Northernline Agm – Minutes

AKA 100 Songs, Whitley Bays Renaissance and the New Half Man Half Biscuit Album.

You’ve not posted anything since 2016. I’ve lost my log-in details. Nobody uses Facebook anymore, we need more t shirts and who’s round is it anyway? Were just a few of the minutes I wish I’d taken, at the recent Northernline AGM

It started well enough, a bright morning, the birds were singing, Trump’s Twitter feed was in free fall and the Heads of Family were assembling for the annual Northernline AGM. Which this year would take in a cultural trip to the Sage (Gateshead.)

En-route to the Sage (Gateshead), via the love-locked High Level Bridge, we took in the Centurion Bar and The Central in Gateshead who’s terrace was unfortunately closed. The first of a series of bitter disappointments.

Then on to the Sage (Gateshead, lest we forget!). To see The North in 100 Songs.
An exhibition by the talented Manchester artist/illustrator Stanley Chow. Now, if you check out Stanley’s Instagram page. You’ll see the sort of, face-on, cartoon portrait stuff that has become his moniker. So we had some idea of what to expect. However. I did expect more than 10 bloody images. I actually expected… well 100! Is that not what it alludes to? Where were the other 90? Ah, but what’s this?… We spied an A3 info poster, leading to a mysterious darkened corridor, and then… a darkened staircase and then… a door!

We pushed through the heavy door, expectantly hoping/wishing for the lost Chowtraits. But alas… no! We stumbled into Stage 2. And then… the automatic door clicked, locked, behind us. Bollocks. We were now locked in Stage 2. We tip-toed around the seating in the empty theatre as some tecky was setting up stage, two floors below us. We found an opening door, a spacious goods lift and headed back down to the concourse, re-grouped, had one more search for the missing Chows and decided to sack it off. The black and yellow striped shed, with maracas in the corner, that is somehow meant to represent Manchester’s legendary Hacienda was the final straw.

Over the Millennium Bridge as an under-whelming water feature went off nearby. (It’s better at night apparently!)… and then a couple of pints and some Mexican food.

Fully refreshed, we put the sorry start behind us, and intrepidly headed out, and up the hill, to be confronted by the bitter disappointment that is/was the broken shell of the former Barley Mow pub. (Stereo/ Fog and Firkin)… once my favourite Newcastle pub and precursor to many, many golden nights at the Riverside. Much reminiscing was had, and we raised an imaginary glass to the ghost of the Barley Mow. The knife was further twisted as we walked past the Riverside, (now an office) and headed to Manors and the Metro to the coast.

[End of chapter one.]

We emerged at Monkseaton at the lovely Lost Luggage, and very enjoyable it was as usual. Then headed towards Whitley via the Dog and Rabbit (Good) and then Storm Brewing (Trying.) And then a swift diversion down to the newly refurbished Spanish City Dome.

Now… Whitley Bay’s fortunes have recently been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. The bars and clubs of South Parade that once made it a weekend mecca for the pissed and the horny have all gone. No more teetering white stiletto’s, rivers of piss and broken bottles. Without the weekend party economy, which many residents rightly, saw as a blight, visitor numbers plummeted and the town quickly spiralled into the sort of run down seaside town that Morrissey used to bleat on about. (When he wasn’t quite the Alt-Moz he is today.) So, Hotels and B+B’s struggled and took in some less savoury long and short term residents, shops had to close and charity, bargain shops and Legal High outlets popped up like dandelions through broken paving.

So then the stiletto’s and the piss and the fighting went elsewhere, some to Tynemouth, North Shields others back into Newcastle, then Whitley Bay town centre was designated one of the 150 Big Local areas across England. Big Local being officially defined as areas that have been overlooked for funding, particularly Lottery Funding. (Others locally include Lynemouth, Gateshead and Jarrow.) But you can read between the lines.

So Whitley began its crawl back. We all knew the coast was the USP and central to that, the Spanish City Dome, However, the upside to the excess of cheap empty properties, was that start ups took a chance in Whitley Bay. Coffee shops, cafe’s and restaurants started to open up, along with some interesting little shops and creative businesses and then the Northern Prom and then the bun fight that was Central Lower prom and then the Dome and you can also see the gap sites taking shape and being developed. The Highpoint, Sylvesters, The Avenue and Whiskey Bends. And now, it actually looks like Whitley Bay has turned a corner. Thanks to multiple forces pulling (generally) together.

So the Dome is where we begin to wrap up this story. Where we sat and sipped our last few pints at a “Champagne Bar”… which was actually just a nice bar with a cracking view. Don’t let the champagne bit, put you off! And where the Whitley Bay Film Festival, once created a fantastic pop-up cinema and Iron Man landed on the roof… and where the conversation seamlessly drifted into the New Half Man Half Biscuit album, “No One Cares About Your Creative Hub, So get Your Fuckin Hedge Cut,” which we urge you to listen to on your Spotify, Deezer, Apple music things that you kids all have nowadays, and… who are even touring next year.

“Well, I know this place like the back of my hand, In a way you’ll never understand.
So don’t go trying to organise my bat walks.
I’ll be going on any-time-I-like walks.”


By Dave on August 21, 2018

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