We just completely updated our website. Let us know if you are encountering any issues.

Fascinating Photos of the Muslim Community in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay, 1943

flashbak.com • June 13, 2019

Butetown was originally an early housing estate built in the early 19th century by John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute, hence the name. The area, built to house workers for the new Cardiff Docks, is more commonly called “Tiger Bay” and one of the UK’s earliest multicultural communities with over 50 nationalities settled there by the First World War. In 1939 the Cardiff-born novelist Howard Spring, albeit in terms we would not use today, described Tiger Bay how he remembered it before WW1: “Chinks and Dagos, Lascars and Levantines, slippered about the faintly evil by-ways that ran off from Bute Street. The whole place was a warren of seamen’s boarding houses, dubious hotels, ships’ chandlers smelling of rope and tarpaulin…Children of the strangest colours, fruit of frightful misalliances, staggered half-naked about the streets; and the shop windows were decorated with names that were an epitome of all the clans and classes under the sun. The flags of all nations fluttered on the housefronts … It was a dirty, smelly, rotten and romantic district, an offence and an inspiration, and I loved it’.

Spring died in 1965 but not before he saw the original Victorian housing of Tiger Bay demolished including the historic Loudoun Square, the heart of Butetown. In its place came the typical sixties development including two high rise blocks of flats. These photographs were taken for the Ministry of Information by the photographer Richard Stone

Kaid Shef recites passages from the Koran to a group of young boys in a room in the town’s old Mosque. According to the original caption, Kaid is a seamen, originally from Aden, who was torpedoed during the Norway campaign and spent 18 days on a raft, suffering terrible frostbite. He and one other man were the only survivors on the 38-strong crew.

A procession in ornate dress and carrying flags and banners winds its way through Butetown to commemorate the opening of the new Mosque and Cultural Centre on Peel Street. Young boys have the honour of leading the procession through the sunny local streets to the Mosque.

Leave a Reply