Yr Hen Lew Du, Aberystwyth

Link to French translationYr Hen Lew Du, Bridge Street

This inn was the terminus of a regular stagecoach route in the early 19th century. It’s thought to date from c.1700 but may be even older. Records from 1771 list it as the Old Black Lion. The inn still carries the same name, in Welsh translation.

By 1816 a stagecoach called the Princess of Wales departed from the Old Black Lion on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Only early birds could catch this public transport – it left at 4am! It travelled to Shrewsbury via Devil’s Bridge, Newtown and Welshpool. Rival stagecoach services departed – at similar ungodly hours – from the Talbot Hotel (Market Street) and the Gogerddan Arms (Great Darkgate Street).

On arrival at the Old Black Lion, the tired horses would be led through a corridor, which still exists, to stables at the back. The inn wasn’t expanded and eventually lost out to larger competitors in Aberystwyth. In any case, horse-drawn transport to England was supplanted by the railway from Aberystwyth to Oswestry and Whitchurch, via Welshpool and Newtown, which opened in 1864.

The building’s lack of modernisation in Victorian times provides us with a good physical record of a coaching inn of the period. The frontage was added during prosperity in Georgian times, with fashionable barley-twist entrance columns. The cobbles outside are thought to be unchanged since c.1700. According to Aberystwyth Civic Society, such stone-pitched forecourts were once common in the town but this one is the only survivor.

In 1801 the Old Black Lion was the birthplace of John Lloyd Davies, who was MP for Cardiganshire Boroughs from 1855 to 1857. His mother was the innkeeper here by 1816.

Postcode: SY23 1PZ    View Location Map

Details of licensees from 1816 (Ceredigion County Council website)

Web page of Yr Hen Lew Du (Facebook)

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