Last orders have been called on two popular South Tyneside watering holes after a brewery boss was declared bankrupt.
Both The Maltings, in Claypath Lane, South Shields, and the Robin Hood, in Roman Road, Jarrow, ceased trading on Wednesday night.
Borough businessman Jess McConnell had a difficult fight to keep the venues open since Jarrow Brewery Limited, based in Bede Industrial Estate, went into liquidation due to cash flow troubles back in April.
In a bid to keep trading, Jarrow Breweries Limited formed in its place – but that too entered administration last month.
And now Mr McConnell, whose first pub was the Jarrow Lad in Western Road in 1983, has called time after being declared bankrupt a fortnight ago.
But on a day of bad news for the borough – that also saw DIY giant B&Q confirm its South Shields store faces closure – Mr McConnell now faces having to make up to 15 members of staff redundant.
I have to start from scratch now.Jess McConnell
However, McConnell’s Gin and Ale House in Walter Street, Jarrow, which is now owned by his stepson, will be trading as normal.
Mr McConnell said: “The Jarrow Brewery has ended up like the Jarrow March – glorious, spectacular and memorable. But ultimately, in the end, they both achieved nothing.”
Mr McConnell said he will now be found working behind the bar at McConnell’s Gin and Ale House.
He said: “I have to start from scratch now. I’m going to be working in McConnell’s Gin and Ale House. I am no longer going to be the employer, I’ll be employed.”
Yesterday, a sign in the window of the Robin Hood – next to a picture of the Titanic – read: “Dear Customers, we are sorry to inform you that the Robin Hood and The Maltings are closed until further notice.
“The former landlord can be found drowning his sorrows at McConnell’s Gin and Ale House!
“We would like to thank you for all your wonderful support.”
Jarrow Brewery was set up in 2002 by Mr McConnell and his wife Alison – with a base at the Robin Hood – and enjoyed over a decade of growth.
A surge in sales and demand saw the brewery move to the Maltings Brewery Tap in South Shields in 2008.
But Mr McConnell, who served as a shipbuilder before becoming an entertainer on the region’s social club circuit, said the start of his problems was back in 2009 when the Albion Inn, in Bill Quay, was hit by the recession.
There were plans to transform the building into housing, but they never took off.
In 2012, the firm was left with a £48,000 bill after plans to take over St Andrew’s Church in Hebburn failed.
However, it bounced back and in 2013 – after securing more than £220,000 of funding – the brewery made the move to Bede Industrial Estate.
It revealed ambitious plans to appoint more than a dozen staff and produce 70,000 pints a week as part of the £500,000 expansion bid.
But last October Mr McConnell, who was also well known for running the Victoria Park pub in the late ’80s, he had to sell The Magnesia Bank in North Shields and in January, the Isis in Sunderland also went.
In August, thousands of litres of out-of-date beer were removed by Customs officers.
Customs and Excise officers carried out the operation at Jarrow Breweries and also at The Maltings,
In an agreement with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) the company, which was famous for award-winning ales including the Rivet Catcher, had stopped brewing and distributing June 25 because it did not have a licence to do so.
Administrators from Baker Tilly were appointed to the business last month.