Chillingham Road

Chillingham Road Metro Station was opened in 1982 and orginally called Parsons due it it’s closeness to Parsons engineering works. It’s also very close to Brough Park Greyhound racing stadium and Newcastle Diamonds Speedway.

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If you exit the station from Platform 1 and head straight ahead you’ll see a bridge to the right. Across the Bridge and on the other side of the road you’ll see the The Chillingham; which, if you’ever been a student in the city, you’ll be very, very familiar with!

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Yet another Sir John Fitzgerald pub, who are proving to have quite a presence on our guide so far, The Chillingham has undergone a massive refurb in recent years and for what was always classed as a student pub, it’s pretty swanky inside now. As you walk in you can either turn left or right into two large lounge areas; both of which have massively stocked bars. It was lunchtime on a Saturday for us, and a tad early to be going straight on the wine so I went for a Peach Tinnermans which was absolutely lovely. There were also lots of local ales on the handpulls and your standard lager options.

 

The decor is what you’d come to expect from a newly decked out SJF pub, lots of dark wood and tartan and whereas they do have quite a few TVs with sport being shown, it’s large enough that you’d be able to find a quiet corner away from the TVs if you wanted to.

 

The biggest draw for us when we visited was the small but perfectly formed beer garden out the back – it’s rare the big yellow ball in the sky makes an appearance in the north east so we had to make the most of it. Whilst the view of the traffic on Chillingham Road isn’t the most picturesque; the atmosphere when there’s big groups of you outside enjoying the weekend is infectious – it’s also airy enough that if people are smoking around you, it doesn’t really bother you too much.

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I could definitely see The Chillingham as a session pub, particularly with the reviews I’ve seen about the extensive food menu; which SJF pubs always have a good reputation for. Plus students always make for a good vibe!

Contact:

Address: 89 Chillingham Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5XL
Tel: 01912653992
Website: http://sjf.co.uk/our-pubs/the-chillingham/

See where else we’ve been on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here

 

Walkergate

Originally opened in 1839 by the Newcastle & North Shields Railway simply as Walker, it was renamed Walker Gate on 1 April 1889 however when the station underwent complete conversion in 2014 the signage was changed to the single word from; Walkergate.

My dad was a Heaton lad growing up so Walkergate is familiar territory for us; Walkergate Hospital (which closed in 2011) used to host a lot of staff training for NUTH hospital staff, so I found myself there semi regularly in the early 00’s and locals will also know it’s an area made famous by being home to the Tizer factory on Benfield Road.

Walkergate station is near perfect for Wine & Beer Metro terms, as it’s one of the few stations that has a pub so close to the tracks that it’s practically in the station. We were coming from the coast on this occasion, and as you exit the platform you will see The Railway Hotel across the road directly in front of you.

It’s a traditional imposing red brick corner pub which is split into two sections; bar and lounge. We visited at about 6pm on a Saturday evening and the bar area was heaving, largely due to the fact there was a Newcastle match being shown, however we got the impression it was mostly locals, who would have been then regardless.

I was disappointed that the drinks seems overpriced for the local boozer atmosphere; it was almost £13 for 3 bottles of Peroni (which were on offer at 3 for a fiver) and 2 glasses of white wine.  We made our way out the the lounge at the back for a seat and to watch the end of the match.

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It was definitely the kind of place you imagine looks exactly the same as it did in the 70s, with little to no investment in it’s restoration or upkeep. Whilst we didn’t feel uncomfortable in the slightest and the barmaids were particularly friendly I do get the impression it’s very much a local pub for local people. That said, it’s not a city centre pub, and non locals are probably unlikely to be the area and in need of refreshment! All in all, it’s a decent place if you need to stop somewhere for a seat and a drink, however not really the kind of place what will blow your socks off!

Contact:

Address: 906 Shields Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 4QP

Find out more about where we’ve visited on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here

Chris Montague Photography

‘In photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary’ – David Bailey

One of the best things about writing a blog, aside from it feeding my narcissistic need to be liked, is when you get to join forces with your mates when your individual passions collide.

Steph is one of my oldest friends from school (and by that I mean I’ve known her the longest). She met the lovely Chris in 2012, they married in 2016 and since then the Montague’s as a brand have become two of our best friends. It’s always a relief when your better halves get along however it’s amazing (and very rare) that they get along so well that you sometimes forgot how or where the original links began. We’ve all welcomed each other into our own individual friendship groups and as such spend a lot of time in the pub together!

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Despite Chris being hugely successful in his day job (building clouds – actual clouds I like to believe, there’s big business for them in the north east) he’s also a keen photographer and has recently started going semi pro. I’d been wanting for a while to get some more professional pictures on my blog as the random instagram selfies of my wonky duck face weren’t cutting the mustard anymore. So I asked Chris is he would mind taking a few natural pics of me to make me look a bit more polished. As soon as I suggested meeting one Saturday afternoon in a pub with a large bay window he was there setting up his tripod before you could say David Bailey. After all pictures always look more realistic when the subject is in their natural habitat.

