Dylan Thomas's favourite schoolboy haunt to be restored for centenary

A Victorian park which inspired the poetry of Dylan Thomas is to get a new year makeover in time for the Welsh bard's centenary.

As a giant of 20th-century poetry, Thomas and his name are synonymous with Cwmdonkin Park more than 50 years after his death.

He was born at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, in Swansea, a stone's throw from the park which would become a favourite schoolboy haunt.

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Half of his poetry, including the celebrated The Hunchback in the Park, was written at the childhood home which overlooks it.

Now the grade II listed park, containing a memorial to Thomas's poetry, is to undergo a three-year redevelopment. An 820,000 cheque from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help pay for the restoration programme. Work is scheduled to finish in 2014, the year of the centenary of Thomas's birth.

Opened in 1874 in the city's Ffynone conservation area, the public park is one of the oldest in Wales.

These days it attracts thousands of tourists to the popular Dylan Thomas Trail which takes in his childhood home.

Swansea Council will use the cash from the fund to help restore the park's Victorian amenities, such as its unique cockleshell path and bowls pavilion.

Volunteers are needed to support a Friends of Cwmdonkin Park group, for everything from gardening to walks and poetry sessions.

Councillor Graham Thomas said: "Dylan Thomas is Swansea's most famous son and Cwmdonkin Park is one of the locations in the city that's synonymous with the poet.

"It's therefore very fitting that plans are in place to revamp the park in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth, and I'm delighted we've received such a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"The revamp will not only commemorate a man who put Swansea on the world stage but it will also give the people of Swansea an enhanced environment for recreation and relaxation."

Dan Clayton Jones, who chairs the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, said: "This award brings our total investment across Wales to well over 25m."