I thought that after Sweden I’d do a post of highlights from the trad pubs in industrial west Tyne & Wear.

After all, EVERYONE writes about Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but NO-ONE writes about Blaydon and the mining towns to the west.  Prove me wrong.

Bet the Southworths have been here

The only problem is, there are no trad GBG pubs left (not on my blog, anyway) and Blaydon itself is a bit like Spennymoor without the Scouse menace.

See the source image

Just loads of those micros you love. Or will learn to love, anyway. So here they are;

Wig’s Place, High Spen


Yes, that’s really High Spen, a tiny village in the middle of nowhere that probably doesn’t even appear on Simon’s 1997 Readers Digest Atlas of Britain.

A sea of poppies greeted me, and a row of shops fed me;

I bought a coronation chicken bap/cob/barm and Eccles cake from the bakery. Both were astoundingly good, though the Eccles cakes were baked in St Neots in Cambridgeshire, weirdly.

Name THAT font, Matthew

Wig’s Place is cosy and crammed with Federation Breweriana.

Worrying smallseats

“How are you, my darling ?”

“Good, thanks. What beer should I have then ?”

“Well, the Olde Potting Shed is made next door, can’t go wrong with that”

Top quality homebrew

She was great, and the other customer, a chatty young lady, took me into her confidence about her sibling issues.

Really, some of these recent micropubs are quite wonderful. Particularly the ones run by women and welcoming folk who don’t drink beer.

A few miles north, Prudhoe is smarter than I expect, despite the Bethnal Green Working Mens Club affectation in the name (joking, Prudhoe).

Wor Local, Prudhoe

Frontage not a micro’s strongpoint

Perhaps there’s a perfect set of circumstances to visit a micro, where you’re not crushed to death or embarrassed by silence.

Wor Local was relaxed and chatty, with plenty of seating seating options, each with their own wooden mousetrap and draughts on the table. And there’s TWO loos.


The Guvnor brought out a little bowl of cheesy Wotsits, the non-micro blokes talked about hire v buy options on ankle grinders at Jewsons.

Aye.  All it needs is regrouting“.

Weird contraptions

Yes, it makes all the difference when the owner and locals talk to you, doesn’t it ?

East of Blaydon you reach the cause of the decline of the local shopping, as the Metro Centre envelops you and crushes your spirit,

leaving you to vainly attempt to reach the exit, but find yourself in the UK’s grimmest Spoons with its cutting edge ales.

Proper choice

It’s worth heading through the retail park to

Owa The Road, Swalwell

Dave runs a warm, cosy place with a range of ages, lovely to see.

Someone said “Canny” which made my day.

“Canny, lad”

The nice lady said “Straight glass or handle“, which really made my day.

As did the lacings of the month on this Grainger.

Clean glass, apparently

And if you MUST have a Proper Pub, the Sun is over the road. Dave runs this one,too.

You can read about the Sun in Pubmeister’s blog.

Dave by Duncan. Shirt ruined by betting company

The important thing to know if you meet Dave is that Newcastle United will soon have more money than City and Dave will be happy.  Or think he is.

There you go, a Blaydon mini micro crawl with great beer and friendly locals.  Can be done.


11 thoughts on “BLAYDON ACES

  1. Loved how you put this: “took me into her confidence about her sibling issues” –I suppose there are times when a stranger shares rather too much, but it beats walking into a place and being frostily ignored, surely. 🙂

    That photo of the Metro Centre is among the sadder things I’ve seen on your blog– by which I mean the sort of place I find myself stuck in all too often. Your journeys are designed to get you away from these kinds of environments, I imagine!

    Also loved this line: “Someone said “Canny” which made my day.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anything beats being ignored. Except being offered a taster.

      I love these sort of pubs where women (or men) feel welcome to turn up and just lounge and chat.

      Also, it was because she was able to take a mobile phone call from he sis that the candid conversation happened.

      It’s been interesting to re-read some of these posts and see how they match Simon and Duncan’s experiences. Duncan also got lost in the metrocentre 😕

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have my Metro Centre shack tick thank you. I had a wait for the train to escape the place and despite being hungry dared not enter the attached punishment centre for fear of never escaping. The Grainger Market sees to all Geordieland hunger needs. I also passed through once on Northern General’s imaginatively named Blaydon Racer omnibus. I inevitably will end up back there at some stage.

    Blaydon felt typical northern County Durham town to me. Canny folk around, relatively friendly. Far enough out to not have the run down Newcastle suburb that Dunston has.

    Prudhoe I have not explored much. The stotties are the little riverside cafe next to the railway station are superb though.

    To the American readers and anybody else reading for that matter, highly recommend the scenic railway journey out of Newcastle through the towns mentioned towards Hexham and Carlisle. One of the often neglected gems. Plenty of potential for pub stop offs on the way too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve long said you’re the real mastermind behind BRAPA. All Si does is drink and wee.

      Your observations are excellent. The railway journey west from Newcastle central is indeed a wonderful, I might cover Corbridge and Hexham in a future post.


    2. Can I point out that suggesting Dunston is a suburb of Newcastle is heresy? It’s a suburb of Gateshead which is a very different thing entirely.


      1. I take your point and accept it. Dunston is in County Durham. If the good people wish to hang me or flog me on the town hall steps then I will accept my punishment.


  3. At some point around 1981/2 British Rail offered one of their ‘Merrymaker’ day excursion tickets which allowed a day trip from Kings Cross to Newcastle, then across to Carlisle and back to Euston. I remember doing this one Saturday with a friend, who made it a longer day by starting/finishing from Dover (since he lived there). Our itinerary gave time for a couple of pints at a quayside pub in Newcastle, and another couple in Carlisle. It was a good day out, and I am sure was much better value than could be achieved today. We lost a lot with privatisation. It was a very scenic trip, at least once well away from London.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, Ian.

      I’m interested to hear you got better value pre-privatisation, though I always seem to get much better fares and service with Deutsche Bahn.

      My own observation is that our rail services seem very good though on occasions wholly unreliable (Northern) or frankly filthy (Virgin train to Manchester) though I’d be glad to hear counter views.


      1. Ian,
        Yes, you’ve reminded me that a dozen years before privatisation I paid only £12.50 for a “Holiday 3” ticket that gave three return trips during July 1984 and I did NEWCASTLE ( five pubs ) returning via Carlisle ( two pubs ), BRISTOL ( three pubs ) and BOURNEMOUTH including Southampton, Bath and Bristol again for a day of nine pubs.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Such a trip now on a walk up ticket would set you back £139 from London (unless something clever can be done – I haven’t looked deeply into it), though of course unless you are middle aged and single railcard discounts are available or £170.50 from Dover. Not sure what you paid in 1982, but I suspect a lot less even allowing for inflation.

      If you are still in London, I would be tempted to look at UK Railtours for that sort of day. You will get the scenic trip – that itinerary isn’t far removed from the sort of thing they do, for a two figure price in greater comfort although you will only get a pub stop in one city. Sadly the proprietor has recently passed away, however I understand his daughter intends to carry on.

      I don’t really want to be drawn into a discussion about the modern dynamic thrusting railway, but as far as I can tell the aim is to cram as many people in and get to London as quickly as possible. Those of us who don’t want to go to London can get stuffed. Comfort is steadily declining, reliability, especially around the big cities north of Watford, is collapsing through decades of under investment in infrastructure. Fares are high unless you want to have an advance purchase ticket which forces you to travel on the correct train or be shot by a travelling ticket inspector. Deciding when you want to have an extra pint before you come home is now an expensive luxury. The only positive of the modern railway is the impressive safety record.


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