There were few mod cons in Brown's Hotel when it was taken over as a pub and family home by the O'Toole family in the early 1960s. Despite its former status as a hotel, the building had only one flush toilet. It was a challenging move by Dubliner Michael O'Toole, one remembered well by son Terry who still lives just outside Laugharne in the village of Broadway.
Terry said: "The whole place had one bathroom and one proper toilet. Women visitors used the family's flush toilet on the first floor. The men, however, used a storm drain outside the back door – back in the 60s this was acceptable. We later installed up-to-date gents' facilities."
Another striking feature was the colour scheme. Terry said: "We took it on from the area's big Williams family and it was all painted the same colours as the Pioneer buses they ran from Laugharne – dark blue and cream. That included the staircase, the bathroom, the toilet and the bedrooms.
"The bar was on the right as you walked in off King Street but if you turned left you'd enter the Commercial Room. I believe the name was a throwback to earlier decades when cattle market auctioneers completed transactions there."
As it happens, the O'Tooles, who kept The Brown's until 1970, may never have run the pub thanks to a fruitless meeting with Ebie Williams who had taken it on with wife Ivy in 1934. Terry said: "It was for sale in the early 60s so one Saturday evening I went there with my father and elder brother Jonny. Ebie was alone there, by the fire with his trilby, scarf and coat. We bought half a pint of beer each and I said: 'Mr Williams, I believe you're selling the hotel.' He said: 'That's right.' I said: 'Do you mind telling me who the agents are?' He said: 'Well, yes, we are selling the Brown's Hotel - but not to you.' I said: 'Any particular reason?' He said: 'No, but you're not having it.' We left without drinking the beer but six months or so later my father did buy the hotel."