Royal boost for Culture Yard
Donnette “Sophia” Dowe, director and tour manager of Culture Yard in Trench Town, St Andrew, points to a guitar once owned by reggae king Bob Marley,the community's most famous son. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

AS far as celebrity pairings go, Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton are the ultimate power couple. Today they visit a Kingston landmark that was once home to reggae royalty.

The Trench Town Culture Yard is one of the stops on their three-day trip to mark Jamaica's 60th anniversary of Independence.

That's good news for the Culture Yard, a former tenement property which was once home to Bob Marley. Since the rise of COVID-19 in early 2020, the site has experienced a massive drop in tourist visits.

Donnette “Sophia” Dowe, director and tour manager of the historic venue, is looking forward to welcoming its most famous visitors since Jay-Z and Beyoncé in 2018.

“We haven't been getting much tourists; the Culture Yard has been struggling since COVID,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

In 2008 Prince Charles, William's father, stopped in Trench Town during his official trip to Jamaica but he never visited the Culture Yard, which is now likely to receive international coverage due to William's and Kate's expected half-hour stay.

“Hopefully, it will be fine when the Prince visits and it will be much better for us after he visits. Hopefully, things will happen for the people of Trench Town. That's what I'm hoping,” said Dowe.

A long-time Trench Town resident, Dowe makes a living telling stories of Marley's years in Trench Town. Some of that time was spent at First Street (now the Trench Town Culture Yard), which inspired songs like No Woman No Cry.

The facility's artefacts include the shell of a VW van Marley once owned and the bed he slept on.

The Trench Town Culture Yard is a community-based project operated by the Trench Town Development Association, a non-profit organisation.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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