Sign Painting on Newcastle Pub Scoops Design Award

New hand-painted signs for Swarley's in Newcastle-upon-Tyne given Lord Mayor's design award.

Painted pub signs
Swarley's in Newcastle, with award-winning sign painting from Ash Willerton and Alex Richardson.

New signs for a renamed pub have been recognised with a Lord Mayor's Award in Newcastle. The sign painting, by Ash Willerton and Alex Richardson, took top prize in the "Frontage Transformation" category.

The work was carried out within a larger initiative to transform the historic Bigg Market area in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Part of this was financed by National Lottery Heritage funding. The aim was to improve the area's condition, preserve and conserve heritage buildings, and to engage people with the historic environment. A variety of businesses have had their frontages transformed, but the work done on Swarley's was the stand-out piece for the judging panel.

The project, carried out in September 2021, involved a change of name for the pub which has been serving customers since at least 1778. The Blackie Boy (previously Black Boy Inn) was originally named after the building's previous occupants, a blacksmiths, but the language isn't appropriate for our time. The new Swarley's name comes from the pub's earliest known owner, Richard Swarley, who ran a debating club on the premises. He is listed alongside over 200 years' worth of proprietors and licensees that now adorn the alleyway beside the pub.