We Should Save Historic Vulcan by Building around It; Cardiff Can't Afford to Lose the Vulcan, Writes Peter Finch, Chief Executive of Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society of Writers

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), March 12, 2009 | Go to article overview

We Should Save Historic Vulcan by Building around It; Cardiff Can't Afford to Lose the Vulcan, Writes Peter Finch, Chief Executive of Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society of Writers


THE much-faded and painted advert for Guinness on the side of the Vulcan has been there since at least the 1960s.

Back then, this typically Cardiffian tavern was on the edge ofaneckof tight working-class tenements, just the other side of the rail track from the recently slum-cleared district of Newtown. Cardiff was a dirty place, full of smog and dust.

The sprawling steelworks of East Moors and the docks to their south provided a stream of men seeking sustenance and oblivion. In the Vulcan you sat on wooden benches in working boots and working clothes.

There was sawdust on the floor.

Today, 50 years on, Newtown is a memory - replaced by industrial units and a corporate hotel.

The docks have been anodised, reduced to a safety-conscious ghost of their former selves. East Moors is the Ocean Way Industrial Park, full of warehouses and articulated lorries.

Even the terraces that once surrounded the Vulcan like ivy have been flattened and turned into a clean black-topped car park.

When I first discovered this 1853 pub, it still had the legendary sawdust and was still a home for working men.

Railway workers, engineers from BT opposite, prison guards, locals from Duffryn Street, Taff Street and Pellet Street.

Isat therewith John Williams, the author whose anthology of short fiction Wales Half-Welsh (Bloomsbury) almost got titled Vulcanised.

We were joined by a bunch of other writers who felt more at home here than in the aluminium and glass vertical drinkeries of Cardiff's town centre.

The beer was good, there was a dart board, the juke wasn't intrusive.

Liz, the landlady, offered regulars bowls of chips and complimentary sausages.

But then came the University of Glamorgan putting a tank on Cardiff University's lawn, by converting the old BT building into its splendid new Atrium over the road.

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We Should Save Historic Vulcan by Building around It; Cardiff Can't Afford to Lose the Vulcan, Writes Peter Finch, Chief Executive of Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society of Writers
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