Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Thank You!

A big THANK YOU needs to go out to everyone who's been involved in the campaign so far and to those of you who came and celebrated the pub's 3 year reprieve last Thursday.

For anyone who missed it, Stu and Bob recorded a short film throughout the night.

The campaign is not over yet and work will be starting very soon to find a permanent solution for the pub. More coming soon...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

25 June is V-Day!

Photo used with permission from WalesOnline

The Save The Vulcan campaign is holding a celebration event at 8pm on 25 June. We have recently learnt that our hard work and the support of thousands has led to owner and would-be developer Rapport to offer a new three-year lease to The Vulcan. There's still work to do in order to secure the long-term future of this great pub but a small celebration is certainly in order!

Everyone is welcome - see you there!

Monday, 15 June 2009

View Points - Council Leader Rodney Berman

This is a recent letter from Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman to the Echo's View Points.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I should like to pay tribute to the members of the "Save the Vulcan" campaign group for the hard work they have put in and maintained over a period of many months promoting their cause. I'd also like to thank the Echo for its part in publicising the campaign throughout. Without the efforts of both, it would undoubtedly not have been easy for me and my colleagues on Cardiff Council to persuade all the parties involved – the site's owner Derek Rapport, Brains Brewery, the St David's Partnership and the John Lewis Partnership – to work together to secure a solution.

I am delighted that a new three-year lease for the Vulcan has now been agreed and I sincerely hope all those concerned will now carry on working towards an even longer-term reprieve for the pub.

Thanks to the efforts of all concerned a piece of Cardiff's history will remain in place. This is very much a victory for "people power".

Yours sincerely,

Rodney Berman
Lib Dem Leader of Cardiff Council

Pint of 45: The Vulcan Hotel

Pint of 45 - the users guide to drinking in Cardiff - have just posted a review of the Vulcan which you can read here.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Guest Blogger - Jon Blake

Jon is a local children's author and Vulcan fan. For his latest project, he worked with children from the three primary schools within Adamsdown to write and record a song that celebrates the areas rich history.

You can find out more about the project here and listen to the song, which has been aired on BBC Radio Wales and topped the SoundClick charts here.

As an Adamsdown resident for the past 19 years, I've been grateful to the Vulcan for providing an exact half way reference point on the walk home from Central Station, although I have to admit I went 18 of those years without actually entering the pub.

This was a mistake. The Vulcan's back bar still has the ambience of those sociable old pubs which existed before people knew what ambience meant.

There is another reason why it was essential the pub was saved. Newtown, the appallingly overcrowded area which the pub served, is no more. But a flavour of that area still exists in one remarkable corner of the Vulcan: the gents' toilets.

Now that the Vulcan has been reprieved, at least for now, we should insist that there is no redevelopment of this historical place of relief, and should it ever come to pass that the pub is relocated to St Fagans, we should also insist that no sanitisation takes place, and that the said bog is rebuilt exactly as it now stands, with its unique aroma intact.

I'm not sure if it's technically possible, but it would be nice if MA Rapport could also produce a luxury watch bearing the Vulcan's name, housed in a presentation case which emits a Vulcan-bog vapour when opened.

Well done to all those who have mounted the campaign to save the pub. However, as a socialist I feel the 'Save The Vulcan' slogan never went far enough. I would have much preferred 'Nationalise the Vulcan without compensation under workers' control', although I realise it might have been difficult to win SA Brain to such a slogan, never mind the Lib Dems.

The Vulcan is immortalised in the video to Adamsdown Song at http://adamsdown.wordpress.com. I hope everyone who cares not just about this historic pub but the area in which it stands will check it out.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Drinkers raise a glass to The Vulcan’s future

From Wales Online:

DRINKERS were last night raising their glasses to the news that Cardiff’s historic Vulcan pub is to remain open for at least another three years.

Brains announced yesterday that an 11th-hour deal had been clinched between the brewery and landowner Derek Rapport.

