Tuesday 30 October 2007

Aberystwyth - Angel Inn

Address: 57-59 Great Darkgate Street, SY23 1DW. Tel: 01970 617878 [gmap]
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Last APG visit: 18/05/2012

Background: Welcome to the great unreformed pub in Aber. Split into a front bar and large function room at the rear, this is a place that was one of the original Gang of Eight* to hold a post-11pm late licence in Aber before that nice Mr Blair’s Licensing Reform Act.
Student factor: Big in the back room when the various theme nights are on. Otherwise, it’s often home to craggy locals and menacing people of dubious origin in the front. I never thought the Angel would ever be fashionable but this place now seems to be in vogue with a number of the less pretentious students now - a few years ago they wouldn't have been seen dead in here (though the strikethrough statement above still applies on Fridays!)

Atmosphere: Interior had a light makeover a couple of years back and isn't quite as dark and shabby as before. They've also opened up a the right-hand side of the front bar a bit more. I’ve seen fisticuffs in here on more than one occasion, so be prepared to duck.

Drinks range: Getting better. Snakebite & black/whiskey territory here mainly, though there's some Corky's which always goes down well. Token ale (Hancocks HB) of variable quality; last visit I went for Navy Rum!

TV/Music: There is a TV that gets intermittently used in the front bar. Mainly people go for the late-licence back room – (latest set-list: Monday – Indiesoc (discountinued); Tuesday – RocSoc; Wednesday – PunkSoc; Thursday - Reggae Night; Friday/Saturday – Locals Now That’s What I Call Music compilation ho-down). Back room also hosts the occasional live band. Aber monoliths The Mighty FUOD put on a legendary performance in here back in 2003. The back room is a pretty good venue on a busy night (see below, Aber Indiesoc night):


Other stuff: Front bar toilets are the worst in Aber, very Trainspotting (I can promise that the image below is un-doctered in any way) although the ones in the back room have been overhauled and aren't too bad now. 

The newsagents next door used to stock the biggest hoard of porn I've ever encountered - one shelf for UK, one shelf for foreign and a special section for shrink-wrapped - someone had fun filing those. Seems to have gone now, blame the internet. However the Angel soldiers on with a dirty nudey quizzer. Classy. We couldn't help ourselves last time and had a go - someone had got so excited previously by it there was a johnny wrapper on the floor directly underneath. I made sure to wash my fingers afterwards.

Quinno’s verdict: Has improved a little over the last couple of years, but to be honest I wouldn't bother to go beyond curiosity value.

NB- The Gang of Eight with a late licence between 1997-2005 were: Aber Student Union; The Angel; The Bay; The Boar’s Head; The Glen; K2; Pier Pressure and Rummers.


Anonymous said...

Please don't tell me people actually go to the Angel for food?? Personally I'd rather eat while taking a dump. Its full of goths and emos, its dirty and the atmosphere would make you high as a kite (even after the smoking ban). You could probably get an STD off a pint glass, while if you so much as slip on the floor its probably best to get immediate medical advice and a couple of dozen injections just to be safe. The entire pub, not just the toilets, is like the druggie den from Trainspotting. Its the sort of place the 24hour spa Big Issue man pulls and were chavs go to talk to strangers simply as an excuse to keep off the streets. Avoid it at all costs.

Anonymous said...

The last person to leave a comment seems to be very upset about the Angel! Did you have a particularly bad experience there?!

I think you were particularly unkind and even though it isnt a classy wine bar, the staff are good to chat to and do their jobs well, which is more than can be said for a lot of pubs in Aber

Anonymous said...

My brother went in the Angel once in the 70's and Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Cozy Powell were in tehre having a drink (Plant used to have a farmhouse up in the sticks near Aber).

Anonymous said...

Ah, the Angel - in my experience, this place generally seems like a good idea when you're very drunk at the end of an evening of revelry, but not yet quite drunk enough to spend the rest of the night 'round someone's house trying to send your liver to that great George Best in the sky. Typically, around an ill-defined closing time you might have to step over a fight to get in there, but don't let that put you off. The Angel's feuding denizens don't seem to involve strangers in their disputes without reasonable provocation. Earlier in the evening, if you even remotely resemble a woman then you can expect to be bothered by revolting and stupid blokes in the front bar, but later on they've usually been arrested or moved on to leer at the teenagers throwing up outside the clubs. The back bar on theme nights is essentially a different pub. As Anonymous said, bar staff in the Angel are better than most. Grotty though it be, I'd far sooner wind up in the Angel than in, say, Pier Pressure.

newcy said...

God I miss this place! It was my second home (well, as well as the Bay)- mostly for Roc Soc and admittedly for Indie Soc. There's nothing like it where I live now - though a few pale pretenders.

Anonymous said...

It was 95/96ish. I was enjoying a pint in the Angel with a mate when a local bloke walked in with a car door hanging off each shoulder, who then proceeded to walk up to each and every person in the place and ask if they wanted to buy some doors for a Sierra.

We never went back.

Anonymous said...

im lovin all these comments. a mate sent me a link. best venue in aberystwyth if your wanting a good old fashioned SKANK..and if you dont then you will probably be happier not going in there. hehehe you guys funny X

Elginbrod said...

