Photo of The Four Elms pub Cardiff

This proposed listing forms part of the draft Cardiff buildings of local historic or architectural interest list - Public Houses, Hotels and Clubs (current and former)

Building reference

17 The Four Elms




1 Elm Street, CF24 3QR

Download site boundary plan.




According to Roath History Society, the Four Elms Inn opened in 1859. Earliest newspaper reports are dated this same year. The pub gets its name from four distinctive elms that were once local landmarks, but were felled in 1901 in order to widen Newport Road.[1]

In March 1862, the Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian recommended the Four Elms as a place to stay for those attending the newly opened Roath Cattle Market. It had ‘Tack for cattle and sheep’, ‘hay, straw and swedes’ and good ‘shedding and stalling’ available.

The OS map of 1879 shows the same basic form as today; the premises occupying the whole of the tapering plot, with the public house as a two-storey range upon the southern corner (plus single storey outshot to the north-east). There are further buildings shown which have now been lost, including what appear to be the aforementioned ‘shedding’ or ‘stalling’, with small walled enclosures to the fore and a two-storey building with steps against the southern elevation (perhaps a stable block). There is a large walled garden to the northern end of the site.

A skittle alley was constructed in 1895 and a new shed in 1897, alongside alterations to the public house. Further such alterations were undertaken in 1908 (see Glamorgan Archives).

By c.1910, it was a free house known as the Four Elms Hotel, featuring incised ashlar render to the ground floor with cornice hoods above the doorways and sash windows with marginal lights to the first floor (see photo evidence).

The OS map of 1915 clearly shows some of the late-C19 developments, with additional outbuildings and the narrow skittle alley building extending along the western boundary of the garden.

The pub hasn’t always been called the Four Elms. In the mid-1990s it morphed into the Australian-themed Yellow Kangaroo bar, and later became Bar YK. The pub was then saved, refurbished and the original name reinstated.[2]



2 Ibid


The original public house is of L-plan form, located on the corner of Elm Street and the returning (unnamed) lane. The principal entrance is located within a southern faceted corner. The south-western elevation is of one bay only, with five bays to the longer range facing the lane – terminated by a further storey-and-a-half bay to the north-east. The building is roughcast rendered (painted white), with pitched and slated roof with a single rendered chimney stack and cast-iron gutters to the perimeter. Windows are modern UPVC with moulded architraves run in render (and painted black).

To the western elevation at first floor are painted signs with moulded render borders in similar fashion to the original (though the LHS has been expanded to cover the closed-up window).

The two-storey (stable?) building is still in the yard to the rear and the 1895 skittle alley building against the western boundary. There have, however, been numerous infill developments around these principal buildings and the garden has been expanded to the west.


Some 160 years of continuous service imbues considerable Evidential, Historical and Communal Value.


Glamorgan Archives


Skittle alley, Four Elms Hotel, Elm Street

1895 – Architect: Unknown – Developer: E. John

1 plan, no elevations


Shed & Alterations to Hotel, Four Elms Hotel, Four Elms Lane

1897 – Architect: S Williams – Developer: E John


Alterations to Hotel, Four Elms Hotel, Elm Street

1908 – Architect: S Williams – Developer: W Giles


Sign, Four Elms Hotel, Elm Street

1948 – Architect: G R H Rogers – Developer: W Hancock & Co Ltd

Additional images

1880 OS plan showing the Four Elms Pub

1880 OS map (surveyed 1879)

Four Elms photo collage including undated archive photos. Source:


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