joe robertson godfather newcastle party scene
Joe Robertson Media Archive

Looking back it seems a long time since I opened my first restaurant/bar in Newcastle’s Bigg Market. In 1977, Pumphreys Restaurant and Ricks Cocktail Bar sprang to life.

They followed thick and fast City Vaults, Maceys, Masters, Berlins, Legends, Slones, Yel, Luckies, Jimmyz, Bliss, Buzz, The Long Bar, names tumbling from the imagination of my design team to delight an ever increasing youthful clientele.

Music was the catalysis from my days as a DJ at the Club a Gogo with lummeries such as the Animals, Rod Stewart and Spencer Davies.

Club regulars such as Mark Knopfler and Brian Ferry heard the beat and struck out to conquer the world.

I commenced world domination closer to home in the Bigg Market.

Music in bars did not exist in those days save for a jukebox neither did bar snacks unless you wanted a Dickman’s pie.

Moussaka, hot roast beef jostled with Elvis Costello, The Pet Shop Boys and Police. Malcolm Gerry brought The Tube and Jules Holland to Tyne Tees TV opening one of my bars whilst Dexy’s Midnight Runners opened Legends.

Times change, the Bigg Market I knew had fruit and veg stores, clothing and fancy goods. Now it is kebab shops and Indian takeaways. Everything a product of its time.

Mine the rise of the music pub. There was a Joe Robertson in every UK city hearing the same music. Maybe they had all been to the Club a Gogo.

But Newcastle seemed to be the place. Voted 8th best party city in the world no less and the centre of this universe was the Bigg Market. Roc n Roll.

My years in Newcastle from birth produced a proud Geordie now resident in Monaco. I have returned many times with developments on Grey Street, Quayside and Newcastle Airport however it is the Bigg Market that seems my business birth place.

During my many years abroad it is true to say I have yet to master the French language however many is the Frenchman who now speaks English with a Geordie accent.