The Bevvy Almanac

A personal record of hostelleries visited in the pursuit of consuming Real Ale.

The Death of The Beacon

Posted by sm1d on January 19, 2009

Picture courtesy of Rob Bratton

Picture courtesy of Rob Bratton


At the close of another year you tend to look back at the obituaries over the previous twelve months and reflect on not just the loss of friends and loved ones, but also the decease of other things of a personal significance. The current financial climate and the smoking ban has severely hit the licensing trade, seeing pubs closing  down every day, but never in my lifetime I’d see the death of a pub that’s been close to my heart, my old local; The Beacon on Beacon Lough Road.
I moved to the Beacon Lough estate when I was six years old and for the next 35 years The Beacon pub was a permanent fixture in my life. I even made use of the pub  as far back as my childhood, me and my mates used to go to the Off Sales Bar (Remember them? It was a shop attached to the pub…Ed) where we would take empty beer and pop bottles, and spend the coppers on sweets and Barr pop. We also used to play pranks on the pubs customers by hiding behind the big wooden entrance doors and make rude noises and remarks as they entered to building. It wasn’t until I was about seventeen, that I used The Beacon for it’s rightful purpose, drinking McEwans Best Scotch and frittering away what little money I had in Joe Innes’s betting shop, which was conveniently attached next to the pub.
The Beacon had three separate rooms, two at the front and one at the rear, suiting three different types of clientele. The bar was quite cramped with a pool table in the middle of the floor, every shot had an obstacle of people in your way and the same phrases were used before lining up your shot; “Watch yoursell there”  or “Excuse me mate” meaning a single game could last about an hour if the pub was chocca-block. There was also a dart board and the main attraction was the TV, especially for the racing and the ITV Seven on a Saturday afternoon.
The Buffet room was next door, access wasn’t accesible between both rooms, you had to go outside and walk around if you wanted a pint in the neighbouring room. This part of The Beacon was popular with the domino playing crowd(methinks it’s 5’s and 3’s..Ed) and was my favourite part of the pub as the rooms regulars were a great  bunch and there was always a warm friendly atmosphere.
The Lounge was the biggest room, situated at the back of the pub and the mecca of entertainment in Beacon Lough. There was a stage, small dance floor with seating for over 100. On weekend nights there was always a ‘turn’ on, but mostly the regulars used to get up and do a song accompanied by the regular bloke tickling the ivories, long before the import of karaoke. The Beacon FC used to organise regular nights of entertainment too, booking the cream of Tyneside’s talent, I remember seeing comedians Alan Snell and also Little Billy Fane, who ended up on Byker Grove (think he was called Geoff..Ed) and he also had a bit part in Billy Elliott
The beggining of the end for the Beacon was in 1998, when the pub was closed down for refurbishment. When it reopened under new management, it was all change, the wall between The Bar and The Buffet was knocked through making one large bar, with the pool table now occupying the floor space in the former Buffett.




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