The Roath Park Hotel on the corner of City Road and Kincraig Street dates back to 1886.
As of Oct 2020 it is currently under threat of being demolished and replaced with flats.
The three storey stone built property with a roof top platform surrounded by railings is the last remaining Victorian pub on City Road, or Castle Road as it was called when the hotel was built.
it was built on land owned by the Mackintosh Estate. Urban development on the Mackintosh Estate began in 1886, but Wright’s Directory of Cardiff 1886 does not list Kincraig Street, so possibly the Roath Park Hotel was not in existence until 1887. An amended plan for some business premises at the junction in 1886 may refer to the building of the Roath Park Hotel, but would need to be examined in the Glamorgan archives (BC/S/1/5933).
We know that the Roath Park Hotel was in existence by 1889 at a time when the Sunday Closing (Wales) Act was in force and was the listed in the Cardiff Directories as being at 170 Castle Rd. It was the last of the Victorian hotels or public houses to be erected in City Rd the earliest being the Gardener’s Arms in what was then Plucca Lane in 1855 which was renamed as the Military Canteen by 1871 . Richard Steward was the first manager of the Roath Park Hotel until 1904.
By 1905 the Roath Park Hotel was under the management of Enoch D Howells who remained there until 1911, during which time a ban on children under 14 being allowed access to licensed premises was introduced in 1908. He was succeeded by Charles Kyd until 1913, who was in turn followed by Percy A Lewin from 1914 to 1920. From the Electoral Register we know that he lived on the premises with his wife Mary and a lodger(?), Jane Rossatt, a blouse maker. During World War I 1914 – 1918, early morning, afternoon and evening closing hours were introduced to combat the perceived evil effects of drinking on the war effort.
Edward J Lloyd was the manager in 1924 (WMCD). Plans exist of the hotel premises in police records between 1926 and 1955 and again can be found in the Glamorgan Archives (DCONC/6/11 a – c), By 1927 Samuel Davey had become the manager.. Photographs of him appear in the Cardiff Yesterday series, vol 8, photographs 55 and 56. The Cardiff Yesterday series can be seen in the Cardiff Heritage Library located in the Cathays Branch Library.
The hotel mainly manages to keep itself out of the newspapers apart from the usual arguments about liquor licences in the 1890s, the occasional person walking in and dropping dead from natural causes and Mr Naish, a greengrocer, being accused was accused of regularly taking bets in there in 1936.
The 1939 Register shows the occupants as Douglas Buckner (hotel manager), Iris Buckner (hotel manageress), Phyliss Edwards (barmaid) and Ada Selt 9barmaid).
During the 1930’s and after World War II, many young people under 25 preferred the dance hall or the cinema, but fashion changes and in the 1960’s the ‘pub’ was once again in favour only to lose out to bars and clubs in the early 2000’s. Drinking habits, particularly in the evenings tended to revolve around the playing of darts and or skittles and in some public houses singing around a piano. Men would generally drink beer, often Brain’s Dark (the original). Drinkers of Bitter beer were in a minority. Women drank ‘shorts’ such as Gin and tonic or Gin and It (Italian Vermouth).
From 1949 the Roath Park Hotel continues to be listed in the Western Mail Cardiff Directory (WMCD), but the names of managers are no longer given. By 1971, the Electoral Register tells us that David Magee is the manager living in the flat above with his wife Anne. Babycham and Cinazano have now become the preferred drink for women. By the 1980’s the lager revolution was in full swing for both men and women. For drinking habits generally see The Little book of Cardiff by D Collins and G Bennett, 2015.
The Electoral Register still refers to the Roath Park Hotel when Melvyn E Evans was living on the premises from 2003 to 2004, but by 2009 it had become simply the Roath Park. Legislation in 2003 had transferred licensing powers from Magistrates to Local Authorities and in 2005 new licensing laws in England and Wales aimed to encourage a continental style café culture and introduced 24 hour licenses. As a result more people spread their drinking throughout the night and public houses continued to close.
The Roath Park is the last Victorian public house to survive in City Road, there being I believe 8 in 1889. I do realise that fashion and economics are against its survival as a public house, but given the horrendous change in the topography of City Road, I think that a Victorian building is worth preserving even if put to other uses. An application should be made for listed building status and perhaps an approach made to the National Trust or the Landmark Trust. As King Edward VIII once famously said in South Wales, “Something must be done”.
Local councillors have organised a petition against the demolition of the Roath Park.
. This history of the pub has just been added to the Roath Local History Society ‘Pubs’ page.
History researched by Malcolm Ranson & Ted Richards