PUBS WITH LEGS

This is a short summary of some of the Public Houses, Inns and Hotels which either started life in one location and ended in another, or were just demolished when their rateable value and running costs exceeded their takings.

Barry Dock Hotel

The first Barry Dock Hotel was built in Holton Road, and when it failed to obtain a licence it became the Amy Evans Hospital.

The Barry Dock Hotel in Dock View Road was formerly named Culley's Hotel and Restaurant after its proprietor Mr R.P. Culley, who also owned property in Cardiff, and was the licensee of The Philharmonic in St. Mary Street. Building work started in the 1890's and by 1891 it opened for business, with free drinks for its first patrons. This was just after Barry's No. 1 Dock was opened for traffic. When Mr Culley applied for a licence he had powerful allies on his side, including Mr Davies, the Dock Master at Barry Docks. Mr. Culley's application stated that the hotel was needed so that he could cater for ship owners, captains, coal exporters, and others of that class, to enable them to use the premises to enjoy a meal, catch up on their correspondence, and meet their families if so desired. Before the opening of the hotel most of these people would arrive at Barry Docks, and as there was no suitable accommodation for them to stay in Barry, they would travel to Cardiff and obtain hotel accommodation there.

By 1892 the hotel had become so popular that it was extended by the addition of a coffee room with accommodation for over 100 guests, and a billiard room. A later addition was a wooden hall with accommodation for 400 guests. By 1899 further extensions were added, and the wooden hall was taken down and sold. In 1910 the manager was Mr H.Y. Hazell.

The side bar, known by sailors all over the world, was called "The Chain Locker" and gained immortality in Alexander Cordell's novel "Rogues March". This bar was used by mainly dock workers, seamen and labourers, and was reputed to have the glasses chained to the bar.

Owing to the decline in trade at the docks in the 1920's, the staff was reduced in number until by 1960 most of the hotel was disused, and by 1983 the brewery decided to demolish it. This they did, and Phillipa Freeth Court is built on the site.

 

The Ship Hotel

A tavern was built near to the site of the present Ship Hotel, for the use of crews arriving at the old harbour. By the 1780's it was known as "The Sign of the Ship", and the occupier was a Mr Thomas Thomas. He died in 1820, and his wife took over the running of the tavern until she died in the 1840's.

The next Ship Inn, which replaced the old tavern, was built in the 1850's by the Romilly Estate, in the style of a large cottage with a thatched roof. the Temperance Movement in Barry was very strong and opposed all new applications for licences, so the Ship Inn was demolished in the 1880's to enable the licence to be transferred to the new Ship Hotel. The hotel opened in the 1890's and was well patronised by visitors to Barry Island. It had stabling accommodation alongside, which with the advent of motorised transport, was turned into a garage and petrol station, later to be demolished. The area is now used as the car park and a children's play area. In 1910 the hotel was advertised as being newly decorated and re-furnished throughout, and tourists and visitors to Barry would find it "A Home from Home".

 

The Admiral

Originally named The Wenvoe Arms, this was situated in the 1860's at the rear of the Post Office in Vere Street, where it brewed its own beer. It moved to its present site in the 1880's, and was built by T.R. Thompson, a director of the Barry Docks and Railway Company, who bought the old Wenvoe Arms and transferred the licence, thus by-passing the strict licensing laws imposed by the Temperance movement.

On completion the hotel was used for many purposes. For a number of years it was used as a meeting place for the Cadoxton and Barry Board, a forerunner of the Council. The Picnic Room was used by the Catholic Church to celebrate mass, and Father Hyland, the first Roman Catholic priest in Barry, set up the room to celebrate Mass on Sunday morning, and after the evening service had to remove everything to take back home.

The hotel was also used for a number of years as a Magistrates Court. When the trial of a local teacher accused of murdering his wife took place there in 1881, and he was acquitted, he did not have far to go to celebrate his good fortune! The local Coroner, who came from Cardiff, used the court room to hold inquests in, mainly on navvies and dock workers who met their death whilst engaged on the construction of the docks.

In Victorian times travelling actors stayed there when appearing at the American Theatre at the top of Kenilworth Hill (where the Gardeners Association and Spiritualist Church is now located). After the theatre was destroyed by fire, they played at the "Palace of Varieties" theatre in Main Street, later to become St. Aidan's Church.

