History and Heritage

The Royal Oak, Ystalyfera

The Royal Oak public house, Ystalyfera was located on Cyfyng Road, and the building today comprises three separate dwellings, one of which retains the original porch covering.


These two photographs help to put the former Royal Oak public house into context within its location on Cyfyng Road, Ystalyfera.

A 'Distress for Rent' is when a tenant is in arrears and the landlord can seize their goods, pending payment. It would seem that in this case the tenant of the Royal Oak did not pay their arrears and instead their goods were sold at aunction to make good the arrears.

Considering that the goods listed would appear to comprise the entire business of the inn, it is possible that the tenant in arrears was not simply whoever's job it was to run the inn, but someone who rented the inn from a much larger estate, where the question of whether it was able to remain in business or not would be less important.

From 1897 to 1917, the Royal Oak was run by the Rees'.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 8th August 1914 came the news of Mr Rees' death:-

We regret to record the death which took place on Saturday night of Mr Daniel Rees Royal, Oak Hotel. The interment took place on Thursday afternoon at the Ystradgynlais Parish Churchyard.

From the Labour Voice newspaper 5th September 1914 came the news that the license had been granted in Mrs Rees after her husband's passing:-

The application was granted in the case of the Royal Oak Inn Ystalyfera, from the late Mr Daniel Rees to his widow, Mrs Ann Rees. The police offered no objection.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, 23rd June 1917 came the news that Mrs Rees was retiring:-

After 20 years at the Royal Oak Hotel Ystalyfera Mrs Ann Rees is retiring from the business this week. Since the death of her husband in 1914 she has acted as licensee, the management of the hotel being in capable hands of her son Mr David Rees. We understand that the new tenant will be Mr Phil Jones Ystalyfera.

Further information about the Rees' includes the following:-

Daniel Rees was born in 1865, and his wife Ann in 1867. They married in 1886. They had three sons and three daughters:- David John Rees, born in 1889 (mentioned in the article), Thomas Robert Rees, born in 1890, who worked as a barman, probably in his parent's premises, and Phillip Rees, born in 1895; Edith Maud Rees, born 1904, Maggie Rees, born 1906, and Gwladys, born 1908.


The licensee of the Royal Oak in 1939 was Alfred F Taylor, born on 8th June 1908, and Orira P Taylor, born 3rd August 1915, whose relationship to him is unclear (wife, sister, etc).

The late 1940s and early 1950s saw a series of short-term licensees. Mr D.I. Griffiths was licensee of the Royal Oak from 1948 to 1952. Mr David John Cutliffe took over in 1952. He doesn't seem to have stayed very long, as by 1954 the licensee was Mr James Llewelyn Williams, who died in June of that year.

From The Voice 16th October 1952:-

Swansea born Mr David John Cutliffe is the new licensee of the Royal Oak Hotel Ystalyfera. He took over last Friday from Mr D I Griffiths who had been there for 4 years. Aged 43 Mr Cutliffe in April completed 24 years in the Army. During the War he saw action in a number of places including Burma and Dunkirk and last served in Cyprus. One of his daughters Mary is with him at the Hotel the other Margaret is in Germany.

From The Voice 25th June 1954:-

The death occurred on Monday of Mr James Llewelyn Williams, licensee of the Royal Oak Inn Ystalyfera. Mr Williams, after a serious illness had both legs amputated 3 years ago. He was 70 years of age and had been in the trade for 30 years.
He was previously landlord of the Villiers Arms Hafod Swansea.
He is survived by his wife and [uncertain]


Penybont Sports Bar and Lounge