Despite it all feeling a bit awkward to start with, not that I’ve ever been shy around a camera of course but when you know someone’s taking your picture it’s hard not to pose or look straight at them, I’ve watched enough ANTM to know how to smize and find my light. But as the wine flowed and Steph and I got right into gossipland I forgot he was there and he ended up taking loads of pics as we all chatted away.

I concede that he didn’t have the easiest of subjects, an oil painting i’m not however I was really pleased with what he took, they were so natural and unposed and even after he kindy touched up a few of my faves, the touch ups were very subtle so I don’t feel like I’ve been airbrushed to within an inch of my life. I still look like me. Like picking the most flattering instagram filter!

Here are my 3 favourites:

Looks like I was born with that glass of wine in my hand doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in working with Chris for your wedding, family shoot or even some headshots of your own you find find out more about him and his work here!

Ilford Road

Ilford Road is the 3rd station location in the Jesmond area of Newcastle and is served by both yellow and green lines. It’s predominantly residential and has relatively low passenger numbers compared to South Gosforth and West Jesmond which it’s sandwiched between.  It is however, handily located for the top end of Jesmond Dene but as such pub choices are poor.

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In fact, the only place to get a drink that’s remotely within walking distance is Jesmond Dene House. So Jesmond Dene House is where we went.  If you exit platform 1 and walk 350m to the road bridge then turn left and cross the tracks, you’ll be on Albury Road. Turn right here and walk down to Moorfield, which merges onto Jesmond Dene Road as you walk left. Stay on this road for 5 minutes and you’ll see a sign for Jesmond Dene House in a hedgerow. Follow that side street for a couple of minutes and the hotel will appear o your left.

JDH is a grade II listed building which was built in 1822 by John Dobson for Thomas Emerson Headlam who was a physician and Mayor of Newcastle between 1837 and 1845. In the past the building has been used as a college, a civil defence establishment, a seminary and a residential school, before it was fully restored in 2005 and becoming a 40 bedroom boutique, super swanky hotel to the rich and famous.

And rich and famous is what you need to be if you’re stopping by for a drink, well, certainly rich anyway. It is an absolutely beautiful building and the hotel bar, which you’re able to just walk into without being a hotel guest or dining in the restaurant is located immediately on the right as you walk past reception.

It’s small and intimate with low comfy seating and low lighting. It does however very much feel like a hotel bar and the clientele will undoubtedly be guests rather than walk ins like we were. The staff were great, you do feel very looked after despite not being a resident as it offers table service and your drinks are immediately placed on a tab for you (dangerous if you don’t look at the price list).  They also allowed you to sample different wines if you wanted (i didn’t – never found a bottle i didn’t like fnar, fnar) but i noticed others were, and they were generous with their samples, which is a good touch.

So our experience was overall positive and certainly felt a shift in quality and glamour compared to all the other pubs we’ve visited on our travels so far. However it was £12.49 for a bottle or corona and a small glass of wine, so not exactly a session bar. All that being said, for a treat, it was lovely and the chilled out relaxed atmosphere made me wish we were staying over because I could have sat there all night people watching and chatting with other guests.

Contact details:

Address: Jesmond Dene Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2EY
Phone: 0191 212 3000

 

Wallsend

Despite Wallsend being home to two large housing estates (Battle Hill and Hadrian Park) and Silverlink Retail Park, the metro only really services Wallsend High Street. It’s another station which was originally park of the Newcastle and North Shields Railway and received a little facelift in 2013 adding some local art. It’s also the only station on the network which has it’s signage in English and Latin due to it’s proximity to Segedunum Roman Fort.

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Sadly that’s where the roman roots end as there and nothing historical or educational about the pubs in the local vicinity. If you leave platform 1 and turn left up Station Road the first pub you’ll get to (in about 5 minutes) is the Anson which is a Sizzling pub and as a member of our group said ‘probably the ugliest pub I’ve ever seen’. It certainly won’t be winning any architectural awards as it has all the charm of a cardboard box (which, incidentally is what I reckon it was modeled on).

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It was heaving when we visited on a Saturday afternoon as the Grand National was on as well as a late afternoon Newcastle away match and as such there were tables and chairs which had been pulled in all different directions to crowd around the many screens in almost all corners of the large open bar.

Being a chain pub they have a standard Wetherspoons-esque food menu with various different offers depending on what day you visit. They has a decent selection of handpulls, Dave had a pint of the Green King which was decent enough and their wine selection was what you’d expect; nice and chilled but pretty bland.

To be honest, ‘bland’ is probably the word i would use to describe our experience over all. Had we visited on a quieter afternoon it may have been a bit less frenzied and chaotic. It even has a plasma TV mounted into the wall in the beer garden just to make absolutely sure there’s nowhere to hide from the endless sport.

