Historic Punch Bowl pub set for a new lease of life


The iconic Punch Bowl Pub on Jesmond Road has been renovated, with owners Star Pubs and Bars hopeful that they will find someone to run the pub in the next month.

The historic site has been used as a pub since the 1870s but has seen two closures in the last five years.

Star and Bar Pubs, the leased pub business, owned and operated by Heineken, has spent a significant amount of money refurbishing the pub, and are hopeful it will be back in operation next year, bringing a handful of jobs back to the area.

The renovations are being undertaken by Shipley-based architect and interior design company JS Design Partnership, who have decided to axe one of the venue’s two bars in favour of a theatre style kitchen. The council has also granted permission for the construction of a two storey extension to rear of the property, as well as the creation of an external terrace area under the condition that it will close by 9pm on an evening.

The pub has been redesigned in the hope that it will be better placed to compete in the competitive Jesmond bar industry. In their application to the council, the design firm said that they have “worked closely with the building owners, Star Pubs and Bars in re-designing the layout of this property to ensure it can survive and compete within the current market.”

They are confident that their plans will allow the pub to be run more efficiently, increasing the long-term sustainability of the project.

“Through the removal of the existing staircases down to the cellar and up to the first floor, the relocation of the kitchen from the front of the property to the rear, and some minor internal alterations a pub made up of a series of interlinking rooms and spaces can be achieved which can be managed and staffed more effectively and efficiently,” their application noted.

Owners Star Pubs and Bars are confident finding someone to operate the redeveloped pub shouldn’t take too long. A spokesperson told JesmondLocal: “We anticipate this will be confirmed in the next month or so as we have a couple of experienced operators interested in taking on the pub.”

 Despite the company’s optimism, the bar and pub industry has faced many problems across Newcastle, with the Chronicle reporting earlier this year that an average of four pubs a week are shutting down across the region.

JesmondLocal spoke to Jocelyn Hickey, who used to live on Deuchar Street, just around the corner from the Punch Bowl. She said “When we first moved to the area in 2012 the pub was closed down. At some point during the year it re-opened and then it became our local. It was great, relatively cheap, and the burgers were fabulous.” She added: “I’m glad that they are building a terrace – I hope it has heaters!”

The earliest record of the historic site is in Pigott’s 1822 directory of Newcastle, when it was in the hands of publican J. Hewlett. By 1845 the property was occupied by Martha Major before she was fined for serving alcohol during Divine Service on a Sunday, and was forced to put the property up for auction.

The building that stands today was completed in 1879 for spirits merchant Farqhuar Laing, brother of Alexander Laing, the financier of the Laing Art Gallery. The current Punch Bowl was designed by Scottish architect John Gibson, who had previously worked on the drawings for the houses of parliament some forty years earlier.