Tyne and Wear HER(11080): Elswick, Scotswood Road, Crooked Billet Public House - Details
Title of image: The Crooked Billet Hotel, Scotswood Road
Location/Collection: Newcastle Libraries/Newcastle Local Studies Hotels and Restaurants Collection
Accession number: NCL 017058
Provider: Newcastle City Library
Copyright: All rights reserved, if you would like a printed copy of this image please contact Newcastle Libraries.
Elswick, Scotswood Road, Crooked Billet Public House
Richard Major was licensee and brewer of the Crooked Billet in Kirton Terrace, Elswick in the early 1860s. Around 1874 Robert Johnson took over. The pub was put up for auction in 1896 and was advertised as covering 400 square yards with a large frontage onto Scotswood Road. At the rear was "a substantial building, formerly a brewery but now used as a cellar, coach-house, two-stalled stable and joiner's workshop". It sold for £15,800. At this time the Elswick Works opened at 6am - 50-100 men would be standing at the door of the pub to rush in to have a drink (already lined up on the counter). At the same time the nightshift men leave work and went to this and other pubs in the neighbourhood. James Deuchar rebuilt it. It finally closed in 1984 or was it 1994 as suggested by Bennison 1998 p22. The origin of the name is debated. The popular view (and misconception) is that the name derived from its proximity to the forges, where iron from the furnaces would be beated into billets. However, the first Crooked Billet pre-dates the establishment of the local iron and steelworks. Another argument put forward was that the name was probably rural in character and could refer to 'the pastoral staff, or a baton cornu; a shepherd's crook; the stem of a tree bound up in a faggot, made and sold for fire wood; or from heraldry, being a fesse dancette or a chevron wavy'. It has also been noted that the original Crooked Billet (beside Elswick Colliery Staithes) had a sign up with a picture of a soldier. It has also been suggested that this was a wayside inn where Cromwell billetted troops on his way back from Newcastle to the south of Hexham.
Brian Bennison, 1995, Brewers and Bottlers of Newcastle upon Tyne From 1850 to the present day, p 40; Bennison, B, 1998, Lost Weekends, A History of Newcastle's Public Houses, Vol 3, The West