Clwb Ifor Bach, The Full Moon and Fuel Rock Club. Just a few of the nine key grassroots venues Womanby Street is home to. This small street in the center of Cardiff City Centre, is where you are able to experience to emerging new music. With initial resemblance of an alleyway, Womanby Street is where you would go to see the alternative music scene in Cardiff.
It could be argued that this streets retains as much cultural and historical value to Cardiff as its neighbour, Cardiff Castle. Womanby Street An important part of the city’s history, with some pubs and bars dates back centuries.
This is why Womanby Street needs saving.
<Womanby Street Party in full swing – image taken From Save Womanby Street Facebook>
Along Westgate Roads is a Wetherspoons franchise, the Gatekeeper, who have been granted approval to expand and create a seventeen-room hotel. Stepping onto this street at night, there is a vibrant ambiance with revelers mingling and moving along the street and between venues. People tend to spill out into the street as most of the venues have outdoor smoking areas for customers. No resident would want to sleep through this noise. With Gatekeepers plans of a new hotel, this would certainly open up these music venues to noise complaints and fines, therefore silencing the street at 11pm. Not exactly what the punters want.
DISCLAIMER: Don’t get it twisted. The organisers of Save Womanby Street (SWS) have stressed that their grief doesn’t lie with the Weatherspoon’s chain. The wider issue is lies with planning permission policy . SWS is lobbying the Welsh Assembly to to recognise the street as an area of cultural significance for music and performance arts. Also to initiate changes to the current planning permission, making it the responsibility of the developers of any new premises, commercial or residential, to find solutions to noise from nearby pre-existing business.
<SWS Founders Alex and Ewan leading the march to City Hall on 28th April – image taken From Save Womanby Street Facebook>
With the much loved ‘Dempsey’s Bar’ already shutting its doors for the final time (which is now being replaced with Gareth Bale’s sports bar ) and The Moon Club on Womanby Street (which has been replaced by a new blues, jazz and cocktail bar called The Bootlegger). Many fear that the rest of the street shares the same fate. As these venues are independent and have vital welsh roots, we cannot afford to let more mainstream chains move in.
Other venues on the street look to the campaign to help secure the future of the street. According to campaign organisers, late alcohol licensing and live music is imperative in ensuring that Womanby Street residents can continue to do what they do best.
<The member of staff who made the Full Moon happen again – image taken on a night in the recently re-opened Full Moon!>
“…every truly great Welsh musician has cut their teeth here. Without the platform it provides to independent artists the step from obscurity to prominence is too great for many to overcome.”
Thom Bentley from The Full Moon
Bentley is right; as Welsh culture in Cardiff is scarce Cardiff cannot afford to distance itself from what it founded upon. Protection of this creative hub is vital for the future of Welsh music. I have worked in the City Arms for the past year, a quaint little pub situated at the top of Womanby Street. Pouring pints for the locals alongside the amazing Ewan Moor (Co-Founder of SWS Campaign) It’s endearing to see how much love and passion the community have for this street. These people are not willing to go down without a fight. The Full Moon club temporarily closed it doors earlier this year, however, announcement that former staff had launching a crowdfunding campaign. Within no time, the team managed to successfully raise £13,928 and re-open the venue as a non-profit venue and art space.
Calvin Jones stated that Womanby Street is a living example of the kind of dynamic, diverse, organically-arising and sustainable creative quarter that city governments have been trying, and failing, to create for decades. Welsh capital’s lifeline with these independent music venues fuelling the heartbeat of live music in South Wales.
Long live Womanby Street.