The Lost Watering Holes Of Morriston

On a flying visit home yesterday (none of your business!) I stopped in Morriston, parked on Woodfield Street, and had a look around, for old times’ sake. Perhaps I was drawn there because in my younger days it was not unknown for me to saunter up to Morriston now and again for a shandy or twa.

What I found there shocked me. So many of the licensed establishments in which I had drunk my (very occasional) shandies were now closed. And I hardly deviated from Woodfield Street, the main drag. It was a truly sobering experience (geddit!). And yet, the place was busy enough, there were plenty of people about; so has there been a debilitating outbreak of tee-totalism? Have Temperance extremists taken hold? Fortunately, Morriston was always well supplied with those places where a thirsty man was welcome, so don’t be put off, there’s still plenty of pubs left.

Often, especially on a Friday evening in summer, I would walk up to Morriston via Trewyddfa Road, above Plasmarl, and stop en route at the Smelters Arms, which looked out over the old, but then changing, industrial landscape or, as it was so often described, ‘moonscape’. Needless to say, the ‘Smelt’ is also gone.

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26 thoughts on “The Lost Watering Holes Of Morriston

  1. treforus

    Sad but true. Morriston used to be famous as a town of pubs and chapels The chapels have more or less gone as well as the congregations average 80 in age but not number.

    Whole areas have lost their pubs. Sandfields in Swansea lost several after the Swans moved from the Vetch-that pre and post match drink each fortnight kept them “afloat”.

    BTW, the pub you mark as the Powells Arms was the Bevans Arms-the Powells Arms is diagonally opposite and now called the Champion Brewer.

    Others gone- the Wychtree, the Prince of Wales ,the Welcome to Town, the Butchers Arms , the Rose and Crown and the Duffryn Club (now defaced with graffiti lamenting the end of social life in the town). I should get out more…

    1. Jac

      I haven’t been down the Sandfields for years, only driven past on the Mumbles Road. Though many, many years ago we would often end up in the Tredegar Arms. There used to be a kind of talent contest every Saturday (i use the term loosely) and some of the old birds who would get up and bawl out Sophie Tucker or whatever were toe-curlingly awful. But then, after a few pints, in good company, who cared?

      Yes, you’re right about the Powells and the Bevans. It was always confusing having facing pubs with Welsh surname names.

        1. Jac

          I’ll take your word for it, but next time you drive along Woodfield Street keep your eyes on the road.

          ‘Morriston monkeys’, eh. I’m not sure that the denizens of Morriston ever called themselves ‘monkeys’, it was more likely an insult used by those bastards up in Clydach, or over in Llansamlet. ‘Aberdare Snakes’ was another, told to me by Ron Hopkins, who hailed from that town, and kept a couple of hostelries in Harlech when I graced the town with my presence. It was an insult used by Merthyr people. He also told me the counter-insult for people from Merthyr, but I can’t remember it. It was all a long time ago and I was very drunk.

    1. Jac

      On the 2008 BNP membership list I’ve got there is a Keith Jones listed as living in Overland Close, Mumbles. Then again, Keith Jones would be a relatively common name in Wales.

  2. It’s not only the pubs that have closed. Even the discount chain Poundstretcher recently vacated their Woodfield Street premises creating an ugly gap in the shopping centre. Nat West have indicated that they wish to close their Morriston branch. We are also entering the last few months of Morriston’s purpose built Crown post office serving local residents. Local businesses will be severely affected by the Council’s plans to introduce car parking charges in the town.(Parking is currently free) So much for the town’s unswerving loyalty to the Labour Party and the constant and reliable return of five councillors at every election. This is a town with impeccable Welsh working class credentials and this is an area which Welsh nationalism needs to take under its wing, Morriston is also the home to the magnificent Tabernacle long regarded as the St Peter’s of Welsh nonconformity. I fear for the future of the town of my birth.

    1. Jac

      Unswerving or unquestioning loyalty to Labour is always abused – just look at the Valleys.

      Strange you should mention the post office. When I was walking up and down Woodfield Street I was looking for landmarks I remembered, so I was surprised, and pleased, to see that the post office was still there.

