How a Welsh pub was rebuilt brick by brick and taken back to 1915

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In 1915, it reopened as a pub: the Vulcan Hotel (though there’s no evidence it hosted guests) – named after the Roman god of smithing due to its proximity to a local metalworks. Run by the McCarthy family, it soon became an institution. 

“The rest of the area around the Vulcan was demolished in 1966 and the pub became one of the last surviving buildings of that community,” explains Dafydd Wiliam, St Fagans’ principal curator of historic buildings. 

While Wilding and her team worked on moving the foundations, it was down to Wiliam to resurrect The Vulcan’s soul. 

“We were able to interview Ellen McCarthy, the daughter of the landlord from 1915, who provided invaluable insight,” Wiliam explains. “She was born here, so she could tell us what it looked like when she was growing up, and about life in New Town.” 

A small wooden partition forms a cubby with about enough room for two or three drinkers to stand to the right of the bar. It was uncovered by Wilding’s team during dismantling, having been covered by plywood, but it tallied with something McCarthy had mentioned to Wiliam. 

“In her childhood, women weren’t allowed to drink with the men so they were sequestered behind this partition – it’s totally original,” Wiliam enthuses. Now, of course, it’s just for show – women and men are welcome to drink together.

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