This page aims to document the history of pubs and clubs in Roath and surrounding areas. Click on the beer glass icons on the map to reveal a picture and more information about the individual pubs. Scroll down below the map where there may be more information on the individual pubs.
The Albany Hotel at 105 Donald Street, Roath (CF24 4TL) is certainly tucked away in the back streets but a historical gem. There don’t seem to any historical photos of the pub floating around so I’m guessing photographers found it equally hard to find. Not that it has changed much since it opened in 1895. It used to have a wolf-whistling mynah bird that greeted guests. Nowadays the pub hosts a Galician music event once a month. Pub website.
One of Roath’s newest pubs, The Andrew Buchan, opened in 2012 at 29 Albany Road on the corner of Arabella Street (CF24 3LH). The pub is named after the founder of the original Rhymney Brewery in 1839. The premises at 29 Albany Road has had an interesting history. In 1888 it was home of Issac Clarke, an egg merchant. In 1897 it was a grocery shop. By 1937 it was a hat shop. It then became part of the large Collins the Drapers business which owned not only 29 but also 11-25 Albany Road with Hopsons the tobacconists next door at No27. In 1984 it was a Halfords shop. The last shop to occupy the site was a video rental shop. It then lay empty for a number of years before being converted to the Andrew Buchan in 2012. The pub hosts music and art displays, often by local artists. Andrew Buchan facebook page.
The Bertram Hotel, 110 Broadway, Cardiff (CF24 1NJ) is thought to have been built in 1875. In 1878 the papers report that John Phillips of Elm Street was accusing John Taylor of System Street of robbing him of £32 in gold and silver (£2500 in today’s money), after being followed out of the Bertam Hotel. The pub closed sometime before April 2015 and is now a private residence.
Bomb and Dagger
The Splott Welfare Club, 122 Portmanmoor Road was at the junction with Freshmoor Road and seems to have dated back to the 1930s. Everybody knew it as the Bomb and Dagger apparently. The origins of why it got nicknamed that seem to be lost in the mists of time though some say there was a mortar bomb and a dagger behind the bar, others that extreme socialist groups met there. Shirley Bassey lived in the same road and is said to have performed at the Bomb and Dagger in her early career. The club had novel ways of raising money for charity including appointing their own Lord Mayor adorned with top hat and chain of office. Anyone caught swearing or stepping out of line was fined. The money would go to local charities such as Nazareth House. The building was demolished in 1969.
The Bottle Shop at 4 Pen-y-lan Road (CF24 3PF) is one of the newest venues in the area to serve beer. The wine and craft beer shop opened around 2011 and in 2018 started enabling customers to drink wine and beer inside and outside the shop. The premises was previously occupied by Edgell and Golden Interior Designs and many years ago by the Melba Lounge snack bar. Bottle Shop website
The Canadian was a Brains pub at 143 Pearl Street on the corner with Bradley Street (CF24 1PN) that closed in late 2015 and is now private residences. The pub was built in 1890. It seems to have always been called the Canadian but the origins of the name are not known. On March 25th 1895 the owner of the Canadian, Albert Heitzman, pleaded guilty at Newport county Police Court to stealing a gander and was fined 10s. We are not told if it was a Canadian goose.
The Cardiff Arms is another pub of yesterday but was at 63 Railway Street in Splott (CF24 2DF). On September 22nd 1886 the South Wales Daily News reported that an application had been received for the Cardiff Arms, a new hotel in the new district of Splotlands on the south side of the Great Western railway line. The lessee of the Tredegar Arms objected, we assume unsuccessfully, as the hotel was opened. By 1893 the papers report that ‘population of Splott was 10,183 and the increase was almost abnormal’ and the two pubs, the Cardiff Arms and Lord Wimborne, were ‘crowded to excess’. The Cardiff Arms quenched the thirst of the steel workers and alike for over a century before closing sometime between 2008 and 2012. The premises have now been converted into a residential property.
The Claude Hotel at 140 Albany Road in Roath (CF24 3RW) is a fine Victorian building, the exterior of which has changed little since it was constructed in 1890. The large bar area was the result of a refurbishment in 1994 and the amalgamation of the public bar, a ladies snug, the off licence and maybe a skittle alley at the rear. Regulars however have always insisted that the Oak Room, which was a men-only lounge up to the early 1970s, remain untouched. The name originates from Claude Williams of the Williams family who lived in Roath Court (now James Summers funeral home) and owned the Roath Court estate. When Charles Henry Williams was selling off bits of the estate for housing, various streets and pubs were named after family members e.g. Crofts, Rose, Claude.
References in newspapers to the Clifton Hotel in Roath go back to the late 1850s making it one of the oldest pubs in the area. The three story building is on the corner of Clifton Street and Broadway (CF24 1PW). A poltergeist is said to haunt the cellar. Given its history it is surprising that there don’t seem to be any readily available historic pictures of the pub.
The Clyde Arms on Plucca Lane, opened sometime prior to 1861. Plucca Lane was renamed Castle Road and then became City Road so the pub was at 70 City Road (CF24 3DD) at the corner with Byron Street. The Clyde Arms probably holds the record for pubs in the area for having undergone name changes. It became the Co-operative Club and Institute in around 1930 before changing to the Coronation Club and Institute in 1953. It then became the Le Mans club in the mid-1960s before trading under a succession of other names including Scaramouche, the Exchange, Cornerstone and Dirty Sue’s. Since closing it has been Burg Al Arab restaurant in 2010, the Al Borje Moroccan & Middle Eastern Kitchen in 2011 and Lilo Express restaurant in 2012, and more recently the Beirut Grill House in 2016.
The Ernest Willows at 2-12 City Road (CF24 3DL) is named after the airship pioneer born around the corner on Newport Road. This Wetherspoon pub is famous for its opulent marble toilets. The building was originally the Grenville Lawrence motor showrooms, built in the 1950s. The original showrooms in the 1930s and 1940s occupied only the corner premises but later expanded into neighboring properties. The property may have been a pram shop in the years between being a motor showroom and a pub. Pub history web page.
The Gower pub at the northern end of Gwennyth Street (CF24 4PH) closed its doors in August 2014. It is believed to have been built in 1895.
Last orders at The Gower were recorded in this interesting Wearecardiff blog posting
The Three Brewers is slightly set back off Colchester Avenue (CF23 9AL) opposite Hammond Way. The pub and probably dates back to the early-1970s. Set on two floors with the ground floor being a traditional bar with pool, darts and TV screens for watching sport and the upper floor being more a dining area. Visitors sometimes left wondering why there are only two brewers on the pub sign – sure there’s a story behind that somewhere. Three Brewers website