September 5, 2008

Traveling Boost for Brewing Trade

During the 17th Century in the lordship of Gower, beer licences were issued by justices of the peace for a fee of 20 shillings. Failure to sell beer without one would result in the offender being "openly whipped" and given a three-year ban. The drinks trade became established and moved on apace, as revealed in the book.

"THE upgrading of the turnpike roads, towards the end of the 18th Century, brought stagecoach traffic including the Royal Mail over the ancient Pontardulais Bridge (on the River Llwchwr), which had been duly strengthened. This traffic required staging posts, to feed and water horses and to harness new teams, as well as post houses, which offered comforts and rest for travellers. The Red Lion and Black Horse inns gained prominence and good business with this trade.

By the first quarter of the 19th Century, The Farmers Arms, Recruiting, Royal Oak, New Inn and Whistle Inn had also opened their doors for business.

The 1830 Beer Act allowed any householder, who paid an excise fee of two guineas, to brew and sell beer, ale and cider for 18 hours a day, and for six days a week. It is no coincidence that by the 1840s, the Prince of Wales, Wheat Sheaf, Queen's Head, King's Head, and the Fountain Inn were also trading as public houses.

The opening of the railways, from Llanelli in 1839, and Swansea in 1867, to central Wales and beyond, further developed this trade. This increase in traffic may have been influential when decisions were made to open the Prince of Wales circa 1850, and to build the Dulais Glen Hotel circa 1860, and the Gwyn Hotel circa 1888.

By the middle of the 19th Century a malting house was operational in Pontardulais, located on the corner of present-day Glynllwchwr Road and St Teilo Street, shown as TaiDayPhil on the 1844 tithe schedules.

In the 1871 census, John Davies, of Glynllwchwr Farm, was recorded as farmer and maltster. The maltster would turn locally grown barley into malt which later would be used for brewing purposes.

With the opening of the Pontardulais Brewery in Water Street in the early 1870s, many of the local inns ceased to make their own beer, and were happy to sell the local Roberts' Special Brew, named after Roberts of Clyndfid, the owners of the brewery. The brewery was bought by Buckleys Brewery, Llanelli, in the early 1890s. They put it back on the market in 1896, on condition that it was not used to produce alcoholic drinks.

The establishment and growth of the Pontardulais tinplate industry during the second half of the 19th Century had a positive impact on beer trade in the village.

It wasn't just at the end of their shifts that the parched tinplate men would quench their thirst. They also employed runners who would wear layers of oversized overcoats to carry countless flagons of beer back and fore from the public houses to the mills. Glynhir and Glamorgan runners used bicycles for their mercenary journeys.

By the 1960s, the hand mills were closed, the runners redundant and the sale of ale affected."

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