THE CUMBERLAND ARMS
During the late 1800’s, many public houses were built and faced with glazed terracotta or decorative ceramic tiles, which usually embodied the name of the establishment in ornate signage and lettering.
The Cumberland Arms, situated on the north side of Front Street is an excellent example, and to this day, remains in striking original condition with no external alteration work evident.
The unusual format and appearance of this pub results from three periods of building work, in 1898, 1934 and the early 1960’s.
The exterior and frontage consists of three ogee archways, framing a large central window and two doors.
Above this, a decorative cornice holds a faience panel of glazed brick, incorporating the name.
The building stands on a long, narrow site, and originally consisted of a front public bar combining a select bar or sitting room, a ‘Bottle & Jug’, and a rear smoke room. Access to the rear of the pub was (and still is) possible via an external alleyway.
The rear of the pub sits on an elevated level, and one of the unusual features of the original building was an octagonal buffet room to the upper rear floor. This was demolished in 1934 during a phase of some internal alteration work. A club room on the first floor was also replaced with private accommodation.
In the early 1960’s, the Cumberland Arms became part of the Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Estate, and the company carried out major alterations to the interior, removing all of the remaining internal partition walls, and introduced a nautical theme, making use of the different levels that existed between the front bar and former rear octagonal buffet to create an”upper deck” and a “lower deck”.
The front bar counter remains virtually unchanged, and is still in the same position as it was in 1898.
A small number of other pubs in the area also had facades that were glazed in varying shades of brown, amber, and yellow, all of which gave them an attractive and prestigious style and appearance.
Although hard wearing, this method of building was a very time consuming and expensive process to undertake. An architect would produce a detailed plan in order to prepare for the bricks and tiles to be individually manufactured. This in itself was a lengthy operation, as the finished items would also have to be checked to ensure they all fitted together perfectly. They would then in turn, have to be numbered before shipment to make certain that they were correctly constructed on site.
The Cumberland Arms was one of nine known public houses in the Tynemouth and North Shields area with this type of glazed brick faience.