An interview with Dave Stone, Wylam Brewery
NewcastleGateshead has long been famous for its nightlife but it never rests on its laurels. From craft beers served by the Tyne’s iconic bridges, to street food container villages and open-air music festivals, there’s a staggering variety of independent operators bringing new delights and experiences to the city.
Developer Dave Stone has played a considerable role in NewcastleGateshead’s leisure renaissance by opening a string of superb venues in the city centre from the Town Wall and Bridge Tavern to Wylam Brewery and By The River Brew Co.
Dave moved to North East England 20 years ago and like many people who come here, fell in love with the place. “It’s a really warm and welcoming city,” he said.
Those last 20 years have been transformative for nightlife in NewcastleGateshead and Dave has been at the centre of much of this, first with Digital nightclub, then with Evolution music festival and now with the four venues mentioned above that really capture the essence of the area.
Together with his business partner, Rob Cameron, Dave has also created an internationally renowned craft beer brand – Wylam – that is helping to raise the profile of the area.
“Wylam is all over the world,” Dave maintained.
“In very small quantities, but we are in about 15 to 18 countries.
“There are a lot of beer tourists these days. The whole independent beer scene has exploded.”
You can sample a selection of Wylam beer at either the two pubs in the city centre – Town Wall and Bridge Tavern – the main brewery, tap house and music venue up in Exhibition Park – Wylam Brewery – or By The River Brew Co. bar, restaurant and street food market on Gateshead Quayside.
All of the Wylam venues have a distinctive aesthetic that Geordie revellers and visitors to the area can’t seem to get enough of.
Dave explained this succinctly: “Each of our places is honest to what they were originally.”
“What we found with the Town Wall and Bridge Tavern is that the buildings had been refurbished over many years and a lot of the original treasures had been hidden behind all kinds of wild and wonderful modernist ideas.”
A big part of the Wylam aesthetic is about stripping life back to its essence, whether that’s through restoring the old Palace of Arts to its former art deco glory to create Wylam Brewery or creating an atmosphere in their pubs that harks back to a simpler time. There’s a kind of nostalgia to these venues that is symbolic of the nostalgia of NewcastleGateshead – a city which is as passionate about its history as it is about quality food and drink.
Visitors to the Wylam sites can expect to see period features beautifully restored and repurposed mixed with modern industrial interiors – all set in an environment where sound, light and heat have been tuned to induce a relaxed, sociable, trendy and cool atmosphere. Visitors can also expect a food and drink experience that oozes quality and originality.
This is particularly true at By The River Brew Co, which is home to the award-winning and critically acclaimed open flame restaurant Träkol and HWKRMRKT – a creative container village of the best independent street food operators from the region and beyond.
Meanwhile, other examples where modern entertainment meets historic charm include Blackfrairs – an award-winning restaurant locate in a friary’s former refectory, believed to be the oldest dining room in the UK – and the city’s Ouseburn area, where the former industrial hub has been transformed into a cultural quarter, home to micro-breweries, craft beer pubs, live music venues, independent eateries and creative businesses.
All in all, the nightlife scene in Newcastle Gateshead is as healthy as it’s ever been, with a thriving community of independent retailers united in their pursuit of quality and delivering products that are the best they can be.
Dave explained: “It’s great to see so many independents and I think that’s why we are becoming more of a magnet for visitors – because you can get different offers.
“The other thing that makes the city unique is that it’s all walkable. You can get more into a day because you’re not spending an hour going from one part of the city to the other. You can take it all in – whether it be Grainger Market, Sage Gateshead, BALTIC or anywhere else – there’s just so much happening.”
The content and photography in this editorial section were produced by North East Times.