Former Ship and Castle Inn, Laugharne

Former Ship and Castle Inn, King Street, Laugharne

Poet Dylan Thomas used to play billiards in the room at the back of this building. The front rooms on the ground floor were home to various shops in the 20th century, as well as a branch of Barclays Bank (in the room to the left of the entrance). In 1982 writer George Tremlett opened the bookshop Corran Books here.

The building dates from the late 18th century or early 19th, and was once the Ship and Castle Inn. Property auctions, inquests and meetings of the Oddfellows (similar to freemasons) were held here in Victorian times.

In the early 1890s many local residents came to the inn’s club room for cookery lessons from a Miss Perry, of the University College, Cardiff. Meanwhile, each year JAR Broadwood of the Broadway Estate, Llansadurnen, audited the estate’s rents at the Ship and Castle. After the formalities, his tenants would be treated to dinner in the pub’s new dining room and Mr Broadwood’s health would be toasted.

In March 1894 Mr Broadwood found himself in St Clear’s petty sessions accused – along with EWH Peel of Fernhill, Laugharne – of being drunk and disorderly at the Ship and Castle one evening. The press reported “much merriment” in court as the “county gentlemen” were tried. (This charge was usually laid against working-class people.) It was alleged that Mr Broadwood hit Mr Peel, who was using “high language” and being egged on by a large crowd while the local constable urged him to move on and not to “forget himself”. The court dismissed the case.

In 1914 the landlord, William Griffiths, bought Brown’s Hotel, across the road. He closed the Ship and Castle and moved to live in Brown’s because he was not allowed to hold two licenses. At the time there was one pub for every 115 residents in the area, and by 1917 the Ship and Castle was formally declared redundant.

Corran Books takes its name from the river behind the building. Laugharne was known as Abercorran (aber = rivermouth) before the castle was built in the 12th century. The origin of Corran or Coran is uncertain. Some have suggested a link to the Irish personal name Corán. Others have equated the first element with that found in corbwll and cornant; Coran would therefore mean “small stream”.

With thanks to George Tremlett, and to Prof Dai Thorne of the Welsh Place-Name Society

Postcode: SA33 4RY     View Location Map

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