Former Royal Oak Inn, Conwy

Link to French translationFormer Royal Oak Inn, 12 Lower Gate Street, Conwy

This building was an inn until its licence was terminated in 1899, sparking a legal battle which went to the High Court in London. It’s now a private home – please respect the occupants’ privacy.

The inn’s licensees lived in the building next door (adjacent to Britain’s Smallest House), which was known as the “Royal Oak Bach” (bach = “small”). Both properties were owned by an Owen Williams of Berkshire until his death in 1832, when he left them to his eldest son, Thomas Peers Williams. One of the earliest licensees was Jane Thomas, who died in January 1819.

The inn’s downfall began when the landlord was fined for selling diluted whisky. Ind Coope & Co, the building’s owner, later said the whisky was from a batch which had been tampered with while being transported on the railway.

When the licence came up for renewal, objectors said the pub wasn’t needed, being so close to the Liverpool Arms and “patronised very much by drunken women”. According to Police Constable Jones, it was frequented by “a low class of drinkers” including poachers. The owner’s solicitor said the pub was used by a “poor but respectable class of people” who had “as much right to obtain a glass of beer” as wealthier people did.

Ind Coope appealed against the licence refusal to the Quarter Sessions and then to the High Court, which in May 1900 concluded that the “Court of Quarter Sessions was wrong and that the license must be renewed”. However, the license was refused four months later by local justices, who included Albert Wood of Bodlondeb. Temperance campaigners were preparing to take the Royal Oak case to the House of Lords when the inn’s tenant, William Evans, died in 1900. The licence was no longer pursued.

The building was renamed Royal Oak Cottage and in 1901 was home to an insurance agent, his wife and their four children.

Thomas Evans, son of William and Mary Evans of the Royal Oak, served with the Royal Engineers during the First World War. He died in France of illness, less than three weeks after the war had ended. He left a wife and child, who lived in Chapel Street. His details are on this page about Conwy’s war memorial.

With thanks to Ray Castle

Postcode: LL32 8BE    View Location Map  

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