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But 30 years ago his role in uncovering the world of Thomas was somewhat different - he was digging up his boathouse gate.

Sheen, who grew up in Wales, and his friends Charley and John Uzzell Edwards had spotted it on the beach below the Laugharne Boathouse where the poet spent the last four years of his tragically short life (the Swansea-born poet died in New York in 1953, aged just 39).

Now, on September 6 that very gate is to be offered among 60 lots of Thomas memorabilia in a sale at Welsh auction house Rogers Jones to mark the centenary.

Charley Uzell Edwards said he and his late father and Mr Sheen were walking along the top of the hillside 'on a jolly boys' day'. He added: "We were looking down and saw the gate a fling's distance away from the boathouse. We weren't really dressed for it and Michael and I got pretty muddy salvaging it.

"I can only assume that when it was replaced sometime and the old one was simply discarded on the beach. We got it home in the car, cleaned it up and put it in the garden with a mirror behind it.

"My dad had a photo of Dylan Thomas standing in front of the gate outside the boathouse, so we knew it was the actual one."

After wrestling it out of the mud, the gate became a feature of the Uzell Edwards' Carmarthenshire garden. Now it is mounted on a board for display as an artwork.

Mr Uzzell Edwards is the owner of the Pure Evil Gallery of graffiti art in London's Shoreditch. His late artist father John, who died in April, was a well-known Welsh contemporary artist.