    2. Red ²

      According to the Swansea Council website, 71% of the electors couldn’t be bothered to vote so it’s hardly unswerving loyalty to anything.
      As for shops, Morriston loses out to supermarkets, out-of-town shopping centres and online ordering.
      As for pubs, why go to a places that are worse than sitting at home? Look at Jac’s photos – Would you want to go into one of them?

      1. Jac

        I’m not denying that there is a vast number of disillusioned people in Swansea and Wales, but when they do bestir themselves, too many of them still vote Labour. They just don’t learn. Though as I said in a previous post, the real problem may be the lack of a credible alternative. As for the pubs I highlight, they’re closed, so obviously they look uninviting.

  3. El

    The Labour Party are a cancer on Wales.

    Interesting to see that the Labour councillor for Llanbadarn Fawr tweets during the rugby yesterday.

    “A great day to be an Englishman in Wales! #CarryThemHome #ENGvsWAL”

    “And England also beat Wales in the Sevens. Great day. #CarryThemHome”

    It’s likely that these third-rate English students will be given safe seats in the Valleys in 10-15 years time. Our universities are full of them. Why do we tolerate this?

    1. Jac

      I saw another mention of this, but who is he? The two Llanbadarn Fawr councillors on Ceredigion council are Plaid. Is he on the town council?

      Welsh universities chockablock with third-rate English students is welcomed partly because it anglicises Wales and also because it brings money which can then be interpreted as an ‘economy’. If you read my earlier posts you’ll see that English students on the council is a real problem in Swansea. But on the bright side, it tells us that the Labour party is just a shell, losing voters and unable to find decent Welsh candidates. If only there was a credible alternative!

      I’m working on a good blog post about the so-called ‘Welsh’ Labour Party now. Should be out tomorrow.

        1. Jac

          Diolch. He was ‘elected’ uncontested to Llanbadarn Fawr community council in May 2012, the only Labour councillor. Here’s a link to his website, which I think has received one comment. http://www.pedrodiogo.org.uk/ Note the red, white and blue background, a real Brit. Then again, maybe you have to try that bit harder when your name is Pedro Diogo.

  4. Big Gee

    Blame the ;Nicotine Nazis’ & our overly PC government ministers. Add to that the economic climate in Cymru & it’s no mystery why Treforys is ‘dry’!

    Good name that “Pedro Diogo” in Welsh it means “Lazy Peter”!

  5. the adult shop closed about two years ago wnb….been replaced by a so called ‘legal highs’ shop…..the grim picture jac and others have painted of the center of modern morriston and of the closure of various local watering holes can be attributed to a number of factors – such as those that red and big gee have referred to – but certainly another major factor in the numbers of failing businesses in welsh towns like morriston is undoubtedly the level at which local business rates are set and the manner by which they are determined

    as someone who has first hand experience of this matter i can say that for old and new small businesses alike the level of business rate can be the final nail in a struggling small business’s coffin. but we cant any longer blame the bogeyman at westminister for this state of affairs, as business rates are now a devolved matter and the welsh government are perfectly free to reform the way business rates in wales are determined. – as business leaders in wales have been begging them to do. but that of course would require politicians that understand how business actually works and alas such people are a bit thin on the on the ground in the ranks of wales ruling welsh labour party.

    its been said many times before and its certainly worth repeating : vote welsh labour – get poverty!

    thankfully there are politicians in wales who are offering welsh small businesses a way out of the rates trap. http://www.partyofwales.org/news/2013/11/20/plaid-cymrus-business-rate-plans-will-give-wales-competitive-edge/?force=1

    1. There’s only one here using the handle ‘treforus’. And I think the word you are trying to spell may be Morristonians.

  6. Emma H

    Hi,
    This is abit vague but was there a pub not far from the dvla, near blocks of flats called the windhover/ wildflower or a similar name ?

  7. vinegarjoe

    Hi guys
    Info if you please. Worked with loads of guys from Morriston in the early ’80s. They were recruited via Haven Automation at the time, but recruitment seemed to be in a pub which I recall as the Bridge bar. Now this looks to be wrong as my relatives in Swansea don’t remember it. Anybody any help on the name of this pub, please.

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