Drank there 68 to 72. Brummie landlord, brummie barmen. Boring twats in front bar playing fizz buzz. Back bar was the action.Would play
Van Morrison and King Crimson, hippie crowd, names? Hinton, Griff, Elginbrod
etc.Occasional fights usually sorted by
said Brummies, occasional gang bangs in toilets.Great mix students and
tolerant townies.Altogether groovy scene specially when stoned. ROCK AND ROLL!

Anonymous said...

Just spotted this site otherwise I would have replied earlier.
I was one of the boring twats who used to regularly go in the front bar from 1969-74. My girlfriend (now wife) and I had a small caravan at Ynyslas and loved our Saturday nights in the Angel singing to Martin Whiteside and Pete Seal playing Beatles and Stones numbers on the guitars. The last time I saw Martin was on TV in University Challenge.
Malcolm and Jean from Warwickshire ran the Pub. Malcolm had taken over from his brother who had run off with a young female student. Unfortunately Malcolm did the same in approx 1975. Jean soldiered on for a few months and I bought the Pub guitar from her when she finished.
Dick was the next landlord but gradually the Pub went downhill and I believe it was later closed due to drug use.
I went in the Pub approx 7 years ago and the front bar was no longer a separate room. It was empty at 10.00 pm on a Saturday night and when I asked the reason, the girl behind the bar said that it does not start to fill up until midnight. They say that you should never go back!

Anonymous said...

Was my regular in the early 80's when Dick and Let Morgan had it. Became quite good friends with Dick and Let. Sad what happened ... Dick cried on his last night as landlord. God bless him, he was a damn fine person. It was a rough pub then, but Dick was good at sorting out the fights ... he looked a bit like Popeye (and he was an ex seaman !) and was wiry and strong. I see the toilets haven't changed much ... you always took your life in your hands going in there ... especially if PP was hanging around (if you know who PP is, then you were definitely there). Ah ... those were the days.

Unknown said...

Amused to see that this place still exists. I was at the uni from 66-69 and this shithole of a boozer was one of the key hangouts for aspirant student alcoholics. The front bar was exclusively for Big Drinkers. Those of us who regarded drinking as a poor substitute for smoking dope (hard to find at that time) were tolerated as long as we were prepared to get shitfaced on the vile local bitter "HB": does this poisonous sour-tasting shit still exist? I recall the two most prominent drunken fools who infested the front bar as Ianto and "Weege" - singing predictable Welsh rugby songs.
When Prince Wing-Nut was in Aber for his Welsh lessons prior to the Investiture he didn't visit The Angel... And the Special Branch bugged the Student Union phones. But that's another story.
I chaired the 1968 "Fluxus" Arts Festival which has become of historical note.

newcy said...

HB was still very much around in the late '90s. It wasn't as bad as the heavily-watered Fosters (beyond the high water, low alcohol content it first leaves the factory with) that predominated every pub in the town by then. Mind you, there was a shed-load of dodgy imperial vodka flooding every bar at that time also - buy a half glass of coke on a Sunday afternoon and get a load of free vodkas with it.

Unknown said...

I've been thinking about revisiting Aber again, not having been there since my last year at university (1968 or 9). I'm at an age when the compulsion to revisit the scenes of the crimes is almost irresistible even though experience tells me it's usually a disappointment even when not an outright disaster. Having given up alcohol a little more than 25 years ago the temptation to guzzle a pint of "lemon top" (the lemonade almost disguising the taste of HB) is non-existent. I might just take a look into a couple of the boozers if I pay the place a state visit though. Is The Cambrian still there? I recall "Cambrian Mondays" - when it was open all day - having a significantly negative impact on my grant and my ability to function.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading these reviews! As a frequenter of the Angel, I sympathise with a lot of these statements. However the staff are fantastic and always up for a bubbly chat, the Thursday Roc Soc's are always fun to watch and the Door Staff do a superp job of keeping any fights to a minimum! Yes it's a bit dingy, and the floors a bit sticky, but if you want a good laugh in one of the latest licenced bars in Aber, with the most open minded staff, then this is the place to be!

Steve Smith said...

I met my wife-to-be there when under-age drinking there; she 16, I 17. Thank goodness. It was only my second visit to the Back Bar. Changed my life forever.

It would be wonderful if anyone had a pic of the Back Bar as it was then (1972-3). There was a marvelous mural across the wall opposite the entrance (West wall). I can remember that it had a Cromwellian soldier depicted in it... probably a reference to the way the Parliamentarians blasted the castle from offshore.

Beer was Worthington E (11p per pint) and Albright (10p). Pretty tasteless keg beer though adding a Lemon Top to the Albright made it OK. There was cider for 10p. It was easy to get plastered enough to pluck up the courage to go to the King's Hall to dance without feeling too self-conscious.

I only saw one fight - between two girls. Otherwise it was full of amiable hippies.

Best wishes to my best friend Martin if he ever checks this page.

Happy days.

Unknown said...

Many hilarious memirime in the Angel from 2000-2003 when I was a student. Messy Metal nights in the big back room. Last time I was there was 2006..

Anonymous said...

My pub of choice in 79-81. Remember playing The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down many times on the guitars in the front bar. Nostalgia's not what it used to be!

Anonymous said...

My family leased the farmers next door Scottish 1964 1972 luvved going next door but the farmers was the place to go to mobbed each night going again in August great memories happy days Alan