Former Swan Hotel, Abergavenny

Link to French translationFormer Swan Hotel, Cross Street  

Drawing of Swan HotelThe earliest written record of this building, then named the New Swan, is dated 14 January 1829, when the Society of Tradesmen and Gentlemen Farmers was formed there. There is a record of a Henry Baker as owner of The Swan in 1680 – but there was also a White Swan at the top of this street.

In Victorian times the hotel’s ballroom was used for dances, including an annual ball to raise funds for the Abergavenny races. In 1874 two MPs and industrialist Crawshay Bailey, High Sheriff of Monmouthshire, were among the c.100 people at the races ball. The hotel was the venue for a “grand polo ball” in 1882.

The Abergavenny Bicycle Club made the hotel its headquarters. When the club staged a 50-mile race in October 1892, the route started and finished at the Swan, taking in Crickhowell and Raglan. There was a strong westerly wind, and only five riders finished the race, including one on solid tyres! The other riders “were hopelessly out of it”, commented the press.

Swan Hotel keeper Henry Webberley went bankrupt in 1876 and was sent to Usk jail, despite having a wife and “a lot of children” at home in Frogmore Street. He later absconded, leaving his wife destitute. The guardians of the local workhouse granted her 7s 6d per week.

Old photo of Swan HotelDuring the Second World War, American troops took over the Swan Hotel, which was bigger then than now. The large ballroom stretched out towards Priory (Beili) Lane at the rear. This had to be supported on special pillars because of the number of people using it. At the end of the war, compensation was paid to the owners and the inn was sold. The new owners decided to remove the supporting pillars and the ballroom collapsed!

The hotel’s lower floor was at risk of flooding from the Cibi Brook and Gavenny River until a rebuilding after a major flood in the early 1930s. This raised the floor level and made the steps up to the front entrance that you can see today. The new frontage was further south than the original, whose remnants include an arch inside and a window aperture in the former dining room.

The hotel closed in 2016 and was refurbished for new occupants, including Lucy Hockey Hair Studio on the ground floor.

With thanks to Gill Wakley, of Abergavenny Local History Society

Postcode: NP7 5ER    View Location Map

Website of Lucy Hockey Hair Studio

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