Those of you who have been to Byker will be surprised to read that there is any establishment of repute within it, or indeed within two miles of it. I can confirm this was a prejudice I, myself (as opposed to I, anyone else), once shared. The Cumberland Arms was the scene of many outrageous and strange personal encounters when I lived in Newcastle for a few months some years ago. Thus I was glad that well known alcoholic and personal friend of mine, St Nick, alighted in Newcastle in search for the Next Best Pub. I was glad to practice a form of erasure, by taking him there, rewriting my old memory of the place with a new one. I recommend this practice to those who have suffered in specific places as I have found it quite healing. Of course if your good doctor tells you this is a bad idea, it might be best to follow their advice.
Now onto the pub itself.
The Cumberland Arms sits at the end of what was a terrace, built around 1860 so The Cumberland was operating as a beerhouse pretty much from the start. As a result of an act of Parliament in 1830, anyone could brew and sell beer on payment of a licence costing two guineas.
It was converted from a private house into a pub in 1898 and opened in 1899; however it didn’t get a full on-licence until 1956. The modifications in 1898 made the local newspapers as the result of a tragic accident when part of the building collapsed killing a workman called Matthew Fitzgerald. This has lead to the corner of the pub to the left of the fireplace in the main bar being known as “Dead man’s corner”. Cumberland Arms
Now this last sentence I can understand. There is nothing else on the street except this pub. The layout of the pub is also extraordinary. There are two rooms left and right of the entrance, rather than adjoined. Many of the old fixtures from the early 20th Century remain including the off-sales hatch and its sliding window.
Now, much to St Nick and The British Establishment’s consternation, I have given up the drink. This evening represented the penultimate time I will have drank booze. I had a lovely but typical cider when I was there. St Nick had a Porter which he enjoyed very much. Being a man of few words, I am unsure how to translate his grunts and mumbles. But suffice to say he was please.
This pub is home to twelve real ale hand pulls and four keg lines rotating beers. I won’t ever experience them but I do recommend them to you. And do keep an eye on the What’s On page of their website. The Cumerland Arms is famed for its music and my father and I enjoyed an Irish Folk band one evening which was most enjoyable indeed.