Well-known South Shields pub closes its doors as demolition day approaches

Cross Arms Hotel
Cross Arms Hotel

One of South Tyneside’s best-known boozers has closed its doors as council bosses push ahead with a £100million masterplan.

Negotiations are ongoing for the sale of the Cross Arms Hotel in Barrington Street, South Shields.

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The famous old bar is set to make way for a major redevelopment of the Barrington Street and Chapter Row area of the town, incorporating the old General Havelock pub site and the former Shields Gazette offices.

As part of the local authority’s ‘South Shields 365’ vision the land is earmarked for a new cinema, retail outlets and leisure development, incorporating restaurants.

Redevelopment of the town centre has moved on apace since the start of the year. Work has started to clear the former Wouldhave House site in the Market Place to make way for work on The Word, the new central library and digital hub which forms the first stage of ‘365’.

Meanwhile, images were released earlier this week of how a new integrated transport hub will look on the site of the town’s existing central post office and Royal Mail office.

We are working hard to acquire properties

South Tynerside Council spokesman

Now the council has revealed it is in the process of buying the Cross Arms Hotel, formerly the Douglas Vaults, and that negotiations are also ongoing with other building owners in the area.

The bar has had various different identities over the years. It was once The Buffalo, The Spirit Vaults and, simply, The Spirit.

But for a generation of revellers in the town it will always be best known by its nickname – The ‘Dougie’ Vaults.

Stewart Cross became its licensee eight years ago, and converted the upstairs of the property into a hotel, re-naming it The New Douglas Vaults Hotel.

Former Mayor John Anglin.

Former Mayor John Anglin.

Mr Cross then took over the freehold of the building and rechristened it the Cross Arms Hotel, with the premises undergoing an internal refurbishment to provide a ‘Victorian feel’ throughout, with brass lights and fittings from that era.

Now its fixtures and fittings, and its pool table, have been removed in preparation for its eventual demolition.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The council needs to acquire properties and land interests to facilitate development as part of the South Shields 365 masterplan.

“We are working hard to acquire properties by agreement and are in negotiations with all land, property and business owners who are prepared to engage with the council.

“We are in the process of buying the Cross Arms pub from its current owner. The Barrington Street area has been earmarked for retail and leisure development, including a new cinema.”

Coun John Anglin, the council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said planning applications were about to be submitted for both the transport interchange and retail and leisure developments in and around Barrington Street.

He added: “We are looking to process things as quickly as possible so people can see that we are committed to the town’s regeneration. Negotiations are ongoing with property owners and some buildings have already been acquired.”