The Fox Hunters, Preston, North Shields
Local tradition has it that this inn was originally known as the Plane Tree but no documentary reference to this name has come to light. It is possible, however, that it was, in fact, the Orange Tree, mentioned in Piggot's directory of 1822. The Orange Tree belonged to James Hogg at this time and it is known that Thomas Craig, the first recorded landlord of the Foxhunters Inn, married into the Hogg family. It is feasible, therefore, that Craig took over the running of the Orange Tree, which stood next to his orchard, then changed its name to reflect his passion for fox hunting. This is all conjecture, however, as no concrete evidence has come to light.
Certainly, North Shields historian, William S. Garson, reports that Thomas Craig who was listed as licensee of the Foxhunters in 1827 was responsible for changing the name. In an article he wrote for the Shields Hustler in 1939 Garson describes a hunting breakfast in the old inn thus: "Many were the hunting breakfasts that were consumed in the comfortable old Fox Hunters Inn before a blazing fire. Half the floor covered with an old oilcloth, and the rest exhibiting the cheerless aspect of the naked flags. About a yard and a half from the fire was placed the breakfast table, in the centre stood a magnificent uncut ham, with a great quartern loaf on one side, and a dish of sausage and eggs on the other side. There was also a great deal of toast, a dozen ship-biscuits, and half a pork pie, while a dozen kidneys would be spluttering on the spit before the fire."
Thomas Craig retained the license for many years but prior tenants of the property - although not necessarily an inn - were Joseph Durham (1744), Walter Waddell (1767) Robert Ward (1809). In 1847, Stephen House took it over and he was succeeded by Thomas Adams, in 1849 and Ralph Nesbitt in 1854. In 1875 the pub was sold by the then owner, Henry Wilson, flour dealer, to Carr, Ormston and Carr, the brewer of North Shields. John Chadwick became tenant at this time followed by William Pringle in 1886.
But for the 50 or so years before it closed, one family held the tenancy. Robert Hunter Nesbitt took over the inn from William Pringle in 1892 and, when he died, his widow, Dora, carried on. She later married Thomas Potts of Preston Grange Farm, whose name went over the door until the death of his wife. The tenancy passed to the son-in-law of Mrs. Potts (Nesbitt), Robert Storey who was unfortunately killed in a motor accident outside the inn in 1927. His wife, Jane Adelaide Storey retained the tenancy until the license was transferred to the new Foxhunters Inn at Preston Gate in 1939.
Some years later, the building, after undergoing a facelift, re-opened as a sweet shop and became known as the Old Tuck Shop. It was later converted to a dwelling.
This public house was built during 1938 and 1939 and opened on June 6th 1939, the license having been transferred from the old Foxhunters Inn in North Road.
The new Foxhunters has served the residents of the nearby council estate very well over the years and, up until the early 1990s, the function room was well used for dances and parties. The restaurant, which seated up to 120 people had a reputation for serving excellent food right up until 1993 when the owners, Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, carried out extensive alterations before reopening the Foxhunters as one of its "Homespreads" family inns. The landlord after this conversion was John Oliver who presided over the "Funky Forest" children's fun area.
A few years later, after further refurbishment costing £180,000 in May 1997, an advertisement in the Evening Chronicle announced the opening of the "Biggest restaurant affiliated indoor children's play area in the North East". Ian Carey held the license following this event.