House owner and restorer Geoff Haden grew up in the Swansea suburbs around The Uplands and played as a child in Cwmdonkin Park, and has, for over twenty years, run Clyne Farm Centre - an activity and accommodation centre situated on one of the seven hills overlooking the "…long and splendid curving shore…" of Swansea Bay.
When we took the house on it was rather like a run down student bedsit and as we uncovered more it got no better! We have photographs from that time - before we started stripping away paint and wallpaper to reveal the original colours.Geoff Haden, owner & restorer
As a chartered structural engineer Geoff has been involved in the restoration of a number of historic and listed buildings. He manages the day to day running of the house, conducts personal house tours as well as guided tours to Dylan's haunts in Uplands, Swansea, Mumbles, Gower and Carmarthenshire. He has given talks on the house and Dylan's early life in this country and abroad.
Geoff reluctantly classes himself as 'mature in years' but is never reluctant to share and celebrate the restoration of the Edwardian suburban house at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive which has been a 'labour of love'. When asked why he restored the rapidly decaying house the structural engineer very quickly answers "…because I'm mad - mad about Dylan's writings and mad that I didn't have the chance to restore the house sooner!"
Working alongside Geoff is Matthew Hughes, Matthew is based at No.5 from Monday to Friday carrying out house tours, marketing duties, organising events and handling enquiries. He insists that the birthplace feels almost like a ‘second home’ to him.
Growing up in Laugharne, with its strong associations with Dylan Thomas, Matthew developed an interest in the poet whose name he had seen emblazoned on street signs across the ancient township throughout his childhood.
With a background in Marketing , PR and hospitality he was eager to get involved with 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. He explained
“I have seen the popularity of the Boathouse in Laugharne with visitors and have wondered why the Birthplace has been neglected for so long? It is my aim to promote Geoff’s incredible work in restoring and preserving this important house as well as Dylan's legacy and see No.5 featured prominent on the trail for a Dylan Thomas enthusiast.”
As Dylan said...’Begin at the beginning’