Historic Pub Saved for the Nation

Following the decision to close the Vulcan Hotel, Cardiff, the property’s owners Marcol Asset Management Limited, have agreed to donate it to St Fagans: National History Museum in order to preserve the building for the Nation.

The Vulcan was built in 1853 to serve the new, mainly Irish, community in Adamsdown then known as New Town. The exterior of the two storey building is virtually unchanged, the lower half of the façade being tiled in green and white and the upper floor faced in brick.

With the agreement of Marcol and licensees Gwyn and Sandra Lewis, the tenants, SA Brain & Co Ltd, today (Friday 4th May) closed the Vulcan. St Fagans staff will now move in to measure, photograph and document the building, before dismantling and placing it in storage.

Scott Waddington, Chief Executive at Brains said:

"It is with regret that we confirm that the Vulcan pub has closed as of today. As we have previously stated, and despite attempts to attract more customers, the pub is no longer commercially viable for either Brains or the tenant who operated the pub.

"We have found ourselves the target of negative publicity as a result of us having to sell a pub due to a compulsory purchase order to accommodate the St David’s 2 development some four years ago. In essence, we had no other option than to sell the pub. We have kept the pub trading over this period despite declining customer numbers and therefore income. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the premises has also made justifying any significant investment in the pub unrealistic.

"Brains continue to invest in the City, with some of the most recent refurbishments being Greenwood & Brown, The Duke of Wellington and The City Arms which has recently won CAMRA, Cardiff pub of the year.

"The Vulcan is an important part of our history, which is why we have been working with its owner, Marcol, and the National History Museum, to relocate the building to St Fagans and preserve the history of the pub for the future."

Gwyn and Sandra Lewis, licensees, added: "We, and our family, would like to thank all the customers who have supported the pub since we took over two years ago. We look forward to visiting St Fagans and will have good memories of the short time we were at the Vulcan."

Mark Richards, Deputy Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said:

"The Vulcan hotel will be a welcome addition to the collection of historical buildings at St Fagans. We are grateful to Marcol for donating the building and giving us the opportunity to save and preserve this important part of Cardiff’s heritage for the nation and to tell some of the area’s rich history."

"We are also very grateful to Brains for their willingness to assist us as we ensure the historical accuracy of the fittings used in the Vulcan before we eventually rebuild at St Fagans."

Due to current commitments, work on rebuilding the Vulcan is not expected to start for several years. In the meantime, Museum curators will work on an interpretation strategy to decide on how and which period to display the building."

An appeal will be made for photographs, objects and stories relating to the Vulcan and its history.

Background on The Vulcan pub:

1853 The Vulcan opens

2008 Brains sells The Vulcan to Marcol (Compulsory Purchase Order as part of the St David’s 2 development plans)

2009 Brains agreed to operate the pub until May 2012

2009 – 2012 Marcol, National Museum Wales & Brains discuss the relocation of the Vulcan to St Fagans Museum.


The profitability of The Vulcan has steadily decreased over the last three years despite attempts to attract new customers and create occasions for customers to visit the pub. This has resulted in Brains subsidising the opening of the pub over the last three months which is not a long term sustainable commercial option.

Brains conducted market research with customers and potential customers to create the correct pub offer and invested in local marketing to attract new customers and encourage current customers to visit more regularly. Unfortunately, and in contradiction to the campaign to save the Vulcan, insufficient customers have frequented the premises to make it a viable business.