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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Morrissey buys Dylan Thomas' local
Neil Morrissey

TV actor Neil Morrissey says he is "very excited" to have bought the pub, which is believed to have inspired famous Welsh writer Dylan Thomas.

The star of Men Behaving Badly bought Brown's Hotel in Laugharne, west Wales, for 670,000 at auction.

The Grade II listed building was put on the market last May by landlord Tommy Watts, but failed to sell.

The pub, which was sold as a going concern, had been expected to sell for 400,000.

I'm very excited to be expanding the business in what I consider to be my second home
Neil Morrissey

Mr Morrissey, who was not at the sale because he had been recording the children's TV series Bob The Builder, was represented by his business partner Matt Roberts.

They already own the Hurst Hotel in the village and the New Three Mariners pub nearby.

Mr Morrissey said on Thursday: "I'm very excited to be expanding the business in what I consider to be my second home."

Mr Roberts spoke to the actor immediately after Wednesday evening's sale.

He said: "He just whooped very loudly, and has now gone dancing in a club in London."

Bidding quickly started at 350,000 before reaching the selling price, which Mr Roberts called "spot on."

The Dylan Thomas connection played a "massive" part, he admitted.

He said: "That's why we moved down here in the first place, it's a very proud moment."

Brown's Hotel
The pub has changed little since Thomas used to drink there

Mr Roberts said they intended to retain the character of the 250-year-old building and described Laugharne as potentially "the biggest tourist attraction in Wales."

More than 300 people packed the Memorial Hall in the village for the sale.

Former owner Mr Watts, 73, told how Thomas regularly watched the pub's clientele to get ideas for his characters in his radio play Under Milk Wood.

"He was always in the corner," he said.

"He would take out a little pad and would write a comment."

Mr Watts, who has owned the pub for more than 30 years, added that the pub had not changed at all since Thomas, who died in 1953, was a regular.

Famous visitors to the inn since have included Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger and Pierce Brosnan.

Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas was inspired by people in Laugharne

But Mr Watts said that there was no special treatment for celebrities.

"Everyone is just treated as normal, they love coming here," he said.

Although born in Swansea, Thomas and his wife Caitlin moved to Carmarthenshire in 1938, raising their family in the Boat House overlooking the estuary.

Estate agent Terry Thomas said Brown's was "an integral part of life for many people in Laugharne".

Mr Watts said he was happy with the price and will stay in the village but he and his wife plan to use some of the money to visit their son and grandchildren in Australia.

His wife Meresa said they planned to throw a party for pub regulars the weekend before they left and all the drink would be on the house.

"They can drink the bar dry," she added.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Matt Roberts, business partner of Neil Morrissey
"Neil is very chuffed and committed to the memory of Dylan Thomas"



SEE ALSO:
'Dylan's pub' up for sale
13 May 03  |  South West Wales
Wreath-laying marks poet's death
08 Nov 03  |  South West Wales
Morrissey hotel work investigated
15 Nov 03  |  South West Wales


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