Vampire Rabbit bar in Newcastle city centre announces opening date

Inside the Vampire Rabbit bar
-Credit: (Image: Vampire Rabbit)

A Newcastle bar owner is preparing to open his latest city centre within a building steeped in history.

Oliver Knox – who operates Bigg Market venues Filthy’s, Passing Clouds, and The Points – is poised to launch Vampire Rabbit, having taken over and refurbished the former gin bar The Continental on the corner of Collingwood Street. The cocktail bar, which will offer table service for guests as well as nightly live entertainment, takes its name from the stonework vampire rabbit that sits above the rear door of the Cathedral Buildings.

The creature has looked out across the back of St Nicholas Cathedral for over a century, and theories over its addition to the building range from it being there to protect people inside the property, or a possible nod to George Hare Philipson, one of the friends of the architects. While the rabbit may not sit above the doors of 29 Collingwood Street, it does have a close link to the building’s own folklore.

The earliest known use of the venue was as a shipping office and headquarters for Captain Black Bob Douglas. The sea captain and trader operated ships out of the Port of Newcastle in late Georgian and early Victorian times, and legend has it that as the Captain passed the famous rabbit statue one evening its eyes glared red at him, and the following morning he found that his favourite ship had sank.

The building has been refurbished and expanded to create four spaces, including the Grand Cafe which contains the main bar, the Peacock Room, and the snug room and vault room set in the basement. While sipping cocktails, guests will be able to see the vault where valuables were historically stored when the venue was a shipping office.

Mr Knox said Vampire Rabbit is in prime position to serve Newcastle’s buzzing nightlife and that it will build on the success of the team’s existing venues.

He said: “I couldn’t think of a better place to open Newcastle’s latest cocktail bar. Encapsulating a twist of history, fun and our bold, unique design, we have paid homage to both the city and the building’s heritage throughout Vampire Rabbit, from the name choice to the interior design and menu curation.”

The bar will launch on Thursday, July 25, and will be open from 12pm to 2am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with an earlier close of midnight throughout the rest of the week. A breakfast and brunch menu is set to be announced soon.