The tiled Victorian drinking spot will not now be turned into a block of flats or knocked down for parking.

Landlady Elizabeth Smart and husband Brian had already been told to pack their bags and be out by June 25.

But now Mrs Smart is planning on staying in the Adamsdown alehouse.

Her husband is planning to semi-retire. The couple have bought a home in Victoria Park, Cardiff.

The 72-year-old said: “I’m really surprised but it came up trumps in the end.

“My wife had the meeting with the brewery today.”

Mr and Mrs Smart told locals last night that the tavern’s doors are to remain open.

He said: “The Western Mail and the South Wales Echo have helped us a lot.”

Read the full article here.

Guest Blogger - Jenny Randerson AM

Jenny is the Assembly Member for Cardiff Central.

As someone who has been a politician for a large part of my life, it is often easy to get set in your ways on campaigns and local issues. The Campaign to save the Vulcan has reminded me that people like me always have more things to learn. The small but exceptionally talented campaign team has shown a phenomenal energy and commitment to this great cause and I have learnt a lot from them.

Representing Cardiff Central over the last ten years has meant I have had to deal with a lot of change, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Overall, the progress and development that the city has made has been hugely beneficial, but the Vulcan’s case has really brought it home to me that there is a very fine line between development and over-development.

New shops, new homes and new businesses are very, very important, but do not have to be at the expense of character. There is no point undertaking development if it turns an area into an identikit model of the next.

The Vulcan is one of the few remaining genuine Cardiff pubs, and if it goes, we will lose a piece of history. Development can, and should take place around it, and this fight will continue. The excellent news of the new lease being signed between the developer and the brewery means that the Vulcan is probably safe for several years, but we need to make sure it is safe for decades to come.

I have been delighted to provide political support to the campaign, along with other politicians from nearly all the political parties, but if and when the Vulcan is saved for the next generation, it will be down solely to the amazing work of a few determined people, and they have my sincere thanks.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Great News!!!

Hi everyone, GOOD NEWS! The Save the Vulcan committee has every reason to believe a new deal is about to be signed, saving the pub for the foreseeable future. This means we won't be out and about on Saturday, but THANK YOU all for planning to come. Providing everything goes to plan, and all the relevant contracts are signed, we'll be contacting you with a CELEBRATION PARTY very soon. Please watch this space. Thanks again for supporting our campaign. We will of course keep you up to date.


I have just been told that a three year lease has been agreed. We still need to ensure the Vulcan's long-term future, but this gives us a couple of years breathing space!

A big THANK YOU needs to go out to everyone who has helped the campaign in any way shape or form!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Guest Blogger - David Raybould

I am pleased present our fith guest blogger, David Raybould. If you are interested in contributing to the blog please get in touch - save.the.vulcan@gmail.com

Dave is the man behind the great Cynical Dragon blog.

David Raybould - Save the Vulcan, Save Cardiff

First things first, I'd never claim to be a regular at the Vulcan Hotel. In the past year I've popped in a handful of times. As much as I've enjoyed it it's a little out of my way but well worth the visit. I've always loved pubs like the Vulcan. No pretension, no airs and graces and definitely no panini's and latte. Just a pub with beer. Why add clutter to a perfect combination?

I think the plight of the Vulcan (and hopefully its salvation) is indicative of the pub scene as a whole and reflects the progress of developing a new city and the questions about what we keep and what we bulldoze. The pub trade at the moment is struggling against increasingly supermarkets and super pub chains squeezing the smaller more intimate pubs out of the scene. Because of this when re developers come they see to think that old pubs like the Vulcan are expendable. How wrong can they be?

The Vulcan, and many pubs like it, are very important. They are hubs of the community, they are physical representations of local history, they are gathering places, entertainment venues and in some cases rallying points for causes and charities. There are some people who think the pubs are the chrome clad monsters of the city centre bar scene and seem indifferent to what a pub can really offer people. These I suppose are the same people who see a couple of extra car parking spaces as more important than a historic pub.

