The Pubs, Shops and Traders of Kerry
Modern day Kerry has but two pubs, a shop/post office and a hairdresser – all situated along the main street. As with most villages of its kind, modern day living and transport allows most people to venture further afield to the larger towns, such as Newtown, in order to do their shopping, meaning less need for local village establishments. At the same time services, such as police and doctors have also centralised into the larger towns.
It wasn’t always the same!
Over the years, Kerry has hosted a much more extensive set of shops, pubs, and local services and traders. Here are a list of the main ones, most of which were based on the main street through Kerry.
North of the Main street, starting from the Reading Room at the Sarn end of the village:
Immediately after the Reading Room, part of the Belle Vue terrace, was the local Police Station. When policing became centralised to Newtown, it ceased to be in active use and reverted to private ownership.
The Kerry Lamb. Previously known as the New Inn and the New Hotel; it is one of the two active pubs in the village, featuring an award winning casual dining restaurant. The original pub dates back to at least the 1770’s, although it was rebuilt in the late 1860’s or early 1870’s.
Sited between the Kerry Lamb, and Forest View used to be one of the village shops, selling groceries and cattle food on delivery.
Another shop, operating in the 1920’s was situated at Rose Hill.
Just before the entrance to the churchyard is Church House, part of which acted as a part time local Doctor’s surgery.. Prior to that it was a pub, which may have had the name of The Bears Head (although this is not documented).
On the north side of the Square, sits the Old School House, operating as the main elementary school for Kerry prior to the new St Michael’s School being built.
To the left of this, the premises currently operating as Nikki’s hairdresser, has previously been a butchers, a fish and chip shop; a café, and a Co-op. It has also been a grocery shop with the name of Hughes. Before that it was a pub called The Talbot, but it switched to being a shop some time before 1835.
Continuing along the street, the shop now known as the Village Stores and Post Office has been in existence since at least the start of the 1900’s, with an associated paraffin store sited opposite, originally run by two ‘starched and stiff’ sisters – the Miss Andrews. Thankfully it’s all a lot more ‘customer friendly’ now!
The current shop forms part of the Boot Pitch run of houses, which included the Boot Inn, thought to have operated from around the 1840’s through to the 1880’s. This property is now known as The Boot.
Behind the Boot Pitch run of houses, in the building featuring an interesting cupola, was the communal wash-house and bake-house, for use by all the Kerry villagers.
A little way further down this street, on the north side, is the Smithy. In the 1901 census, this used to be a working smithy run by Mr Albert Bowen, who lived at The Grapes, which itself had previously been a pub in its own right.
From this point onwards, the houses along the main street all belonged to the Dolforgan Estate, and were occupied by the estate workers. This includes, at the end of the main street, the set of buildings associated with the Kerry Sawmills, which served Dolforgan Hall.
South of the Main Street, heading east towards Sarn:
Ivy House – named Ivy Stores in the 1901 census, believed to be a newsagent, and dressmaking shop.
The Herbert Arms. Originally part of the Dolforgan estate, dating back to the 1700’s and with a close historical connection with Kerry church, this is one of the two currently active pubs in Kerry. Documents dating to 1803 refer to the Herbert as the Sign Inn and Malthouse, it originally had a maltings and brewery building behind it (now converted to residential use).
Further up the south side of the main street, between Common Road and St Michael’s School, is a run of houses originally built by John Naylor of the Brynllwarch estate, which feature the Mitre, another pub operating in the first half of the 1800’s.
Just up from the Mitre is the old Post Office, which operated as such until this role was transferred to its current location on the Square on 30th July 1997.
So, all in all, over the years (and especially during the 1800’s), there have been a grand total of seven pubs, at least six shops of one form or another, a doctor’s surgery, a smithy, a police station, a library (the Reading Room), washroom (which would nowadays be termed a laundrette), brewery, bakery and sawmill.
In addition, according to the occupations listed in the 1901 census, many traders appear to have set up ‘shop’ in their homes providing services including: dressmaker, shoe/bootmaker, tailor and hairdresser