“Bessie, there’s flies in here,” complains a regular of The Dyffryn Arms. “Well they’ve followed you in then,” retorts the ballsy landlady. This is just one of the many stories I’ve heard about the quick witted 83-year-old who has run the pub for 64 years after taking it over from her mother-in-law.
The pub, sat at the bottom of the Gwaun Valley in the small village of Pontfaen, is a pub like no other and is like stepping back in time to a period when the term ‘pub’ truly meant ‘public house.’
Entering through the side door of Bessie Davies’ cottage and turning into the main section of the pub, it feels as if you’ve just walked straight into the woman’s living room. The unique pub has been well documented in many publications and when you go to order yourself a pint, you can see why. After realising that not only are you sat in her living room, there is no bar. That’s when you notice the serving hatch in the wall. After giving it a knock, you are greeted by two things; first is Bessie herself, the legendary landlady, and secondly her jug of beer. The Dyffryn Arms, more affectionately known as ‘Bessie’s’ by the locals, is one of the few remaining pubs left in the country that doesn’t pull their pints, they pour them.
Despite the fact that there are five local breweries within a short distance of the pub, the only ale you’ll be served out of her jug is Bass. “I’ve got a selection of bottled beers but I stick with Bass,” says the old girl after she’s poured my pint and has joined me sat by the fire. “You know what you’re getting with Bass.” Despite being one of Pembrokeshire’s oldest landladies, there’s a lot of life left in her and she won’t hesitate to talk your ears off regaling you with tales of her time running the pub.
The pub however, isn’t only famous for serving Bass through a hatch with a jug; it also celebrates New Years on January 13 as it continues the tradition of Hen Galan which follows the old Gregorian calendar. Bessie’s truly is a remarkable piece of the past and is well worth a visit if you’re in West Wales, or fancy a pint of Bass.