Dylan Thomas's Browns Hotel in Laugharne wins grant

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Poet Dylan Thomas's regular watering hole in the Carmarthenshire town of Laugharne is to start a new chapter as a boutique hotel.

Browns Hotel, which has been closed for five years, is to be given a makeover in time for the 100th anniversary of its most famous customer's birth.

The current owner has been awarded £230,000 towards the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed building.

The aim is to return it to how it would have looked in Thomas's 1950s heyday.

Browns was last used as a hotel in 1959 and since it closed as a pub in 2006 has fallen into disrepair.

It forms part of the Dylan Thomas tourism trail in Laugharne.

Although born and raised in Swansea, Thomas and his wife Caitlin settled in the Carmarthenshire town.

Announcing the assembly government funding, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said Browns was "synonymous" with Thomas.

Image caption,
Dylan Thomas was a regular at Browns after he moved to Laugharne

"This grant will help restore Browns Hotel to its rightful place as a historical and tourist attraction," he said.

"I'm sure the newly refurbished hotel will also be a fitting tribute to one of Wales' most well loved artists."

The aim is to create a 15-bedroom hotel with the furnishings and finishes reflecting the 1950s.

The bar will be done out to look like it did when Thomas drank there. Building work is due to start next month with an opening planned for Easter 2012.

The 100th anniversary of the poet's birth falls in October 2014. He died on a visit to New York in 1953.

Heritage agency Cadw has also offered a grant of £62,500 towards structural repairs, including re-roofing and the reinstatement of windows to match the originals.

Browns was briefly owned by a consortium that included actor Neil Morrissey.

Current owner Nigel Short said: "A lot of hard work has gone into this project over the past two years but now thanks to this new funding we can get on with the work of restoring this hotel to its former glory or even better."

A grant of £100,000 is also being given to the Plough at Rhosmaen, near Llandeilo.

It was transformed into a boutique hotel in 2005 and the investment will help build an extra nine rooms.

The grants are from a £47m package of capital investment announced to stimulate the Welsh economy in November 2010.