Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Cider Festival at the Clytha

The multi-award winning Clytha Arms pub in Monmouthshire will be holding their annual cider festival over the Spring Bank Holiday. The original and, of course still the best Welsh Cider Festival in Monmouthshire, if not Wales!
Music, excellent food and of course some excellent ciders and perries!

The Clytha Arms
Near Abergavenny
South Wales
United Kingdom

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Now and Then, Gwyn Arms, Alltwen

 The old Rhymney Brewery pub, The Gwyn Arms, Gwyn's Place, Alltwen, Pontardawe as it was when it was a Whitbread pub. Now a free house according to What's Pub. The pub sign shows William Glyn, a local landowner and member of Parliament

Unusually we have a couple of interior shots from the 1970's as well, showing the high standard of decor rolled out in Whitbread pubs by the thousand.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Now and Then, former Ty-Du Hotel, Rogerstone

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Ty-Du Hotel,Tregwilym Road, Rogerstone. Built on the site of an older pub, The Rollers Arms which existed in 1883. Ty-du is Welsh for 'Black House' and is the Welsh name for the area. The advert on the left-hand side of the picture is for Webb's Brewery of Aberbeeg. a rival to Rhymney Brewery.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Now and Then, Skirrid Inn, Llanvihangel Crucorney

The Skirrid Inn claims to be the "Oldest pub in Wales" but only became licensed in the 1830s and the building dates back to the 1640s according to Pevsner. There are plenty of other pubs older than the Skirrid. The above photo shows the pub as it was when owned by Rhymney Brewery, in the 1920s it was a Hancocks pub. More recently it was owned by Ushers of Trowbridge but today it is a Punch Taverns pub.

So much rubbish has been published about this pub over the years it's difficult to know where to start debunking the rumours and myths so let's start chronologically.

Western Mail, Country Supplement 01.10.96. Reporter: Kate Smout.
“A building is believed to have been on this site since Roman times”.
FACT – no Roman artifacts have been recorded here. If they have been found then they found there way to Ebay before the local museum recorded them.
“Records show that courts were held in the main room of the pub, known as the Millbrook alehouse as early as 1110”.
FACT – no records exist from such a date. Every reference to these supposed records does not mention them by name, if they did then these supposed records could be read by everyone. Also the Skirrid pub is on a hill, if somewhere known as The Millbrook existed it is more likely to be on the river Honddu than higher up the hill.
“Local brothers James and John Crowther were tried and sentenced at the inn. James got nine months for robbery with violence. John's sheep stealing activities cost him his life”.
FACT Both have modern names for 1110 and in the days of branding and amputation for criminal activities, along with trial by ordeal, it seems a bit strange that James gets sentenced to nine months in an era where prisons did not exist for punishment but merely as holding places before trial, sentence and execution. Again there is not any documented evidence to support this pub myth, but in different accounts of this myth, sometimes it is James who was hung.
“The existing stone structure is Elizabethan”
FACT So having argued the point that the pub dates back to Norman times in 1110, the Western Mail now asserts that it only goes back as far as Elizabethan times. Let's reach for Pevsner, or in our case John Newman, the Buildings of Wales, who states, “It is a remarkably complete mid- to late 17th Century building”. That dates it 1640-1700. The myths are starting to break down.

“Owain Glyndwr rallied his troops from the mounting block in the courtyard”
FACT The stonework of the mounting block is contemporary with that of the inn, mid- to late 17th Century. Owain Glyndwr was long since dead and buried over the border in Herefordshire before the Skirrid was built.
The reporter, Kate Smout, continues to spout more rubbish about the pub such as “time-stained granite walls”.
FACT the walls are the local Devonian Old Red Sandstone, there is no granite in Monmouthshire and certainly none used in the building of this pub.
It's not just the National Newspaper of Wales that has published such rubbish that pertain to be facts about this pub. The pub itself has published a leaflet full of these myths.
This goes even further by saying that the mounting stone has been used by Princes of Wales and Kings of England!

FACT No evidence exists of Kings arriving or leaving from the pub on horseback, or even visiting the pub.

