For sale: the pub Dylan Thomas called home

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The Independent Online

When Brown's Hotel, the legendary drinking haunt of Dylan Thomas, last came on the market, it sparked a bidding war won by the television star Neil Morrissey, who fended off rivals said to include Pierce Brosnan.

But should the former James Bond still be interested, he can have a second shot. Morrissey and his business partners are selling up only two years after purchasing the hotel in Laugharne, south Wales.

Brown's is back on the market along with two other properties in a package valued in excess of £1.5m.

Morrissey, the star of Men Behaving Badly, paid £670,000 for the hotel in 2004 with colleague Matt Roberts and other investors. At that time, they announced plans to turn it into a boutique hotel. But it was left untouched while work proceeded at some of their other investments in the Carmarthenshire town, notably the Hurst House Hotel, which is being tripled in size from eight bedrooms to 24 in a major renovation.

Now some locals fear for the future of the landmark drinking hole, which still attracts legions of Dylan Thomas fans on pilgrimage to sit on the chairs at the table in the snug bar where Thomas and his wife, Caitlin, were once photographed.

Laugharne itself is regarded as the inspiration for the fictional town of Llareggub in the poet's famous play for voices, Under Milk Wood.

One person closely associated with the town, where property prices soared on the back of Morrissey's investment, said: "People are worried about the future of Brown's and what's going to happen to it. It's got lots of Dylan Thomas memorabilia, which they are selling off [with it]. People thought it was going to be looked after but it's for sale only two years after it was up for auction last time."

A spokesman for the Dylan Thomas Centre, which is run by Swansea County Council, said for Thomas fans, Brown's was akin to Sloppy Joe's in Key West, one of the bars frequented by Ernest Hemingway. "The cognoscenti of Dylan Thomas know about Brown's. And anybody looking to buy it will be aware of its connections."

The four-storey hotel, with timber beams, features "Dylan's corner", where the poet used to sit.

A spokesman for King Sturge, which is handling the sale, said there had been strong interest in the property. Brown's is being sold by a best bid process, with all bids due to be received by 12 January.

A spokeswoman for Morrissey said he and Roberts were selling up as part of the streamlining of their business interests but remained committed to Laugharne, where Hurst House will re-open at Easter after its refit. She said: "Neil and Matt are steadfast fans of both Wales and Dylan Thomas, and are both looking forward to the reopening of Hurst House Hotel."

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