The Cooperage is one of Newcastle's oldest, historically important buildings, and is located on the city's ancient Quayside. Dating from 1430, it is the most complete late medieval timber-framed building in Newcastle, is a grade II-star listed building; and one of the former merchants’ houses, including Bessie Surtees’ House, which survived the Great Quayside Fire of 1854.
1430: The Cooperage is built. The ground floor ceiling timbers are reported to have come from a Dutch merchant ship sunk in the river Tyne.
1531: The building is granted to Thomas Horsley, a Newcastle merchant and founder of Newcastle Grammar School. For the next 200 years, until 1742, it is occupied by prominent merchant families, changing hands roughly every generation.
1841: J Robson, a silk dyer, buys the building and moves his family in.
1853: The building is used as a grocery store.
1876 - 1880: John Arthur, a time-served Cooper and a member of the Coopers Company of
Newcastle, buys the building to use as a Cooperage for the manufacture of barrels for the storage of beer
and whiskey. He runs the Cooperage for almost a century. After six generations the family business moves
to Ponteland in 1974.
What do Coopers do? Coopers make barrels for whiskey, beer and wine – these are distinct from barrels made for butter and flour, pulses and the like, which are lower quality and not meant to last. Coopering was more skilled work, and had to be more precise, as the merchants paid tax on any beer and whiskey that was shipped. Additionally, whiskey needs to mature for at least three years and occasionally as long as 25 years, so the barrels had to last that long. One final thing is that Coopers use special techniques to 'flame' the inside of a barrel to give whiskey that special oak taste.
1974: The building becomes a public house.
August 2003: An archaeological dig unearths an unusually well-preserved wooden bowl and various pieces of pottery from the 14th and 15th Centuries.
April 2005: A four-month dig unearths pottery pieces and household equipment. It also uncovers a back room brewery house and some Roman remains.
July 2005: Unique Leisure refurbish the building and transform it into a café bistro/ bar club.
2009: Purchased by Apartment Group and closed, with no plans to refurbish.
(Source: History of The Cooperage (The Journal, 26 June 2013))
The Cooperage is currently under threat of irreversible damage, with the possibility of it having to be demolished, because its private owner, Apartment Group, has let it rot for the best part of a decade and has admitted it has no plans for the building's future.
Save The Cooperage believes it is our duty to take control of this situation, to preserve our unique heritage for future generations, and for the preservation of the Geordie Culture.
a) To liaise with the owner to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, and to assist where possible with the restoration, refurbishment, and maintenance of The Cooperage by means of grant funding etc.
b) To urge Newcastle City Council, by petitions, events, and other campaign actions, to compel Apartment Group to maintain The Cooperage to a standard befitting its Grade II listed status.
c) To secure funding, through whatever means possible, to purchase The Cooperage for, and on behalf of, the City of Newcastle, and the people of the North East.
d) Urge Newcastle Council to implement a Compulsory Purchase Order.
Save The Cooperage is a community action group consisting of members of the public who support and/or wish to volunteer their time and expertise to the general benefit of the community. We all have our individual talents, experience and abilities which, combined, give our community strength and versatility; only by working as a community can we succeed.
We, as a community, NEED YOUR HELP to accomplish our task, which is to ultimately see The Cooperage restored and put to use, before it degenerates beyond the point of saving and we lose it forever.
You can play a crucial role in raising public awareness and strengthening support for the campaign by writing to Newcastle City Council MP's, The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, newspapers, TV and radio stations, etc.; we have even had a mention in Private Eye in 2018, so anything is possible!
Additionally, if you, or anyone you know, has experience in public campaigning and/or applying for Lottery funding, we’d love to hear from you!
In return for your support with promotional materials, or pro bono professional assistance, we offer FREE and EXCLUSIVE, unrestricted and unlimited advertising space on all our Save The Cooperage social media for the entire duration of the campaign.
Join our current Supporters, and be part of our Cooperage Community!
