#towerlives: a festival of storytelling and music in Butetown

#towerlives is a week-long festival of storytelling and music, on air and on the ground, around the council estate tower blocks of Butetown in Cardiff. How fabulous!

BBC Wales, 1XTRA, Radio 2 and News Online are collaborating all week with documentaries, news reports, features, comedy, spoken word and music.


Ceri Jackson has written this in-depth and beautiful piece about #towerlives: Rise of towers and fall of Tiger Bay (it’s a great long-read): “By the later 1800s Butetown had taken on its unofficial name as the legendary Tiger Bay, the source of tales once told by sailors around the world. “Local folklore has it that there was a woman who used to walk around Loudoun Square with two tigers but then seamen were known for their tall tales,” says Neil. “Portuguese sailors are believed to have come up with the name. The tides in the area are notoriously difficult. After successfully docking they would say that sailing into Cardiff was like sailing through a bay of tigers. And so it was – Tiger Bay stuck.” Another theory is that its reputation as a wild hotbed of hedonism, rough house boozers, crime, prostitution and illegal gambling earned it sole use of a once generic term long used by sailors for raucous ports everywhere. Some of the nicknames given to the area’s 97 pubs – House of Blazes, Bucket of Blood, Snakepit – infamous for brawling sailors and prostitutes could add some weight to that.”

Cardiff comedian Leroy Brito explores the curious dialect that is spoken there (watch the video on this page:#towerlives: Leroy Brito in Butetown ‘talking Butetown’

Chris Walsh-Heron’s blog – telling the story of life on a high-rise estate: “The old Tiger Bay had a fearsome reputation for danger and debauchery. But if you dared to venture into the dockland streets, you’d stumble across the whole world in just one square mile. The laughter from the late-night Maltese cafes would echo down lanes full of Chinese laundries, Arabian tea houses and Caribbean dancehalls, where sailors from Cyprus, Somalia and Sierra Leone would be trying their luck with the local Welsh girls.”


Looks great – and how awesome for this part of the city with such a diverse community to get this kind of coverage.

More please! #towerlives

Butetown History and Arts Centre

Butetown history


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