Over the past few years, HaverHub has had a huge impact on Haverfordwest, providing community connection and bringing people from far afield to attend events at the unique venue. We got the lowdown from its founder Gitti Coats.
Just five minutes’ walk from Haverfordwest Railway Station, HaverHub is a hive of community activity by day and by night. From yoga classes to gigs and from hot desking to conferences, it provides a versatile set of spaces in which people can gather, work and play.
It all began seven years ago when Gitti Coats started to think about ways to regenerate Pembrokeshire’s county town. She has lived on a smallholding outside Haverfordwest since the 1990s and used to work as an NLP therapist in the town. Her CV also includes time spent working as a documentary maker for the BBC, so she has an investigative mind coupled with many years’ experience helping people solve problems. Or as she puts it: “I’m very nosy and I love people.”
Nosing around Haverfordwest drew her to the former Post Office site by the river – a huge plot that includes not only the handsome Grade II listed Post Office headquarters with its sorting office, but also two warehouses, including a vast one that used to house 65 post vans.
She immediately saw the site’s potential as a community events venue, and started seeking grants and support to help make this happen. A fellow visionary, Jerry Evans, offered to buy the buildings for the project, leasing the site at a very low rent, and surprisingly quickly, everything started to come together.
“It was a very organic process – every day was unexpected and people were coming out of the woodwork to help,” says Gitti.
A lot of work had to be done, especially on the roof, but what quickly took shape was a community hub offering a café, a hot desk area, four offices for small businesses, a beautiful wood-floored events space in the former sorting office, a vast space for gigs in the large warehouse (now called The Depot) and a bar in the smaller warehouse made with the reclaimed Post Office counter.
Since opening, HaverHub has hosted a broad range of events – and soon it will offer a 400-seater space with removable seating, to accommodate larger gatherings.
“That’s our next ambitious project,” says Gitti. “We got the architects started a couple of weeks ago to come up with a concept for using another derelict, pigeon-infested building at the back of the site that’s been an eyesore in the town for 30 years. It will give us a river entrance and a large events space. It’s a fantastic location.”
She has also obtained a Levelling Up grant that enabled the not-for-profit company that runs HaverHub to buy the buildings from Jerry, giving him his money back and securing the site for the future.
HaverHub continues to be largely volunteer-run, and there’s no underestimating what it’s done to bring the community together and put Haverfordwest on the map as a place to attend events and gigs.
“It’s become a kind of eclectic family for everyone who’s part of it,” laughs Gitti. “We’ve got such a range of people and it’s given me a chance to uplift my nearest town, transform my social life and meet people I would have never met otherwise – and it’s given me my next career, which hopefully will be in regeneration.”
She hopes that as HaverHub grows, more and more people will travel by train to hold or attend events there – and that people will call in when in the town.
“Being so close to the railway station, we’re a really good place to run conferences and other big events,” she says. “You can have use of the whole site with its multiple spaces. We’ve had all sorts of gatherings here – from weddings and wellbeing weekends to events run by public sector and third sector organisations, featuring elements such as round table discussions and stalls.
“We’re very affordable and it’s lovely to have a variety of things happening here – so do get in touch if you’d like to know more!”