November 9, 2020
Over the last two decades, it’s been transformed from a post-industrial wasteland into a vibrant, cultural oasis packed full of exciting businesses and superb independent cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs.
It personifies the journey that Newcastle has been on since the winding down of old industry in the 1980s and the growth of the creative industries in the years since.
When the miners moved out, the musicians moved in.
To be an Ouseburn business today means to belong to a close-knit community of creative minds, which together form a stunningly diverse micro-economy. Drawing the lion’s share of its revenues from visitors, the valley is a place where you can see the full effects of the coronavirus pandemic laid bare.
Here, five Ouseburn-based businesses discuss what it means to call the valley home and what the post-COVID 19 future holds for this dynamic creative quarter.
What makes the Ouseburn Valley such an attractive and exciting place to live, work and play?
“Ouseburn is just a stone’s throw from the city, and yet it is so wonderfully full of charm and individuality. There are so many great things to do and places to visit, from fantastic little eateries and bars to an equestrian centre and farm. It doesn’t really get more unique than that. And that’s what’s so great about the valley – it fosters creativity across all aspects of life.”
Lois Bell, creative director at Bumbl
How does being based in the Ouseburn Valley benefit your business?
“We have so much space compared to a city centre restaurant, a huge terrace, views of the valley, space to sit outside, space for customers to park, go for a drink after dinner, a trip to the farm before lunch; it affords people a whole day out, it is a destination in itself.”
Based in the Toffee Factory at the Quayside end of the Ouseburn Valley, Bumbl is a digital marketing agency specialising in creative design, social media, paid search and branding. It counts 7 Of The Best, Angry Birds Adventure Golf and Jesmond Dene House among its clients.
Anna Hedworth, chef and proprietor of Cook House
Cook House is the progeny of architect turned food writer turned award-winning restauranteur, Anna Hedworth. Focussed on quality and provenance, this casual all-day dining delight serves up some of the best food in the region from its stunningly designed HQ in the heart of the valley.
How has your business been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?
“As with every other business, we’ve had to adapt quickly to ever-changing circumstances to ensure that the important work we do continues.We closed our building in March and subsequently explored new ways to deliver our programme.With every challenge there is opportunity for growth, and we are using this crisis to test new programmes, to challenge our old ways of delivery and to revise accordingly. I’m lucky to work with such determined and creative people who are making these things happen every day.”
John Coburn, creative director at Seven Stories
The national centre for children’s books, Seven Stories can be found in a converted Victorian warehouse on Lime Street. Its mission is to inspire a love of reading across generations and it boasts the only collection in the world dedicated to telling the story of British children’s literature from the 1930s to the present day.
What do you love most about this thriving creative and cultural quarter?
“The spontaneity. Every day is different when you have such a mix of creative people and organisations on your doorstep. There are always new initiatives and events to get involved with and new ways of working together.”
Hugh Stolliday, farm business manager at Ouseburn Farm
A working farm since 1976, Ouseburn Farm is a vibrant green oasis situated beneath the Ouseburn Viaduct and Byker Bridge. It provides work experience and friendship for vulnerable people and teaches children and young people to look after their environment.
What do you think the future holds for the Ouseburn Valley, post-COVID 19?
“COVID-19 is merely a blip in the long and glorious history of Ouseburn.Tyne Bar has been here for 26 years now, and we’ve seen the valley grow and develop into an internationally famous hub of arts, music and hospitality. And it will take more than a pandemic to stop that momentum!”
Hollie Carr, manager of Tyne Bar
One of Tyneside’s best-loved independent pubs and live music venues, the Tyne Bar is viewed by many to be the gateway to the Ouseburn, encapsulating much of what the valley is all about. It’s a local favourite and on a sunny day plays host to huge crowds lined up underneath the Glasshouse Bridge.