The leaflet claims the wood paneling and beams in the dinning room came from an Elizabethan ship.

FACT Why import wood 40 miles inland when there is a perfectly good forest nearby. Carpenters from either Abergavenny, Hereford or Monmouth would have been able to work this into the finished paneling we see today.
I'm indebted to an annoying, badly written and with even worse photographs, little book, Strangest Pubs in Britain, for claiming that 1800 people were hanged in the Skirrid over the years. Not even the booklet published by the pub claims this figure, they go for a modest 180, although they add the rider “no exact or positive records exist”.
FACT No proof is even offered for this myth but it is accepted as fact, one website even claims that the 180 were executed in the aftermath of the Monmouth Rebellion.
FACT The Monmouth Rebellion involved the Duke of Monmouth and the battle of Sedgemoor was in Somerset, as was the aftermath when Judge Jeffreys tried the conspirators.
Claims are made that the Skirrid was used as a courthouse.
FACT No records exist for any criminal courts being held here. Local Manorial courts which dealt with the day-to-day administration of the lands, boundary disputes and the election of the Ale-Taster may well have been held here as the pub was owned by the local landowners, the Neville family.
The booklet says that the marks on the stairwell are from the rope that was used to hang people.
FACT Since the pub dates from 1640 and there has not been one documented execution in the pub, the marks on the stairwell could easily be put down to scratches made whilst moving furniture.
One previous landlord went as far as to have a mannequin hanging from the stairwell. Popular with Ghost Tourists and the exceedingly camp ghost hunting TV programmes.
The booklet mentions that behind the Elizabethan plasterwork is the inscription JHT 1306.
FACT If the date is behind the Elizabethan plasterwork how does anyone know it's there and if it dates from that time it should be in Roman not Arabic numerals? If you are going to make a pub myth at least get the typeface right – clue it's MCCCVI
Quote from the pub pamphlet, “The Skirrid Inn is the oldest public house within the borders of the Principality of Wales and ranks among the foremost claimants to the title of the oldest public house in Great Britain”.
FACT The first mention of the Skirrid as a licensed house was in 1859, when it was described as a beer house. This meant it was not even a fully licensed pub and according to John Eisel and Frank Bennett in their book, the Pubs of Hay-on-Wye and the Golden Valley, it was unlikely to predate the 1830 Beer Act.
According to local historian Fred Hando, writing in 1958, “No relic survives which would date the present building to before 1640.”
So there we have it, the Skirrid Inn dates from the earliest 1640 and probably became a pub in 1830. Hardly the “oldest pub in Wales”.
Another book that reports these myths is "Ye Olde Good Inn Guide" 2013 by James Moore & Paul Nero who state, quite incorrectly that "nigh on 200 ne'r-do-wells have been strung from the oak beam over the stairwell on the first floor of the inn". Still it's easier to fill a book with lazy journalism than it is to do the research to debunk the myth.
A 1920's pamphlet from Hancock's brewery makes no mention of the supposed executions but does go on about the Norman staircase! The execution story appears to date only from the late 1960s!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Now and Then, the former Prince of Wales, Dowlais

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Prince of Wales, 105 High Street, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil was demolished along with most of the bottom part of this street in the 1970s. South Street runs up to the right of the photo, the lower portion of it today is the footpath seen on Streetview.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Now and Then, Railway hotel, Caerphilly

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Railway Hotel, Station Terrace, Caerphilly, was rebranded some years ago as a Plastic Paddy Palace, the Irish Thymes. It has recently been rebranded as Caerphilly Cwtch. It is owned by Enterprise Inn's Craft Union Pub Company, a managed division of the Pubco. The Caerphilly Cwtch seems as if it is keeping it's bad reputation despite the rebranding.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Now and Then, former Red Bull Inn, Caeharris

The former Red Bull Inn, High Street, Caeharris, Merthyr Tydfil, has been demolished and housing is on the site today

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Now and Then, former White Horse Inn, Abergavenny

