A Newcastle MP will be the toast of the country’s current legislators as a real ale named after him is unveiled at the House of Commons’ bar.
Joseph Cowen, who represented the city from 1874 to 1886, is the inspiration behind a North East beer which has just been added to Strangers’ Bar in Westminster.
The real ale is called Blaydon Brick which was Cowen’s nickname because he would always turn up to the Commons in a cloth cap and never lost his regional accent.
MP for Blaydon, Dave Anderson, has the privilege of pouring the first pint of the guest ale. He said: “Many ales get a spotlight in the Commons watering hole and this time provides a good opportunity to alert drinkers to what is one of the finest beers from our region and in the whole country.
“The brewery is fairly new and a great success story and could do much to put Blaydon on the map. Besides, it’s a very fine real ale.”
Blaydon Brick is brewed by Firebrick Brewery, established earlier this year by a former Northumbria University employee, Alistair Lawrence, after he was made redundant. The brewery is based at Cowen Road. Mr Lawrence said: “At the time of the redundancy, for my own interest, I had already taken a start up brewing course at Brewlab in Sunderland, so decided to make a go of it. Having Blaydon Brick at the bar of the Commons should increase demand for the beer locally and help our business as part of the local economy.”
Cowen, who launched The Journal’s sister paper, The Chronicle, in 1858, was a radical Victorian politician and journalist with forthright views on many domestic affairs. Often seen as the forgotten man of 19th Century politics, the New York Times described Cowen as “one of the most extraordinary men in Europe” after his death.
Born at Stella Hall, Blaydon, he went to Edinburgh University which is where his fascination with foreign politics blossomed. He succeeded his father as MP for Newcastle in 1874, and continued to identify with the North East mining class and believed all men and women should have the vote.
He died on 18 February 1900, aged 70. A bronze statue of Cowen, paid for by public subscription, stands in Fenkle Street in Newcastle.