South Shields

South Shields is a funny one because depending on which mode of transport you arrive by, depends on which pub you’ll find first. If for example you arrive on the Shields Ferry (which is also operated by Nexus and accepts metro tickets) the first pub you’ll come across will be Alum Ale House, which is immediately on the left as you come off the boat.

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However keeping in the spirit of the guide and assuming most people following us will be using the metro that’s what we’ve gone with. As South Shields station is the end of the line you can only get off and on from one platform. So as you come out the station and turn right down South Shields high street the first pub you come to  is grade II listed building; The Scotia on the corner on your left.

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It’s a long, thin pub which you’d actually be forgiven for missing if you weren’t looking out for it  and if you go in from the pain street level you’ll find a small lounge area to your right with the main bar up some stairs straight in front of you. We ordered two pints, a medium glass of wine and a gin & tonic and it came to around £14 – not earth shatteringly cheap but not extortionate either and as most people seemed to be sitting around the  bar area we sat down in the lounge

 

Despite appearances from the outside suggesting that it may not be the most salubrious of establishments, I thought he décor inside was actually quite modern and trendy and wouldn’t be misplaced in a fancy overpriced gin bar in town. The seats were plush velvet all signs pointed to it having been given a bit of a face lift in recent times. It’s difficult in places like South Shields where there’s so much competition servicing one station; here’s a Wetherspoons practically next door and a large Gin Bar just round the corner so I wouldn’t be surprised if The Scotia was often overlooked. However for me, when it comes to pubs its quantity not quality that’s important so who says there isn’t enough of my wine money to go round?!

Contact:

1 Mile End Road, South Shields, NE33 1TA

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

St Peters

St Peter’s station opened in 2002 with the rest of the Sunderland expansion and is pretty close to both Sunderland and Stadium of Light stations. In fact, geographically, St Peters station is actually closer to the football ground than the Stadium of Light metro station – fact fans!

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If you’re coming from Sunderland, exit the platform and down the stairs and start walking towards the big Tesco you’ll see in the distance. In about 5 minutes you’re come to a fork in the road which either leads off to the Stadium of Light on the left or a grand looking stone building on the right. Walk towards said architectural behemoth and you’ll fall through the doors of the Wheatsheaf.

 

This is the ronseal of pubs in that it does exactly what it says on the tin. Its proximity to the stadium means it’s your stereotypical pre match pub and much like The Strawberry next to St James’ Park, the walls are adorned with Sunderland AFC memorabilia. As you walk in there’s a lounge/ bar on the right and a larger area with a pool table, bandit machine and jukebox on the left.

Beer wise it was slim pickens with your standards of Carling, Fosters or Jon Smiths in plentiful supply, and I was ‘lucky’ enough to get the last glass out of a lowly bottle of white wine in the fridge – benefit of which was having a medium glass for the price of a small though so it wasn’t too bad!

It was pretty quiet when we went in at around 3pm on a Saturday afternoon which just a few locals hovering about . I can imagine on a match day however it’s a different story. They seem to have some good match day offers on and mid-week entertainment like open mic nights and karaoke to draw in a wider crowd.

Contact:

Address: 207 Roker Ave, Sunderland SR6 0BN
Phone: 0191 510 9826

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

Seaburn

Seaburn station was adapted from the old National Rail line when the Metro expanded to Sunderland in 2002. Some train services still pass through the station, but don’t stop and Seaburn is the second busiest suburban metro station on the Sunderland line (after East Boldon)

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If you leave the station form the main entrance and turn left, keep walking along that round for 5 minutes (past Sainsburys) and you’ll come across the Blue Bell on the right.

Apparently this pub has recently undergone a £120K refurbishment and it really shows. It’s often a wonder how local independent pubs mange to stay in business when others have the luxury of being sponsored by a brewery or pub chain to be able to  plough money into it, however The Blue Bell does seem to get the balance right between standard corporate pub and cosy friendly local. Simply put, it’s a safe pair of hands.

