Sadness as another Shields pub closes

A SAD FAREWELL ... Val Simpson has reluctantly left The Riverside.
A SAD FAREWELL ... Val Simpson has reluctantly left The Riverside.

ANOTHER South Tyneside pub has bitten the dust.

Licensee Christopher Simpson has successfully operated The Riverside watering hole on the Mill Dam, South Shields, for the last 16 months.

He built up a loyal set of customers, and Mr Simpson enjoyed support in operating the premises from his parents, Val and Stephen Simpson, ensuring the business was very much a “family affair”.

But despite the success, rising rent and beer costs have now forced him to move on.

The pub is the latest town watering hole to close its doors, after the demolition of bars such as the General Havelock, Brigantine, Commando and the conversion of the Criterion into a bookmakers.

Mr Simpson said: “The business just became untenable at the end.

“We started off paying rents of £50 a week, rising to £200 and then £600 a week. Even though turnover was good, those costs just meant it hasn’t been possible to continue.

“We’re tied in with the Greene King brewery and the pub next door was paying £100 less a barrel to it for the same beer. I found that totally unfair.

“It was very hard to walk away, because the customers have been great and we have invested a lot of time, money and effort in making a go of it.

“On our last night we had people coming up to us asking if there was anything they could do to help.

“Maybe it was fuelled a bit by drink, but it was nice to see that people cared. Unfortunately, it is too late to go back.”

Joe Mooney, who runs The Steamboat pub, a couple doors down on the Mill Dam, added: “It is a real shame, because they were making a real go of it.

“It hadn’t been as successful since Claire and Tom Mein were in charge several years ago.”

Mr Simpson’s mum, Val, added: “We’re leaving with a heavy heart. It’s really quite sad. We want to thank customers for their loyalty.”

A Greene King spokesperson, said: “We have worked extremely hard to support Christopher and Stephen’s business at the Riverside and are therefore disappointed that, despite our best efforts, they have chosen to close and leave the pub. We wish them well for their future.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul