Light show marks 50 years of the Dragon
IT'S been at the heart of the city for the past 50 years — and now one of Swansea's most well- known businesses has turned itself into a light show to mark its half century.
The Dragon Hotel at the end of The Kingsway has kicked off its 50th birthday celebrations with a happy birthday message to itself, using the lights from some of its 106 bedrooms to display the magic figure to passers-by.
The landmark hotel, which opened to the public in 1961, was one of the first major developments to be created post-war in the city centre, at a cost of more than £500,000, and still boasts several loyal members of staff who have worked there since shortly after it opened 50 years ago.
General manager of The Dragon Hotel Tim Priestland said: "We are very excited to be reaching this landmark birthday and we hope that this will evoke the people of Swansea who have shared weddings, birthdays, work parties and many other occasions with us to think back to the fun times that they have had at The Dragon Hotel.
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"To have reached our 50th birthday, and to once again be operating as an independent hotel is a real achievement, and can only be attributed to the sheer hard work, enthusiasm and commitment of our staff over the past 50 years, and the fondness held for the hotel by the public who have really taken it into their hearts.
"We strongly believe that there is a great future for The Dragon Hotel as we look forward to celebrating our 50th birthday year and many more years to come with the people of Swansea."
After first opening, the hotel quickly become one of the most popular places to stay in the city and a favourite destination for people dining out in style.
It closed in 1989 for a major £3.1 million refurbishment, which included a new health suite, restaurant and indoor swimming pool, although the planned six-month closure overran to 20 months after the unexpected discovery of asbestos in the building.
It reopened with a four-star rating, but its new name, The Forte, was criticised by civic leaders and the Wales Tourist Board for its lack of Welsh identity.
Owners Trusthouse failed to revive the glory years, and sold the business in 2002, when it took the name The Holiday Inn.
And it was sold again in 2005.
New owners, London and Devonshire Trust, returned it to its much-loved and recognised name of The Dragon Hotel. It still possesses the original iconic dragon that was exhibited in the foyer.
Russell Greenslade from Swansea Bid said: "The Dragon Hotel has always been a very active member and stalwart for the city centre business community since it's opening in 1961. We look forward to working alongside them in the future as we wish them continued success for many years to come."