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  1. ITV Report

Residents relive the destruction of Cardiff’s historic Tiger Bay

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

It’s almost 60 years since demolition teams began tearing down Tiger Bay, the old seafaring community in the heart of Cardiff’s docklands.

It remains one of the city’s most controversial planning decisions.

In a new television series starting tonight on ITV Cymru Wales, residents of Wales’ most famous multicultural community reveal the pain of seeing their homes reduced to rubble.

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

“Dock of the Bay” explores the history and evolution of the city waterfront we now know as Cardiff Bay. In the march of progress, many communities in the capital have faced the wrecking ball. Some neighbourhoods have disappeared altogether.

The community of Tiger Bay could trace its roots back to the 1850s, when sailors from around the world settled in the shadow of Cardiff’s burgeoning docks. People from more than 50 different nationalities eventually made the area their home.

Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

By the late 1950s many of the Victorian houses had become run-down and the council began reconstructing Tiger Bay.

Neil Sinclair was a teenager at the time. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

I recall lying in bed and I would hear boom, boom, boom. And that was the pylons going in that would lay the foundations for the modern tower blocks.

The demolition was a crucial point in the history of my community because it was a total devastation.

– Neil Sinclair, resident

By the 1970s, Tiger Bay had been rebuilt as Butetown, a council estate of high rise flats and maisonettes. In an interview at the time Cardiff Council told ITV Wales that the “comprehensive redevelopment programme” would provide residents with “the best conditions that can possibly be provided for them.”

But for many, the demolition of Tiger Bay marked the end of a way of life.

Daoud Salaman says the community has changed over the years. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A lot of the people were moved out of the area and they didn’t come back. It split the community up. The community is not as close now as what it used to be.

– Daoud Salaman, resident
Gaynor Legall recalls the impact that the dismantling of Tiger Bay had on her family. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

My grandmother never settled, she hated it, you know.

The wrecking ball was knocking down the house next door and she was still in our house. I was saying, ‘come on Nana, we’ve got to go.’ I was terrified.

– Gaynor Legall, resident
  • You can see more on this story in Dock of the Bay. Tonight at 7:30pm on ITV Cymru Wales. It will then be online at: itv.com/walesprogrammes

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