In 1975/6 the licence was taken over and over £40,000 was spent on renovating the hotel. It was renamed "The Admiral Benbow" after a naval hero who died fighting the French. He had no known connection with Barry. Over the years the name has been shortened to "The Admiral" or simply "The Addy".

 

King William IV

Also popularly known as "The Billy", before it opened in its present location, was on the opposite side of the road on Little Hill in the cottage known as "Hillside". It moved to its present site about the time of the reign of King William IV (1830-1837). It was possibly named after him because of his support of "The Great Charter" which gave the vote to a great number of people ( freeholders, copyholders, leaseholders and tenant farmers) against the wishes of the landed gentry.

Alongside the inn are the remains of Philadelphia, the first Baptist Chapel built in Barry, together with its small graveyard.

During the 1850's the inn was used by "The Garden of Wales Oddfellows Society", one of the largest societies in Glamorgan. As many as 52 members of the society would sit down at their annual feast, was held on the last Sunday in July every year. After the meal the members took part in a parade with other Oddfellows Societies, ending at the church with a service. They also organised a fair for the entertainment of the village, and engaged a band to play for their march, and then at the fair.

 

The Marine Hotel

In 1850 Francis Crawshay built the first Marine Hotel on Friars Point, Barry Island. He was a keen yachtsman, and somewhat eccentric. The beds in the hotel were bunks, as on board ship, and access to the upper floors was by iron ladders. A description of the hotel, given in a sale poster of 1977 was -

The house has accommodation for over 100 guests in the dining room, a coffee room, bar, bar parlour and tap, tap room, two kitchens, nine bedrooms, two cellars and all the necessary offices. Outside there is a 2,000 gallon water tank from which water is taken to supply the hotel. To enable guests to arrive at the hotel a ferryboat service from the Ship (hotel) is available or at low tides guests can walk across.

In 1873, Mr J.D. Treharne bought Barry Island and Mr S.A. Tylke, in an article for a local newspaper in 1926 said, "Mr Treharne wished to attract visitors to the Island using passenger boats that plied in the channel. He built the pier to enable them to land there, and hoped that they would stay at his hotel".

By 1876 the pier had been completed and in that year over 15,000 visitors arrived at the Island, some by ferry from the "Ship", by landing at Treharne's Pier, or by walking across at low tide. In that year Mr Atkins was the hotel manager.

In 1879, Mr. Dunscombe, the licensee at the King William Hotel at Cadoxton, took over the management of the hotel and held it until the hotel was sold to Lady Mary Clive. She later gave it and the Island to her son Lord Windsor as a present for his 21st birthday.

On completion of the Marine Hotel at Plymouth Road in 1890 (also built by Mr T.R. Thompson) the licence was transferred from the former hotel, which was demolished in 1894 to make way for the construction of Friars Point Guest House as a summer residence for the Windsor Family.

No account of the old Marine Hotel is complete without its ghost story which is as follows :-

It was a somewhat dull day in winter when at about 4 p.m., Mr Dunscombe and Mr Tylke carrying a few rabbits passed kitchen-wards into the house, the front part always being locked. The kitchen was a large one with an immense table of the Crawshay structure (and possibly still there). On entering the kitchen they found Mrs Tylke in a dead faint and Mrs Ford, the housekeeper in nurse-like attendance. On her recovery they learned that she had seen an elderly man and, shouting to him, followed him with Mrs Ford into a pantry which had a small barred window at the end. The man dissolved into the wall and disappeared. Upon hearing the description of the apparition, Mr Dunscombe declared that it was his old master, Mr Crawshay who had recently died. The pantry was his old wine cellar.

Lord Windsor later sold the house to Sir William Graham, who refurbished, extended and completely re-furnished it. He lived there until he built the White House at the Knap, then sold it to the Council.

The Marine Hotel in Plymouth Road was the only public House on the Island up until the 1950's, then after that date many clubs opened giving visitors a choice of where to drink. Parts of the Marine Hotel became so under used that in the 1980's the brewery decided to reduce it in size to save rates and maintenance costs. The hotel was partially demolished and reduced to the size it is now.

  © T. CLEMETT 1998


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