One of the things that endeared me to the Vulcan was that it made memories flood back of how pubs were when I grew up. The kind of pubs that were there for one reason, giving people a chance to sit down (or stand depending on your preference) and have a drink. The kind of pubs where you knew every one's name and the barman knew exactly what you wanted to drink and when to start pouring it. The kind of pub where the 'food' option was a couple of sandwiches or rolls in cling film. This maybe my personal romantic view of pubs of a certain era but surely that's what this is about. If you can't wax lyrical about something you love then you don't really love it.

Critics of the campaign have pointed out that Cardiff needs to developed, moved on and that the Vulcan may be just a pub and not of historical importance. Maybe so, that's their opinion. I personally believe that we're ripping too much out of the heart out of the 'old Cardiff', that if you look around at what they've built in the vicinity of the Vulcan to see where they're going. They want concrete boxes, corporate offices and branded stores. That's not a community, that's not evolution, that's a death sentence for the spirit, independence and colour of a once vibrant community.

Save the Vulcan, Save Cardiff.

Dave is also responsible for starting Welsh Bloggers, a place for discussing and debate about the state of the Welsh bloggosphere. The first meetign is set for the 5th July at the Vulcan, let's just hope it is still standing...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Campaigners celebrate pub's 11th-hour reprieve

From the Wales Online website:

CARDIFF’S historic Vulcan pub could be given an 11th-hour reprieve, the Echo can reveal today.

The owner of the land on which the tiled 1853 drinking spot sits, city businessman Derek Rapport, is negotiating a new lease with brewer Brains to keep the pub open.

The news of the last-minute deal comes just weeks before the much-loved Adamsdown alehouse had been ordered to close its doors on June 25.

It is understood that talks between the two parties are well advanced.

It is thought the obstacles to agreeing the deal have now been resolved following meetings between the St David’s partnership, John Lewis and Mr Rapport that were led by Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman.

New plans for the entire Adam Street site on which the Vulcan is one of the only remaining buildings could be revealed later this year if the negotiations are successful.

The parties involved were remaining tight-lipped yesterday but confirmed that discussions were taking place.

A spokesman said: “The landlord’s agent confirms that the land owner and Brains are working together to ensure that the Vulcan stays open after June. This will be done by agreeing a new lease.”

Neither Brains nor Mr Rapport were available for comment yesterday and there has been no confirmation of whether the new lease would provide a long-term future for the pub.

The full article here.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Save the Vulcan - day of ACTION

It's time for action now.

Meet 12 noon, this Sat at the Hayes Island Snack Bar, CF10.

Bring placards, save the Vulcan t-shirts, and everyone you know.

There should be a press photo at about 12.15pm - so please be prompt.

We'll be spreading the word about the Vulcan - moving off from the Hayes at about 12.20, heading down Queen Street, then down Churchill Way, ending up at the Beer Festival at the CIA.

For info or directions, call David on 07841366144.

Petitions Committee Meeting Tomorrow

A quick reminder that the Petitions Committee are meeting tomorrow and you can watch proceedings live on Senedd TV.

In other news, campaigner Rachel Thomas has been invited to Parliament tomorrow to address the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group headed by Greg Mulholland MP. She will be discussing effective tactics for saving local pubs - I think a blog is certainly a good start...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

RE Petitions Committee News

Reposting comment from Bethan Jenkins AM here as I'm not sure how many people get as far as the comments...

yes we will be discussing it in committee on Tuesday. If anyone has anything to add/ any questions they think we should ask then please email me on bethan.jenkins@wales.gov.uk

Guest Blogger - Arfur Daley

I am pleased present our fourth guest blogger, Arfur Daley. If you are interested in contributing to the blog please get in touch - save.the.vulcan@gmail.com

Arfur is the owner, editor and writer of the Brew Wales blog, the number one source for news on beer, brewing, pubs,cider and perry in Wales. He is also a CAMRA member, Vulcan regular and journalist - his review of the Vulcan for the South Wales Echo can be read here.

