Bridge End Inn, Llanychaer
This pub in the rural Gwaun Valley incorporates a former smithy. Like the rest of the valley, the pub celebrates the arrival of the new year on 13 January annually. This date is known as Hen Galan (“old New Year”) because it was the first day of the year in the Julian calendar, established by Roman leader Julius Caesar. Although Britain moved to the Gregorian calendar in the 18th century, the Gwaun Valley preserves the Hen Galan tradition which used to be a bigger event locally than Christmas. Children visited local homes to sing calennig (songs welcoming the new year) and received coins for their troubles, while the grown-ups prepared feasts of seasonal foods.
It’s thought that the smithy here continued to operate until the early 1940s. It was the adjoining building to the left as you look at the frontage. A Fishguard shopkeeper called Thomas Beddoe carried on the “trade of a blacksmith at Llanychare” in the 1840s, according to records of his bankruptcy in 1848. A collection of local properties auctioned in 1889 included the “smith’s shop”, the Bridge End Inn and the adjoining cottage.
During the First World War, the blacksmith here was James Cornock, aged 28. He got three months’ exemption from compulsory military service in 1917 after telling a tribunal that many people relied on the smithy business, which had been established for 100 years. His order book included new carts for farmers, and he did all the “banding” (which probably included fitting new iron tyres to wooden cartwheels) for an area encompassing Maenclochog, Newport and Letterston. Mr Cornock had a wife and two children and farmed 15 acres, where he had cows and sheep.
At the same tribunal hearing, William Cornock, 31, was ordered to join the armed forces. He lived at the Bridge End Inn, which was kept by his sister, and farmed 30 acres.
Today the former smithy is the pub’s restaurant.
Postcode: SA65 9TB View Location Map