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, the White Horse Inn, 14 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, dated back to at least 1787 and was demolished in 1965. Rhymney Brewery had owned the pub from 1914. The name is still remembered in the alleyway that still runs off Frogmore Street alongside the present day buildings.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Gwatkin Cider wins Bronze Award in National Competition

Captain Gwatkin's Famous Old Rum Cask Cider today won the Bronze Award in the UK National Champion Cider of Britain Competition, run by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The annual award, held at Reading Beer & Cider Festival, features ciders and perries from across Britain which are judged in blind tastings to find the winner.
This Herefordshire Cider, made by Denis Gwatkin at his family farm in Abbeydore, is matured in Jamaican Rum Barrels and is only available o draught at the farm and a few select outlets as only a limited amount is made every year due to the difficulty in sourcing good quality rum barrels.

The other winners were:

GOLD  – Countryman, Medium (Devon)

SILVER – Salt Hill, Autumn Gold (Berkshire)

BRONZE – Gwatkin’s, Captain Gwatkin’s Rum Cask (Herefordshire)


GOLD – Nempnett, Piglet’s Perry (Somerset)

SILVER - Waulkmill, Mooseheid Perry (Dumfrieshire)

BRONZE – Hartland, Perry (Gloucestershire)

So who was Captain Gwatkin then?
Captain Gwatkin, who in 1722 challenged the 'pyrates' who attacked his ship, the Amy, as it sailed from Carolina to England. He and his crew killed about 30 pirates and forced the pirate sloop ashore, then attempted prevent the pirates from attacking other ships by sailing to land to burn the sloop. Unfortunately, a shot from the shore killed him. His rather pragmatic crew decided it would be sensible to carry on sailing to England rather than pursue the pirates further! (Information in several newspapers from 1722, including the London-based Post Boy)
Gwatkin Cider
Moorhampton Park Farm

Now and Then, Farmer's Arms, Abergavenny

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, The Farmers Arms, 34  Lion Street, on the corner with Market Street, Abergavenny. The oldest part of the pub is the smaller, left-hand side building which dates back to 1865 at least. Was owned by the Charles Edwards Brewery of Llanfoist until their takeover by Rhymney Brewery and the above photo was taken when the pub was owned by Whitbread. In 1996 the pub changed it's name to the Market Tarfarn. The cattle market once stood opposite the pub.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Now and Then, former Prince of Wales Inn, Merthyr Tydfil

The old Rhymney pub, the Prince of Wales Inn, Nantygwenith Street, Georgetown, Merthyr Tydfil has been demolished along with the rest of the street. The Cyfarthfa Brewery once stood to the rear of the pub. More photos of the street here

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Now and Then, former Clarence Hotel, Maesteg

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Clarence Hotel, Commercial Street, has been demolished together with the surrounding buildings and Clarence Court flats now stands in their places

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Now and Then, Goytre Arms, Penperlleni

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Goytre Arms, Star Road/School Lane/Usk Road, Penperlleni is still open as a pub today and is owned by Ei Group, formerly known as Enterprise Inns

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Now and then, former Cross Keys, Tonypandy

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Cross Keys Hotel, Dunraven Street, Tonypandy has partly been demolished and is used for retail now

Monday, 24 April 2017

Now and Then, former Bridgend Hotel, Tonypandy

The old Rhymney Brewery pub, The Bridgend Hotel, Dunraven Street, Tonypandy, has been demolished with a bus stop and the war memorial on the site today. Note the unusual logo 'Brewers Own Stands Alone' on the wall of the pub

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Now and Then, former Thistle Hotel, Tonypandy

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Thistle Hotel, Llwynpia Road, Tonypandy has been demolished to make way for a car park

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Now and Then, Ffaldcaiach Inn, Trelewis

The Ffaldcaiach Inn, High Street, Trelewis, Mid Glamorgan is still trading as a pub

Friday, 21 April 2017

Now and Then, former Railway Bar, Treherbert

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Railway Bar Inn, Station Street, Treherbert has now been demolished

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Now and Then, The Crown, Nant-y-bwch

