It’s a venue that is no stranger to live music – but after being taken over by veteran rockers it’s about to turn up to 11.
The Hanbury has survived the slings and arrows endured by Swansea ‘s Kingsway over the decades, from a time when the street was the centre of the city’s night-time party scene through the difficult years for the country’s high streets and then the pandemic.
Earlier this year Admiral Taverns were advertising for a new licensee to take over the venue, and now the keys have been handed to a couple with who have rubbed shoulders with the likes Def Leppard, been gifted momentos by Guns ‘n’ Roses, and have travelled all over the continent in pursuit of raw punk and heavy rock.
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Jay and Kelly Jones have become the new licensees of the pub which first opened in 1959, and was once the place favoured by white-collared professionals.
And they are planning to create a new live music venue on what is the last pub on the Kingsway.
“We’ve always loved music,” said Jay.
“Kelly’s a rocker, while I love punk music. We’d travel across Europe to see bands in my van. Berlin is my favourite – it has some of the best bars with loads of character.
“One of my best memories of live music, was being on the Def Leppard tour bus in 2015 and walking out on stage in the Motorpoint Arena.
“I owe that memory to Kelly’s friends, who were working on that tour.
“They’ve even been on tour with Guns’n’Roses and gave Kelly a signed drum skin for her 40th birthday. The whole band signed it, other than Axl Rose, who refused. He did give her one of his plectrums though.
“Ironically, we didn’t meet in a rock bar, we actually met in Popworld on Wind Street, 8 years ago.
“But you wouldn’t usually find us there. The Office was more up our street and when it changed owners, we, along with many others, started drinking in The Hanbury instead.
“This place is fantastic. Great music, good beer- it’s a proper pub. It’s owned by the same brewery as our two other pubs in Llantwit Major. We told the brewery that if ever it became available, we’d take it.
“So here we are. Two months in to receiving the keys”.
Landlord Jay is planning to put his carpentry skills to use to build a stage at The Hanbury
(Image: MGB Communications)
With the Kingsway undergoing a dramatic transformation, including a five-storey, £33million building for up to 600 tech jobs on the site of the former Oceana club – plus high rise student accommodation popping up all around the city centre – Jay and Kelly are hoping to be well placed when the last pandemic restrictions lift and life returns to something approaching normal.
The pub has hosted live music before, but now the plans are to convert its derelict first floor, currently home to roosting pigeons, into a live performance venue.
Jay said: “We plan on transforming the pub but will stay true to its roots. The Hanbury is a Swansea institution, and it has a special charm about it, we need to keep hold of that.
“The previous tenants stopped the live music, but we started it up again as soon as we could. We didn’t make much money because we have been restricted by the number of people we could have in here.
“In fact, we lost money sometimes, but we wanted to show we are still supporting live music. It’s been difficult for artists too because they haven’t been able to perform for 18 months. In fact, it was probably good that some weren’t playing to big audiences because they were a little rusty!
“I was a carpenter before becoming a landlord and so one of my first jobs is to build a stage for the pub so we can house great live acts from rock, punk, ska and anything else a bit different.
“The music scene is strong in Swansea with great venues like The Vault Swansea, The Griffin, Swansea, Jack Murphys and The Bunkhouse Swansea, which is the other pub and music venue on The Kingsway. We want to add to that great list.
“As part of the transformation, we’re also creating a craft ale bar, to the left of the main entrance.
“Our long-term plan for the first floor is to convert it into a second live performance venue to house live bands, comedy nights and potentially drag nights.
“This is such an exciting time for us, and we can’t wait to get started properly.”
Just remember, if it’s too loud, you’re too old.
The Hanbury is a member of Swansea BID and is supported by the Big Heart of Swansea.