History and Heritage

Inns and Public Houses of Ystalyfera

This section focuses on the inns and public houses of Ystalyfera and district, including Pantteg, Godre'rgraig, and Rhiwfawr. We begin with a newspaper article from 1919, outlining the licensing authorities concerns and focus in that period:-

From the Labour Voice newspaper, printed in Ystalyfera, 15th February 1919:-


The Annual Licensing Sessions of the Pontardawe Division, took place at Pontardawe Police Court on Friday, magistrates present being Messrs H N Miers (presiding); G H Strick, J H P Lloyd, Samuel Jenkins, H J I Powell, F R Phillips, D T Williams, D W John, H Gibbon, and Dr W 0 Evans.

Lieut Col F W Smith submitted his report and stated that during the year there had been a change in the area, caused by the extension of the Borough of Swansea, which embraced that portion of the Parish of Llansamlet within the Divison and included 14 licensed premises to the acreage of 2,874, and population of 4,336.

There were at present - after the above deduction - 62 licensed premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor as follows: 34 ale house, 22 beer houses, 1 beer house (off), and 5 wine licences.

Since the date of the previous report, two wine licences had been allowed to elapse, one at Pontardawe, and the other at Ystalyfera. There were approximately 34,819 persons in the district, which gave an average of 561.58 persons to each licensed house.

During the year, there were five transfers, eight temporary transfers, and one occasional licence granted. There were four persons proceeded against for drunkenness, showing a decrease of four on the preceding year.

The following is a comparative list of the number of cases of proceedings for the last five years: - 1914, 110 males convicted 3 males dismissed; total, 113. In 1915, 67 males convicted, 3 females, 5 males dismissed; total 75. 1019, 47 males convicted, 1 female; 1 male discussed; total 49. In 1917, 8 males convicted.

Col. Smith said he had served notices of objections to the renewal of the following licences:
Elizabeth Lewis, Traveller's Rest beer house, Varteg, Ystalyfera;
Gwilym Owen, Tinman's Arms beer house, Ystalyfera;
John E Williams Traveller's Well beer house, Rhyd y fro;
David John, Cook's Arms beer house Clydach.

The objections were raised on the grounds that the premises were not structurally adapted as licensed promises, and that they were unnecessary in the district. He was prepared to support the objections. There was only one registered club in the division, known as the Mond Nickel Works Club, Clydach, with a membership of 650. It was well conducted.

He had received two applications for licences, one for spirit and the other for wines. They came on at the hearing.

Mr Miers said he and his fellow magistrates were highly gratified with the substantial decrease in drunkenness from 110 in 1914, to 4 for the year under review. They did not think that at present there were too many public houses in the divisions.

Mr A Jestyn Jeffreys appeared on behalf of Mr E Evans-Bevan, with regard to Traveller's Rest, Varteg Ystalyfera.

Lieut. Col. Smith said it was a house with a weekly barrelage of two, and with seven days' licence. Col. Smith submitted that the house was structurally not suited for the purpose of being used as licensed premises.

Mr Jeffreys submitted that the Neath Rural District Council were contemplating extensive developments at Crynant, And this would materially affect the position of the house and its utility.

Mr J Cook Rees produced a plan of the substantial improvements that would necessitate practically the reconstruction of the premises.

Mr Evans-Bevan said that if the licence was renewed, the alterations should be carried out. The magistrates accepted the undertaking.

Mr D J Clarke appeared in the objection concerning the Tinman's Arms, Ystalyfera. Here again substantial alterations to meet with the police requirements were promised which were accepted.

Similar points were raised and procedure accepted in the cases of the Cook's Arms Clydach, and Traveller's Well, Rhydyfro.

The adjourned sessions were announced to take place in a month.

Mr W J Wilkins, chemist, G.C.G., applied for a spirit licence. Applicant submitted that people at G.C.G. objected to going to public houses for spirits, and he made the application on behalf of his customers. Mr Morgan Davies opposed the application on behalf of the local licensed victuallers, and the request was refused. Mr Edward Harries was for the applicant.

Mr Morgan Davies applied for a wine licence on behalf of Mr W L Perkins, chemist Ystalyfera. Mr Perkins said a license had been granted to an Ystalyfera chemist, who had now given up business, and there was no licensed chemist in the place. The application was granted for the sale of medical wines.