Capturing Cardiff on a mobile phone – Last Orders For Cardiff’s Locals?

January 14, 2009

Googlemap key: Red: pubs closed in 07/08 (compiled by British Beer and Pub Association). Blue and Purple: Local pubs in operation (purple indicates multimedia).

As you wonder through the streets and suburbs of Cardiff, though there are numerous bars and clubs jostling for attention with their bright signs and funky beats, it is only after searching that you will find a lonely and forlorn traditional local pub, squeezed between fast-food outlets and yet another Wetherspoons.The Rummer Tavern

Despite falling steadily in number, paint cracking and décor worn, they stand resolutely among them almost as a relic from another time, serving as a reminder of the days when they held the city together.

Figures released by the British Beer and Pub Association last year revealed 27 pubs per week closed throughout the UK in 2008, with Wales particularly affected. And despite being the commercial hub and lifeline of the Welsh economy, Cardiff has not escaped the head-count.

November’s pre-budget rise of 6% on alcohol duty added to the existing pressure on the pub trade. But will this mean last orders for local pubs already struggling to survive after the smoking ban in 2007?

High prices have driven punters to drink in their homes, where they can avoid crippling alcohol prices and enjoy a cigarette with their beverage.

But although a range of factors – from a crackdown on drink driving to, dare I say it, the credit crunch – have contributed to the problems these establishments are facing, as modern life has changed, so have the drinking habits of Cardiff’s young.The Pen and Wig

Rhys Williams is 22 and lives in Cardiff Bay. He said: “I don’t really have a local. We just go into town. There’s a few clubs and bars I normally go when I’m out, but if I just wanted a beer or something I’d probably go round to my mates house.”

Grangetown, a traditional working-class community in Cardiff, was once an area where local watering holes flourished, providing labourers from the nearby docks with a much-needed pint after a hard-days work.

But the closure of local pubs, like the Lord Winston in Grangetown, indicates the changing traditions and local pastimes of the city.

Yasir Tufail, 27, has lived in Grangetown all his life. He said: “Loads of pubs are closing down because the drinking culture’s changed, people drink at home.”

He added: “We [Muslims] are always told not to drink even though we do. So we don’t really go to the pubs. Pub people play football because of the drinking culture. We do boxing instead”.

Rita Feresey, who has worked at The Grange for 36 years, said although there are still some regulars at the pub, most of the young now go to the city centre, and feels sorely the loss of community spirit which local pubs brought to the area.

But The Golden Cross, a listed building and one of the few gay bars in Cardiff, has managed to hold on to its customers, and say business is still booming despite the smoking ban.

Manager Richard Anderson said: “in theory it’s a gay bar so that’s why we get in a lot of the local gay population, the same as the Kings Cross up the road.”

“Because we’ve got such a loyal clientel, this place will always stay open. There’s not many gay bars in Cardiff, they’ve got to have some place to go.”

Pubs have played an important role in British life over the centuries. So much so that Wales without its public houses is hard to imagine.

But the face of Cardiff is continually changing. The Vulcun on Adam Street, built in 1853, is one of the oldest pubs in Cardiff and is due to be pulled down this year to make way for St David’s 2 car park. (Click here for Save The Vulcan facebook group).

Brian Smart, who works at The Vulcan said: “they should have developed the area and left the pub. That would have been the best plan. But they [the council] don’t see it that way.”

Many a pub in Butetown has struggled to keep its head above water since the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay, so I spoke to Tina Paulakis, owner of the Albion in Penarth and South Glamorgan Brains winner of CAMRA (Campaign for real Ale) in 2008, to find out how she managed to reinvent her pub.

(Click here)

Communities drastically divided by these redevelopments have left local pubs, and the traditions they bring with them, to be cleared out along with the rubble.


2 Responses to “Capturing Cardiff on a mobile phone – Last Orders For Cardiff’s Locals?”

  1. Grant Sykes said

    The changing employment and culture in the area will definately have an effect the choices people make when choosing where to drink.

    Grange Town is an old indstrial area where many sons would work with their fathers and drink with together after work in the local pub with other workers. The era of working with other family generations is over, as is the shipping industry in Grange Town meaning that this dynamic has been lost.

    The changes in culture also mean that young people no longer want to drink in the same places as their community elders. This coupled with the every increaeing trend of binge drinking means that the city bars are becoming ever more popular, with their lively atmosphere and lets not forget cheaper alcohol.

    I think that this is a national trend and the old traditional pub is a dying institute that will soon only be found in remote areas, where they still manage to hold hold onto loyal, local regulars.

  2. Robin Red said

    Many pubs shot themselves in he foot when they ‘ refurbished’. Most did a seriously grim job and managed to kill tradition, ambience and comfort at the same time. But also if you are young do you want to be leaning over some old alchoholic to order your drink ? Sadly thats what happens in most pubs – do they have to all sit along the bar ?

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