Strolling through Ouseburn today, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that this cluster of residential student accommodation cool restaurants and quirky bars was once the industrial hub of Newcastle.
Back when the River Tyne was the main thoroughfare into the city, Ouseburn was essential for transporting coal down from Leazes Colliery via the Victoria Tunnel – a wagonway which stretched from the banks of the Tyne all the way up to the north of the city centre.
An incredible feat of Victorian engineering, the tunnel wound its way beneath Ouseburn and used gravity to help transport the coal down onto waiting barges. More recently, it was used as an air raid shelter during WWII, and can now be seen as part of a guided tour around the city.
Ouseburn now though is, to many Newcastle residents, a hidden gem. It’s a cultural, artistic hub, rich with musical history and artistic prowess; subtly buzzing with energy from the swathes of young people housed in student accommodation perched on its steep, winding streets and from the passionate music and craft ale lovers that visit the many bars and watering holes each week.
The past twenty years or so have further pushed Ouseburn’s individualist identity into the spotlight. And yet, some of its hidden treasures remain exactly that… hidden.
In this blog, we’re going to take you through what Ouseburn has to offer. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find your new favourite spot.
Things to do in Ouseburn
Animal lover? Craft-ale connoisseur? Up-and-coming artist? Ouseburn has something for you, whoever you are.
Head down to community-run Ouseburn Farm; a not-for-profit farm nestled just under the Byker Bridge and housed in an environmentally friendly building. Meet sheep, pigs, chickens, goats, rabbits, lizards, and more!
And, if you’re looking for volunteering opportunities, Ouseburn Farm will always welcome enquiries from animal lovers. Volunteering with animals is a fantastic way to reduce stress from uni, and when such an amazing farm is just a hop, skip, and jump away from your student accommodation, there’s really no reason not to get your hands dirty.
Got the parents up this weekend and not sure the Baltic is really their cup of tea? Try The Biscuit Factory instead. As the UK’s “largest independent commercial art, craft & design gallery”, it really packs a cultural punch.
Even better, it’s open seven days a week, 10-5, so is the perfect place to kill a few hours (productively, mind you!) before you have to hustle the ‘rents back to Central Station for their afternoon train home.
And just around the corner is one of our favourite places, wholly on account of its name… The Holy Biscuit used to be a Methodist Church but has been refurbished and transformed into an arts venue that combines art, theology and community activity.
Although technically located in neighbouring Shieldfield (a short walk uphill from Ouseburn), we think it’s close enough (and cool enough) to be worth a mention. The Holy Biscuit hosts the Shieldfield Cinema Club, a free painting class every Tuesday, and opportunities for Artists in Residence. Highly varied, and highly recommended.
Places to eat in Ouseburn
With the immense variety of things to do and the constant melting and meeting of cultures in Ouseburn, it’s unsurprising that the food is just as eclectic as the people. We’ll be honest – it can be pretty hipster around here, but that’s not to say that the range of restaurants and cafés aren’t of a high standard, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
Take, for example, Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle. Located inside one of Newcastle’s finest hotels, The Hotel Du Vin Bistro serves French classics and unique creations in a modern, ambient setting. Their wine list is to die for and the staff are exceptionally knowledgeable about the food and drink pairings.
It’s expensive but definitely worth budgeting for if you’re trying to romance that special someone, or even dip into the bank of mum and dad as a congratulatory meal, post exams (you know you deserve a treat!)
When the student loan is looking sparse but the Instagram feed is in need of an update, head to The Tyne Bar. For £5.99 (on Thursdays) you can tuck into a burger and a pint, and on Tuesdays, this place is the gift that keeps on giving… spend £5 on drinks, and you’ll get a meal on the house. Can’t argue with that!
The Ship Inn is another local favourite – serving a mostly vegan menu in a quiet, understated setting, it’s the place to go for great food, amazing craft ales, and an atmosphere that is truly Ouseburn.
And finally, don’t forget to try The Cookhouse and The Kiln. The Cookhouse offers up the most amazing freshly cooked food of the highest quality from famous food blogger The Grazer, Anna Hedworth, and with its new terrace now open for the summer, is a great spot for a tasty lunch or evening meal in the sun.
The Kiln is a contemporary venue serving up delicious brunch and evening meals, with a hand thrown ceramics kiln on site where you can watch artists plying their trade through the windows of this café bar.
Places to drink in Ouseburn
Although only a fifteen-minute walk from the city centre, Ouseburn is regularly left out of “best bar, pubs, and clubs” discussions. We think that’s bang out of order, and this is why…
There’s really only so much time you can spend being puked on in Flares before you decide you’re ready for something different. Swingers tends to lose its appeal after six months, and if you can still afford Tup Tup three months after your student loan lands, well… we’re suspicious, is all.
Ouseburn is always evolving. It’s always changing. The nightlife here is known as some of the most diverse in the city, and once you discover it for yourself, you won’t want to spend a night in the city centre again!
The Cluny is Ouseburn’s big gig venue. It hosts everyone from big-name bands to local acts and DJs, as well as festivals and pop-up events. The Cluny (and its smaller cousin the Cluny 2) is a truly versatile venue, combining art, food, music, and a pub setting to result in one of the most eclectic nights out in the North East.
If you’re more of a traditional pub goer, Ouseburn has you spoilt for choice. There’s the Ship Inn, which we’ve mentioned, as well as the Cumberland Arms and the Free Trade Inn. Take a stroll around the local microbreweries (read: gentrified pubs), like Brinkburn Brewery Bar and Kitchen which brew their own craft beers on site.
We think that the best way to get to know Ouseburn is to live here
Exchange Residential offers a range of student accommodation in and around Newcastle city centre, in areas like Jesmond, Heaton, Shieldfield and indeed Ouseburn. Interested? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a viewing.