Vulcan Hotel

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The Vulcan as it was on Adam Street prior to removal to St Fagans National Museum of History

Where was the Vulcan originally built?

The Vulcan was originally built in Newtown, Cardiff during the 19th century.

At the time Cardiff was growing from being a small town to the most important coal port in the world.

Newtown, now long gone, was known as 'Little Ireland' because it was home to many Irish people who came across to Wales during the Irish famine to build Cardiff docks.

Originally, beds in the front two upstairs rooms of the Vulcan were rented out to seamen whose ships were in port.

This is why it was originally known as a hotel and pub. The landlord’s family lived in the back rooms.

You can see the Vulcan in its original location in the picture above.

When was the Vulcan built?

The Vulcan opened its doors in 1853.

It was popular with the steel and dock workers from the working class communities.

Why is it called the Vulcan?

The pub was built next to the nearby ironworks which provided the inspiration for its name: Vulcan was the Roman god of fire and metalworking, often depicted holding a hammer as used by a blacksmith.

Here is the sign outside the pub which shows an image of Vulcan.


Who was the landlord of the Vulcan?

The landlord of the Vulcan in 1915 was Dennis McCarthy, who was an Irish immigrant and he managed the pub for nearly four decades.

He lived upstairs in the pub with his wife and five children so there were no longer any spare rooms to rent out to workers.

When did the Vulcan close?

The Vulcan closed in 2012 and was brought to St. Fagans, after being dismantled brick by brick, in 2022.

The Vulcan is being reinterpreted as a working pub as it was in the First World War and displayed as it was in 1915, an important year for the pub: its interior had just been redesigned to include gents’ urinals and its distinctive green tiles added to the front of the building.

In 2008, the remaining family members of Dennis came from all over the world for a final drink before it finally closed its doors!

When will the Vulcan open at St Fagans National Museum of History?

The Vulcan will once more open its doors at the Museum in 2024.

Where did the customers drink in the Vulcan?

There were three sections in the pub – one for men, one for women and a small area where married couples could drink together.

There were no tables for customers to place their drinks, only wooden seats.

Dennis served behind the bar.

If there was any unruliness or rowdiness, his wife was called downstairs to sort out the troublemakers!

Here is the inside of the Vulcan in later years. As you can see from the photograph below, the pictures on the walls show its links with the docks and seafarers.

Inside of the Vulcan hotel

Did you know?

The practice of putting signs outside pubs originated in the 12th century when most people were unable to read and write.

A pub sign informed them that this was a building where they could buy alcohol!

The Vulcan, according to local history was a ‘spit and sawdust’ pub i.e. very basic.

This phrase refers to the practice of putting sawdust on the floor into which customers spat!

Ellen Baker, Dennis McCarthy’s daughter is thought to have said: "The men would have sawdust down, they’d spit and it’d have to be swept up every day, and he’d put fresh sawdust down."

Donate

The Vulcan is being carefully rebuilt using the original stones, bricks and woodwork, all placed exactly in their original positions.

Amgueddfa Cymru is a registered charity, we are seeking further financial support to ensure the completion of the project.

Support the Vulcan Hotel project.

Please Donate

Share your stories

Our curators have already been out and about conducting oral histories with former customers and landlords of the former Adamsdown pub, recording and filming their experiences and memories.

But we'd love to find out more, so if you has any stories or photographs or objects related to the Vulcan, get in touch.

Building facts:

  • Original Location: 10 Adam Street, Adamsdown, Cardiff
  • Date originally built: 1853
  • Furnished: 1915
  • Dismantled and moved to St Fagans: dismantled 2012, rebuilding work is ongoing
  • Visiting information