Are you a Bob Marley fan? Have you ever been curious to find out just exactly who helped Bob Marley and under what circumstances did he become the world’s number one reggae artist? Where did it all begin for him? Who was his instructor and who mentored his abilities? Well, if I have fueled the flames of your curiosity, this exciting place called Culture Yard in Trench Town is the perfect tour for you!
Located at 6 and 8 Lower First Street, in Trench Town is the Trench Town, Culture Yard. It is now an architectural and cultural museum. It has a small souvenir shop with rich, rich history! It contains articles, instruments and furnishing used by Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer in their younger years. Many say that Culture Yard gives you a better sense of the origins of Bob Marley and his contemporaries. The tour guides come from the community and show you what life in the tenement yard was like through the 50s and 60s.
Culture Yard is one of the many houses which were built by the Central Housing Authority between 1940 & 1949. These houses were also the famous “Government Yard” in those days. Trench Pen was the name given to these houses which were built on two hundred (200) acres of land. It was segmented to enable a residential community to be called Trench Town. The intention of the project is to share Trench Town’s history with the world.
Culture Yard was the home of a popular community leader, Vincent ‘Tata’ Ford. He was instrumental in the development of Bob Marley’s abilities, as it is said that Vincent ‘Tata’ Ford taught Bob how to play the guitar. Ford and Marley even penned the lyrics of the famous song “No Woman No Cry”, right there in Culture Yard. Other famous hits were birthed right there. It was while living at number 6 and 8 First Street that the Wailers were formed and Bob Marley and the Wailers’ first album `Catch a Fire’ was recorded.
The tour takes you through the outer parts of the courtyard where evidence of the residents’ normal life can be seen. Just outside too, you will see a rusting, old bus which was owned by Bob Marley. The tour continues through six rooms which were delicately restored but retains many original features and fittings, from “Tata” Ford’s bedroom with graffiti walls to the single bed on which Bob and Rita Marley slept. The tour also offers the history of Trench town from maps and photographs which tell tales. It’s a great experience.
The venue has some other stops to explore: The Casbah Cafe, Lion of Judah Courtyard, In-house Artisian Shops and restrooms are available to visitors. The on-property Casbah Bar is always accessible.
To date, The Trench Town Culture Yard is a community based project. The original 1940’s buildings have been renovated to their former splendour and the site is truly a heritage tourism destination. The intention of the project is to share Trench Town’s history with the world. The project is run by persons from within as well as persons outside of the community. As a facilitator of our history and culture, Culture Yard is also a popular stop for educational institutions.
Because Culture Yard is recognized as cultural landmark in Jamaica, the venue is available for appropriate functions such as, lectures, exhibitions and promotional launches. These can be arranged for either during or after regular opening hours.
Culture Yard has future plans for extending the facility so as to better accommodate its guests. The plans include the completion of the kitchen/restaurant and the restoration of the #10 ‘S’ building to provide a hostel for guests. This will form what is to be called the Lion Of Judah Courtyard.
Trench Town Cultural Yard was the first inner city location to be declared a protected National Heritage on May 10, 2007. It’s worth the while if you really want to experience the true, urban Jamaica and of course the roots of our “brand name”, Bob Marley!
To visit us call ahead to arrange a guided tour with the Tour Manager Sophia Dowe or local architect Christopher Whyms-Stone, who is one of the project’s overseers, or Chairman Colin Weise. Or just stop by as a Tour Guide is always on property.
Open daily, 6am-6pm