The Blue Anchor Inn was established in 1380, making it possibly one of the oldest pubs in Wales. At that time the Inn was a focal point for the then thriving trading port of Aberthaw. The name of the Inn was derived from the distinctive blue marl (mud) which coated the anchors of the vessels that sailed the channel and anchored at Aberthaw.
Aberthaw was once a more important port than those nearby at Cardiff and Barry, and was even busy enough to justify a Customs & Excise presence. Evidence of the diverse trading that took place was the presence of a tobacco drying shed, hinting at possible trade with the American colonies.
In bygone times the port of Aberthaw was synonymous with smuggling. The Cardiff Customs House records of the year 1735 detail an account of a seizure of rum at Aberthaw involving a drunken smuggler, a chase by Customs Officers by boat at first, and then later on horseback. The smuggler, who was carrying a cask on his back, was eventually overhauled. A much earlier reference to smuggling at Aberthaw comes from an order given in 1387 (some seven years after the Blue Anchor was established) from the Crown to the Mayor of Bristol, directing that the Mayor investigate English smugglers running goods into Aberthaw, Penarth and Cardiff.
Local rumours down the years abound of a secret tunnel linking Aberthaw Bay with the Blue Anchor, down which all manner of contraband might have been transported. Unfortunately no such tunnel has ever been found to back up these rumours.
The Blue Anchor was part of the Fonmon estate until 1941, when it was acquired by Bill Coleman, Bill eventually passed it on to his son John and when John retired in 1987 his two sons (the current owners) Jeremy and Andrew Coleman took over. Jeremy’s son Richard is also working in the family business, becoming the fourth generation of Colemans to do so since the family took on the Blue Anchor, 74 years ago.
Although now in his late 80s, John Coleman is still active, growing some of the fresh fruit and vegetables that feature in the highly regarded restaurant and bar cuisine. John still enjoys a pint and a chat, and can be found in the main bar on most nights.
Apart from a forced closure in 2004 (due to a serious fire which destroyed the thatched roof) the Blue Anchor Inn has traded almost continuously as a public house since 1380.
The blue anchor has also been a popular location for film shoots over the years. It was featured in the ITV series "Great Pubs of Wales" presented by John Sparks in 2008. Most recently, 2010 the Hollywood blockbuster "Killer Elite" with Robert De-niro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham and in late 2010 the BBC documentary "Coast" when it rained for most of the shoot.