Trillians Rock Bar- Newcastle's premier rock bar bringing you great gigs, great beer and a warm, friendly atmosphere
Alan Robson's Night Owls on Greatest Hits Radio – Listen to the North East radio legend every Sunday in his new home on Greatest Hits Radio
Neil A Marsden, Marsden Damp Services – Damp proofing and preservation experts since 1985
Sue Toomey, ToomeyLegal - Specialist Property Lawyer providing quality, clear legal advice focusing on you, the client
Ink Clan Nation - UK nationwide specialists in Printed Band T Shirts, Screen Printing, Embroidery, Schoolwear, Sportswear and Band Merchandise
Even in the face of what has been going on over the past 18 months (thanks COVID!), we have been plugging away to try to save our beloved Cooperage. On Thursday (5 Aug), we had a boost from Chi Onwurah, who has contacted Apartment Group to urge them to "either get on with the renovation quickly or sell The Cooperage… to another developer", and has looped in the Minister of Heritage to raise the concerns voiced by us. - Click here to read the article in the Chronicle.
However, this was swiftly followed up with comments the next day from Apartment Group saying they
have dropped plans to convert The Cooperage into a boutique hotel (as if that was going to happen!) and are now
planning to revive it as a restaurant: it looks like we are again playing the waiting game with the current
owners… now is the time to keep up the pressure, and hope that we can get help for the old girl before it’s too
late! - Click
to read more
(by Debbie M.)
Our support keeps growing! Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central district, has thrown
her weight behind our campaign requesting the authority to complete a compulsory purchase order of The Cooperage.
She said "I remember going to The Cooperage in my teenage years. It's a beautiful part of the city." - Click
here to read her comments to the Chronicle.
(by Phil C.)
Sunday's demo couldn't have been better!! We made a real, positive impact on passing members of
the public, and raising awareness in general. A lot of headway has been made in terms of discussion,
establishing contacts with professional bodies; and future planning.. and there's some exciting stuff to come
in the New Year! We've attracted both newspaper media and local TV network coverage, so now let's see how far
our campaign message goes - a special thanks to all who attended and sent their best wishes; for the Newcastle
Evening Chronicle and ITV Tyne Tees Television News, and not forgetting Northumbria Police for checking in on us.
- Click here to read coverage of the demo from the Chronicle.
(by Phil C.)
The word is getting out about our upcoming demo on Sunday! Join us if you can,
from 11:30am - 1:00pm, meeting outside the Guildhall on the Quayside - Click
here to read the latest article from the Chronicle.
(by Phil C.)
In a statement released by Apartment Group today, they vow to re-open The Cooperage in "an
ambitious and exciting scheme" - let’s keep our fingers crossed!! Click
to read the statement, and click
to read Phil's thoughts about it.
Save The Cooperage on BBC Radio Newcastle, Oct. 17, 2019 - listen to Phil Clarke’s interview here.
(by Debbie M.)
Read older news stories in our News Archive.
Who runs Save The Cooperage? We are, at present, a small Board of Campaign Coordinators, consisting of ordinary members of the public simply making a stand against what we view as the unnecessary, and possibly willful, destruction of our City's unique historical heritage.
Since the final closure of The Cooperage, a number of groups have been involved in raising public
Save The Cooperage was founded on 24th October 2018, and is THE campaign that will see our wonderful Community Cooperage restored and, once more, put to good use as a part of Newcastle's beautiful and elegant Quayside.
You HAVE and you CAN help!
Simply by talking about The Cooperage amongst family, friends, and fellow online supporters, you play a crucial role in raising public awareness and strengthening support for the campaign. You can also write to Newcastle City Council MP's, The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, newspapers, TV and radio stations, etc.; we have even had a mention in Private Eye in 2018, so anything is possible!
History of The Cooperage (The Journal, 26 June 2013)
Historic England – Heritage at Risk Register
It's heart-wrenching' - New group hopes to rescue The Cooperage in Newcastle's Quayside (Evening Chronicle, October 8 2019)
The 13 historic buildings at risk in Newcastle – The Cooperage is No. 1 (Evening Chronicle, 7 May 2019)
Save The Cooperage? 8 restored historical buildings which show former Newcastle pub has a future (Evening Chronicle, 27 October 2018)
Concerns over state of The Cooperage in Newcastle as owners admit they've no plans for historic pub (Evening Chronicle, 16 Aug 2018)
Want to learn more about Save The Cooperage and what we do? Have a question or comment? We are waiting to hear from you.