Dylan Thomas is now a notable poet, writer and broadcaster, born in Swansea in 1914. But during his writing career, he was regularly broke, and struggled to make a living as a writer.
For four years of his life, he spent time living in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire in Wales. He lived with his wife, Caitlin, and his family, from 1949 until 1953.
The boat house overlooks the Taf Estuary. Walking along what used to be known as Cliff Road, you come across a rather nondescript shed. Easy to dismiss, if it wasn’t for its links to Dylan.
The shed was where Dylan would spend his time writing. He would walk down Cliff Road, now renamed Dylan’s Walk, and spend his afternoons writing his poems, regularly redrafting, rewriting and working away on his poetry and broadcasts. It offered him beautiful views over the water, where he could regularly see birds hunting their pray. He even wrote a poem about this, titled ‘Over Sir John’s Hill’. From his view, across the water, he could see Sir John’s Hill.
Now, the house is owned by Carmarthenshire County Council. Regularly opened as a museum to the public, the boat house still houses some of Dylan’s original furniture. This includes Dylan’s fathers desk. His writing desk, however, would have been in the writing shed. After his funeral, some of the items in the shed were taken away, including the writing desk he used.
The interior of the house is redecorated to feel as though you were walking in to what life was like in the 1950s. As you walk, listen to a recording of Dylan’s voice.
Walking out of the parlour room, you are greeted with more views of the estuary. Now, walking around the side of the house, you can take a walk down to an outside seating area, where the boat house now offers a tea room. Enjoy coffee, taste the scones with ham and cream, and look out over the water. Dogs are welcome here, too.
I would suggest going to the tea rooms at the end of your visit, because you should take the opportunity to explore upstairs, too.
Upstairs, the boat house would have been Dylan’s bedrooms, but now they are dedicated to Dylan’s life, with exhibits on display.
Included in the exhibits are hand written letters by Dylan, sent to his agent and friends. One letter details how he is broke, and he needs the support of his friend to clarify his attempt to achieve funding from the literature council. He also writes to his agent about his redrafting.
Dylan would spend time in London and America, usually in America for tours of his work. He would get paid for this, but returning home would always bring the pressure of his debts crashing back into his life. The picturesque scenery makes you wonder what life would really have been like inside those walls. Stressful, or relaxing?
Adult entry costs £4.50, so this definitely an affordable attraction. If you appreciate literature, or are a fan of Dylan Thomas, then this is a must visit.
Laugharne as a whole is worth a visit. The boat house is only a five minute walk away from the town. In that town is Brown’s, a pub and hotel, and a regular haunt of Dylan’s.
Let me know if you go!