Machen residents vow to save Ffwrwm Ishta pub
12:20pm Friday 20th July 2012 in Campaign news
LOCALS have vowed to try and save a pub dubbed "the heart" of Machen, that was once the haunt of Welsh rugby stars such as Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams.
The Ffwrwm Ishta on Commercial Street closed suddenly last week, with the poor state of the building blamed by leaseholder Niall Walshe as the reason why he walked away.
Mr Walshe had only been leasing the pub/restaurant from Enterprise Inns for a few months and seemed to have revitalised it, with themed nights, special events and a regular newsletter attracting hundreds of people.
The 60-year-old moved from Devon to take it over and as well as the monthly rural market that attracted around 600 people, he planned to host tourist buses and open the adjoining river banks up to anglers.
He said that he wanted to make the pub "the heart of the village once again", but highlighted the poor state of the centuries-old building as his reason for quitting.
He said: "The business was going very well. In my opinion the state of the building and the equipment meant that to continue was not a possibility."
Locals could now look into buying the historic pub/restaurant which was Machen RFC’s base when it was founded in 1871 and whose iconic former chairman Jack ‘Shon’ Davies regularly brought rugby stars to drink there during the 1970s.
It is also believed to have once been the area’s court house and had its name recently changed from Fwrrwm to Ffwrwm Ishta - which is a more accurate Welsh-language spelling.
After having numerous landlords over the last decade, spending various periods closed and being subject to a planning application to be turned into a school earlier this year, it is now empty once again.
Jan Walsh, founder member of community group Calon who organised the rural markets is now trying to rally locals.
She said: "We want to organise a meeting and get people together, so we can look at options, including a community buy-out where villagers buy shares. We need quite a push behind making it the community hub it should be."
Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen councillor Ray Davies said: "The last thing anyone would want is to see it closed. It would take a big chunk out of the heart of Machen."
Join the campaign by calling Ms Walsh on 01633 441442.
A spokeswoman for Enterprise Inns said the pub is closed at the moment on a temporary basis.
She said the intention is for it to re-open as soon as possible with a new publican.