There is something rotten in the heart of Cardiff. The fundamental character of the city is being torn apart by developers. Huge swathes of buildings and streets dating back centuries are being knocked down and bulldozed to make way for car parks and ‘student accommodation’, most of which will be a quarter full at best. The ‘student accommodation’ is then changed to luxury ‘executive apartments’, thus circumventing costly regulations. While just yards away people live in tents mushrooming on the moldering central Queen Street. The student accommodation scam is an open secret and is a disgrace.
The student accommodation scam is an open secret and is a disgrace.
The latest sacrifice to Mammon is Guilford Crescent. The Rapport Family - who own the buildings and knocked down the historic and scary Vulcan pub - are knocking it down just ahead of it being granted conversation status. The Crescent has a Masonic Lodge on it (The Lodge is already a listed building so the Grand Hob Goblin can sleep well at night) the Maderia restaurant, the Thai House and the GiwidHu.
The GwidiHu is very dear to my heart and to many people around the city. I’ve been to many many gigs and had a significant birthday there. It’s a great, colorful friendly space, a bit arty and independent which is becoming a rarity in the increasingly homogenized Cardiff (they’ve never managed to sort the toilets out mind). The demolition has been delayed for two months but already it’s too late for the businesses.
It felt important to show support and concern over what’s happening. Daniel Minty - a Cardiff music promoter - had organised a march last Saturday. Sian and I were still shrugging off a cold but joined at the start in Womaby Street. It was a joyous affair and we not only bumped into both sets of neighbors but also saw friends as the march snaked through Queen Street to Guildford Crescent. It felt like a larger turn out that the Womaby Street march which is impressive for a cold Saturday afternoon in January.
Naturally the march ended in Guilford Crescent, where we treated to a number of speakers including Minty, the owner of the Thai House and the GwidiHu, Jo Stevens the Labor MP for Cardiff Central and Tali Källström the lead singer from The Estrons. All the speakers were sincere, passionate and eloquent, Tali especially emphasizing the importance of small venues for breaking new bands.
I was a bit more optimistic coming away from the march. It feels like a spotlight has been shone on some very reprehensible activities. It’s too late for the current business on Guildford Crescent, so although we’ve lost the battle could we still win the war? The GwidiHu is going to relocate and start up a crowdfunding campaign which I’m gonna support.
My first gig of 2019 will be my final gig at the current incarnation of the GwidiHu, which a fundraiser tomorrow with a lineup of local bands. It’s gonna be a bitter sweet night.