Newtown, Mid Wales v Wetherspoons
As in many towns throughout the land, an ancient pub has been bought up by a huge chain. In Newtown, a rural market town in Mid Wales where Wales Cottage Holidays’ office is in the main street, it’s Wetherspoons who have acquired the Black Boy Hotel - named after the soot covered boys employed by chimney sweeps to climb up chimneys.
The Grade II listed C17th pub is being refurbished before reopening in May and the pub chain decided to rename it to the Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, last prince of an independent Wales back in the Middle Ages. This may all seem fairly normal practice but the decision has led to an outcry by townsfolk who wanted a famous local person to provide the name instead. While Llywelyn ap Gruffydd has strong connections with Montgomeryshire (he built Dolforwyn Castle above Abermule a few miles north of town in 1273-77), many locals here want to keep the old name, or at least for it to be strongly associated with Newtown itself.
So now Wetherspoons have agreed that readers of local newspaper, The County Times, are to choose the name. Newtown’s most famous son is Robert Owen, philanthropist, social reformer and one of the founders of the co-operative movement, who had been a draper’s assistant in his youth. Other names on the short list of seven are the local Kerry Hill sheep whose wool made Newtown famous in the C19th, the former flannel exchange and Thomas Penson, who designed the town's Longbridge over the River Severn. The winning name is expected to be announced by the middle of March - will keep you posted!
2015 Update: After a long consultation process the name for the Wetherspoons in Newtown is....... The Black Boy! As the saying goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'!