Pubs Signage and Sporting Heritage

Down the years Wales has had a number of pubs whose signs have demonstrated their connection with sport and leisure.

In this blog, our Wales Co-ordinator Russell Todd and Dylan Jones, his business partner on the venture Valleys Ale Trails, take us on a mini tour of a few such pubs.

Welsh language version available here:Tafarndai a Threftadaeth Chwaraeon

Yr Heliwr, Nefyn, Gwynedd

Original Sportsman Signs, Yr Heliwr

This historic pub dates back to the 19th century and used to be called ‘The Sportsman’. The pub closed in 2009 but in 2021 it re-opened as a community pub embracing the Welsh version of its old name in this stronghold of the Welsh language on the Llŷn.

The pub has retained its old sign – comprising an image of a traditional sportsman with his rifle – and it can still be viewed inside the pub. These days the sign features fishers, a long-standing industry in the area.

The Piccadilly, Caerwys, Flintshire

It is believed that the building dates to 1662 and was named after a horse owned by Lord Mostyn who won a race at Holywell. So overjoyed was the Lord that he gave a pub to the winning jockey…who renamed it after the horse: Piccadilly.

In the past, its sign featured a traditional painting of a horse underneath its jockey. These days the sign has been re-designed with a more modern image.

Horse and Jockey, Wrexham

A thatched roofed pub that dates back to the 16th century, it is one of the oldest buildings in Wrexham city centre.

The pub is named in honour of the famous jockey Fred Archer (1857-1886) who won over 2,700 horse races, including at nearby Bangor on Dee.

The Turf, Wrexham

The Turf. © Jaggery

A pub that has been serving Wrexham supporters for over 150 years. Originally, part of the building dated back to the time when horses were raced in the area, hence the football ground’s name The Racecourse.

Despite the pub’s association with football these days – especially since Hollywood stardust was sprinkled over the city – the pub’s sign recalls its equine past with the image of a horse’s foot during a race.

Saith Seren, Wrexham

Welsh language pub in the middle of Wrexham made of the famous red brick of Ruabon.

Previously known in English as the Seven Stars, it reopened in 2012 as a community owned pub. After the success of the Wales men’s team at Euro 2016, the pub adopted a painting by squad member Owain Fôn Williams as its sign, the pub’s first sign in almost 20 years.

Garth Inn, Garth near Builth Wells

These days a private home but at one time the pub was popular with otter hunters.

Even today one can see the ‘Hark to Statesman’ sign on the side of the building marking the achievement of one dog killing a large otter in the eighteenth century.

Matchstick Man, Merthyr Tydfil

Former pub on the Gurnos estate in honour of the famous boxer from the area Johnny Owen. Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of the pub’s sign. We’d love to see one though!

The Malcolm Uphill, Caerphilly

It’s a tradition of Wetherspoons to name its pubs after local landmarks, buildings and personalities. Its pub in the centre of Caerphilly is named after one of its famous sporting sons: motorcycle rider Malcolm Uphill. Uphill was the first person to average a lap of the Isle of Man TT race in excess of 100mph.

Fittingly the pub’s sign features a famous picture of Uphill in the TT race and his usual race colours of blue and cream.

Manmoel Inn, Manmoel near Blackwood

Manmoel Inn / Robin Drayton / CC BY-SA 2.0

Another pub that has sadly closed and is now a home. The Manmoel was traditionally a rural upland pub between the Sirhowy and Ebbw valleys in Gwent.

Its final sign – which remained in place long after it closed – featured the classic Rhymney brewery logo of a jockey in racing pose atop a barrel keg. This was once a famous image all across south Wales with the brewery owning dozens of pubs. These days it owns fewer pubs but remains brewing in the area with its main headquarters in Blaenavon.

The Racehorse Inn, near Blaenavon

Believed to be the highest pub in Wales!

And yet another with a horse racing connection.

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