Great Britain

The pubs of North Shields: From landlady Betty Baddoo to the notorious 'Jungle'

A new book, North Shields And Tynemouth Pubs, looks at the area's many watering holes - past and present - and the stories behind them

For anyone who ever enjoyed a drink in a North Shields pub, it's fair to say many of them had 'character'.

On a personal note, on more than one occasion in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I found myself at a couple of notable boozers in the town centre, just yards apart from each other - the Ballarat and the Mariner's Arms.

Both were run at the time by the estimable landlady Betty Baddoo - as kind-hearted as they come, but a formidable woman who took no nonsense and didn't suffer fools gladly. Indeed she earned the nickname 'Bat Lady', derived from the baseball bat kept behind the bar in the event of any trouble breaking out in the bar!

As one regular North Shields pub-goer put it: "If you walked into the 'Rat or the Mariner's back in the day, you'd get a warm welcome - but if you were a stranger, they'd want to know who you were and what your business was before you left."

Today, away from the traditional old pubs, the regenerated Quayside area plays host to a number of fashionable bars, which along with the burgeoning restaurant scene has earned the area the local nickname, 'Costa del Shields'.

A new book North Shields and Tynemouth Pubs, by Eileen Burnett, features a host of watering holes, past and present.

With 100 illustrations, the history of each pub is recounted in well-researched detail - and there is a handy map, should anyone fancy a pub crawl (once lockdown ends).

The Ballarat, we find, dated from 1872 and was originally a hotel. In more recent times, after being closed for many years, it reopened in 2012.

The Mariner's, just over the road, began trading in 1883, and we learn of its various tenants over the years.

In the late 19th century, North Shields - along with Newcastle and South Shields - was reputed to be one of the most drunken towns in Britain in proportion to its population. In 1898, it had no less than one licenced house for every 190 inhabitants, and there were 1,581 convictions for drunkenness.

Eileen says: "Many of the pubs have retained features and traditions of previous ages, and I cover a range of North Shields and Tynemouth pubs, including the characters who have both frequented them and managed them over the years."

Our selection of images are just some the 100 that appear in the book. They range from the fashionably re-branded Allards On The Quay (formerly the Highlander Hotel), to the Northumberland Arms, better known as 'The Jungle' and renowned as one of Tyneside's toughest pubs. In 1990, work began on seven luxury flats at the site which is known today as Collingwood Mansions.

North Shields and Tynemouth Pubs, by Eileen Burnett, is published by Amberley. £15.99. You can buy it here.

Don't miss our Memory Lane local history website that's packed with archive photographs and has an easy-to-use picture colourisation tool.

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