Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Rum 'n Egg bars

During Tyneside's heyday as a shipbuilding area there were a number of Rum 'n Egg bars near the shipyard gates. One still existed in Howdon in the 1950s and was pointed out to me by a pensioner who remembered these historic institutions very well.
Apparently these pubs had a long thin bar fronting the street with a doorway at either end. By tradition, you entered at one end, progressed along the bar and exited by the other door.
Lined up along the bar were rows of glasses of strong dark rum and a (peeled) boiled egg on a saucer. This was breakfast for the shipyard workers, who began work so early in the morning that they had merely bundled out of bed and rushed off to work with nothing in their bellies. It must have been very invigorating for the workers as the neat rum hit their stomach - a real awakener!
The old bloke told me that the barman watched like a hawk as the shipyard workers dashed through, each slamming down a tanner (sixpence in old money) on the bar before throwing down the rum at a gulp and departing, munching on their egg. It was all done on the run, no-one lingered or even stopped at the bar or the flow would have been broken.
How I would like to experience a Rum 'n Egg bar today!
It was part of a whole world of working-class culture which has been forgotten.


Rekan said...

I really like your blog, and it´s combination of beer and british working class history.
Keep it up!

/Jonte (Sweden)

Tandleman said...

Rum 'n Egg Bars? That's really interesting. Was this a pure;y Tyneside thing or did other shipbuilding areas do it?

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us whereabouts in Howdon this marvellous place was?
I took my recently-moved-north girlfriend to Howdon through the pedestrian tunnel a couple of years ago(see romance isnt dead)
but the culture shock of Howdon and Percy Main was too much for her.
I was talking to Erasmus a few weeks ago and he mentioned another bar phenomenon, the 'gentleman's buffet' if you have heard of such a thing?

papastonch said...

Tandleman, I'm sorry but I have no idea whether the Rum 'n Egg bars were exclusive to Tyneside. It's likely (I would have thought) that they also existed in other shipbuilding areas, especially Glasgow.

papastonch said...

As you left the Pedestrian Tunnel, you turned sharp left and the bar was about 500 yards along the road with its back to the river. The road still exists but it is sealed off to the public, as it now passes through private commercial premises. I think that all the buildings along the road, including the bar, were demolished in the late 1960s.