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Notes by Alan Dix on "The Burning Ashes of Time"

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The Burning Ashes of Time


This book traces the connection between Cardiff and Yemen forged when Welsh steam coal powered the worlds fleets and Yemeni boiler men recruited in Aden, the Singapore of the 19th century, travelled the world.

The Yemeni community that grew up in Cardiff was the first muslim settlement in the UK and at the heart of the multi-cultural Butetown area of Cardiff.

Patricia Aithie traces the roots of this community back to Yemen, talking to many who were part of this sooty transhumance, and capturing a record while those who remember are still alive.

The accounts of travels in Yemen sound a little like Indiana Jones, although she visited at a rare point after the long running civil war had been resolved, but before 9/11 made travel even less safe for the westerner. The UK government Foreign travel advice for Yemen now says "The FCO advise against all travel to the whole country."

One of the funniest points was when Patricia unexpectedly met the family of Sheikh Said, the Imam of the Yemeni community in Cardiff, and his wife sent a message back telling him to send fresh clothes for his son. But the high spot of the book is when Patricia finds the Welsh blanket that she has spotted years before in a museum in Yemen and had sparked her interest in the Cardiff connection.



Lawrence of Arabia was Welsh!


South Wales in late 19th century, highest immigration after the USA


first Muslim settlement in UK in Cardiff


first million pour cheque in Cardiff's Coal Exchange


first Muslim cemetery in UK in Cardiff


"seven piths of the geological timescale named after Welsh tribes, mountains and places"


Arab saying "it is not good for the soul to travel faster than the trot of a camel"


Mediaeval Wales - holy spring water collected in dry vessels and buried in fields to promote good harvest


Cardiff coffee importers and South Wales coffee houses


Welsh saying "better craft than wealth"


alternative version "Craft is greater than Gold"