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Future in doubt for The Old Swan

by Ben Davis on 18 June, 2008 | 14 comments

This morning Wrexham County Borough Council revoked their decision to allow The Old Swan to host outdoor live music at the venue. This is due to complaints from neighbouring establishments.

Although The Old Swan will continue to run as a normal pub and small indoor music venue, this effectively will mean the end of the line for of a crucial live music venue in Wrexham, including loss of income for staff, bands and DJs who are involved. Recently, investment has been made into sound proofing the outdoor area with extra drapes to prevent any sound exposure towards nearby businesses and residents.

The Old Swan is an integral part of the Wrexham music scene, and without it’s existence there will be very limited capabilities for the newer musicians and bands to gain exposure and experience before moving onto the larger venues in Wrexham and out of town.

Dave Morait, promoter at the venue says:

“This is a really bad time for this to happen as the venue has grown over the last 2 years to be one of the top live music venues in North Wales.

We are almost fully booked for the summer with nights such as Selectro, Hatespectrum Promotions, Summer Gathering, Funkmode with Hint and John Kennedy, Freak(starts up again at the Old Swan), acoustic special nights, Dont Die Just Yet sessions, Cinema nights, Indie nights, Funk/Soul bands – just about every style of music.

If the music stops completely at the Old Swan, we will end up closing down. We will carry on having DJs and acoustic style artists inside, as we have an indoor entertainment license.”

Wrexham Council chief housing and public protection officer Andy Lewis said:

“Following numerous complaints regarding loud music and anti-social behaviour, the premises were visited by officers.

Officers were satisfied that there had been serious breaches of the premises’ licence, including allowing live music to be played outside.

A letter has been sent to the licensee, outlining their concerns and advising that if there were further breaches they could face prosecution or a review of their licence.”

Click here to add your name to the online petition to keep live outdoor music at The Old Swan

Posted by:

Ben Davis

Email: ben@wrexhammusic.co.uk

Ben is the founder of wrexhammusic.co.uk.


  1. Well it’s clearly not a problem for the council to approve the refurbishment of former club XS right next door, which as far as i remember was several floors of much louder music, which continued much later into the night. Well done Wrexham council…. Maybe showing more support for local music would be more constructive than allowing yet another drinking-hole for over-indulged clubbers.

  2. As it is located right in the middle of Wrexham’s “Clubland”, surely it can be accepted. After all the council continues to grant permission for establishments that produce noise and disruption into the early hours. Any noise problems from The Old Swan are very localised due to the layout of the area and there is certainly no visual impact.

  3. Agreed with Graeme… This problem continues along the high st with the volume at aircraft take off levels. Chequers makes me laugh. How can that place continue to operate in front of the town’s “spiritual” symbol. My interest lies in these student neighbours having a problem with the swan, which finishes at 12, but not the taxi office which must have associated noise of irritant level until 4/5am.

  4. The Old Swan, Abbott St, is an important venue in the musical and creative life of Wrexham. Revoking its outdoor music licence, will be to it and Wrexham`s detriment!
    I find the noise issue an odd reason, it is after all, the town centre…and there are many surrounding establishments (bars and nightclubs) which create just as much noise….that`s what town centres are for..will they too, also have their licences revoked?
    Wrexham has a healthy town centre nightlife, its obvious in that the place is packed every weekend, The Old Swan is the one alternative to all the other mundane `chain` drinking establishments…its a unique pub, run by and for musicians and has been extremely popular for many years as just such a place.
    The interior of the pub is too small to house the type of bands` the pub is known for, so revoking the licence would immediately prevent any of these bands` from being booked.
    This is the only `grassroots level` original music venue in Wrexham, other places have their own agenda`s…cover bands, tribute bands`, whatever…this place allows new and unsigned original talent, to have a stage. Lets reach a compromise and let it continue. We`ll all be worse off if this avenue of creativity is stifled!

