Jamaica // Kingston //

Trench Town Culture Yard

The Trench Town Culture Yard (TTCY) is set in the government yard where Bob Marley sought refuge after returning from living in the US, and where he was taught to play the guitar by his mentor, community elder Vincent “Tarta” Ford, who himself wrote No Woman, No Cry here. Shaded from the street by a lush canopy of mango-tree leaves, it’s also where Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob formed the Wailers and wrote the Catch a Fire LP. The museum is a work in progress; its galleries have greatly improved, but it’s still awaiting funding grants to complete the museum installations and minor infrastructure. Even so, the overall restoration of the buildings has been successful, the experience and presentation commendable, and it was declared a National Heritage Site by the Government of Jamaica in 2007. It’s also possible to stay here.

The collection

The tour of the museum’s collection begins in one of the property’s restored residential buildings. These well-designed buildings are oriented around the yard’s central open-air courtyard, where residents would have washed clothes, gardened and socialized; the rusting remains of Marley’s powder-blue VW van sit in a corner, while around the back is Jah Bobby’s original, colourful and rather odd statue of Marley with his preferred guitar and football, which formerly graced the front yard of the Hope Road museum. Sensitively refurbished and retaining many original features and fittings, from “Tarta” Ford’s graffitied bedroom walls to the single bed on which Bob and Rita slept, the rooms also hold one of Tarta’s and Marley’s first acoustic guitars and a selection of Adrian Boot’s beautiful photographs of the man himself taken during his time in the yard. Tours end at the Casbah Bar at the front of the property which, together with the shady veranda outside, provides a lovely space to kick back and reflect on the life and work of a man whose music and message has achieved such long-standing and universal appeal.

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