Friday, 3 October 2008

The Alkali Hotel

The Alkali is perhaps the oldest pub in Jarrow, dating back to a time (1867) when most of the town's industry was based around "The Slacks" (Jarrow Slake), a saltmarsh mudflat at the bend of the Tyne. The pub takes its name from the big alkali works which was nearby. Everyone thinks of coal, steel and shipbuilding when they think of the Tyne, but in fact one of the biggest industries was chemical production.
This is the area in which Catherine Cookson was born and featured so extensively in her books. I believe that The Alkali was mentioned in her book "The Hanging Man", though I can't confirm that as I've never read any of her works.
After the old houses were knocked down, the area took on a new lease of life as the "Bede Trading Estate" and The Alkali was able to thrive as a factory workers' lunchtime haunt. Nowadays, such are the modern safety regulations that few people have jobs which enable them to take a pint at lunchtime, so it looks like The Alkali has finally come to the end of the road. It's all boarded up and probably awaiting the bulldozers.
Another piece of our local history gone west!

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