The Railway Quarter: A guide to the best bars in Gateshead

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Did you know the best bars in the North East are in Gateshead?

Wellington Street is regenerating. The road just off the High Level Bridge has always been home to businesses- chicken shops, hairdressers, cafes- but it’s only now beginning to make sense. Notably, Heaton staples, Block & Bottle and Estate Tea Co., were born underneath the Gateshead arches before moving to the more popular area.

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Arch Sixteen, too, was a well-loved cafe and music venue, frequented by those slowly making their way into town. Sadly, however, it closed permanently in 2020 after seven years.

Established pubs The Central Bar and Station East were the only constants in the area, both becoming culture hubs in recent years, often putting on music, comedy and theatre.

But post-pandemic new businesses have been gradually opening along the street and now more and more customers are using them for so much more than a stopgap. And alongside The Central Bar and Station East they’ve created a hub, now known to some as the ‘Railway Quarter.’

The businesses have struck a nerve with residents and instead of using the area as a way to establish themselves before moving on, it seems they’re here for the long-haul.

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Opening within six weeks of each other and separated only by a few doors, Axis and Microbus have been on the go for a year. And the bus-themed micropub also has an ingenuous plan for attracting those from further afield too: a live bus tracker mounted on the wall.

Just before its first birthday in March, Microbus was awarded the Tyneside and Northumberland Pub of the Year title by CAMRA.

Both have become popular spots for drinking, but are also community spaces with Microbus putting on gigs and open mic nights. Axis frequently has tap takeovers, tasting events and a pop-up record shop.

Alex owns Axis with his partner Alice. The couple met in Australia six years ago while they were both working at a brewery in Sydney. After moving back to the UK in 2020 due to the pandemic, they decided to take the plunge and do what they’d always spoken about: open up their own craft beer and natural wine bar.

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On 1st May it’ll be Axis’ first birthday, no mean feat for any new business.

“It’s still nerve-wracking,” Alex says. “But it’s gone so much better than we expected. Everyone’s been super supportive and we’ve got a lovely customer-base and the area is getting busier which is even more exciting.”

Axis seems to always be buzzing with customers. With a selection of amazing quality beer and wine they’re gearing up for the Summer months ahead. The arches are moderately sized, but the controlled traffic outside makes way for a calm, sun-trap of an outdoor seating area.

The arch next to them was taken on by popular market vendors Big Fat Donut Company in July last year. Six weeks ago, wine shop and tasting room Victor Indigo November opened two doors down.

As Alex says: “It’s becoming a staple area for people.”

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The Sage contributes a fair bit to the business around the area. With people coming early to have a drink before venturing to the other side of the Tyne Bridge for a performance. An act that will soon be repeated by many, come the opening of the new arena on the Gateshead Quayside in 2025.

But gigs aren’t the only incentive. For many Newcastle United fans, the Railway Quarter has become their pre-match tradition. Starting at The Central Bar and making their way through the Station East, Microbus and Axis before walking along the High Level towards St James’.

Axis will celebrate its first birthday on 1st May.Axis will celebrate its first birthday on 1st May.
Axis will celebrate its first birthday on 1st May.

“I’m a massive football fan so I know people have traditions- they go to the same pubs before matches for decades,” Alex laughs.

“So I never really expected us to bring in any of the crowd. But now we have set people who come in every game, and- depending on the result- afterwards too.

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“But obviously at the minute they keep winning so it’s great for the business.”

Although they didn’t expect it, it was a nice surprise for the couple, with their regulars even coming to count their losses after the Carabao Cup final loss: “It’s a good atmosphere. there’s a stigma around football fans that they’re going to cause trouble but that’s not the case.”

The once industrial site is now flourishing again.

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