AS much as we may think we know where we live, places like Shields really do become a different country when you delve into their licensing past.
Would you know where Uncle Tom’s Spirit Vaults, or the pub the High Level Bridge were?
The former was at East Holborn, the latter, West Holborn: After 150 years, even the names no longer have any resonance.
And what about the Admiral Rodney? Ah, now there you have a real puzzle.
This comes via a friend who has been asked if he can help identify where this public house was in Shields.
His correspondent gives the address of 2 Frederick Street for it, but 2 Frederick Street, he says, turns out to be the Adam and Eve at Laygate.
Now, the Adam and Eve has a date of 1878 on a first floor bay window but there is some question in the inquirer’s mind as to whether this is an extension to the original building.
There was certainly an Adam and Eve pub there before that date, because I can find it listed in at least the 1860s.
At the other end of Frederick Street, at its junction with Reed Street, there was also the Eureka pub, recently demolished.
The question is, could either of these pubs have originally been the Admiral Rodney, which the inquirer thinks existed circa the 1700s?
Well in the first instance, one assumes the name is that of Admiral George Rodney, the British naval hero who made his name during the American War of Independence. He died in 1792.
Interestingly, though, looking back through old trade directories, the Adam and Eve pub’s address seems to have always been listed, historically, as just Laygate.
But that there has been a building on the site for, probably, at least a couple of centuries, is indisputable.
In his history, the Borough of South Shields, George Hodgson refers to the finding, in the late 19th century, of the tombstone of Quaker landowner Ralph Milburn, who died in 1668, in the garden of the Adam and Eve, “then a very old building on the corner of Laygate and Frederick Street.”
So, “very old” – but originally a pub called the Admiral Rodney?
All thoughts welcome.