Nostalgic guide to Aberystwyth pubs

"There are now only fifty pubs left in Aberystwyth!"

This is not a definitive guide (see end)! It's more of a memorial to boozers past. Most of the changes are dated relative to my student years (1989-92).

(Top of Gt Darkgate St)
Pub namePreviously (most recent first)Comments
Y Cwps/Coopers ArmsRumoured to have new posters :-)
ScholarsCrystal PalaceRemodelled
Western Vaults
Downies VaultsBars combined
CambrianExtensively remodelled
Lord Beeching'sThe RailwayTaken over by Tony from The Fountain and refurb'ed. Clever name, huh?
Vale of RheidolRefurb
The MillCross FoxesMinor remodelling, cellar bar
The FountainLounge bar opened out and remodelled following fire
Rummers Wine BarOther than new toilets, the least changed bar in Aber?
The CastleRefurb, new bar
Ship & CastleFlannerys; Ship & CastleReports that it has reopened in original state. Currently covered in scaffolding.
Angel InnRemodelled
Farmers Arms/TJ's Video BarBurnt down
Why NotClub Yoko's; K2; Porkies; Skinners(Nightclub)
Inn on the Pier
Pier Hotel
Pier Pressure(Nightclub)
The OrangeryEl Retro; Talbot HotelRefurb'ed twice
Belle Vue Hotel
Rumours (Belle Vue rear bar)Closed?
The Bear Necessities(Marine Hotel cellar) Closed
Bay HotelDancefloor added and remodelled circa 1992. Cellar bar closed. All closed, 2009.
GlengowerFirst "modern" refurb
Seabank HotelBurnt down, replaced with residential use
Po Na NaBoar's Head/Streets (rear club)Closed, under demolition
VarsityWhite HorseFloors combined and extensively remodelled.
SaltBar Essential; Central Park; The CentralExtensively remodelled, similar to Varsity
Hen Llew Du/Old Black Lion
Nag's Head
Cwrt Mawr bar
Penglais Student UnionExtensively remodelled and relocated internally
Arts Centre bar
The AcademyFormerly an abandoned chapel
Rosser barClosed
Marine Hotel
Groves Hotel
Court Royale HotelHarleys; Court Royale/Jesters
Pier Hotel
Yr Hen Orsaf (The Old Station)JD Wetherspoons, on converted part of the railway station
Pentre Jane Morgan barStudent village. Closed.
The PloughConverted into flats (was near Mill)

(And sorry, but the Welsh Fudge Shop has closed down too.)


Nice little seafront pub in my first year, then closed down for a long period and re-emerged as...a shitehole! With pages ripped from Q magazine on the walls to justify its claim to be the "Aber Rock Cafe!"
The Glen eventually proved the template for many of the other refurbishments that have often turned plain little boozers into cavernous student theme pubs, usually staffed and filled with trendy tossers. Meanwhile, the original "Rock Cafe" has declined in both fashion and decor, until it is now close to becoming a worthy option again, particularly during the day when it is very quiet and good for a beer with a sea view.
Originally lounge and public bar, with "join in" folk evenings and fiercely competitive "winner stays on" pool table. The pool table's still there. Infamous for their yards of ale, a fun way (for spectators) to end any life night. Back street location means most freshers can't find it twice.
Used to have nice cool tiles in the toilets to lie your swimming head on, I (vaguely) recall. Specialised in "Orbitals" - a pint "cocktail", subsequently joined by a whole host of garish liquid combinations. Went from a warren of cosy little rooms to something like a barn conversion in reverse - i.e. a barn.
White Horse
Two great bars; downstairs public, upstairs like someone's front lounge with huge games room at rear. Lovely wallpaper.
Locals boozer, completely unpretentious - in marked contrast to current form.
Dingy dive at the back of the Belle Vue for those guests wanting a bit of rough. Tables made out of beer barrels ... actually, 'made' implies some degree of adaptation - they really were just barrels.
Briefly extremely popular, with its posters of movie stars and American-style breakfasts. Went rapidly downhill both in appeal and appearance. Dodgy played here. And Doctor and the Medics, who were also reaching the end of the line.
A real Sharon 'n' Tracy club, but also hosted RocSoc on occasion.
The Bay
Very few will now recall its original form as a genteel, and utterly dead, hotel bar ("Gin and tonic if y'please, Fawlty!"). Became popular on Sunday nights for a quiet drink and a usually empty pool table. Sudden growth in student popularity wrecked most of the furnishings so, following the recent example of the Glen, it was gutted and turned into a strange wannabe-nightclub complete with throbbing dancefloor at rear for the pod-people, and a very good indie/rock club in the cellar.
Bit of a dump but more tolerable than the Glen and good for outside drinking. Enjoyed a brief renaissance before the Big Plyn Fire.
Good beer, large vodka selection, excellent jukebox and decent food. One of the first to try nude art photos on the lav walls. Unknown if any of this still holds true since Tony left, after which Terrible Events occurred.
Crystal Palace
A "front room" type bar, complete with aquarium (and local girls who enjoyed cruel sport with callow freshers).
TJ's Video Bar
Unbelievably hideous - before its time, in other words. All hail the cleansing power of flame!
Outside lavvies
An alley round the back, the cool night air, perhaps a little rain on your face - these used to be refreshing facets of a trip to the urinals in many pubs, notably the Mill, Castle & the Angel. Sadly all modernised into respectability, AFAIK.
Least changed pubs since your day
Likely to be: Rummers; Cwps; Mill; Castle; Fountain; Weston Vaults.

How to modernise an Aber pub

  • Throw out all existing tables and chairs. Don't buy new ones.
  • Remove all internal walls (hope none of them essential to structure).
  • Lay cheap wooden flooring, preferably second hand and pre-stained with vomit.
  • Mythologise worthless staff ("Rob! Nick! Llinos! And Sue! They're all SO FUCKING GROOVY! (and much too busy preening to serve you)")
  • Turn the music up to 11 and use a microphone to exhort everyone to dance on the tables like a Budweiser ad.
  • Serve Budweiser.

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Posted by Ade at 1st June 2004 1:00 PM |
Last updated at 28 February 2012 10:13 AM | Reply