Pubs of Tyne Dock

Kennedy's pub in Tyne Dock.
Kennedy's pub in Tyne Dock.

Today local history enthusiast Maureen Thompson shines the spotlight on the public houses of Tyne Dock.

“There were quite a few public houses in the Tyne Dock area, but now there is only one left, Kennedy’s Bar,” reveals Maureen in The Streets of South Shields Volume 5, which was compiled by the Workers’ Education Association.

“Originally, none of the pubs in Tyne Dock had spirit licences, and so they were called Beer Bars.

“A lot of them were small basic places, some even being operated from the front rooms of private dwellings.

“Until I started researching for the book, I did not appreciate how many pubs there had been in the busy area of Tyne Dock.

“The only pubs I knew of, as I was growing up, were Kennedy’s Bar, The Dock Hotel and the Royal Hotel.”

Maureen reveals that two significant thoroughfares in the area, Slake Terrace and Hudson Street, were well known for their drinking establishments – many of them being better known by their nicknames.

“For instance, The Shakespeare Inn translated into “The Shakey” while The Alexandra was named “The 27”, so called because it was meant to represent the 27th staithe” reveals Maureen.

“The Dock Hotel, meanwhile, was fondly known as the “Boodie Bar” because of the ornate, green and cream tiles on its exterior. The use of nicknames for pubs can cause confusion, as happened to my husband, Paul, when he took his dad to a funeral in Burnley, Lancashire.

“A local gave them directions, using pubs as markers, unfortunately he referred to these pubs by their nicknames, which didn’t prove helpful to two Shields lads.”

Maureen goes on to say that so many pubs thrived in Tyne Dock because of the sheer number of men who worked in the area’s heavy industry.

“I would think the vast majority of working men would look forward to quenching their thirst after a hard day’s labour, and would take the opportunity to socialise with their workmates who were, in all probability, their neighbours as well.

“The thought of a pint would have been very appealing to the men in an attempt to rid the taste of dust in their mouths.

“I imagine the dock area would have been polluted with dirt and grime from the coal dust and smoke and steam from the trains.”

Maureen states that Kennedy’s Bar (formerly The Tyne Dock Hotel) is situated on the corner of Thornton Avenue and South Elsdon Street.

It was built in 1809, and was originally a hotel and bar. It acquired its nickname Kennedy’s from a former licensee named John Kennedy who was at the pub from the mid 1880s to 1913.

“On the exterior walls of the pub there are two nameplates, in evidence to this day. The one on the Thornton Avenue wall reads, ‘Temple Town 1809’ and on the South Eldon Street wall it reads, ‘Rebuilt AD 1891.’

“As everybody knows, Kennedy’s has regularly been hit by flooding.

“This is because the pub sits in a natural dip, and so when we have torrential rain it floods.

The present manager, Carl Fitzmaurice, had special flood doors fitted in about 2011. “Tyne Dock and Kennedy’s still get flooded, but the special doors keep the water at bay and stop it seeping into the pub.

“I would say Kennedy’s bar is one of the few remaining, authentic beer bars in the town.”

The Dock Hotel, she goes on to report, was built in the corner of Dock Street and Hudson Street.

“The old Dock Hotel was pulled down to make way for a new housing estate, and the New Dock Hotel, which stands on a raised terrace, was opened on June 1964 before closing its doors about 2011.”

The Royal Public House, meanwhile, was situated at 105 Hudson Street.

“I can remember seeing this building from the Tyne Dock train station and on the odd occasions my parents took me and my brother to Newcastle.

“In 1983 it was boarded up, and shortly after the building was demolished.

“I was always intrigued by the building and the bay window which hung over the downstairs part of the pub.”

Maureen next turns her attention to The Grapes Hotel, which started its life as the Dock House Inn.

Thomas Blench changed its name to the Grapes Hotel in 1865.

“ It was situated on the corner of Hudson Street and Slake Terrace.

“Slake Terrace no longer exists, having been demolished to widen the road to allow larger cargoes in and out of Tyne Dock.

“Finally, I’d like to mention The Banks O’ Tyne pub.

“This was another of the many pubs in Hudson Street.

“It was built in 1848 as a Beer House, and closed on January 8, 1959.”

l Tomorrow Maureen lists more old Tyne Dock pubs, and we feature popular “watering holes” from throughout South Tyneside. Perhaps you would like to tell me about your favourite or about your very own “local”.

l The Streets of South Shields group meets on a Wednesday, between 10am and noon, at the Central Library. Fore more details contact Janet Wylie on (0191) 4554830, 07954413542 or email her on 54janet@live.co.uk