It’s modernly decorated with a nice mixture of tables for food and more relaxed booths to sit in for drinks. There was a good selection of real ale on offer (something which had so far been lacking on this leg of the tour) – wine is available from as cheap as £9.99 a bottle and although we weren’t eating, the food we did see looked hearty and plentiful. The sharing planks, which are £10.49 for 5 items looked absolutely amazing and who doesn’t love Pint & a Pint for £5.99 (Wednesdays only)?

Yes there are bandits dotted around and large plasma screens on the walls but you know it’s a better class of pub when it’s showing rugby rather than football! To be honest this is probably more of a family friendly gastro pub than it is a session pub with your mates but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, after all I’m sure those sharing planks have good beer soaking up abilities!

Contact:

Address: Fulwell Rd, Fulwell SR6 9AD
Tel: 0191 549 4020

https://www.greatukpubs.co.uk/bluebellfulwell

Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pub tour here

Park Lane

Not only is Park Lane one of Sunderland’s two city centre metro stations but it’s also (officially) the busiest bus station in the UK outside of London. It opened in 2002 as part of the Sunderland metro expansion however was a little after the rest of the Sunderland due to a delay in some wall panels being delivered. And you can’t have a metro station without any walls.

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If you walk out of the metro station and turn right through the bus station you will come to Park Lane and the first port of call you come to will be 2 minutes down the road on the right called; Port of Call.

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It was Saturday lunchtime when we arrived and just nicely busy, although it quickly filled up as the afternoon wore on. It has a really American bar-cum-restaurant vibe with high ceilings, high wooden tables and route 66 style memorabilia adorning the walls. There are two levels for if the downstairs (where all the cosy booths are) is full and there’s a large beer garden with heated Tipi out the back. They have a good range of craft ale and glasses of wine come in at a very reasonable £4..10 for a large glass. That said £6 for a pint of ale and a pint of lime & soda left us feeling a little salty – it would have been more economical for me to drink wine I think!

While the good selection of drinks was great, the real draw of this place is undoubtedly the food. It’s a hipster paradise with everything coming in a brioche bun with a side of ‘slaw – so very trendy. The choice and the portions are both plentiful however, Dave’s chicken skewer was a sight to behold for sure and at £18 for two mains it didn’t feel over priced for the amount you got. Must just be the lime and soda that costs the earth!

Port of Call is great city centre pub which can be all things to all people – someone for a bite to eat and a few drinks on a Saturday afternoon in between shopping trips, a session pub to watch the football or a cocktail bar to meet your friends in on a Friday or Saturday night. It certainly was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Sunderland

Contact:

1 Park Lane, Sunderland SR1 3NX
0191 514 5408
http://portofcall.co/

Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pub tour here

Stadium of Light

It’s strange isn’t it that geographically  St Peter’s is actually closer to the Stadium of Light Football ground than the Stadium of Light station? Perhaps it’s just one of those anomalies that should never be questioned like crop circles or vegans. Anyway, another fun fact about the Stadium of Light station is that is used to be accessed by the yellow line as well as the green meaning football fans had a direct route from St James Park in Newcastle to the SoL in Sunderland (albeit a convoluted route via the coast). This was scrapped in 2005 however and can now only get there via the green line.

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If you come out of the train station and follow signs towards the football ground (it’s well sign posted but also visible from the station so you’d be hard pushed to walk in the wrong direction. The first pub you will come to is the Colliery Tavern, which is right next to the front gates of SoL.

Much like the Strawberry in Newcastle this is a perfect match day pub and I imagine is absolutely shoulder to shoulder when the Black Cats are playing at home. We visited on a quiet Saturday afternoon and there were just a few regularly propping up the bar.

What pubs like these lack in variety or flair they make up for in pricing structure as a round of halves came in at under a fiver – can’t argue with that! The décor is everything you’d expect from an old, established north eastern boozer and is a little worn around the edges. Naturally its proximity to the stadium means SAF memorabilia adorns the walls and the weekly meat raffle is heavily advertised.  I suppose the problem with the mixture of cheap beer and football fans is the inevitability of the first Google review commenting on ‘middle aged people fighting’ which does raise eyebrows however we didn’t see any of that when we visited – thankfully!

