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Construction work uncovers hidden 1980s Swansea bar

Images from today inside the former Cavalier bar in Swansea city centre. Pic: Swansea Council

Regeneration work in Swansea city centre has uncovered a lively former life of a building that’s set to have a bright future.

Work by Swansea Council at the former BHS and What! store – to create a public community hub with main library and other key public services – has brought back memories of some colourful 1980s nightlife.

Credit: Swansea Council

Above the expansive building’s former Miss Selfridge store remains what’s left of the Cavalier bar.

Credit: Swansea Council

Its décor and some of its old items offer a throwback to how drinkers enjoyed visits there more than three decades years ago.

There’s a fancy, hand-painted entrance sign, cavern-like seating areas, a Corona lemonade bottle on the bar, a bottle of sweet vermouth Martini Rosso – and a poster publicising which horseracing fixtures are due at Bangor, Hereford, Ludlow and Worcester in 1988.

How Swansea city centre’s new community hub could look. Pic: Swansea Council

Council cabinet member Elliott King said: “We have a great future planned for this large building right at the heart of the city centre.

“It’s also interesting that our work there has revealed some unexpected social history from the building’s past – the old Cavalier – in a small part of the structure.

“Cabinet colleagues have some recollections of who owned and managed the bar – but I’d be really interested for the people of Swansea to let us have their memories using #SwanseaCavalier on social media.”

It’s thought that the Cavalier was known as The Penthouse at one stage and that Miss Selfridge had once been Richard Shops. Entry to the bar was up a stairwell behind a large wooden door facing onto Princess Way.

The former Cavalier and the rest of building are now secured for safety reasons. Main construction work to convert the building is due to start in the coming weeks – and the hub is due to open in 2024.

The community hub is part of the council’s £1bn regeneration programme that continues to forge ahead.

It will be a big help to the public who wish to access key public services, featuring council and community services, including the West Glamorgan Archive Service.

The hub will be located next to the planned new Castle Square Gardens which is out to consultation ahead of consideration for planning approval.

It will reinvigorate an existing building, bring together key support services into a single accessible location and will boost footfall for city centre businesses.