The Vulcan Hotel


*Opening 11th May 2024

Where did The Vulcan Hotel come from?

The Vulcan stood at 10 Adam Street in the Adamsdown area of Cardiff. When The Vulcan was built, however, this area was known as Newtown. Newtown was built from the 1830s to house the growing workforce needed to build and service Cardiff docks. It was a small area, but housed a thriving, multicultural community. It was known to outsiders as ‘Little Ireland’ due to the high number of Irish people who lived there. They came to find work and escape the famine in their homeland. Sadly, during the 1960s, Newtown was demolished, and the community was dispersed.

When was The Vulcan built?

The Vulcan began life as two small, terraced houses that were later knocked through to form one larger building. It was first registered as an ‘ale house’ in 1853 and was called The Vulcan Inn. It offered lodgings on the first floor, which is also where the landlord and their family lived. After significant remodelling in 1914-5 its name was changed to The Vulcan Hotel.

Why is it called The Vulcan?

Vulcan was the Roman god of fire and metalworking and has often been depicted as a blacksmith. As there were no iron foundries near The Vulcan Hotel at this early date, all we can say is that the first licensee may have had a close association with metalworking and could have named the pub to reflect this connection.

Why has 1915 been chosen as The Vulcan’s interpretation date?

It was in 1915 that The Vulcan first looked like the building people remember. As part of the major refurbishment works, the building was made taller, the inside was remodelled, and a tiled façade was added to the front bearing the pub’s new name. We have copies of the architectural plans from this period, which have been of great help as we re-built the building. The landlord at this time was Denis MacCarthy. He and his wife, Julia, ran the pub for nearly 20 years and lived upstairs with their newborn daughter, Ellen. We were fortunate enough to interview and record Ellen’s memories of growing up in The Vulcan. Because of this evidence, 1915 was the natural date to set the interpretation.

What was it like inside The Vulcan?

In 1915, working men from the docks, railways and surrounding industries drank in the main bar – it was unusual for women to be allowed in the main bar of pubs during this time. There were no tables or chairs in here, and there was sawdust on the floor. Couples drank in the better-appointed Smoke Room. Others stood in the passage and were served through a hatch. A small booth called the Jug & Bottle allowed customers to bring their own jugs and bottles and buy beer to drink at home. The original bar counter was removed in the 1940s and successive bars were much smaller, to make room for more customers. In later years, playing darts was very popular, and The Vulcan became a regular haunt of musicians, poets, and authors.

The Vulcan at St Fagans

In 2012, the owners of The Vulcan – Marcol Asset Management – formally offered the building to Amgueddfa Cymru. In May of that year, our Curators and Historic Buildings Unit began the process of carefully recording The Vulcan Hotel before starting the dismantling process. Rebuilding work began in 2020 after the completion of Making History – the St Fagans Redevelopment Project.

The Vulcan will open at St Fagans on May 11th, 2024 with special events and Vulcan merchandise available for anyone coming to visit.

Did you know?

The Vulcan was owned by William Walter Nell Ltd in 1915, and their ‘Eagle Brewery’ was in St John’s Square, the Hayes, Cardiff.

Newtown resident ‘Peerless’ Jim Driscoll became Britain’s featherweight boxing champion in 1906. In 1925, 100,000 people lined the streets of Cardiff to watch his funeral procession.

When The Vulcan was threatened with closure and demolition in 2009, customers formed the ‘Save The Vulcan’ campaign and gained huge support and over 5,000 people signed the petition to try and save it from demolition.

In 2009, a rock band called ‘The Future of the left’ filmed a music video inside the Vulcan. In the same year, John Cale, from another rock band - ‘The Velvet Underground’ - was interviewed here for the BBC’s The Culture Show.


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 have any stories or photographs or objects related to the Vulcan, get in touch.

Thank you to our funders

Amgueddfa Cymru would like to thank the Simon Gibson Charitable Trust, The Swire Charitable Trust and The Radcliffe Trust, as well as individuals and families, whose generous support has made re-erecting The Vulcan possible.

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