The story of bars from Bigg Market past - from Destiny to Pig and Whistle and Balmbra’s to Yell

It’s a place that is often talked up for redevelopment and has welcomed high end restaurant Hibou Blanc in recent years, but for all those people who would love to see the Bigg Market take on a new lease of life, there are plenty of others who would love it to go back to how it used to be.

It would be fair to say, it always has been and still is Newcastle’s most famous partying street. A place that seems to make national headlines every Christmas thanks to Geordie girls, as they always do, going out to party and leaving their coats at home, even if it's freezing outside.

But for those of us, who still hold it dear, a night out on the Bigg Market was like a rite of passage, with many locals enjoying their first night on the Toon on the famous strip.

READ MORE: Newcastle Quayside gets new venue as legendary bar becomes cocktail hotspot with huge shot menu

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While it’s places like Filthy’s, The Points, Twenty Twenty, Cosy Joes and the Bierkeller that have stags, hens and locals flocking nowadays, turn the clock back a decade or two and there were a host of very different Bigg Market bars regularly packed to the rafters.

Off the back of a huge Bigg Market reunion on Bank Holiday Sunday, we’re taking a trip into Bigg Market past to remember 10 bars from years gone by.


We’ll start with our inspiration for the story. Technically more Cloth Market than Bigg Market (but we’re including it anyway!) Kiss used to host regular nights like Ibiza Untouched, Club Class and Essential as well as big events like Clubland X-treme.


Destiny Nightclub on Cloth Market, Newcastle
Destiny Nightclub on Cloth Market, Newcastle -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

Another place no stranger to a bit of Clubland, Destiny, which unlike others around it only closed its doors in 2016, hosted performances by the likes of Ultrabeat and Basshunter over the years. After its closure eight years ago, the Destiny premises are now home to Revolucion de Cuba.


A place that enjoyed its hey day in the mid-90s, Macey’s was a popular haunt with Newcastle United players of that era, with them often opting to drink in the upstairs bar.

Looking rather swish with pine trees outside, Macey’s promised “fine wines, ales and spirits.”


Now massively popular cheesy music and karaoke Cosy Joes, the Groat Market haunt was just as cheesy a decade ago, minus all the karaoke! Rewind played an eclectic mix of music, with dance and R&B commonly the soundtrack of choice on the top floor which was also home to a pole.

Pig & Whistle

While the Bigg Market as a whole is something of a rite of passage, for Geordie revellers of a certain age, a visit to this place alone was definitely one.

Some old reviews of the place on Yelp make for rather interesting reading. One reads “The pig and whistle is a real dive, but it strangely is a great place to go, they must never wash the floor ever, the door men are really nice and the staff are a laugh , not a place that takes itself seriously. Its true that if you have never been you have to go in at least once,” while another reads “for people like me who love hardcore s club 7 megamixes this place is the one for you. why is the floor so sticky you ask? it’s for all the drool that comes out when you check out the awesome friendly bar staff.”


Very much of the same ilk - who remembers strutting their stuff on Yell’s dancefloor or feeling a bit green round the gills the morning after taking advantage of its drink offers?

Circus Circus

Right on the cusp of the Bigg Market and Mosley Street, you’ll now know this place as Flares.


A Bigg Market bar through and through and another one which was part of the furniture of the famous street, as a Music Hall and then with its Gaslight back bar.

Balmbra's, Cloth Market, Newcastle, 1964
Balmbra's, Cloth Market, Newcastle, 1964 -Credit:UGC TNE

In 2014, its interior was badly damaged by a fire - but towards the end of 2020, it was reported there were ambitious ongoing plans by the Malhotra Group to restore and breathe new life into the old venue.

Robinson’s Wine Bar

Take a trip back to the 1980s and big hair and big shoulder pads were all the rage at this haunt, which was considered rather upmarket at the time.

Blu Bambu

We’ll round out the list with the place that is now Filthy’s, Passing Clouds and The Points.

While, not a million miles away from its Gateshead peer, Baja Beach Club, Bambu wasn’t quite as cheesy as Baja.

Yes, you could strut your stuff to some early Girls Aloud and Holly Valance (Kiss Kiss anyone?) but, for many others who frequented it in the early-mid 00s, it will be a place I associate with four particular songs - 50 Cent’s In Da Club, Justin Timberlake - Like I Love You, Ice-T’s You Can Do It and Fatman Scoop’s Be Faithful.

On a lighter note its drinks menu was home to some rather interesting drink concoctions. In an era when fishbowls weren’t really just reserved for bars on Magaluf strip, Bambu invited friends to dip their straws into some very potent punches and then there was the extensive cocktail menu.