To be fair, the only other pub in the area really is The Ritz further down the High Street, which is a Wetherspoons. It doesn’t have as many TVs but still more of the same so your choices are limited in Wallsend sadly.

Contact:

Address: Station Road, Wallsend NE28 8QS, England
Tel: 0191 262 3012
Find out more about where we’ve been on our metro tour here

Gateshead

My experience of pubs in Gateshead is limited and despite sometimes using Gateshead Metro when I’ve been to the Sage it’s not a town I frequent all that often. Since I last visited though there seems to have been quite a bit of money ploughed into the area with a swanky new Vue cinema and little restaurant quarter.

The metro is integrated in Gateshead Interchange which is also a large bus depot and is used by over 4 million passengers annually making it the busiest transport interchange in Tyne & Wear – oooh!

If you exit the metro (which is underground) via Jackson Street, the closest pub you will come to is the Tilley Stone about 100 yards down Jackson Street and on your left. It’s another Wetherspoons (we have a sweepstake running on which chain or brewery will have the biggest presence on our guide!) and well, what can you say about a Wetherspoons? It’s pub by numbers.

This particular pub is fairly modern and clean, nicely decorated with the standard local pictures and factoids on the walls. There’s a long large bar towards the back on the left, with a seating area immediately as you walk in and more cosy areas off to the right. In front of the bar there’s some higher tables and bar stools in front of the bar for more casual drinkers or people who aren’t ordering food.

Drinks were your standard Wetherspoons offerings. They had a list of special cocktails on the wall however when I asked for a Strawberry Daiquiri the barmaid confessed no one had ever ordered one before and didn’t know how to make one. She did offer to find out however her cocktail making skills didn’t instill much confidence so I just got a glass of Prosecco instead. It was about 8pm on a Saturday night and the whole place felt like it was winding down a bit with little to no atmosphere.

Gateshead is steeped in local history so it’s almost a shame the that closest pub to Gateshead Metro is a Wetherpoons, there is a pub further down on Jackson Street; The Metropole, which has been through a massive refurbishment recently and looks like a much more traditional pub.

Contact:

Address: 9-10 Jackson St, Gateshead NE8 1EE
Tel: 0191 478 0060
Web: https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/tyne-and-wear/the-tilley-stone-gateshead

Find out more about the pubs we’ve visited on our tour here

Howdon

I’ll be the first to admit that this section of the metro line is uncharted territory for me, my dad’s a Heaton lad, my mum’s from Birmingham and I grew up in Cramlington so there was never any real great need for me to visit Howdon in North Tyneside.

Howdon station was actually opened in 1839 as part of the Newcastle & North Shields Railway. It was rebranded and reopened as a metro station in 1982 after being almost entirely rebuilt and is the only station on the yellow line where the platforms are split by a level crossing.

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I confess that two things let me down on our visit to Howdon on a sunny Saturday afternoon in April; my ability to sufficiently research something and my ability to read a map. As such when we came off platform 2 and started walking in the wrong direction of The Willington Quay, we stopped and asked somwehere the nearest pub was, their response of ‘I wouldn’t recommend any pubs round here like’ fell heavy on our hearts.

However we had a job to do, and we would not be beaten, even if it meant buying a bottle of cider from Aldi and drinking it in the park. Thankfully we were saved as right next door to Aldi (cross the train tracks from platfrom two and walk straight up Howdon Lane for 2 minutes) we saw High Howdon Social Club and decided that surely that was a better option than 4 thirty somethings drinking cider in the park?

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Despite not being members were was no one at the front desk so we gingerly approached a local at the bar and asked whether he thought we’d be able to stay for a drink, half expecting to be sent back along our merry way or at least being asked to pay a fee. We were in fact greeted with exceptional hospitality and told by the barman we were more than welcome and to take a seat.

It was North East Hospitality at it’s finest. I mean don’t get me wrong, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s a duck and this walked and quacked like every other social club you’ve been in since 1960. Dark wooden furniture, pink upholstery with cigarette stains, glasses of wine by the bottle and sport on every screen as far as the eye can see. However the benefits of being a social club is that 2 bottles of Budweiser and 2 large glasses of wine were £9. There are some really interesting Newcastle United memorabilia on the walls and some of the notices amused us too..

Ideally, we wouldn’t be visiting social clubs on our tour however High Howdon Social Club was an absolute oasis for us on the day and despite our reservations I’m really pleased we went in as it restored my faith in the kindness of strangers. Shame on me for being such a snob in the first place really!

Contact:

High Howdon Social Club
Tynemouth Road
Wallsend
Tyne and Wear
NE28 0EA

Tel (0191) 289 9981

www.highhowdonsocialclub.com

Find out where else we’ve visited on our metro adventure here