Photo of former Royal Exchange 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

51 The Royal Exchange (former)


1887 on the site of an earlier public house


145 Cowbridge Rd E, Cardiff CF11 9AH

Download site boundary plan.




The Royal Exchange occupies the site of a former Inn called The Barley Mow.

At the time of the tithe map survey in 1846, the site of the Royal Exchange was recorded as cottages and gardens owned by the Chapter of Llandaff. The tapering site can be seen with buildings to the north-east corner, defined by a lane leading from Cowbridge Road (today North Morgan Street).

The earliest newspaper reference to the Barley Mow is made in April 1852, occupied by William Thomas. By April 1854, the premises are advertised to let:

‘To be let and entered upon immediately, that well-accustomed double licenced public house called the Barley Mow Inn, Canton, half a mile from Cardiff Glamorganshire. The premises consist of House, Stable, Brewery, Garden, and about four acres of land. Satisfactory reasons will be given for the present tenant leaving. Apply on the premises, or to Wm. Thomas Salutation Inn, Cardiff; or to Mr W. Williams, 40 High Street, Newport.’

The premises were again advertised for let in August 1870.

Arrangement of the Barley Mow Inn can be seen within the OS map of 1880 (surveyed 1887). It occupies the corner of Cowbridge Road (east) and North Morgan Street, with a courtyard to the rear surrounded by service buildings – presumably the stable and brewery mentioned in 1854. There is a row of buildings to the west fronting Cowbridge Road. In September 1854, these are described as:

‘…three substantial and well-built dwelling houses and premises…adjoining the Barley Mow Public House, consisting of 5 rooms, and having an excellent walled garden attached to each; held on lease under Captain Morgan, for the unexpired term of 98 years.’

The remainder of the empty block appears to be open land with trees and pathways, presumably consists of those four acres noted in 1854. It is unclear what the group of four buildings to the south are, though a sawmill in ‘Barely Mow Lane, Canton’ owned by the Slip Sawmills Company Ltd was reported in 1888 and 1893.

In 1885, plans are submitted for reconstruction of the Barely Mow Inn, to designs of the renowned architect JP Jones.¹ This new establishment was built in 1887 and called The Royal Exchange. It can be seen within the OS map of 1915, occupying the same corner location as its predecessor. The wider area is also wholly developed by this date, including the site of those former buildings to the rear yard.

An extension was made to the lavatories in 1954, when the building was owned by Bass Radcliffe & Gretton Ltd.

It is currently unclear when the Royal Exchange closed its doors, but it was Robin’s Bar and Diner in 2008, KC’s Bar in 2009, U Diner Oriental Cuisine in 2012, Sultan Grill House in 2014, Dubai Nights in 2017, Thai Smile in 2019, and Dubai Night in 2020.

All the timber sash windows were lost between October 2009 and August 2011.


¹ John Price Jones (1851-1893) was responsible for a number of notable buildings in Cardiff including GII* Howells Department Store (part), GII Royal Bank of Scotland Building in Bute Street, GII 10 Mount Stuart Square, GII Market Buildings at 5-7 St Mary Street, The GII Listed Borough Public House, GII Royal Hotel St Mary Street, GII Elgin House in St Mary Street, GII High Street Arcade (with T Waring), GII warehouses at 10 and 11 Mill Lane, GII Wyndham Arcade and many more unlisted buildings in the city.


The Royal Exchange is a prominently located, 3-storey former public house located on the corner of Cowbridge Road East and North Morgan Street. It is formed of coursed pennant stone and richly decorated with Bath stone dressings.

The principal entrance is to the corner, with a wide architrave surround. A secondary entrance to the east is double width, framed by colonettes supporting a segmental head with foliate relief carving and an oversized keystone.

Bays to the principal elevations are distinguished by tiered plain stone pilasters which climb the full height of the building.

Windows have colonette stone mullions with foliate capitals and bases, supporting arched window heads. There are double-height, tripartite bow oriel windows to the upper north and east elevations, an arrangement also reflected within the prominent corner. Outer bays to both elevations have paired windows.

There is a stone gable (with carved lettering and foliate acroterion) topping the prominent corner. Roof is pitched and slated, with hip to the corner and gable ends. There are pitched and rounded hips to the semi-circular oriel windows. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

Later, single storey additions almost completely fill the site to the rear.

All original sash windows have been lost, the majority replaced with uPVC between October 2009 and August 2011


A prominently located and richly decorated former public house designed by one of Cardiff’s most esteemed architects. Considerable Aesthetic and Historical Value.

There was a public house on the site since at least 1852. The Royal Exchange was constructed in 1887. Despite closing in the later-C20, over a century of service imparts considerable Communal Value.


Glamorgan Archives


Rebuilding of the Barley Mow, Barley Mow, Cowbridge Road

1885 – Architect: J P Jones – Developer: Mrs Drysdale

1 Plan, no Elevations


Rebuilding of Workshops, Barley Mow Lane (unclear where this is – possibly canton)

1893 – Architect: Unknown – Developer: Mr Hill

1 Plan, No Elevations


Extension to Lavatories, The Royal Exchange Hotel, Cowbridge Road

1954 – Architect: n/a – Developer: Bass Radcliffe & Gretton Ltd.

1 Plan, including Elevations

Additional images

1880 OS map showing the former Royal Exchange pub Cardiff

1877, published 1880. Cardiff – Glamorganshire XLIII,14-10


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