Saturday got off to a good start. First thing I saw from my room window was a shiny salmon leaping from the murky Tyne. Quite why it jumped in the midst of this mighty river was unclear. Maybe it had seen the wooden pallet drifting towards it?
The walk along the quay was splendid, as was Mr Martin’s breakfast in the very busy ‘Quayside’. Seeing so many people in a pub sort of lulled me into a false sense of security because when I got to the Crown Posada it was closed. Probably because it was still only 11.50am.
The heavy wrought iron gates in front of the pub door are impressive, as is the, disappointingly grubby, neo-classical facade. The interior is of the highest order and could not be faulted in any way shape or form, right down to the toilets, and it is a meritorious inclusion in the CAMRA National Heritage Pubs Inventory
Despite arriving ten minutes early, I was still beaten to the bar by a gent in shorts and hat, which gave me time to peruse the six cask beers; three regulars from Hadrian & B (2) and Allendale, plus guests from Swannay (2) and Saltaire. I went for Swannay Amarillo (3.5%). I reckon it was Average to Good, which was disappointing for a GBG pub. Although I didn’t have time for another, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt as it was the first pint out that day. Clearly they had pulled some beer through already, but it was still a loosener.
Matt, the friendly assistant manager, told me the pub belonged to the Sir John Fitzgerald group who run eighteen pubs across the North East. He drew my attention to the pubs history on the wall of the snug, telling me it was the second oldest pub in Newcastle and the oldest purpose built one.
There’s a bit of a story about a sea Captain and a Spanish lady friend he installed in The Crown, hence the Spanish for Inn, is the second half of the current pub name. Somewhere it said that it was a classic town pub. I disagree, the Crown Posada is an outstanding town pub, created in a very grand style. And although I have been in other similar styled pubs it is able to stand equal with the very best of the best the UK has to offer.
Although the pub has been here for 220 years, it’s hey day, and it’s most recent fit out appears to be after 1850, roughly when the pre-raphaelite brotherhood came to prominence, although it would probably be much later when their influences would be contained within the stained glass of a provincial boozer; a bit of research on an academic site when I got home confirmed my suspicions: 1880.
Anyway, it’s just super with it’s polished brass, dark mahogany and ornate ceilings, and the two stained glass depictions are magnificent. It’s also impressively clean and well maintained. Something which sets apart the great from the good. I really do despair when I go into what could be historically and architecturally impressive pubs which are often busy, and characterful, yet unloved, in need of maintenance, and frequently cleaning; sad decaying pubs.
On that basis I give top marks to Sir John Fitzgerald pub group and recommend you visit the Crown Posada if ever in Newcastle; just leave it for an hour or so after opening until they’ve pulled enough beer through.