Our History

The History of the Ship Inn

Originally known as the Little Quay (Cei Bach), the pub served ale to the many sailors who passed through the port. It was later known as the Old Quay, before finally becoming the Ship Inn. At the turn of the 20th century, the Ship Inn was kept by Emma Capon, a single woman, originally from Liverpool, who lived with her brother John and his wife Ellen. The current proprietors, the Kenneally family, have run the pub since 1971.

The original structure is largely unchanged except that the adjoining cottage on the right has now been absorbed into the pub.

About Red Wharf Bay (Traeth Coch)

Traeth Coch (Red Beach in Welsh) is the older of the two names and, according to some accounts, dates back to a bloody Viking battle that took place here in 1170 and left the beach soaked in blood.

The name Red Wharf Bay dates from the 18th century when the bay was an important port – difficult to imagine today as it is such a tranquil place. Records of trading through the port go back to the early 15th century and continue up to the advent of steam power. Small sailing vessels would bring in cargoes from all over the world and many foreign sailors are known to have settled in the area after marrying local girls.

Although the rapid tide changes and shallow waters were a difficult to navigate, experienced sailors could guide large vessels to the excellent natural shelter at the end of the bay.

The main commodity imported was coal, offloaded at four coal yards, one of which was close to the Ship Inn. Exports from Red Wharf Bay included local minerals and grain.

Shipbuilding carried out on a small scale, with eight ships being built here between 1766 and 1840.


Red Wharf Bay witnessed six shipwrecks, the first, the Maria on 26 October 1859, in a severe gale that claimed 223 vessels around the shores of Britain. The Sarah disappeared in February 1873 , the Jane & Ann was wrecked in 1885, and the Rapid wrecked on 30 June 1890, the William in the 1900s and the Salazar, which was abandoned in 1971.

The inevitable demise of Red Wharf Bay as a commercial port

The arrival old steam ships and the railway network gradually reduced the importance and viability of Red Wharf bay as a port and the small wooden sailing ships were seen no more. Today it is frequented only by small yachts that take advantage of the quiet, sheltered harbour mainly during the summer months.