cornelius Whillance of 32 Mowbray St (with Thomas Barker the Temperance missionary being a near neighbour at 36) was more fortunate in being granted a wine ‘off’ licence for 2 Heaton Park Rd. The magistrates may have been more positive due to Cornelius’ recent decorated service in the merchant navy.
A more novel incursion into the nature of licensed premises marked the beginning of the twentieth century. Much of the opposition to licensed premises within residential areas was centred around the notion that the pursuit of profit would encourage the promotion of sales above any other considerations including health and wellbeing. To accomplish a more balanced and moderate context for drinking, on 3 June 1901 the Northumberland Public House Trust Company was established with a capital of £100,000 initially to take over the Grey Arms at Broomhill Colliery near Amble. The Trust aimed to ‘promote temperance by eliminating as far as possible the element of private profit from the retail sale of intoxicating liquors’. Any profits were to be administered for public benefit though the manager would be able to earn a personal commission on food and non-alcoholic drinks. Subscribers included Earl Grey, Lords Howick and Lesbury, as well as Andrew Noble of Jesmond Dene House, Charles William Mitchell of Jesmond Towers and William Henry Watson-Armstrong of Cragside.
In August of that year, Earl Grey published a statement declaring that the aim of the Public House Trust Company was to establish Trusts across the country before the forthcoming Brewster sessions began so that any new licences would be given to the local trust rather than to individuals. It was stated that this was ‘a national movement to manage new licences in the interests of the community’. This enterprise was based upon the People’s Refreshment House Association Limited formed by Francis Jayne, the Bishop of Chester in 1896.
Although the Trust movement gathered some momentum, with Durham and North Yorkshire Trusts being established before the end of the year, in reality they struggled to grow as rivals to the established trade. There was some increase in their chains of ‘model’ public houses — the Durham and North Yorkshire Trust had fourteen properties by 1909 — but profitability and further expansion seemed hard to achieve. The political climate at the time was also changing with a new emphasis seeking to limit the profitability of the licensed trade so as to discourage the more pernicious effects and its encouragement by the brewers and licensees. The desire for a greater link between licensed premises and the people that use them shares elements with David Cameron’s Big Society rhetoric as well as the current desire for more community pubs within the economic context of falling profitability, declining numbers and staff shortages.
On 3 Sept 1901, the Brewster sessions evidenced the same arguments and often very similar properties and applicants! These include requests to extend the beershop licence at 98 Falmouth Road to encompass its neighbours at 94 and 98 as well as 61 – 63 Heaton Road. Mr Barker, the temperance missionary, had conducted a ‘plebiscite’ which resulted in 758 against and only 247 in favour. The application was refused though the continued canvassing of opinion in a somewhat unsystematic fashion meant that public opinion was often quoted without being arrived at in any impartial or balanced manner.
On 3 Feb 1903, a public meeting was held in the Presbyterian Hall on Heaton Road to protest about new licences in Heaton. T Cruddas and A Pascoe spoke against any new licences as this would increase drinking, criminal acts and, consequently, the rates. Guy Hayler, a nationally known career temperance campaigner who came to Newcastle to lead the movement here and who was, at this time, secretary of the North of England Temperance Society and living at 63 Rothbury Terrace, wished to add an amendment ‘to close the East End Hotel in Chillingham Road, and restore Heaton to the position it once held.’ (Laughter in the courtroom). Mr Hayler said that drunkenness in Newcastle was on the increase compared to other places and that Northumberland was ‘one of the blackest’
Subsequent applications later that year included a repeated attempt by the Northumberland Public House Trust Company to run premises about to be constructed at the corner of Chillingham Road and Trewhitt road on land belonging to William Armstrong Watson-Armstrong. This again serves to illustrate that the relationship between the landowners and licensing laws was more complex and circumspect than often assumed. Despite the reputable nature of those involved in this application the magistrates refused it on the grounds of lack of need as demonstrated by the small number of applications.
In 1891, Mary Laws and William, her husband, were living at 8 Holmside Place. After William’s death in 1897, Mary moved to Farne House on Stannington Avenue and, in 1903, made a second application for a restaurant licence for the Victoria Hotel, on the corner of Heaton Road and Roxburgh Place. The first unsuccessful application in 1901 for a licensed restaurant to be instituted in what was otherwise a temperance hotel was met with the expected gibe from the opposing solicitor, Mr Copeland. ‘Would it mean that anyone buying a half penny biscuit could get a drink?’ Although this application was refused, the request for a billiards licence was granted. Ward’s Directory of 1902 described the premises as ‘Victoria Commercial Hotel, superior accommodation for commercials and professionals; livery stables; moderate tariff’.
