An historic Newcastle pub with a special place in the city’s history has undergone a refurbishment – and owners haven’t monkeyed around.
For more than 150 years, The Market Lane in Pilgrim Street – known as the Monkey bar – has been a firm fixture on Newcastle’s nightlife circuit.
And now leisure operator Malhotra Group plc has unveiled the results of a £100k facelift, which it hopes will attract the next generation of customers to the venue.
Originally called the Old Market Lane Hotel, the pub – which can trace its history back to around 1850 – was a popular watering hole for the Irish bricklayers who helped build much of Victorian Newcastle.
Legend has it that they used to leave their hods, or monkeys, in the passageway as security against their bar bill – giving the venue the nickname it still bears today.
Now, not only has it been given a brand-new look, but there is also a nod to its heritage in the form of monkey light fittings and framed historical prints.
These depict some of the construction projects the Monkey Bar’s early customers would have worked on, such as the High Level bridge – which opened in 1849 – Central Station, in 1850, the Swing Bridge, which opened later, in 1876 and the Tyne Bridge, which opened in 1928.
Other features of the new look bar include soft furnishings and improved seating, while the team has also created a cocktail menu to run alongside its existing, extensive range of real ales, lagers, premium spirits and teas and coffees.
“The aim was to bring it in line with 21st century customers’ expectations, without stripping it of its character and charm,” said Atul Malhotra, operations director at Malhotra Group plc, “and I think we have achieved that.
“It is and always has been a real pub – that’s why everyone loves it – and hopefully it can now look forward to the next 150 years.”
For more information about The Market Lane, including opening times, visit