By Ciron Gruffydd (first published in Grangetown News)
RUNNING Grangetown’s last remaining pub can be a challenge at times, but it’s that connection with the community which enables The Cornwall to continue serving the area, according to its landlady.
Research by The Campaign for Real Ale revealed that 1.8 pubs a week were closing in south Wales alone. Across the UK, the number of pubs has fallen from 69,000 in 1980 to less than 50,000 in June 2015.
After The Grange closed its doors in December 2015, there was only one – although it is soon set to re-open.
Nicola Smailes has worked in the pub trade for two decades. After working in The Grange and then as a landlord at the Victoria Park in Canton, she moved back to Grangetown and set up shop at The Cornwall nine years ago last April.
“I decided to come back to Grangetown because I like the people and I wanted to come back,” said Nicola.
“I’ve been in the pub trade 20 years and from the few first to the last couple years; there’s been a massive difference. People don’t have as much money to spend in little communities now as they used to and there have been a lot of lows.
“But having said that, there’s always been a good stability in The Cornwall for the landlords and it’s about keeping it the locals’ local pub.
With that sentiment in mind, Nicola and The Cornwall team do a lot to help charity work in the area, whether it’s raising money to take local pensioners for a yearly day trip, holding events by the Welsh Refugee Council or helping local families, their good work extends much further than the four walls of the establishment.
“We try to,” explains Nicola. “It’s important to help out and putting something back. It’s what makes a community, really.”
Over the past few years as well, many Welsh speakers who have moved in Grangetown have also made the pub their spiritual home – from acclaimed historian, the late John Davies, to the crowd who try their luck in the Welsh language quiz nights.
“We’ve got a strong local base in the bar and a good Welsh following in Grangetown,” said Nicola.
“We try to cater for everyone, from the Welsh language quiz, which works very well, to some music or karaoke on a Friday. It’s two different bars in one place here at some times.”
And with its location between two of Cardiff’s main sporting palaces and a new music venue just opened around the corner, the future’s looking bright for The Cornwall pub.
As Nicola explained: “We’re right between Cardiff City Stadium and the Principality Stadium – and with the Tramshed close by, new developments in the area are helping us.
“It’s about being aware of what’s going on and doing our best to welcome customers – old and new – into our pub.”
The Cornwall 92 Cornwall St, Grangetown, CF11 6SR, 029 20 303947. Mondays-Wednesdays open until 11pm; Thursday, open until 11.30pm; Fridays-Saturdays until about 12am, Sunday 11pm.