Cribbar, Newquay, Cornwall

A surf bar with graffiti art, 1960s-inspired furniture and other stylish design features is not something you might associate with JD Wetherspoon but this is the concept at The Cribbar, its new bar in Newquay in Cornwall. It has spent £2million on redeveloping the former site of Red Square and Divas in Gover Lane, creating a venue named after the Cribbar reef that stretches out from nearby Towan Head and creates some of Britain’s best waves.

The decision to open the bar in the surfers’ paradise is no surprise to anyone who knows JD Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin who has grown the business to over 800 pubs over the past 33 years. He had a passion for surfing in his youth, returning to the sport in more recent years, and if you look carefully around The Cribbar, you will spot a picture of him surfing at the Cornish resort of Polzeath.

The interiors have been created by architectural and interiors agency Absolute which has worked on many hospitality projects including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen in Watergate Bay, Cornwall, and the luxury St Moritz Hotel in Wadebridge, Cornwall. The designers, headed by creative director Helen Blake, describe their work on the 6,000 sq ft site as “a radical design departure” for JD Wetherspoon. They have avoided potential clichés, opting for a “surf-infused” scheme featuring swell chart motifs across a range of hard surfaces and bright acid-inspired fabrics. Low-level furniture and lighting were selected to reflect the 1960s, the era when surfing first took off in the UK.

Furniture includes the Shaper Coffee Table, made from the same resin as heavy-duty surfboards and designed by Cornwall-based furniture and lighting specialist Mark, which is headed by two surfers. Their Net Stool, which is used in blue and yellow throughout the bar and the outside deck, was inspired by the sea and hanging fishing nets.

On the ceiling are large metallic “volcanoes” crafted from GRP plaster, providing shafts for lighting and shaped to echo the feeling of being at the bottom of the sea. The 16ft bar counter is made from solid cast concrete, with bright yellow swell arrows, while outside there are concrete Chesterfield-inspired sofas that were commissioned from Gray Concrete.

The Cribbar brand motif, created by Ceri Pashley Designs, has been etched throughout the venue in glass and in wood and street graffiti. Other seaside-inspired features include the bleached wood panelling provided by Oak Wood, while tactile materials and over-stitching have been used to reflect wetsuits and post-surf warm-up blankets. Other touches include a motif based on the iconic Sex Wax used for waxing surfboards plus surfer phrases such as “You should have been here yesterday” etched into a solid concrete wall.

To ensure authenticity, Absolute developed the interiors with help from a team from surfing magazines Carve and Surfgirl. Their publisher, Orca Publications, has also provided images from its book on British surfing, The Surfing Tribe, which have been screen-printed into white tiles on the front of the bar. Screens mounted behind the bar show videos and live footage of surfing as well as the current swell charts.

The Cribbar is open from 8am every day until 2am Sundays to Wednesdays, 3am on Thursdays and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, at least during the busy summer months. It has a dancefloor for late-night clubbing and a beer garden for enjoying the daytime sun. Like other JD Wetherspoon outlets, it specialises in real ales, with a wide range including several from local and regional brewers. Food is served throughout the day until 10pm.

With surfing enthusiasts involved in the bar’s interiors, The Cribbar has managed to reflect surfing heritage in a relevant and authentic way. Helen at Absolute adds: “One might be forgiven for thinking that a Cornish surf bar only needs some surfboards on the wall and pictures of bronzed dudes scattered everywhere to capture the essence of this historic culture, but you’d be wrong. Surfers and the surfing culture are based on the idea of creativity and spontaneity with a little dash of anti-establishment thrown in for good measure, hence our approach and the results.”

11–19 Gover Lane, Newquay, Cornwall TR7 1ER Tel: 01637 852910

Previous College daze: student bar focus
Next London Cocktail Week gets underway