    Wrexham residents should be proud of a pub like The Old Swan…and the people who run and patronise such places should be encouraged, not penalised!
    If Wrexham were a city, there would be many such places, as it is these establishments which give a place its character and identity. Just look at The Marquee Club in London, or CBGB`s in New York . Both infamous worldwide…and both closed!! Although I`m not putting The Swan into this category, as a gigging musician, I really appreciate it for its spirit and enthusiasm in giving anything new and original a chance. This is a pub which takes risks and isn`t afraid to buck the trend…and I applaud it for that fact!!
    These are the qualities which make small venues such as The Old Swan desperately important for the lifeblood of any musician needing an open minded creative outlet. The clientele are an arty bunch and prefer to actively create and play / perform their own music than patronise the other more dance orientated bars / clubs Wrexham has to offer.
    I just find it ironic that, after Wrexham Council and The Welsh Music Foundation went to great lengths to establish a rehearsal place at The Victoria Youth Club for young bands` to hone their craft, the only grassroots music venue in town then has its licence revoked!
    Come on Wrexham Council, think this one through!!!!!!

  5. Nice one Wrexham County Council for letting money own decision making and letting your staff put beer and profit before music and culture, yet another case of Wrexham selling its soul to the devil of properly and business development P.s the only thing about Wrexham worth going to is the Old Swan, “THE MUSIC IS AWESOME! THIS TOWN HAS NEVER SEEN THE LIKES OF SUCH PROGRESS IN THE ART OF LIVE MUSICAL ACTS! REMEMBER WHEN WREXHAM WAS JUST A TOWN FULL OF DRUNKS WELL BECAUSE OF THE OLD SWAN THE TOWN HAD MUSIC TOO! VIVA LA OLD SWAN!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    This is my “opinion” it doesn’t mean am right or wrong, all that matters is the impact on the area and how negitive its impact on a great many peoples lives! Come on Wrexham Council, think this one through!!!!!!

    Come on Wrexham Council, think this one through!!!!!!

  6. Pretty poor excuse from the council if you ask me – it’s a small venue in the heart of town surrounded by pubs and clubs.

    Kings Arms,Cross Foxes,The Talbot now The Old Swan – where do we go for decent music now?

    Looks like the Tivoli in Buckley is on it’s last legs too and up for sale – a sad state of affairs all round 🙁

  7. As far as I know this summer was set to be probably the best ever line-up at the Swan. Me and Ross at DDJY! were hoping to put on a few gigs there and we were really excited about the prospect of bringing cutting edge bands to an intimate venue in Wrexham who we’d be stupid to give a headline gig to in a large venue like Central

    There are also of course many other ace nights wanting to do stuff in there and this is a real blow for all music folk in Wrexham

    However, I’m looking on the bright side and I think as soon as this petition is sorted and the council realise how important this place is to people then this issue will be dealt with and the Swan will go back to business as usual!

  8. Does anyone else find it ironic how earlier in the week the Evening Leader ran a front page article about how Wrexham needs an Extreme Cultural Makeover then 3 days later the Swan loses their out door live music licence?

    I believe that this post isn’t giving enough facts! The council wouldn’t just revoke their decision just because of one or two complaints. Instantly I can see everyone is going to blame the new Le tagage…or what ever its called, for this loss but has anyone actually asked themselves could the Old Swan have violated their license……hey its only a thought, but maybe its the Swans fault!

    I’d like to reply to Graeme post about the old Xs music levels……yes when it was a club the levels would have been far more excess but that’s why the newly refurbished building is only allowed to be open till 12 and is not allowed live music inc DJ.

    As a promoter at Central Station i find this a shame as Central Station is too big for local bands the headline…unless on wrexhammusic or redi.

    Could this be another nail in the coffin for Wrexhams cultural scene?….I hope not!

