Regulars at a popular pub say its impending closure feels like "the heart being ripped out" of the community. The Buccaneer, which has traded on Porthcawl's seafront for decades, will serve its final pint on Sunday — prompting concerns from some locals that the town is losing its hubs for working-class people.

Landlady Michelle Grbac described the Buccaneer as a "spit and sawdust pub". It hosts popular live music on weekends, it has a jukebox and pool table, it charges £3 for a pint, and it does not serve food. Mrs Grbac, who took over the lease seven years ago, was recently told the building had been sold and that the boozer would have to close.

It is not clear what will become of the Mackworth Road site but some customers see the loss of the Buccaneer as a blow to working-class culture in Porthcawl, which made its name in the early 20th century as a holiday destination for mining families. The town's once-thriving Coney Beach amusement park, which opened in 1918, will close in the next few years to make way for a regeneration scheme including housing, shops, a primary school and "leisure opportunities".

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Dave Morgan, 72, said: "The Buccaneer is a centre for music and entertainment in Porthcawl. It feels like the heart is being ripped out of the community. People want to go out, watch good-quality bands, have a few beers and enjoy themselves. When these places disappear, there will be plenty of places that cater for the moneyed middle-class, but not for people who haven't got lots of money at their disposal."

Mrs Grbac, 63, said the town has fewer affordable places to socialise than in years gone by. "There was a time when a lot of people wouldn't go to the Buccaneer because of snobbery, and 10 years ago I would have been one of them. I thought I was a little bit up from the Buccaneer. But it was my friend's pub, and after I got divorced I pretty much fell into taking it over. I'm a different person from when I came in. I have seen such a community of people helping each other and now they feel a bit lost, thinking: 'What are we going to do?'"

The Buccaneer in Porthcawl, pictured on Monday, April 1, 2024
People at the pub on Easter Monday

The landlady gave the example of a man who regained confidence by spending time at the pub after his wife's death. "A few people close to the Buccaneer have passed tragically, and I was amazed by how people came together and even did fundraising. They are really good people here."

Buccaneer customer Stuart Williams said the building dates back to the 1930s when it was Sidoli's ice cream parlour. By the time Mr Williams moved to Porthcawl as a teenager in 1967, it was a pub called the Rising Sun and there was a nightclub upstairs called the Pagoda Rooms. "Eventually it became the Buccaneer," he said. "A lot of people still use it — it's packed — so for the owner to take a business away at the start of the summer season, instead of in October or November, is a bit strange."

The building that houses the Buccaneer was once an ice cream parlour
The building that houses the Buccaneer was once an ice cream parlour

Mr Williams, a retired fingerprint photographer for South Wales Police, was instrumental in the Buccaneer becoming a buzzing spot for gigs. "About five years ago the landlady Michelle said, 'Stu, I want to do live music but I haven't a clue how to do it.' I said, 'Leave it to me.' I'd been in local bands for 35 years so I got in touch with all my mates. When I ran out of mates there were other people getting in touch wanting to play, and it took off like a rocket."

The pub, which has capacity for about 100 people, gives local musicians the platform of what is often a full house. "For the farewell day on Sunday, one of the singers that comes in, Bethany Williams, has pulled together a load of her mates, and they're going to do something like a half-hour spot each from 1pm," said Mr Williams.

A remnant of the Buccaneer's past
A remnant of the Buccaneer's past as Sidoli's ice cream parlour

Mrs Grbac said Porthcawl's pubs struggled through the winter amid the cost of living and energy bills crises. She had expected a busy spring and summer for the Buccaneer before learning it would have to close. She suspects the site could sit empty for an extended period before being taken over by an "upmarket" pub chain like the Slug and Lettuce. "I'm going to have a couple of holidays and take the time to rest," she said.

Bridgend council's vision to regenerate Porthcawl includes a 200 metre-long seaside park and a "luxury spa hotel", which you can read more about here.