Thursday 14 July 2011

Queen's Vaults, Cardiff

Queen's Vaults, 29 Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DA

Situated on the corner of Westgate Street and Golate, this City-centre pub is unmistakable with its yellow and green glazed terracotta tiles bearing the legend “Ind Coope Entire” after a long forgotten beer brewed by a long-gone Burton-upon-Trent based brewery. The tiles are unusual for a Cardiff pub and this building deserves its Grade II listed status. The rest of the building is built out of nineteenth-century red brick and the pub sign is of a rather stern-looking Queen Victoria. The name 'Vaults' is unusual for South Wales, the term is more familiar in the North of England and meant a working mens bar, as opposed to a more upmarket 'Smoke Room' or 'Lounge'. The Queens Vaults was built in the nineteenth century when this area of land was drained, previously the river came up to Golate. This pub was the working class bar and formed the rear of the now defunct Queens Hotel on St Mary Street. The Queens Vaults was much smaller in those days, the glazed tiles on the exterior show the extent of the original pub on Westgate Street, the pub later expanded sideways into the former coach-house of the hotel and today a large, arched window, with some stained glass at the top marks the entrance to the former coach-house. The art-deco building next door is the former 'Queens and Royal Garage' and is now home to Zero Degrees.
The Queen's Vaults did go through an odd period in the late 1990s when the owners Carlsberg-Tetley decided to rename the pub the Flyhalf and Firkin, thankfully the pub reverted to its original name in the early years of the twenty-first century. Today, although the pub is owned by Mitchells & Butlers it is run by a local pub company, JW Bassett, who have pubs from in places as diverse as Penarth and Kilburn.
The interior of the Queen's Vaults is open plan, but still manages to retain separate and distinct areas, the Golate side features red-leather seats against the wall, this leads to the well-stocked bar which stretches around the corner with bar stools provided to sit on. At the front of the pub, is a raised dining area and at the rear, in the old coach-house, blackened wooden ceiling beams are exposed and there is enough room for three pool tables here. Unusually for Cardiff, the beer range is from Wales' oldest brewery, Felinfoel of Llanelli, and their Double Dragon takes pride of place alongside their Bitter and the stronger Celtic Pride, all served from the gleaming brass handpumps at very competitive prices. Brains SA Gold is served straight from a cooled cask at the rear of the bar.
The bar back features intricate wood panelling and the dark green walls and ceilings contrast nicely with golden plaster mouldings and golden-framed mirrors.
The Queen's Vaults is open all day and serves food, from a traditional pub menu with value-for-money grills on offer alongside curries and Sunday Lunch.

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1 comment:

Darren Norbury said...

When I'm in Cardiff I always like to drop in here, as much for the atmosphere as the beer, although I've always found the quality decent and the prices exceptionally good. Long may it remain unchanged.


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