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, The Crown, Merthyr Road, Nant-y-bwch, Tredegar. Not sure if this pub is still open as there's no mention of it on Google and the last Streetview picture is 2009 when it appears punch Taverns were selling the pub?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Now and Then, former Prince Llewellyn Inn, Sirhowy, Tredegar

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Prince Llewellyn Inn, St Luke's Road, Sirhowy, Tredegar has been converted into three terraced houses

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Now & Then, former North Western Hotel, Tredegar

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the North Western Hotel, Church Street, Tredegar was demolished in the 1970s and a scrapyard appears to be on the site now.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Now and then, former Greyhound Inn, Tredegar

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Greyhound Inn, Tredegar was situated just off The Circle on the corner of Lower Coronation Street and Iron Street.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Now and Then, former Globe Inn, Tredegar

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Globe Inn, stood on the corner of Church Street and Stockton Way. Demolished for road improvements. Another photo of the pub here and also a lot of information about old Tredegar pubs.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Now and Then, former Britannia, Tredegar

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Britannia, Market Street, Tredegar, now converted to residential and known as 'Hen Tafern' or 'Old Tavern'

Friday, 14 April 2017

Now and Then, former Clarence Inn, Rhymney

The former old Rhymney Brewery, the Clarence Inn, Clarence Row, Rhymney, has been demolished for housing

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Now and Then, former Three Horse Shoes pub, Maesteg

The former old Rhymney Brewery pub, the Three Horse Shoes, Bethania Street, Maesteg has been demolished for road widening

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Now and Then, former New Hearts of Oak Hotel, Nantyffyllon, Maesteg

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the New Hearts of Oak Hotel, Nantyffyllon, Maesteg. The front of the hotel was on the now demolished section of Coegnant Road, the rear of the hotel originally overlooked a railway line where the main road, Heol Tywith now runs. The name of the pub is still remembered as the bus stop to the right of the Streetview image is known as 'Hearts of Oak'.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Now and then, former New Inn, Llanfoist

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the New Inn, The Cutting, Llanfoist, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. Llanfoist was had a number of pubs, the New Inn, the Waterloo (situated by the railway line a few hundred yards away from the New Inn, the Llanfoist Inn (now the Spice Lounge Indian restaurant) and the Bridge Inn which is still open as a pub. The village was also home to Charles Edwards Brewery that was situated near the church on the junction of Merthyr Road and Lanellen Road. The brewery was taken over by Rhymney Brewery and houses are on the site today.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Now and Then, former Wheatsheaf Inn, Merthyr Tydfil

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the Wheatsheaf Inn, stood on the corner of Glebeland Street and Wheatsheaf Lane. Demolished to build the 1970s monstrosity below which backs onto the bus station

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Now and Then, former New Inn, Fleur-de-lis, Blackwood

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the New Inn, Victoria Road, Fleur-de-lis, Blackwood is now a private residence known as New Inn Cottage

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Now and Then, former Somerset Arms, Aberkenfig

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the Somerset Arms, Dunraven Street, Aberkenfig

Friday, 7 April 2017

Now and then, former Six Bells, Evanstown, Gilfach Goch

 The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the Six Bells Hotel, Maesteg Row, Evanstown, Gilfach Goch has been demolished but, unusually for this street the lower walls have been left standing.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Now and then, former Cwmffrwdoer, Pontnewynydd

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the Cwffrwdoer, Chapel Road, Cwmffrwdoer, Pontnewynydd is now a private house

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Now and Then, former Albion Hotel, Cilfynydd

The ex-Rhymney Brewery pub, the Albion Hotel, Cilfynydd Road, Cilfynydd, Mid-Glamorgan, has been demolished and Albion Flats are now there.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Newport MP celebrates Bud Light

