Former Pavilion Cinema, Cowbridge

Former Pavilion Cinema, Cowbridge

This building, with its distinctive round turret, was built in the 1920s as the Pavilion Cinema. It was designed in the Art Deco style of the period and included a ballroom.

The site had previously played an important part in Cowbridge’s recreational life. A “ball court” or “tennis court” was situated here for people to play a handball game which was popular in Glamorgan in the 18th century. There were public houses here called the Three Tuns, the Tennis Court and the Wheelwright's Arms, where the publican for over 60 years was wheelwright Richard Aubrey. He invented a velocipede, a kind of flying bicycle which failed to take off.

IPhoto of Pavilion Cineman the 1920s, the buildings were purchased by AT Mills, garage proprietor and architect, and rebuilt as a cinema with a ballroom above. The photo shows the frontage c.1934. A fire in 1942 destroyed most of the interior and the rear of the building, but a cinema reopened here in 1948 and operated until the 1950s.

The building was subsequently used as a garage for council vehicles but with access from behind, leaving the frontage structurally intact. After decades of neglect, the building was carefully restored for use as offices. The work included a steel canopy with the word “Pavilion” to reproduce one of the building’s original features.

Today the building is home to the long-established local law practice Gwyn & Gwyn, now part of the Glamorgan Law group of solicitors. Gwyn & Gwyn was established by two brothers in 1867. Later it was run by William Thomas Gwyn and Arthur William Gwyn, sons of one of the founders.

Arthur was born in 1890, he served as a lieutenant in the Welsh Regiment during the First World War. During the battle of the Somme, in France, he was almost buried by soil and earth when a shell landed nearby. He was released after laborious digging by comrades and spent a long time in hospital, recovering from a shoulder injury and shell shock. He went on to be a major figure in Cowbridge’s civic life. By 1923 he was a solicitor, deputy town clerk and clerk to the governors of the grammar and girls’ schools. By 1926 he was one of the trustees of the local branch of Barclays Bank and in the 1930s he was town clerk.

His son John David Gwyn also had an aptitude for law, gaining a scholarship to Cambridge University where he achieved a first class degree. He never took up his post-graduate scholarship because he was killed in the Second World War. Our page in his memory is here.

With thanks to Betty Alden and Brian James, of Cowbridge History Society, and Joyce Foster

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: CF71 7AB

Website of Glamorgan Law