Old pubs and hotels
It is worth noting that Keith Johnson's book about the pubs of South Pembrokeshire is an excellent source of detailed information about the history of the trade over the last century, and the many pubs, inns and hotels in the area.
As in many other towns, several Pembroke public houses have closed recently, so it is hard to imagine that back in the late 1800s and early 1900s there were dozens of pubs in Pembroke and Monkton.Travelling east from Monkton you would have found: The Salutation Inn, The Ferry Side, The Hope and Anchor and The Dragon, as well as The Appletree opposite Monkton church. The Victoria lay directly between Monkton and Pembroke, and the new suburb of Orange Town - quickly renamed Orange Gardens by locals - had its own pub,The New Inn.
As you walked through Pembroke from the Castle there was The Golden Lion Hotel, The West End Vaults and on the Millbridge The Watermans Arms, The Army and Navy, The Royal George, and The Red, White & Blue. Back up on Main Street was The White Hart and The Old King's Arms, then The Castle, The Oddfellows, The Stag's Head, The Green Dragon, The Union Tavern, The Lamb, The Bush Inn, The York Tavern, The Butchers Arms, The Old Cross Saws, The Red Lion, The Royal Oak, The Rifle Corps Arms, The Commercial, The White Lion, The Maltsters Arms and The Hope Inn.
Beyond Main Street was the The Rose and Crown (renamed The East Gate Hotel after redevelopment) and The Railway Inn.
(If you have any old photographs that you are willing to share and which could be included here please do get in touch)
There was a large brewery in town owned and run by the George family. Thomas George was an important wine and spirit merchant at no. 29 Main Street and on his death in 1866 his enterprising son Robert built his Cromwell Brewery on the site of the old Custom Brewery opposite Pembroke Castle. The brewery was merged and became the Swansea Old Brewery, and then Hancock's in 1927.
A much smaller brewery existed where the Castle Inn is today - the Pembroke Steam Brewery, with Mrs Andrews' 'gin palace' to the rear.
100 years on - towards the end of the 1900s - 14 pubs and inns remained and are described below.
1. The Eastgate Hotel
The East Gate Hotel was originally called the Rose and Crown. Around 1850 ale and porter was being sold, and by 1871 John Devote - from one of several Italian families in Pembroke - married Naomi Hughs, the landlord at that time. With the success of the new railway and its station nearby the pub became a Hotel with new tenants, but by 1901 the Devotes were back again - this time with Richard as the landlord. The photograph in the centre above was taken circa 1920.
2. The Lion Hotel
The Lion Hotel, once a fine coaching inn, was built around 1800 by the Owens of Orielton. At that time it was known as The Golden Lion (from their family crest) and was used as the base for their political election campaigns. The Owens of Orielton provided a member of Parliament right up until a final fiercely-fought election in the mid 1800s, and which subsequently bankrupted the estate.
The Hotel provided 14 bedrooms, various rooms for leisure, and excellent stabling. Keith Johnson's book describes 'Good stabling with lock-up Coach Houses, good Chaises, able Horses and attentive Drivers'. By 1920 the hotel was known for its excellent food and had a new lease of life as the works on Pembroke Castle and the new petrol driven cars brought tourists to the town. By the mid 1900s the hotel was a comfortable place to stay in or to drink in several different bars, and was always busy on market days.
3. The Old Kings Arms
There are many references to this former coaching inn that tell us that it was in existance in the early 1600s. Furniture at that time (noted from a Sale in 1815) included four poster beds, card tables, and an eight day clock! For a while the inn became known as The Bunch of Grapes (shortly after the time of the Rebecca Riots of 1839 - 43); but in the 1850s it reverted to its old name The Old Kings Arms. Like the nearby Golden Lion the inn was popular with farmers and by 1880 the Pembroke Farmers Club held meetings there, as did many other groups and societies. One big drawback however would have been the location of the open market opposite, making that narrow part of Main Street both noisy and smelly. By the mid 1900s the old coaching arch had been converted into part of the front lounge, and the restaurant had gained a high reputation for good food - appearing regularly in the national Good Food Guide.
4. The Coach House
The Coach House isn't in fact an old Pembroke pub, and was built by Terry and Nan Armstrong fifty years or so ago. The two old photographs above show the houses that eventually became delapidated and had to be virtually demolished. Among other things the early days of The Coach House are fondly remembered as being the venue for enjoyable 'Poem and Pints' evenings.
5. The Castle Inn
The Castle Inn began life as a brewery and maltsters, and was run in the 1870s by George Llewellyn Griffiths and known as the Pembroke Steam Brewery. During the First World War it was taken over by James Williams; and at that time there was a small tap room known as Griffith's Brewery or The Spirits Vaults, but locally known as Mrs Andrews' Gin Palace. In 1952 Ronnie Stock took over as landlord, and applied for a licence to open as The Castle Inn with a complete makeover. It became popular with Norwegian sailors from the oil tankers that visited the Haven regularly, and also with the German soldiers who trained at nearby Castlemartin Camp.
