by David Sutton
The 'Boot and Shoe' public house stands adjacent to Kidwelly's town wall and southern Gatehouse. The walls were built to protect the borough around 1280-81 as the result of a grant of murage from the king, Edward I, to Patrick de Chaworth, the lord of Kidwelly. The gatehouse was built about 1300 and consisted of a ground floor and two upper stories. It contained the shire-hall and a prison. In 1403 the gatehouse was burnt and badly damaged, when Henry Dwnn leading Owain Glyn Dwr's army of local Welshmen and French allies, attacked Kidwelly.
The present building was in existence before 1800 and the owner of the 'Boot and Shoe' at the time was a man called John Thomas. In 1801 he leased from Kidwelly Corporation, "A piece of land and old wall on the north side of the bailey gate adjoining to the end of the dwelling house of said John Thomas called boot and shoe, upon part whereof the said John Thomas had lately erected a cellar and upon another part thereof he had lately rebuilt a pigstye and then repaired another in ruins. Also a spot of land or garden 43ft. in length and 40ft in breadth." The 'Boot' would seem to date from about 1770 to 1790, starting its life as a dwelling house. A report from the borough records indicates that it was in use as a public house by 1816 or earlier. The report stated that the "Pistle or water spout and receiver of water at the back of the house called the 'Boot and Shoe' is dangerous to horse and foot passengers." The source of this water was the stream called Bushey Lake which had once fed the castle moat, ran down a ditch on the western side of Water St. and Ditch Street (present day New Street). Old photographs show the stream as late as 1910. A conduit ran off the stream opposite the 'Boot' feeding the drinking trough. The old pump still standing outside the pub may well have been fed from the same source.
The pub is included in a list of inns licensed by the borough in 1836 when the license was in the name of Mary Thomas. In 1849 Margaret Thomas was listed as licensee, while from 1891 to 1906 Thomas Gower held the license.
In 1866 an important development took place. The Wesleyan Methodists acquired land near the town bridge to build a new chapel. The area had held the town's cattle pound, however, a new site was found for it just below the 'Boot' where a weekly livestock mart was held. There is no doubt that this development was welcomed, by the licensee of the “Boot and Shoe”.