Revived from an industrial turned derelict Tiger Bay, the flourishing Cardiff Bay of today has been shaped by some famous faces, and undoubtedly shaped them too.
Frederick de Courcy Hamilton
You can’t really experience a place without understanding its foundations. And the early successes of Tiger Bay can heavily be attributed to the trading opportunities at the Coal Exchange. The building was erected in 1884-1886 by the Cardiff Exchange and Office Co Ltd, which was founded by Frederick de Courcy Hamilton.
A local solicitor who played a formative role in Cardiff’s development, another of Frederick de Courcy Hamilton’s companies was behind the builds of Duke Street Arcade and High Street Arcade. The influence of the Coal Exchange on Tiger Bay was enormous, helping Cardiff to play a leading role in the industrial 19th century.
The Girl from Tiger Bay rose to fame with an unstoppable combination of talent and charisma. Shirley Bassey’s numerous hits and James Bond classics made her the star she is today.
Not forgetting, Bassey’s most recognised achievement is her title, Dame Shirley Bassey. However, the Tiger Bay diva has never strayed too far from her humble beginnings.
Giving back to Wales’ musical community, young people are given a chance to follow in her footsteps with the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship Fund for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
While attending a tribute night put on by the students, Shirley committed herself to raising more funds by donating the dazzling dress she wore to the Spectre premiere.
A timeless author and the man behind some of the most witty children’s stories of all time, Roald Dahl is arguably of the most famous figures associated with Cardiff Bay, and his life is celebrated in numerous ways around Cardiff Bay. Roald Dahl and his siblings were baptised at Cardiff Bay’s striking Norwegian Church, and the Dahl family attended its services.
Founded in 1868, the charming church felt served as a home from home to Norwegian sailors, particularly throughout World War II.
In the 1970s, the fate of the church became uncertain, and it was was Dahl who stood at the forefront of the campaign to save it. He was even appointed president of the Norwegian Church Preservation Trust, which began in 1987.
Celebrating Dahl’s links to the Bay, the upstairs gallery that can now be found in the church is fittingly called the Dahl Gallery. Visitors can even admire the silver christening bowl that belonged to the author’s family.
While exploring Cardiff Bay, you’re likely to find the Roald Dahl Plass. Renamed in 2002 from the Oval Basin, the oval shaped open space honours the author, and with its illuminated pillars and vibrant spots to gather for eating and drinking, it’s no surprise that the Plass is a local favourite.
While it has hosted some fantastic outdoor shows of its own, it’s also known as the entrance to iconic Cardiff Bay buildings the Senedd and Wales Millennium Centre.
Growing up in Tiger Bay, Billy Boston went on to become the greatest try-scorer in rugby history, with 571 touchdowns and 562 matches.
When the rugby legend was just 17, he played for the Cardiff International Athletic Club; the club was made up of men from the Tiger Bay area. And while Boston longed to play for Cardiff, his career took a different path when he was approached by Wigan.
Wigan showed Boston a suitcase of £1,500 in £5 notes, and when his mother joked about £3000 instead, they accepted. A success at the club, Billy Boston went on to become the first black player to play for the Lions after being chosen for Great Britain.
Though Boston’s dream of playing for his home country never became a reality, in 1990 he was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame. And though Boston’s success with Wigan means a lot to him, there’s no denying that the love Billy has for his home has never faded. Boston once said, “I would have given all the league glory away just to once pull on the red shirt of Wales”.
Bands who Made Their Mark
The Coal Exchange was turned into a major venue in 2001 and hosted successful acts including Manic Street Preachers, Arctic Monkeys and Stereophonics.
Concert goers could enjoy the building’s striking beauty, and an atmosphere that simply couldn’t be forgotten.
At The Exchange Hotel, it’s important to us that the charm of the Coal Exchange lives on. The grand building will bring guests a luxury stay in a building that radiates natural elegance and character.