  9. there are other small places for bands to play but none with the atmosphere of the swan
    i’ve only just realised how fun it is to shoot there too with the strong lights
    i can’t see how it will be a problem to get the license with it being in the centre of town especially with some mps supporting to be down with the kids

  10. Come on Wrexham Council.

    There is a whole road of generic bars, and you’re going to take away the one place offering something different??? No wonder Wrexham has such a bad reputation for binge drinking chavs, it appears to be what the council actively encourages! Lets open the new bar in XS’s place (hmmm could this be the “neighbouring establishment”??!), and take away a music licence that provides entertainment, and exposure for local talent??!!!

    Its never been a problem before, for anyone other than this “neighbouring establishment”. I’m thinking there’s something dodgy going on here…

  11. It’s pretty laughable that the council are not happy about ‘anti-social behaviour’ when Liquid and Chicago empty out platoons of pissed-up Neanderthals to knock seven shades of sh*t out of each other on a weekly basis and cost a fortune in policing. I’d love to know the exact details of the complaints lodged too. Surely loud music up until midnight is nothing compared to swarms of Burberry-wearing f*cknuts scrapping over a ropey slapper and a dodgy kebab until all hours? Then again, the council will inevitably receive stacks of dough from these ‘cattle markets’ so will ignore the multitude of problems that they cause for the town. Hypocrisy at its very finest.

    If we lose the Swan, that’s the last bastion of decent music gone (aside from Central of course) and we no longer have a great proving ground for new bands and new nights. And if everyone went out of their way to write a letter to these council clowns, perhaps they would take notice? It couldn’t hurt to put our points across, although I may edit my language down a little for that…

  12. I spoke to the press officer at Wrexham Council yesterday.

    According to them the problem is that the Old Swan never had a license for outdoor music.

    She was utterly unimpressed by any arguments regarding the amount of talent that has cut its teeth in the venue or the amount of good will that the venue has amongst the musical community.

    She mentioned that the complaints about the Old Swan included two regarding incidents of anti-social behaviour. Considering the pub’s location, just how they can attribute anti social behaviour on that street to the Old Swan is beyond me. Especially considering the nature of the other establishments near to it.

    Unfortunately I think it’s going to be very very difficult indeed to get any kind of license for outdoor events in light of the complaints, even if the complainants had vested interests [i.e. came from the other bars / nightclubs on the street — not that the Council said that this was the source of the complaints. They were very tight-lipped.]

    I was trying to get our news room to cover the story but they lost interest the second they realised that the Swan never had a license for outside music events. In our increasingly bureaucratic times, especially when the council and the government like to be see to be stamping down on what they regard as ‘anti-social behaviour’, not having the correct license in the first place is a major own goal.

    The council also mentioned that there is accommodation on the street — student flats! I couldn’t imagine students would complain about noise!

    I haven’t been to the Old Swan for years, but I do know how instrumental it has been in helping develop some of the best bands I get to play on my show. Venues are absolutely key for a healthy music scene [it’s why Wrexham has one, and Mold, for example, hasn’t].

    But the absolute truth of the matter is that a music scene’s most valuable components are the musicians themselves, so, hard as this might be to swallow at the moment, the Old Swan not being able to support bands / promoters anymore needn’t be the death knell of your music scene.

    There has to be a very good case for somewhere in Wrexham to qualify for some kind of Arts Council funding to sponsor a dedicated venue… if anyone has the inclination to follow that up [lots of research and banging on doors, I imagine].

    If there is any help I can give [limited, I know — I’m under no illusions about my influence, or lack of it], do not hesitate to ask.


    Good luck. As a musical community, you have so much to value and be proud of.

  13. I heard that the Swan breeches a number of requirements anyway for a licenced pub and venue.

    No door men despite being open after 11, resulting in glasses and bottles being taken out into the street etc.

    Also im guessing the strong smell of weed that used to be out the back isn’t some novelty air freshener.

  14. Whos tom then,other than an idiot.
    There has been no need for door men at the venue as there is rarely any trouble and as for the so called smell of weed in the place,the old swan is just as strict on drugs as anywhere else.
    Anyone caught doing or with drugs at the old swan will be banned instantly.
    Your the one who obviously has no respect for the place,so keep your pethetic remarks to your self,idiot.

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