The Cooperage Restoration

We're pleased to report that our efforts to encourage the Apartment Group into doing something about the state of The Cooperage may have been successful. We're still not sure of the details but this is good news.

The Cooperage on Newcastle's Historic Quayside has enjoyed a long, long association with the Coopers Company. Originally built in 1430, the structure was home to various Merchant families for many generations. The building was acquired by John Arthur, a time-served Cooper and a member of the Coopers Company of Newcastle in 1876, and used as a Cooperage until 1974, when the business moved out of the Town Centre.

After the departure of the Arthur family, the Cooperage was converted into a public bar and this is how many of the City's residents prefer to remember the building. A staggering number of people enjoyed their first drink in the Cooperage. It's the place where many met their future partners, and the building was an absolute magnet for live bands.

The pub was acquired by Unique Leisure in 2005, who refurbished the building and transformed it into a café bistro/bar club. Sadly, this incarnation was not particularly successful and the building was quickly sold on to the Apartment Group in 2009. The pub was soon closed and the Apartment Group said that they had no plans to re-open. Rumour have persisted for years that this precious Grade II listed building would be allowed to decay and rot, only to be demolished, perhaps to make way for a new block of student partments or yet another hotel.

The building has been empty for a decade, the facade slowly left to rot. It's an eye-sore and a major embarrassment for a city that prides itself on its heritage.

In 2019, the Stewards of the Coopers Company were approached by the leader of the Save the Cooperage protest group, Phil Clarke, to see if we could lend our support to protect and preserve the building. We readily agreed, and whilst we were only involved on the periphery, we did petition the other Coopering Companies around the country for their support and then put pressure on the City Council to encourge the Apartment Group to do the right thing. We even went on Alan Robson's Late Night Radio Show to help register our concern. [Many local readers will fondly remember Alan's Hallowe'en Specials from The Cooperage for Metro Radio back in the 80's and 90's.

We're pleased to report that a large scaffolding structure was erected on the front of the building last week. According to one of the builder's working on site, the scaffolding was to prevent the entire facade tipping into the street although experts have suggested that this is not the whole story and that City Council Officers have been inspecting the interior to work out the best way to preserve the buidling.

Whatever is happening has to be better than nothing happening, so the old addage goes.

Wait and see. I'm optimistic that we'll see a positive outcome.

That said, we, as Stewards of The Coopers Company, would be mighty disappointed if our Ancestral Home had been allowed to decay to the point where the only remaining option was demolition.

That would be regretable.

Posted : 15-Dec-20, updated: 16-Dec-20.