Arfur Daley - The Vulcan

Although I grew up in Newport, I hardly used to go to drink in Cardiff pubs. I never really liked the Newport pubs as I disliked the taste of the local beer, Ansells Best (sic). It was only after living in London that I discovered what good beer was. A chat with some members of Cardiff CAMRA told me that the one pub to visit in Cardiff was the Vulcan. Now this is about 18 years ago, when the Albert, the Brains Brewery tap and now transformed into the Yard was, well, a spit 'n' sawdust pub where they regularly ran out of sawdust, the Golden Cross had not yet diversified into the colourful bar it is today and the Vulcan was, well the Vulcan.

Standing on Adam Street, I can remember admiring the glazed tilled frontage of the Vulcan and pushing the door open to reveal the smoky, hazy atmosphere of the pub. Odd that as a non-smoker myself that I would ever miss that experience but the smell of beer and fags is an unforgettable aroma that always reminds me of what is perhaps the first time I ever went into a pub, over 30 years ago for a family wedding reception. Back to the Vulcan, there was fresh sawdust on the floor and one of the best pints of Brains Dark I had ever drunk was imbibed on that occasion. I would not say that I became a regular after that, but would occasionally pop in every now and then when in Cardiff. One day when I popped in, the beer was 10p a pint, Brian having won a barrel from Brains had decided to sell it to customers at a very cheap price rather than pocket the profit! The Vulcan only ever did two real ales, Bitter and Dark, and for years I only ever drank the Dark in there.

Even then there were murmurings that the pub was to be demolished in a redevelopment. I do remember coming back from West Wales one Sunday and popping in the Vulcan for a few jars before heading back to Newport, only for the Sunday Licensing hours (you had to shut at 3 in those days) to be extended for a very amusing afternoon. Must really get there on Sunday again as Dom says they are quite lively.

The local CAMRA branch used to regularly use the back room for meetings, as pubs with good beer and meeting rooms were always in short supply. Always happy to serve us, Brian and Liz made sure that sandwiches were there to help wash down the beer! Another feature used to be in the days when the Vulcan did food and the pub became a regular lunchtime venue for CAMRA members setting up the Cardiff Beer Festival (now the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, CIA) in nearby Splott. The mixed grill was a perennial favourite, the price was very reasonable and it came with a separate bowl of chips! A few years ago I used to run a nearby pub, the Purple Dragon, now the Big Sleep Hotel, and would quite often pop into the Vulcan for a bite to eat!

Once I was given tickets to see a new Star Wars film and popped into the Vulcan for what I thought would be a quite Saturday pint. How wrong I was, the pub was packed with Rugby league supporters as the final was being played in the Millennium Stadium. What an afternoon! Singing and beer and more beer and singing. The supporters, from Leeds or Leicester I think, had phoned up the pub in advance asking if they could fill it. Of course Mein Hosts said yes and the pub was packed. Brian spent most of the day in the cellar changing barrels, as it’s safer and easier than having to open the trap door behind the bar every time a barrel runs dry.

I even enjoy the “Guinness is Good for You” logo on the side of the pub, possibly dating from the late 1920s. Nowadays a slogan promoting alcohol in this way is banned, but it does sort of fit in with the atmosphere of this wonderful Cardiff boozer.

