The Story of Cap Goch

It is thought that the New Inn owned by the notorious Cap Goch (Red Cap) was situated on the Laleston side of the River Ogmore. The Inn no longer exists today as it was demolished around eighty years after his death. It was initially thought that Cap Goch died peacefully at the age of ninety but evidence has come to light confirming he was actually hung on Stalling Down, near Cowbridge of the charge of stealing a single sheep. Not much is known about Cap Goch’s life other than his involvement in crime as his real name seems to be a mystery.

Below is the story of Cap Goch as told by Alun Morgan

This is a true story but it is so macabre that it has become a legend.

The New Inn was well situated with an eye to business. It stood in a little hollow on the track that led from Bridgend to Merthyr Mawr not far from the main road (the by-pass today). The main road stopped at Ogmore River and the passengers on the stage coaches from the west had to alight, cross over at the ford and catch another coach at Ewenny for London. (The main bridge at Bridgend was not built until 1825). Because if the break in the road, most travellers went by foot or on horseback. Many of these were packmen, with or without a mule, carrying valuable merchandise such as flannel, wool, skins and stockings (Bridgend was then the centre of the South Wales wool and stocking industry). The New Inn was a natural stopping place for these journeymen and many of them went there expecting a pleasant night’s sojourn. None of them suspected that the night was to be their last on earth. 

The licencee of the inn was known as Cap Goch form the head gear he wore. Having been to France and in sympathy with the French Revolutionary movement, he insisted on wearing the red stockinet cap of the so-called freedom fighters. Very powerful, looking like a country yokel with his grey eyes, red hair and bland face, he nevertheless managed to attract around him a gang of smugglers and outlaws. These men made frequent forays along the main road, picking off the odd lone traveller, but their richest harvest gleaned within the inn itself.

Suspicion fell on the inn first when bodies were discovered at the mouth of the River Ogmore. The finding of these bodies always seemed to coincide with the disappearance of packmen. But there were no police in those days, and suspicion remained conjecture. Cap Goch and his confederates waxed richer and richer, the goods of the murdered travellers finding a ready market among the people of the town. The mysterious disappearances went on for many years until, legend has it, Cap Goch died peacefully in 1820 at the age on ninety, a busy and lucrative life completed. Historical fact however, shows that he was hanged on Stalling Down, near Cowbridge, on the charge of stealing a sheep. A few years later the main bridge was constructed in the town centre and the purpose of the New Inn was lost. It fell into decay, crumbling away in its wooden dell.

An ancient bridge crosses the  river near where the inn had been situated; it is now known as the Merthyr Mawr Dipping Bridge.*

Early this century the dilapidated remains of the inn were demolished completely and then the truth came to light. A cave was found near the kitchen and in it were the remains of some booty Cap Goch and his murderous thugs had gained. The garden was then dug up and it was found that bodies had been buried there in twos and threes at every conceivable spot. In one grave several skeletons were unearthed. The search continued beyond the confines of the house to reveal many more corpses, even in the fields some distance away, Obviously Cap Goch had heeded rumours over the finds in the Ogmore River and disposed of his victims in a safer place - safe enough for his guilt not to be proved until eighty years after his death. 

*The Merthyr Mawr Dipping Bridge or New Inn Bridge, was built during the 15th century long before the time of The New Inn. The holes in the parapets were used for pushing sheep into the river to clean their wool. Nowadays in the summer months the bridge is used by people from all over the area who enjoy swimming and jumping off the bridge into the water.*

The Legends of Porthcawl and the Glamorgan Coast
Author:  Alun Morgan 
Illustration: Margaret Wooding 
Image: Merthyr Mawr Dipping Bridge

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