A Brief History of Octavo House

Tiger Bay Cardiff

Octavo’s is located in the oldest surviving building in what used to be called Tiger Bay.

Built in 1839, the Bute Dock Hotel was a coaching inn, catering primarily for hauliers taking iron ore to Cardiff docks from the South Wales valleys.  This was a period of rapid expansion in the area, with West Bute Dock also opening in 1839, followed in 1840 by Wales’s first steam-powered railway and in 1844 by the Bute Street (now Cardiff Bay) railway station.

The front entrance to the hotel was originally on Bute Street, which was constructed in 1830.  When coal replaced iron ore as the main export from the docks in the later 19th century, the hotel thrived, but the demise of the South Wales coal industry saw traffic at the docks shrink and the hotel eventually fell on bad times.

The building has been used, inter alia, as an Indian restaurant and as office suites.  It has also featured in an episode of Dr Who, dressed up as an electricals shop! Octavo’s Book Cafe and Wine Bar opened in June 2016.  We are the oldest licensed premises in Cardiff Bay.  Although little survives of the original interior, the patterned ceilings are made from molded tin, probably installed in the late 19th century when the hotel was at its zenith.