Manic Street Preachers favourite Cardiff pub

James Dean Bradfield is in the grip of a Vulcan. In a Guardian article about what makes the perfect pub, the lead singer of the Manic Street Preachers came out in support of his favourite Cardiff boozer – the Vulcan Hotel on Adam Street.

The Vulcan is a perfect old-fashioned Welsh pub says James Dean Bradfield (Flickr pic by Chris Boland)

The Vulcan is a perfect old-fashioned Welsh pub says James Dean Bradfield (Flickr pic by Chris Boland)

The Vulcan is a no-nonsense spit and sawdust pub and is the last remaining link to the area of Cardiff once known as Newtown. The Vulcan was built in 1853. Back then Newtown was densely populated with Irish workers who migrated to the city to help build Cardiff’s docks, which were exporting coal from the Valleys all across the world. But times have changed.

Back in 2008 the Vulcan was threatened with demolition to make way for the St David’s 2 shopping centre. After a heartfelt campaign to save the Vulcan, which garnered much celebrity and political support, the pub was given a brief reprieve from the gallows. The Vulcan was granted a new three-year lease by the developers, Rapport, but the future is still uncertain for this Cardiff institution. It could still close in June 2012.

Here’s what Mr Bradfield had to say about the place:

I’ve had a really long relationship with the Vulcan. Weirdly, I used to get taken there as a kid on international days. I like the fact that it was a bit off the main drag. It’s worth the effort you have to make to go there. The nearest pub to where you live or work isn’t always the right one, in fact most of the time it’s the complete opposite. It’s appalling that the Vulcan is threatened with demolition. It’s a perfect example of an old-fashioned Welsh pub, beautifully basic. These places have to be preserved for future generations, they’re a reflection of the times they’ve survived though.

The pub is still threatened with demolition in 2012 (Flickr pic by Stuart Herbert)

The pub is still threatened with demolition in 2012 (Flickr pic by Stuart Herbert)

It’s hard to see pubs as we know them existing for much longer because everything is so much geared towards reinvention, making things more healthy. From the food served to the smoking ban. Pubs now have become the acceptable face of intellectual gourmet-ism, part of an aspirational lifestyle sold in Sunday supplements. You haven’t got the freedom to be decadent in the working-class sense anymore.

I think what gets lost so often is simplicity. Somewhere like the Vulcan, there isn’t that much to do there. You either drink or you play darts or you talk and that’s enough. I hate the fact that people come to places and say, “This place must change!” Why does everywhere have to hauled into the modern era in the name of progress? My heart always sinks slightly when I hear about somewhere that I’ve found solace in – a truly great pub – that has been taken over and been spruced up. So many of my favourite locals over the years are now thin approximations of what they were. And half the time, they’re struggling to get customers in as they’ve lost the spirit of what made them great. Progress would change everything that I love about somewhere like the Vulcan, somewhere that seems to seep history through the very walls.


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