100 days in Cardiff – Peerless Jim Driscoll

We Are Cardiff contributor Jeremy Rees is recording his days in and around Cardiff with 100 photographs of local points of interest. We’ll be publishing some of them here on We Are Cardiff – and make sure you tune in to Jeremy as he presents the Saturday Soulful Breakfast on Radio Cardiff!

Peerless Jim Driscoll

peerless jim driscoll

One of Newtown’s most celebrated sons, Jim Driscoll gained the epithet ‘peerless’ because of his prowess is a bantamweight boxer in the early 20th Century. He already had a street in Grangetown named after him when French hotel chain Radisson Blu decided to commission this statue of him to stand outside their swanky new Cardiff hotel a couple of years back – presumably as an homage to Newtown. The vanished Irish area of the City is a stones throw from where he stands (or was until it was k/’o’d in 1970).
Thanks Jeremy! Catch you next time…

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5 responses to “100 days in Cardiff – Peerless Jim Driscoll

  1. Correction – Credit where credit’s due, please. Radisson Blu did NOT commission this statue of Jim Driscoll (‘to stand outside their swanky new Cardiff hotel’) – it was commissioned several years before the hotel came along as part of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC) public art programme, in partnership with a local group who had got together to commemorate Peerless Jim. It was not a homage to Newtown, although of course Jim Driscoll was born in the area. The Deputy Chair of CBDC, (Lord) Jack Brooks, local Labour politician and supporter of the sport of boxing, was instrumental in getting the statue funded and commissioned.
    The statue originally stood in an area of public landscaping, also by CBDC, in front of the AXA insurance building which stood on the site. When the hotel scheme came along, they had to relocate Peerless Jim as part of the redevelopment.
    You may be interested to know that the four cast iron light columns outside the hotel were also part of the CBDC landscaping scheme, relocated when the hotel was built. The story behind these is that they – and the landscaping scheme – were installed as ‘samples’ proposed by Barcelona architects MBM Arquitectes for the original Bute (now Lloyd George) Avenue scheme. They were commissioned by CBDC to design the new Bute Avenue, and had used the same lighting columns in their Olympic Village scheme for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. If you go to Barcelona you’ll see lots of these identical columns along the Passeig Maritim. Sadly the Bute Avenue scheme had to be given over to a PFI contract and many of the MBM details (incl these columns) were omitted.
    How do I know this? I was Senior Architect / Design Manager at CBDC until it closed down in 2000. If you want to know more about the complicated history of Cardiff Bay, I’d be happy to help.

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  2. You can visit his grave in Cathays Cemetery. He was such a supporter of the local nuns, that he honoured his commitment to fight a charity match instead of competing to become world champion. The nuns honoured him with world champion status on his grave, as he was, in their eyes.

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  3. Pingback: Street Food Circus | Eat see hear Cardiff·

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