North Bar – established 1st July 1997
16 years ago today, at 7pm, we opened North Bar. The door was hung at about 6:30pm. I connected the last speaker at 6:50pm. We invited friends and family. Some people said to us, “It’s miles away from the centre, it’ll never survive up there”. We had a great night, and shut shop at about 11pm. The next night, we had an opening especially for local businesses. We put a buffet on, and Barry on Briggate and his family ate the lot. A pint of Kronenbourg was about £2.20 and considered a premium product.
To begin with, North was a ghost town.
After a while we developed many many regulars. The stage crew from the Grand Theatre became a staple part of our trade, drinking many many pints of 1664 every day before returning to the theatre to move vast, heavy and dangerous objects around in the air above them. Some of them had funny names; Grape, Micky Blue Eyes, Psycho Frank, Scum, Mick Mullet.
Every day a hairdresser called Harry came in and had a large coffee. We used to joke about taking people off and murdering them in his van. Or just shitting them up a bit. You had to be there. Dortmunder Dan’s brother used to teach me Physics at secondary school. We called him ‘Larry Laserbeam’.
I once slashed my head open on an overhead fan making a short, slightly tipsy thank you speech at one of our birthday parties.
We used to play footy in Hyde Park with stage crew and other regulars and staff every Sunday morning before mooching down to North for Guinness. We had our own football kit, it was shiny and green and emphasised our growing bellies when the light bounced off it. We used to sell pre made sandwiches and give away what we hadn’t sold by 4pm. Free sandwiches was how my wife came to love North Bar.
Primark was the cinema. When it closed, we had all the furniture that was being loaded into skips and put it in North. At some point we acquired a late license. At the time, it was a prerequisite to serve food, so we did meat and cheese platters. Two of our ex bar staff have gone on to run their own venues, most notably Pete Walker set up Hand in Falmouth.
One of our art exhibitions was two upholstered pillars that were about 5cm short of reaching the ceiling, I still don’t know what it meant but they were put to very good use one very drunken lock in.
I was in North Bar when Diana died and when the Twin Towers were hit.
One day we learnt how to run a bar. We wish we’d learnt sooner. Mick Mullet once turned up at Leon’s house with a chicken in a bag. Gazza did the same for Raoul Moat. We were there all of the time. It was fun, exhausting, madness.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have jumped on the bandwagon and named their new baby daughter North. North West. Seriously.
Before Mint Club it was an indie-ish club called Fiddlers.
The Chimays and Duvel inspired us to stock better drinks. Anchor Liberty Ale inspired us to stock American beers. We did great cocktails, because we had staff who were interested in that, then we did rubbish cocktails because none of the staff gave a shit, now we do ace cocktails again. It’s staying that way.
We drank too much. When used to eat a bacon and tomato butty from Scott’s cafe every day. I put tabasco on mine, and increased my mass by two stone.
Happy 16th Birthday North Bar!
Christian Townsley – Director