The determination to gain licensed status for hotel establishments was however a continued feature of this period. Two years later Thomas Blackett, wine and spirit merchant with a number of properties across the east end, applied for full licence for the ‘Falmouth Hotel’ from its current status relating to wines, spirits and liqueurs. Application had been made before and the Bench knew the house. This was opposed on behalf of local property owners and the application was refused.
In the same year the manager of the Guildhall Restaurant, Spero Gosma, applied for a full licence for the Victoria Hotel, the property of Mrs Mary Laws. It was argued that the establishment had continued for eight years without a licence as a first-class hotel but that the management of Mr Gosma was much needed in the densely populated district which now totalled around 16,000 people. There had been no new licence for 13 years and to support the application a petition was presented of 656 residents and visitors as well as 45 property owners. Mr Dodds opposed on behalf of Co-operative Society, Presbyterian and Baptist churches with a supporting claim that a ‘plebiscite’ the previous year had indicated 3,305 individuals voting against any new licences. A meeting held the previous Sunday 5 February of around 800 people had been unanimous in their opposition. The application was then refused.
The Victoria Hotel was then the scene of a depressingly familiar story of crime and punishment. On 10 May 1906 John Henry Soppitt 25, (whose aliases included John Stobbart, Edward Henry Stoppitt, John Kennedy, and John Blake) plead guilty to stealing a number of joiners’ tools valued at £1 10 shillings and 6 pence, the property of John Ogle Haddon and others, from the Victoria Hotel. It was stated that the accused had obtained money by deceit especially from children who had been sent on errands. One example was that the accused had taken 3 shillings and 7 pence from a boy whilst giving him a jar of whisky and saying ‘Fly home, your mother is bad’. The accused admitted his guilt and ‘promised to be a better man’. Sergeant Dale noted that the accused had been before the magistrates 13 times across the North East. In June 1904 he had been sentenced to 9 months with hard labour at Durham for stealing a number of items and some money. Alderman Ritson sentenced the accused to 18 months with hard labour declaring that he was a ‘cowardly thief to take things from little children’. The sad story of an individual, despite their relative youth, being a habitual criminal is not unfamiliar to any age or period.
In February 1934 James Deuchar applied for a provisional publican’s licence for a hotel on the corner of Heaton Road and Stephenson Road (before the building of the Coast Road). Although this was some years on from our earlier excursions into the Brewster sessions it is interesting that the proposal caused ‘a storm of controversy’ as reported in the ‘Evening Chronicle’ of 6 Feb 1934. The Chief Constable of Newcastle, F J Crawley, gave a survey of recent changes. He pointed out that prosecutions for drunkenness had increased from 693 in 1932 to 807 in 1933 and that this was reflected in both male and female figures. 21 people had been arrested for being under the influence of drink or drugs whilst in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle. It is interesting to note that the newspaper headlines contained the line ‘Trade revival the cause’ though the article makes scant reference to this and brackets it with the availability of a higher gravity beer.
Magistrates were told that the plan was to ‘erect a hotel in the modern style with Georgian and Dutch touches…’ On resubmission in 1935, proceedings were dominated by barristers and clergymen. 6 February 1935 saw a provisional granting of the licence before confirmation on 26 March which led to a flurry of involvement and organisation.
Opposition was put forward by a lawyer representing 52 nearby residents who asked the magistrates to ‘visualise the possible effect on the minds of school children in the neighbourhood’. Rev Albert Brockbank of Bainbridge Memorial Methodist Church and the Dene Ward branch of the Citizens League vowed to continue the fight ‘trying to prevent people from an evil, just as you would try to prevent your children getting diphtheria’.
The churches were by no means united, however. A counter argument was put by Rev Verney Lovett Johnstone, vicar of St Gabriel’s, who complained that when he entertained friends for dinner, he had to go as far as the Chillingham Hotel to buy beer and that people did not realise how far the Cradlewell was. ‘My congregation certainly desire it. This is a free country and they want it on the grounds of the liberty of the subject’.
He continued by declaring that the opposition was confined to a dozen property owners and ‘some religious sects’. Unsurprisingly Rev Johnstone’s comments brought a flurry of letters into the Evening Chronicle, including from ‘Disgusted’ of West Jesmond. The sessions on 26 March were very well attended and attracted much notice in the local press. On his re appearance Rev Johnstone declared that the ‘quiet’ supper as reported previously was actually a ‘choir supper’ and that if he wanted a drink, he did not see why he should not have one. He also said that he had offered to meet his fellow clergymen but that they were not willing as ‘their minds were presumably made up.’ Within a few months Reverend Johnstone and his family had left Heaton for a new life in Australia.