Contact:

Address: 12 Southwick Rd, Sunderland SR5 1EQ
Phone: 0191 548 7157

Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pub tour here

East Boldon

East Boldon Station is one of the busiest suburban stations on the network with almost 40K passengers annually commuting to Newcastle and Sunderland. It was opened in 2002 with the rest of the Sunderland expansion and Northern trains still travel through the station (although don’t stop).

If you’re coming from Newcastle finding the nearest pub couldn’t be easier (actually if you’re coming from Sunderland it’s pretty easy as well) as Beggars Bridge is right there in the car park. And I love it when that happens. Beggars Bridge has a fairly recent incarnation as it was previously known as Sleepers before it’s refurbishment in  2016 which seems to have been long overdue and very welcome by the locals (although I’m not sure I agree with that demolition of the adjoining Chicken Shop that used to be there.

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As with most pubs that have recently seen a facelift there’s an air of class and sophistication about the place. Now I never visited when it was Sleepers but I hear on the grapevine that class and sophistication are two words ever used to describe it. It’s the right side of trendy with light wood, cosy booths and tartan upholstery and old pictures of the local area on the walls.

There’s no distinct bar/lounge area you find in most pubs so if you’re eating, you’re sharing a space with people just out for drinks and vice versa, which isn’t a problem at all however would recommend nabbing a table first if ordering food. Drinks wise it’s what you’d come to expect however as there’s very little local competition I found them on the steep side, which means you could easily run up a hefty bar tab if you’re planning on a session.  The one thing that ruined it for me was that when we visited (at about 5pm on a Saturday afternoon) what that there was a large group of teenagers/young adults in who used the C word as every other verb in their vernacular and without sounding like an old fuddy duddy, just isn’t pleasant when you’re trying to enjoy a glass of warm overpriced wine!

Contact:
Address: Station Approach, East Boldon NE36 0AB
Phone: 0191 537 3969

Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pub tour here

Monkseaton

One of the things I like about the metro (aside from its proximity to lots of amazing pubs) is that where possible they have kept most of the original structures from when they were first built. Monkseaton station opened in 1915 and other than the actual platforms, which were completely replaced for it’s use as a metro station in 1980, everything else remains largely untouched.

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Stations like Monkseaton are the easy ones to review because as far as the WBMT is concerned it pretty much ticks every box. The pub (the quaint Left Luggage Room) could only be closer if the metro doors opened directly into the pub (location, location, location!) and although the outside seating areas is pretty much on the platform, when you’re sitting in it you don’t feel like you’re on a station platform. Plus with the North East Weather being as tumultuous as it is, you can ‘sit outside’ without actually having to sit outside!

The pub inside is a miss match of chince and train related memorabilia (it reminds me a lot of The Cumberland Arms in Ouseburn in that respect – with is one of my favourite pubs ever!). It also has loads of different ales and craft beers on that are on heavy rotation which is great as you get to sample loads of different types however careful if you find something you love, it may well not been available the next time you visit!

The inside is all benches and wooden tables and benches which allows for a really sociable atmosphere and despite it treading dangerously close to hipster territory I think it manages to pull off cosy and quirky without being too pretentious or intimidating. It’s not very big so doesn’t take many people to make it full so I would get there early on if you’re picky about having somewhere to sit. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s dog friendly, there’s free parking at the station, and has a large selection of wines and gins as well as all the ale!

Once our metro guide is finished we’re going to create a WBMT Awards list and I think LLR may well be on track for ‘best bar on the network’ – watch this space!

Contact:

Norham Road | Unit 6 Monkseaton Train Station, Whitley Bay NE26 3NR, England
Web:  leftluggageroom.co.uk

Find out where else we’ve been on our Wine & Beer Metro Tour here