Tag Archives: cardiff before cardiff

The Gower Pub, Cardiff 1895 – 2014. RIP

Last week, one of the great old pubs of Cathays, The Gower, closed its doors after one final night of sunk pints. I spent many hours in this pub, watching dogs sitting on chairs next to their owners, doing crosswords, going to gigs upstairs, and it’s sad to see such a grand old building go the way of so many others.

There’s a short video you can watch about the last get-together that was held at the Gower, made by Panoptic Photography

Cardiff Before Cardiff photographer Jon Pountney went along to document the closing of the pub too. He says

“I hope these pictures will be seen as emblematic of a wider shift. Cut-throat supermarket prices, the smoking ban, and companies that feel no responsibility to their customer base have killed off many cornerstones of the community. Are libraries, swimming pools, and day centres next? Will anything that can’t turn a profit be closed?

Brains | Gower
The Gower is a huge old pub in Cathays, Cardiff. We pride ourselves on offering that true traditional pub experience.”

Amen Jon.

Here are the photos, all by Jon Pountney. A bittersweet end to this glorious old building…










































My Cardiff geography – Fireproof Giant

In today’s personal geography, we speak to Gareth Jones of Fireproof Giant. Read on for his map of the city!

Fireproof Giant by Jon Pountney

In Cardiff, home is…


How did you get into making music initially?

I’ve played music since the age of five but I really started creating music when I was in Italy performing an outdoor site specific theatre piece. The director encouraged me to write for the show and I haven’t been able to stop since.

Tell us about your band, Fireproof Giant

The band developed over a number of years. Whilst I was touring around with Nofit State Circus people in the audience kept asking where they could get the music or hear it again so I finally gave us a name (Fireproof Giant). Now we’re running away from the circus and playing music for music’s sake. I tend not to think of genre whilst writing and just let my mood direct the song. But now I’m having difficulty describing our music whenever we’re asked. The best way to describe it so far is Pop-rock/folkstep with classical influences.

Who were the last band you saw live?

Sigur Ros

Favourite Cardiff eatery …

Penylan Pantry

Ideal first date in Cardiff …

Walking a dog in Roath Park

Last album you bought?

If you leave by Daughter

Earliest Cardiff memory

Staying with my brother and watching Apocalypse now the directors cut. It’s very long.

Do you have a favourite record shop in Cardiff?

It’s a battle between Kellys and Spillers

Last book you read

I’m a massive comic book fan…..so…..death of the family. Does that count? If not, the hungry caterpillar.

Best Cardiff pubs

The City Arms, followed closely by Porters

Favourite Cardiff discovery

The tiny models in the metal pillars outside St David’s 2

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you

I have a fear of people touching my belly button

If you had friends coming to Cardiff for a weekend, what would you recommend they do?

If they’re around on the weekend and it’s a sunny Sunday morning then I would suggest Riverside market for some chai tea and the best butchers in Wales.

Gareth Fireproof Giant by Jon Pountney

Why don’t you go on over and take a look at the Fireproof Giant Facebook page? There is music and information there galore!

Gareth Jones grew up in Swansea and very quickly found a passion for the arts. As a teenager he went from instrument to instrument learning to play whatever took his fancy. Although music was a large part of his life he found himself heading towards acting and after completing school he went to study performance art in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. During his three years there his music took a backseat role but occasionally crept forward as more and more directors asked him to compose music for them. After graduating from RWCMD in 2007 Gareth joined Nofit State Circus as a musician/performer and began touring around Europe meeting musicians from different cultures who would help him shape and develop his musical style. After three years of touring Gareth then became Musical Director and Composer for Nofit State and spent the next three years directing and leading a band in over 300 shows. Now Gareth is exploring his music for music’s sake and is running away from the Circus to share his sound with whoever will listen. If you see him around, don’t touch his bellybutton, whatever you do…

Gareth was photographed by Jon Pountney


“This is still the place I want to be” – James


This is the place…

I’ve always thought there are two types of home: the one you have, and the one you want. Roath was definitely the latter for me. I moved here from Stoke in 2002 and straight away it felt right. In a short space of time I met an incredible group of friends, and this, together with my love of the city, gave me a sense of belonging. Aged 23 I thought this is the place I want to be.

Recently I’ve begin to question the choice I made 10 years ago. There are those friends who move away to bigger cities – some come back, some don’t. And there are those who never make the journey and ask themselves that meaningless question, what if? Big cities are naturally more conducive to creativity, offer more opportunities, and provide a bigger network to plug yourself into to find out what sparks, if any, may fly. Of course, you know this, but still, what if?

When I find myself thinking about this, I put on my running shoes and go to the one place I love more than any other in Cardiff – a home within a home – the Rec (aka the Roath Recreation Ground). I must have run, and walked, around this small park hundreds of times, and spent countless hours there lying under rare summer sun until my pale skin turns pink. It’s hard to convey why I love it – after all it’s just a park – bit if pressed I would say it’s a combination of the space and the skies above it. I’ve seen the most amazing sunsets, and formations of clouds and light, over the Rec. It may sound pretentious, but I feel like those skies have sheltered me over the years whenever I’ve been feeling low.

The final key ingredient that makes the Rec so great is the people who inhabit it. On any one night you can watch people playing rounders, rugby, football, cricket, or just reading, talking, and drinking until the sun goes down. It’s a reminder of how vibrant and eclectic this city is – I remember seeing one football game where each player wore the football top of their country of origin and no 2 shirts were alike. Having a garden is a luxury, but it’s not essential in Roath, as there is always the Rec.

When I’ve finished my run I always turn off my iPod and walk across the width of the Rec towards the Community Centre. I don’t think about work the next day, or what I’m going to do when I get home. I try not to think at all. Instead I just listen to the evening and look around me. It always gives me a sense of calm, and reminds me of how lucky I am to have this on my doorstep. Moments like this brush away all of my doubts and reaffirms that this is still the place I want to be.

James Nee works for The Festivals Company (where he directs the occasional promo and is the Director of ffresh) and is the creator of ernest – a collective of artists based in Roath who make short films and sketches. He currently lives in Roath.

James was photographed on Roath Recreation Ground by Jon Pountney