Some 10 years ago CADW were contacted and were asked to protect the pub through statutory listing. They decided not to, citing that the nearby Golden Cross had better tile work than the Vulcan, completely missing the point that the Vulcan is worthy of saving for many reasons. One point that is personal to me is when I read about the Irish community of Adamstown. My family originally came from Ireland in the 1820s and although we settled in Newport not Cardiff, we soon became involved in the pub trade. Very few of the Newport pubs my ancestors ran still survive, for instance, the Irishman's Arms in Mellon Street closed in 1922, with my Great Grandmother Julia Daley being the last licensee. The Vulcan is the last pub left of the now demolished Adamstown community and should be preserved for it. Who cares if the pub was remodelled in the 1900s or that the interior was altered in the 1950s? That is not important. What is important is that the Vulcan is a link with the past; a connection we can all have with the foundries and the workers that used to dominate this area, just by visiting the pub for a pint. The Vulcan is not just a part of history, it is history and it deserves to be saved.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Petitions Committee News

Officials from Cardiff Council have confirmed today that they will be attending the Petitions Committee's next meeting on 9 June to give evidence on the Council's local listing powers.

The papers for the meeting should be available here.

It will also be screened live on Senedd TV.

Of course you could there is also the old fashioned option of actually going and watching from the public gallery...

Guest Blog - Save The Vulcan, save the ‘diff.

This letter was recently sent to the press and posted on the Facebook group. It's really good so I'm going to appropriate it for today's guest blog.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I recently wrote a letter to you about The Vulcan’s imminent closure expressing how important it is to preserve our city’s individuality. I hope that it was printed it but cannot be sure as I write from 12,000 miles away in New Zealand. The distance, however, doesn’t lessen the disappointment that an authentic piece of Cardiff’s character is about to be erased. That when I return to my home city in two years time a piece of heritage and history will have been destroyed.

To me it just smacks of the most incredible short sightedness. Places like The Vulcan and all our other gems of places like Spillers, the old arcades, Hayes Island Snack bar make Cardiff what it is. Take them away and replace with car parks, chain shops, chain pubs, “luxury” apartments and what have you got? A legacy of bland that’s what. A city with no character or soul. A place that isn’t that interesting to visit because it’s as dull as the next homogenised city centre. I appreciate that all the above are not under threat but with each special Cardiff place taken away so the clouds of boring soullessness begin to loom. It’s essential we look after these places.

Now, if The Vulcan’s demolition was to free up space for something of benefit and significance to the city like say, a new school, children’s hospital, guide dog training centre, Cardiff branch of the Guggenheim or whatever it would be sad to see The Vulcan go, but understandable. But no, this slice Cardiff heritage whose very name is a nod to Cardiff’s proud steel past is going to demolished and be replaced with a car park! Wow, there’s enriching for us!

Cardiff is evolving, but it needs to be preserving too. It’s completely incomprehensible to me that developers and the city planners who allow development to go ahead are so ready to weaken Cardiff’s authenticity, especially when it’s a recession and The Vulcan is a thriving business. Come on, Mr Rapport, St David’s 2 and Cardiff City Council; you have an opportunity to take some responsibility!

Save The Vulcan, save the ‘diff.


Thursday, 4 June 2009

Guest Blog - Dom Stocqueler

After a bit of a gap I am pleased present our second guest blogger, Dom Stocqueler. If you are interested in contributing to the blog please get in touch - save.the.vulcan@gmail.com

Dom is the editor of the great Welsh Icons website, keen photographer, blogger and Vulcan regular.

Dom Stocqueler - My Vulcan

Well when I say my Vulcan, I'm not doing so in a proprietorial way. I'm just trying to explain what the Vulcan means to me.

When Chris asked me to write this guest article I was delighted and got to thinking about what pubs in general, and the Vulcan in particular mean to me.

Having had a typical middle class 1960's/70's upbringing, pubs have always held a certain fascination for me. As a child we used to holiday in Devon and on the drive back from the beach to our rented cottage we would stop off at one of the numerous country pubs. My sister and I would be placed in the beer garden (even in the rain) while one of our parents would go inside to get us a bottle of pop and a packet of crisps each (halcyon days). On occasions we would need to use the lavatory and would be escorted inside, normally via the rear entrance to use the facilities and would see glimpses of the magical, mysterious world that was the pub.

