10 Alternative pubs and bars in Newcastle

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Newcastle has long held a reputation for being one of the party capitals of Britain. Stag and Hen dos flock to the city to take advantage of its hundreds of bars, pubs and clubs. The debauched antics of the stars of the MTV show “Geordie Shore” have only heightened its fame for wild nights out.


However, the city also has a lot to offer if you are looking for something a little more alternative. This slideshow presents 10 pubs and bars that boast great music, excellent beer and cool clientele.

The Forth

This spacious pub has long been one of the coolest in the city. It has an eclectic mix of trendy second-hand furniture, antique fittings, wooden floors, exposed brickwork and log fires. It also has a roof terrace for those occasional days when Newcastle is blessed with good weather. A good selection of international beers and real ales is on offer and DJs provide the tunes from the pub’s decks on weekend nights. The owners make a big deal of Sundays where they promote their roast dinners and Bloody Marys as well as laying on games and newspapers. The pub is located on a winding street called Pink Lane, which is close to the city’s impressive train station.

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The Forth

The Trent House

The Trent House is a pub that has been associated with Newcastle’s alternative music scene since the 1980s. It helped champion the city’s soul and funk movements at a time when mainstream chart music dominated the area’s pubs and clubs. The pub’s heyday, during which it boasted of having the best jukebox in the UK, probably ended when its long time tenants moved on in 2009. Depite this, it is still a popular place with students and music lovers. It has two floors and is located in an elegant end-of-terrace house on Leazes Lane, close to St James’ Park football ground. The decor could be described as no frills, with posters advertising upcoming gigs on many walls.

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The Head of Steam

The unusual charm of this venue comes from the fact that it is split between a first floor bar and basement bar. The upstairs bar has a cosy feel due to its low roof and it is busy most nights. The basement bar has a stage for live acts and bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and Maximo Park have played there in the past. This bar hosts DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. It also has a low ceiling and this helps create a party atmosphere. The name of the pub relates to its close proximity to the city’s railway station. The Head of Steam group also has pubs in Gateshead, Durham, Huddersfield and Liverpool.

Head of Steam

The Cluny

The Cluny has gone on to become a cornerstone of Newcastle’s alternative music scene since it opened in 1999. It attracts a mainly alternative crowd and has a laid-back atmosphere. The main room, which is based around a long L-shaped bar, is very spacious. The Cluny’s 300-person-capacity function room has played host to acts such as Editors, Duffy and New York Dolls. It is based in a former flour mill built on Lime Street in the Ouseburn Valley in the 1870s. The area, which is about two miles outside of the city centre, was regenerated in the 1980s. The main down side to the bar is that the area is not the easiest place to get to.

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The Cluny

Cumberland Arms

This pub is also located in the Ouseburn Valley. Due to its location on a hill, its beer garden has excellent views of the area. The pub, on James Place Street, has a very traditional feel and the emphasis is on real ale and real cider. Its menu attempts to promote food made from local produce. It has a long history as a venue for live music, with styles ranging from folk and jazz to indie and rock. Comedy acts and poets also perform at the pub.

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The Tyne Bar

This little pub stands out from the crowd because its beer garden is located under a road bridge. In summer, this area doubles as a venue for outdoor gigs. It is a surprisingly atmospheric setting and the cover provided by the bridge allows events to be held in all forms of weather. The pub, located next to the River Ouseburn, is traditionally decorated and there is a free jukebox. It is run by the same people behind legendary former Newcastle pubs the Egypt Cottage and the Barley Mow.

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The Tyne Bar

The Free Trade Inn

From its gritty exterior this pub looks like it would be better suited to a rough council estate rather than its actual location on the banks of the Tyne. However, any stranger walking in expecting the music to stop and all the locals to look up from their pints will be pleasantly surprised. This pub has a friendly atmosphere and all guests are made to feel welcome. The interior stays true to its down-to-earth feel. The pub, which has an outside seating area, keenly supports live acts and DJs. It also runs its own beer festivals to promote craft beers, real ales and ciders. It is based on Saint Lawrence Road, five minutes’ walk from the city's Quayside, and a big attraction for drinkers is the stunning views it offers of the bridges over the River Tyne.

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The Free Trade Inn


The centre piece of this venue is an art-deco style bar, which is more akin to 1920s Miami than to modern-day Newcastle. The art-deco theme is continued with the cocktail bar in the venue's side room. The bar, located on Pilgrim Street, has a very mixed crowd due to the fact that it is one of the least music orientated bars in our list. It is also popular with people looking to grab a bite to eat. Other Popolo bars can be found in Durham and Sheffield.


The Telegraph

This pub is somewhat isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city’s nightlife due to its location on a quiet street behind the train station. Live bands regularly play in its function room and at night its crowd is made up of a mix of students and locals. The pub’s main pull in summer months is its spacious rooftop terrace. It lost some of its old charm when it underwent a refurbishment but it is still worth a visit. It is located on the corner of Orchard Street and Forth Street.

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The Jazz Cafe

While not technically a bar, as you have to pay to get in, The Jazz Cafe makes it onto our list because it is such a unique venue in the city. From the outside, its permanently closed curtains give the place a mysterious quality and once inside its bronze and wood furnishings combined with its low level lighting create a special atmosphere. Its late-night opening hours make it the perfect place to head to if you want to keep the night alive but are not looking to dance. The venue is located next to The Forth on Pink Lane.

Chris Harrison