Local lovers of a tipple or two will be delighted to hear that the doors of the Royal Oak swung open again on Friday 4th November following an eight week refurb by Brains Brewery.
Though the secret beer garden at the back looks much the same (it has had a little spruce), the interior is significantly improved with new flooring, lights, furniture and, fundamentally for the girls at least, new toilets.
These were the first thing I checked out as the last ladies had no heating and were generally just below freezing most winters. It was warmer outside. No kidding.
Not anymore though! In addition to doors that lock, the improved lav is WARM I tell you. WARM!!! The gentle caress of centrally-heated air hit me as soon as I opened the door and I swear I almost swooned.
Now before any male readers feel left out, obviously I couldn’t just walk in snapping away with me phone-camera, but I have reassurances from a friend of the male orientation that the gents is equally improved, so you can all relax.
What’s nice about the refurb is that the essence of the Oak remains. Though it’s got a snazzy new floor, a shiny new bar and has undergone a restyle that Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen would be proud of (including the addition of some seriously funky purple chairs), the old photos that adorned the walls of the Oak remain and can be seen hanging in the main bar, both snugs and the corridor. I’m so glad that these familiar faces weren’t relegated to the skip – over the years they’ve become like friends!
Thankfully the Oak is listed so the beautiful stained glass windows also remain (and look like they’ve seen a spot of windowlene recently (other brands are available)).
All joking aside, for some long-time lovers of the Royal Oak, me included, the refurb was a worry. What if it didn’t open again? What if it opened again without any of its original charm? What if they didn’t let us back in because we weren’t posh enough??? Anguished sobs could be heard now and again at the mere possibility.
But happiest of happy days, The Oak is back; brighter, shinier and (thank you, thank you, thank you) warmer than ever and I, for one, am ecstatic!
A few fun facts about The Oak:
- It was built in the 1800s
- There used to be a thriving boxing gym above the bar and before the refurb, the ring was still there
- The downstairs bar was dedicate to the memory of famous boxer Jim Driscoll
- The Oak was big with punk rockers and bikers in the 80s and 90s and was a very popular live music venue
- In 2006, the Oak was listed as a “well-preserved late C19 purpose-built public house particularly rare in preserving much of its original planning in the bar areas”.
- In 2010 the Oak was the only Cardiff pub to make it onto list of the Top 100 Famous UK pubs, compiled by whisky maker Famous Grouse.
Find the Royal Oak at the bottom of Broadway in Adamsdown or check out their Facebook page here