Cardiff’s docklands community photographs

From May to Etta with Love is a series of six short audio dramas inspired by an extraordinary photo collection held by Glamorgan Archives.

The pictures are from the studio of Fred Petersen, an early portrait photographer who had a business at 232 Bute Street, Cardiff from 1910-1920. Fred’s beautifully intimate and intriguing pictures are notable for portraying Black and mixed heritage children and families from Cardiff’s historically diverse docks community. The collection was donated to Glamorgan Archives in the 1970s with no contextual detail. Despite numerous public appeals over the years, almost all the subjects of the photos remain unidentified.

In 2023, The National Archives in London commissioned Applied Stories to visit Cardiff and meet with Glamorgan Archives specialists, to see what could be done to bring these images to life. Applied Stories, a company specialising in audio drama, worked with two professional writers with Butetown links, Danielle Fahiya and Kyle Lima, to script six imagined scenes from the moment the photo was taken.

From May to Etta with Love is the extraordinary result. Each play sends listeners back in time, to eavesdrop on the conversation between Fred Petersen and his subjects. The scripts were recorded with a mixed cast of professional actors and contemporary young people from the Butetown area, in partnership with local company Fio.

The six plays are available on our YouTube channel here:

Below you will find the unidentified photographs of individuals, family groups, and groups, from Cardiff’s docklands community.

The photographs were taken between 1900-1920, many by Fred Petersen of Bute Street.

They can be found in our catalogue under reference DXGC29

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