18 October 2016

Cardiff: pubs and their signs 2

Fancy a drink? How about a pub crawl? Just to check out the signs and their buildings, of course. No imbibing!

Poet’s Corner, Roath
It was brought home to me recently how behind I am with my posts on this blog when I discovered that this pub, the Poet’s Corner in City Road, Roath, has closed down since I took these photographs back in September last year. Built in the late 1800s and known by a series of names, including The Ruperra Arms, PC’s Food and Drink Factory and Tut’n’Shive – who thinks up these names? – last orders were called for the final time in December 2015. Word at the bar is that old pubs like this are being targeted by property developers keen to grab a prime piece of inner city real estate, knock down the heritage buildings, and build cheap and soul-less concrete blocks in their places, though it also seems there are just too many pubs and not enough punters these days – or maybe that should be too many pubs and not enough poets!

Pen and Wig, Cathays
In contrast to the Poet’s Corner, the Pen and Wig, no more than a mile away, seems to be thriving. I’m sure it benefits from being closer to the city centre, very close to City Hall, the National Museum, Cardiff University and the Crown Court, and, as you might guess from its name, the area is awash with legal professionals. This pub also boasts a large rear garden area and a reputation for good food, including Sunday roasts, a combination sure to bring in the customers. 

The building was previously occupied by an ophthalmologist and only converted to a public house in 1994. The pub sign may be modern but is stylish and has a traditional feel.

Robin Hood, Canton
As far as I’m aware there is no actual association between this pub and the legendary Nottinghamshire outlaw and, in fact, there are pubs throughout Britain called ‘Robin Hood’ for no other reason than the fact that the owner liked the name. Apparently, this particular Robin Hood was built as recently as 1901 and its main claim to fame is that it used to be owned by Charlotte Church’s parents – this is where the Welsh singer-songwriter-actress-television presenter began her career in singing. With such a handsome Robin hanging outside to inspire her, I'm a little surprised she didn't adopt the stage name Maid Marian!

The pub sits in a nice tree-lined suburban street and I imagine it’s rather pleasant sitting outside sipping on a cold one on a hot summer’s day. (For the dubious, yes, we do actually have hot summer’s days in Cardiff!) 

The Heath, Cathays
I pass the Heath often, as it occupies a corner adjacent to Cathays Cemetery and is on one of my regular walking routes to Bute Park and the River Taff, yet I’ve never crossed its doorstep. It’s known as a working man’s pub, though I imagine it also attracts its fair share of the medical students and staff from Heath Hospital, just down the road. 

The Heath was built in 1899 but has been altered and extended since its original construction, though I understand it still retains some traces of its original interior decoration, with plaster reliefs of national symbols and a coat of arms high up on the walls. 

I particularly like the Heath’s pub sign, which has a rather eerie look with its solitary caped woman and sinister black bird.

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