They closed the Vulcan for good on May 4th, boarding it up with steel panels early in the morning with no forewarning. Loyal regulars who had kept the pub going for years against the odds were thus spitefully denied one last get-together, while Cardiff has been further diminished and impoverished by the loss of one of the few city centre social spaces not dedicated to vacuous consumerism and rapacious big business.
Clearly, this pre-emptive strike was carefully planned to cut the ground from under the ‘Save the Vulcan’ campaign ahead of this Friday’s planned demo outside the Rapport HQ. You can tell because Brains’ Press Release was already prepared and winging its way to MediaWales before the shutters were bolted into place and, ever obliging to the powerful, the Echo regurgitated it more or less verbatim the next day. Headed “Historic Cardiff Pub Saved for the Nation”, the statement from Brains is a tour de force of Orwellian double-speak and cynical spin-doctoring, made all the more sickening because public bodies Cadw and the National History Museum, St Fagans, have been roped into collusion with this brazen con-trick.
We are asked to believe that, at some unspecified time in the far distant future, the Vulcan will be reassembled brick-by-brick and tile-by-tile 5 miles away at St Fagans, and then we are invited to be grateful to dear old Derek Rapport (under cover of one of his companies, Marcol Asset Management Limited) for generously “donating” the building, before we are urged to cheer its closure and imminent demolition as a good thing, nay a triumph, for Cardiff and indeed Wales. Forgive me if I don’t swallow one word of it, but I possess a few operating brain-cells.
Brains, Cadw and Rapport have co-ordinated a triple pincer-movement designed to disable the campaign that was starting to inconvenience the vultures who prey on Cardiff. Does anyone seriously think that, of all the thousands of pubs closed in Wales over the years, the one that will be lovingly re-erected by our National Museum will be a routine, mid-Victorian inner-city boozer of no particular architectural merit? I don’t think so. In any case, even if it ever happened, saving the Vulcan was never just about saving the building, but about saving a working public house in Adamsdown. Plonked in the bosky countryside of St Fagans for the passing distraction of tourists, school trips and heritage junkies, the Vulcan will be no more “saved” than deep coal-mining is at Big Pit, Blaenafon. It will be another example of Theme Park Wales, a hollow, Disneyfied farrago stripped of all context and practical purpose, an anodyne, sanitised morsel of self-congratulatory cultural clutter, a box-ticking exercise sentimentalising and lionising post-mortem what was neglected and despised when alive and kicking. I can see it now: they’ll probably hire an actor to drift around saying “Arf a Dark at the back of the Arms Park” in purest Kairdiff – that authentic touch to send a shudder of appalled delight through the slumming-it middle-class visitors. No, this is Game, Set and Match to the unaccountable, unchecked, unelected profiteers who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, coming to a pub/park/community asset near you soon.
There will be no march on Friday. Instead campaigners will meet at 12.30 in the city centre’s oldest surviving pub, the Rummer Tavern, to give the Vulcan the send-off it deserves, and hopefully build the links that will be needed to defend Cardiff’s ever-dwindling special places in the future. Mine’s a large absinthe.
It has only taken them four years or so to clear the site to start on reconstructing Taffs Well police station in St. Ffagan (better than the thirty years for the latest building finished).
I’ve heard that the Vulcan will be next door to that….sometime!
I can’t imagine it working properly there.
Gotta disagree with the point: “Does anyone seriously think that, of all the thousands of pubs closed in Wales over the years, the one that will be lovingly re-erected by our National Museum will be a routine, mid-Victorian inner-city boozer of no particular architectural merit?”
Yes. I believe it. St Fagan’s museum houses a whole host of HISTORIC BUILDINGS, whether they hold “architectural merit” or not. The Vulcan is one such building, as it is not only the last remaining building in the old Irish-populated Newtown area of Cardiff, but one of the oldest remaining pubs in our capital city. For these reasons, I firmly believe that it will one day be rebuilt at St Fagan’s to start a new chapter in its storied history, and you should consider that a job well done by the Save the Vulcan campaign. By saying that you do not believe that it has enough merit to be welcomed by St Fagan’s undermines the whole campaign, and contradicts the points you are trying to make.
The building is saved but the pub is dead, publicly executed with a press release on Friday 04 May 2012, a few weeks shy of the end of the current lease. Whether you believe this was done as a pathetic display of one-upmanship designed to de-rail the campaign or as a measure to preserve the interior fixtures and fittings it was undertaken with all the insidious guile that Rapport/MARCOL and BRAINS could muster showing a complete lack of respect to loyal punters. A few moist handshakes over a rancid corporate buffet and the deal is done.
In the next few weeks or so (details are very sketchy) the Vulcan will be gone, re-located for convenience and profit, swept away in the cultural, historical and architectural equivalent of the Highland Clearances. 2012 is our “Year of the Sheep” with the Vulcan, part of our living history, stripped of its purpose, context and dignity. The work of bodies such as CADW and The National History Museum at St Fagans is invaluable and they should be commended for taking on the Vulcan project but where do we as individuals and as a culture draw the line? I hope before our City looks like the opening sequence of Blade Runner.
Are we expected to be grateful to Mr Rapport for kindly “donating” the building to the museum and to the people? No. It would appear funds for conventional demolition are no longer required and the site will be conveniently cleared for him leaving others to pick up the tab.
Brains state that the Vulcan is not financially viable when in reality it doesn’t suit their now diverse portfolio and future corporate aspirations. Given the growing student demographic in the area surely any financial viability issues are not insurmountable with the correct support and backing.
So what can we look forward to? car parks and homogenous retail units containing yet more outlets for high street purveyors of coffee and pasties who will cater for the fatigued shoppers that unwittingly fuel this madness.
We need to wake up and smell the coffee, cheap and nasty pastries, exhaust fumes etc. etc.