From my understanding the "beer" factory just outside of Newport at Magor is now producing the delightful Bud Light, something that not even Simon Martin has attempted to wash his car with, yet.
Local MP and holder of all the dirt on disgraced former cabinet minister Ron 'Badger' Davies, Jessica Morden MP for Newport East and the Dodgy Parts of South Monmouthshire recently co-hosted an event in Parliament foe AB InBev who also make Becks, Stella, Boddingtons and Corona at their Magor factory, all with water from the Severn Tunnel (Remember to flush the toilet on train journeys through the tunnel, those beers need all the flavour they can get).
Anyway on the recent beer duty debate debate it appears that AB InBev managed to persuade the MP for Newport West to ask the following question:
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way again; he is very generous. On responsible drinking, another change has been the move to lower alcohol beer. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that beer with an alcoholic strength of less than 3.5% is subject to 66% more duty than very high-strength cider at 7.5%? Does he agree that we could do more to incentivise the consumption of beers under 3.5%?
A pity the rather gormless Member of Parliament chooses to support multi-nationals producing poor quality beer rather than her local brewery, Castles Brewery, still the GMB union, who represent the workers in the Magor factory continue to pump donations into her, no doubt  to ask questions on behalf of AB Inbev. 

Reminds me of the old song:

The Man That Waters the Workers' Beer

The Man That Waters the Workers' Beer is from the pen of "Paddy Ryan" (Dr. R. E. W. Fisher) written in 1938 when he was a medical student. He recorded the song a year later, with The International, as the first releast of the nascent Topic Records.

I am the man, the very fat man
     That waters the workers' beer
     I am the man, the very fat man
     That waters the workers' beer
     And what do I care if it makes them ill
     If it makes them terribly queer
     I've a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
     And I waters the workers' beer.

Now when I waters the workers' beer
I puts in strychnine
Some methylated spirits
And a can of kerosene
Ah, but such a brew so terribly strong
It would make them terribly queer
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer:

Now a drop of good beer is good for a man
When he's tired, thirsty and hot
And I sometimes have a drop myself
From a very special pot
For a strong and healthy working class
Is the thing that I most fear
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer:

Now ladies fair, beyond compare
Be you maiden or wife
Spare a thought for such a man
Who leads such a lonely life
For the water rates are frightfully high,
And the meths is terribly dear
And there ain't the profit there used to be
In watering the workers' beer:

Now and the, former Patriot Inn, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the Patriot Inn stood on High Street, Dowlais, the junction with Market Street can be seen in the right of the photo.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Now and Then, former Mount Pleasant Inn, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil

The ex-Rhymney Brewery pub, the Mount Pleasant Inn, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, stood on the corner of Union Street and George Street. Today George Street has vanished and Union Street is Lower Union Street and truncated to the right of the images.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Beer Revolution in Hay has moved!

A couple of years ago the Brew Wales editor visited Beer Revolution in Hay-on-Wye, an adventurous bottle shop located in the historic old stables of Hay-on-Wye Castle.
 The old premises of Beer Revolution

The new premises of Beer Revolution, 7 Market Street

The first major difference is not having to duck when walking through the front door of the new place! Whereas the Castle Stables was a dark and rather cramped premises the new Beer revolution, converted from a former shop is light and airy with plenty of seating and an outside area at the rear of the premises. 

There is also a bar serving six draught beers, good to see Beavertown, Moor and Hillside Breweries represented. Freshly ground coffees are also available with plans to do food in the next few weeks.

The large fridges with beers from the local Lucky 7 Beer Co, Hay-on-Wye's own brewery, along with beers from Tiny Rebel Brewery, Dugges, Wiper and True, Crafty Devil and Siren to name just a few.

All the beers and ciders are available to take out or drink in

 A welcome edition to the pub scene in Hay-on-Wye

7 Market Street
Hay on Wye

Whilst in Hay, we heard that the lease of Kilverts has been taken over by Brecon Brewing.

Now and then, former Dowlais Inn, Merthyr Tydfil

The former Rhymney Brewery pub, the Dowlais Inn, High Street/corner of Lower Union Road, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil. Now demolished along with the surrounding streets.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Now and then, former Whitbread Carmarthen Depot

The former Whitbread Carmarthen Depot, Alltycnap Road, Johnston which was in use from 1974 until 1983 and replaced an earlier depot at No 7 The Quay that was used from 1955 until 1974.


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