6. Cromwell's Tavern
Cromwell's Tavern is a relatively new addition to Main Street. Established by Nan and Terry Armstrong, it took the name of the house it was converted from - Cromwell House; and was popular for many years as a place to dance and make merry.
7. York Tavern
The York Tavern is thought to be the oldest surviving tavern in town. From 1867 to 1918 the landlord was Billy Jenkins from Monkton, who brewed his own beer in the old building to the rear of the pub, and which had an excellent cellar tap room. On Billy's death he was followed by his daughter Elizabeth 'Maudie' Jenkins, who is fondly remembered even today as a real character. For the last 38 years until its closure on their retirement, the landlord and landlady were Ruth and Billy Morgans.
8. The Hope Inn
William Colley was the landlord of The Hope Inn back in 1844, and stonemason Thomas Collley followed him - no doubt members of the master stonemason family who had come from Yorkshire to work on the Martello Towers (Gun Towers) in Pembroke Dock. In those days the pub was a simple beer-house and one of several rowdy drinking establishments in the East End of town. In 1908 Borough magistrates decided to close down what they regarded as several disreputable pubs in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock - The Hope Inn being one of them. Strong opposition and a good solicitor determined that the Inn stayed open, helped by the closure of The Commercial Inn a few doors along. Solicitor F.S. Reed wrote:
"There should be two classes of house in every town - a first class hotel and a house where the working classes can go. The licensee here is doing an enormous legitimate trade and the true judges of the necessity of a house are the customers who go there!" (KJ)
This tiny pub still has a loyal following with its cosy front parlour - Wednesday evenings are host to a band of ukelele players.
9. The Old Cross Saws
The Old Cross Saws Inn was well-established in the mid 1800s with a good reputation, sited as it was beside handsome Georgian houses and opposite St Michael's Church. It had three fine licensed rooms for many years, and was more recenly enlarged so that it plays host to rugby fans - especially popular on match days and when the October fair is in town.
10. The Royal Oak
Once a coaching inn throughout the 1800s, and popular too because of its close vicinity to the railway station, The Royal Oak is the last of Pembroke's inns to still have its coach arch. It is also one of Pembroke's few pubs to still have a fire to sit by in winter.
11. The Railway Inn - old photographs needed, can you help?
The Railway Inn probably opened in the late 1860s with the coming of the Tenby to Pembroke Dock railway line. It was situated close the the Ropewalk where rigging and ropes were made for the sailing ships using the three Pembroke Quays - there were also ship's chandlers in this area so it was a busy end of town. The town's Cattle Mart was sited at the end of Orchard Terrace; and there is many a tale of incidents, as cattle were herded past the Railway on their way to market or off to the Station Yard or Main Street for transport to pastures new. Regrettably the Inn is one of several pubs to close in the last few years, and has now been turned into accommodation.
12. The Victoria Inn - photographs needed, can you help?
The Victoria Inn appears to date from around 1837 just after Queen Victoria's coronation, and was owned by the Owens of Orielton. They had also been instrumental in the building of the nearby new estate of Orange Town, which would have added to The Victortia Inn's popularity.With no chance of nearby parking and lying as it did between Pembroke and Monkton with only a narrow footpath in front, The Victoria has been another casualty of the modern trend for cheap beer and home drinking.
13. The Waterman's Arms
A boatman from Angle, and who is buried in St Michael's churchyard, was running The Waterman's Arms in 1835. Later, when Billy Neil became the licencee in 1921, shortly after the end of the Great War, he was known as the youngest licencee in Britain. His son John took over in 1963 and at that time the front bar - that opening onto the road below the steps in the photograph above - was a men-only bar with sawdust on the floor. Soon it had a complete makeover, however, and is now a comfortable water side pub where if you are lucky you can watch otters in the Millpond and Daubenton bats swooping over the water as they feed.
14. The Royal George
There will have been drinking houses here on the South Quay for centuries. The present building probably dates from the 1700s and Keith Johnson gives a vivid description of how the Dark Lane at that time, with its four pubs almost in a row, would have been "a hard-drinking and rowdy part of town, where brawls involving marines, soldiers, cattle drovers, local men (and women) and crews of coasting vessels were commonplace". The Royal George was one of these popular ale houses and may date back to medieval times. The Royal George is situated adjacent to what was the great North Gate of the town which had avoided destruction by Cromwell's army - unlike the other - West and East - gates.
Wealthy local ship owner George Hurlow kept the inn in the late 1700s and it has changed hands many times over the centuries. For about 15 years from about 1860 The Royal George was closed - the landlord of the time was Thomas Jones (the local miller) who had a large family, and it appears that he needed to use the building as the family home. Whether by design or accident a beerhouse opened next door, run by W.H. Truscott and named The Red, White and Blue. The George, as it is known today, continues to thrive and has recently organised successful events on the quay outside.
The Black Rabbit