Today, I cannot pass a pub without wondering what it is like inside. So it was with the Vulcan. Past Cardiff prison, with its walls looking much higher as they appear to me now I would walk past the Vulcan as a child, sometimes the door was open and I'd peer inside, peering through the blue fug of pipe and cigarette smoke to see a room full of happy people.

I suppose it must have been around 1983 that I first ventured into the Vulcan. I wasn't impressed. I was young and gauche and having been an underage drinker at some of Cardiff's newer watering holes (well the Three Brewers was just opposite my school) I wanted modernity - well it was the early 80's.

I then went to live in London for 20 years and it was while I was there that I discovered the joys of the real pub. Working in Soho and the City there was always a hidden gem tucked away up a side street away from the tourists. The Mitre in Holborn and of course the French House and the Nelly Dean in Soho spring to mind and I'm still sworn to secrecy about some of the Smithfield Market pubs where you can get a beer at 5am in the morning.

Returning to Cardiff in 2005 I found that most of the pubs not to my London acquired unsophisticated tastes. I don't like neon lights, loud music and laminate flooring in pubs and hate with a vengeance the identikit chain pubs that seem to have sprung up everywhere offering cheap lager and bland food - no names, no pack drill but I'm sure you know who I'm talking about. So it was I rediscovered the Vulcan.

I was taken there by two friends who were regulars. It was love at second sight. I returned alone a few days later to be greeted by the landlady who remembered my name and what I drank - What more could you ask for?

I have returned many times since and made many firm friends, not the 'hail fellow well met' people you would expect to find in any local's bar but a real cross-section of local residents and workers. From lecturers and students in the Atrium across the road, to retired steelworkers from the Eastmoors works.

In fact, I was in the Vulcan yesterday. I had to sign on, always a humiliating experience however hard the staff at the Job Centre try, and I always make sure I keep enough money back to buy a half in the Vulcan on my walk back home. As always I was greeted with a warm welcome and chatted with a few of my old mates. Refreshed physically and mentally I walked home.

I cannot comment on the politics behind the proposed closure of the Vulcan but I know Mr Rapport comes from an old and respected Cardiff family who have done much for Cardiff over the years and I trust he will do the right thing.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Carne Park Hotel visit to the Vulcan this Saturday

The lovely regulars over at the Carne Park Hotel, Abercynon, have kindly raised a petition in support of the Vulcan and will be handing it over in person this Saturday whilst enjoying a few pints. I'm sure anyone who wishes to join them will be more then welcome. They have a great website, well worth having look.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Another ray of hope for The Vulcan

From Wales Online:

A DEAL to safeguard the Vulcan pub from demolition could soon be on the table.

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman revealed he is hopeful an agreement will be signed in the next three weeks to give the historic tavern a reprieve.

The council was “near to getting something finalised” with the Adamsdown alehouse’s owner, Derek Rapport, Councillor Berman said.

As reported in the Echo on Saturday, Brian Smart – the landlord of the tiled Victorian drinking spot – has been told he has to be out of the building by June 25.

Coun Berman said: “Time is now of the essence. I am hoping that we can get this announced as soon as possible.

“We have had positive talks leaving us with the clear impression that the pub’s lease can be extended. I have had no reason to believe that I’ve been hoodwinked but obviously until you see something in writing, you cannot say for definite.”

He added: “I have asked council officers to again make contact with all the parties involved in those discussions to see if we can now progress them to a satisfactory conclusion.

“As far as the council is concerned, I know that we are doing all that we can but we need to move on now to reaching a firm agreement.”

Full article here.

Also a link here to a Wales Online interview with Conservative Health Secretary Ken Clarke when he visited the Vulcan earlier in the year.

Brew Wales: Curse of Jonah hits the Vulcan

New post about the Vulcan over at Brew Wales.