A PIONEERING pub boss who opened the first wine bar in South Shields has died at the age of 60.
Peter Edmondson, who passed away at South Tyneside District Hospital after a courageous three-year battle with bowel cancer, was at the centre of the town’s nightlife in the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, tributes were paid to the former DJ who “put South Shields nightlife on the map” and went on to transform the way revellers spent their leisure time.
Mr Edmondson started a wine bar revolution in his home town when he opened Bensons, in Keppel Street, in the early 1980s.
His bar empire then expanded to include Porters in Winchester Street, and Raffles, the 69 Bar and Dexters, all in Ocean Road.
Before that time, he had toured the town’s nightspots such as the La Strada in the 1970s – then known as Pete Edmonds – with his mobile disco. and also ran a record shop for a time. His wife Melanie, 45, of Mitford Road, South Shields, has led tributes to a “lovely guy who lived a fantastic life”.
She said: “He put South Shields nightlife on the map after he opened Bensons. He loved the music scene, and he kept DJing even after he was running the bars.
“He had a fantastic time. and lived a fantastic life.
“Peter was a lovely guy. No one had a bad word to say about him.”
As the 1990s progressed, Mr Edmondson gradually sold off his empire in South Tyneside, and for a time ran an Irish bar, Mary Rogans, in Tenerife, where he and Melanie often holidayed.
His passion later in life turned to windsurfing, which he continued to pursue with great gusto even after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Mr Edmondson, who died last Tuesday, still owned beach chalets in South Shields, and remained active until near the end of his life, enjoying a holiday in Australia last Christmas.
His wife, who has been bolstered by countless messages of condolence and tributes posted on the social networking site Facebook, added: “He continued to live life to the full. He didn’t allow the cancer to hold him back.”
Christine Rowell, who worked as a book-keeper and wages clerk for Mr Edmondson for many years, said: “Peter was the most caring, conscientious boss anyone could ever wish for. I think all his staff would say the same.”
South Tyneside DJ Martin Urwin added: “He really was a wine bar pioneer in South Shields, but when we talked, it was never about all the businesses he ran – it was always about the music and the DJing.
“That was his passion. It’s tragic that he’s gone so relatively young.”
A funeral service will be held at South Shields Crematorium tomorrow from 11.30am.