Trenchtown is a neighbourhood located in Kingston, the capital and largest city of Jamaica. The area gets its name from its previous designation as Trench Pen, thirty-three acres of agricultural land once used for livestock by James Trench, an Irish immigrant. The Trench Family abandoned the land in the late nineteenth century. It is a common misconception that the name comes from the large open sewer that runs through the neighborhood in the middle of Collie Smith Drive.
Most of the new development consisted of one- or two-story concrete buildings, built around a central courtyard with communal cooking facilities and a standpipe for water. Due to lack of funds no sewage system was planned for Trenchtown. Before the hurricane, the squatter camps had emerged around Kingston’s landfill and had become the home of one of Kingston’s Rastafarian communities. The neighborhood became unstable and dangerous from the early 1970s onwards. Two major rival Jamaican political parties — the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party, had emerged in Kingston and enforced code that ensured only their party’s supporters had access to jobs and services. They sponsored "dons" to enforce their authority in the so-called "garrison communities" and gun down any opponents. Trenchtown was controlled by the PNP, which put it at war with neighboring Rema, a JLP stronghold. The road connecting the two became the front-line in an all-out war. After a while the "dons" outgrew their masters and turned to drug trafficking and extortion, and Trenchtown, like other parts of downtown Kingston, was carved up into warring gang territories.
Community projects such as The Trenchtown Reading Association , set up in 1993, and The Trenchtown Development Association, set up in 1996, were formed to increase literacy and encourage government spending in the area. Crime in the neighborhood has recently declined; the murder rate in west Kingston has dropped sharply since the mid-1990s.
Trenchtown is known in popular culture due to numerous Reggae musicians, including Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, but most notably Bob Marley, who spent much of his youth in a "government yard" (housing project) on First Street. His song Trenchtown Rock makes reference to it, and he also mentions it in No Woman, No Cry.