The opposing view, given by the solicitor J Harvey Robson, stated that despite the growth in population and the nearby new estates there was no need for such premises in the modern world. ‘The time has gone by when the family puts on its hat and goes to the local public house for the evening. They now go to all forms of more modern entertainment.’ There was also the inevitable discussion of the distances needed to be traversed to purchase alcoholic beverages. Support given by a prominent local abstainer who lived nearby as well as a petition signed by 3000 voters may have helped to sway the magistrates who confirmed the granting of the licence despite the continued opposition of some clergymen who held protests in their churches on 7 April.
Permission was granted and the Corner House Hotel opened in 1936. The original seating for 263 was increased the same year to 283. It was observed that this was a ‘striking commentary on those criticisms offered by people saying there was no demand for licensed premises ……customers had to be served in an undesirable state of crowdedness’ .
Although it may be a little outside our boundaries, in 1954 the Lochside opened via a transfer of licence by James Deuchar.
The name is a tribute to the sea coast steamers (Lochside and Lochside II) which brought beer from Deuchar’s Montrose brewery to Tyneside. This was still the case when the pub opened. There is a possibly apocryphal tale that the men who worked the river, ferry boat and tugboat men as well as the river pilots, would touch their caps when the Lochside was sighted in the Tyne on its return journey. This was augmented by the associated belief that the beer itself tasted better if it had suffered stormy weather on its 16-hour voyage down the coast.
Another addition to the local hostelries was added in 1955 with the Northumberland Hussar, which was a transfer of licence from the Gosforth Arms in Shieldfield. It was heralded as ‘the latest example on Tyneside of a new-style inn specially designed to offer the traditional atmosphere of the English hostelry with the requirements of present-day customers’.
Many older Heaton History Group members have spoken about the Flamingo Club at 130 Heaton Road. Its Grand Opening Night was on 11 October 1963. Advertised attractions included wining and dining as well as roulette, dancing and an all-star cabaret. As had been the case with other premises, the Flamingo was a members club where non-members would require signing in as guests and would need to pay a cover charge. According to the ‘Journal’, the club was founded by the owners of a garage on Back Heaton Road. It is interesting looking at the range of entertainments and attractions on offer. The club advertised its late licence until 2am as well as its panoply of exotic dancers including tassel, belly and striptease.
28 January 1972 saw the demise of the club when two police officers in plain clothes were served drinks without being signed in as guests. Their visits over four evenings also led to evidence of after-hours drinking. The manager, owner and waiter were all arrested and given a three-month suspended sentence, £200 fine and conditional discharge respectively. The Flamingo Club did not reopen its doors as a new buyer could not be found.
And nothing really changes. This article was on the brink of publication when it was reported in the ‘Evening Chronicle’ (1 March) that the owners of ‘the stylish Flight Bar’ on Heaton Road ‘were forced to appear before councillors on Tuesday in a dispute over the drinking establishment’s licence’. The owners had asked to extend the premises’ licensing hours and change its operating style so that it was no longer required to have a ‘substantial’ food menu.
Echoing arguments of the past, one local resident told the committee that the establishment’s substantial food offer comprised ‘pork pies, bowls of olives and chocolate brownies’. He pointed out that the Chillingham and Corner House were at Heaton’s extremities and told councillors ‘If you were to approve this, you could fundamentally change the fabric of Heaton and, I think, potentially create another Osborne Road’. In addition, the council’s planning department complained the owners had not obtained the required planning permission and the case was under investigation. In response, the owners said that the bar was ‘a high-end location, specialising in quality cocktails, beers and wines’ and that that there had been no complaints. They pledged that Flight would not be the kind of ‘vertical drinking’ venue seen in busy parts of Jesmond or the city centre’.
So, at a time when many licensed premises earn as much (perhaps most) of their income from food and non alcoholic drinks, suggesting that the ambitions of at least the more moderate Temperance campaigners may have been achieved, the debate continues.
At the same time, in Heaton and its environs, the number of micro pubs, ‘pop ups’ and mixed-use ventures seems to be evidence of an alternative and entrepreneurial character. Those of us who are inhabitants of Heaton are fortunate to live within such a lively and diverse neighbourhood. The slogan may not have yet taken off as it has in Portland, Oregon but perhaps this culture does go some way towards ‘Keeping Heaton Weird’.
Researched and written by Karl Cain of Heaton History Group.
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British Newspaper Archive
Drunkenness in turn of the century Newcastle / B Bennison; Local Population Studies (52), 1994
From Byker to Heaton – the origins and history of Heaton Methodist Church / N F Moore and W K Robinson; 2000
From Lochside to Tyneside – Montrose Port Authority
Heaton from farms to foundries / A Morgan, Newcastle City Libraries, 2012
Heavy Nights A history of Newcastle’s Public Houses Vol 2 The North and East / B Bennison; Newcastle City Libraries, 1997
Lodge Temperance 2557: Guy Hayler
Methodism in Newcastle upon Tyne 1742 – 2010 / G Fisher and Rev T Hurst; North East Methodist History Society, 2010
Other online sources