Tag Archives: cardiff arcades

Just 10 days left to vote for your favourite Cardiff arcade business!

Over the past couple of weeks, the City of Arcades campaign has been encouraging people across Cardiff to VOTE FOR THEIR FAVOURITE INDEPENDENT BUSINESS in any one of our wonderful arcades. THERE ARE ONLY 10 DAYS LEFT TO VOTE PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!


Go to the City of Arcades website and click through to the arcade where your favourite shop is (you may need to explore the site first to work out which is which).

We voted for Spillers Records! Which you can find in the Morgan Arcade section, bbz. Although we’re not telling you how to vote, obvs.

When you find your store listed, CLICK THE HEART ICON (circled below). You can’t vote from the store’s actual information page (as they don’t all have them) – you can only vote in this list view.

The top 10 stores will be featured in an ad campaign in Cardiff, Bristol, and Bath, so it’s some great exposure for our lovely local independent businesses! ALSO anyone who votes will be entered into a draw to win a £100 FOR Cardiff Gift Card.

Voting is open until midnight on 22 July 2018. VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE ARCADE BUSINESS and help them get a spot in the City of Arcades Top 10! Go to thecityofarcades.com, follow the steps above, and KABOOM.

Once you’ve voted (or maybe before), do spend some time exploring the City of Arcades website. There are some lovely video interviews with different businesses –  this is the Spillers Records interview with Ashley …

Also we love this interview with Matthew Pritchard, owner of Sleep When You’re Dead in the High Street Arcade

Aaaaand this with lovely Kas from Waterloo Tea in the Wyndham Arcade

As Adrian Field, Executive Director of FOR Cardiff, says: “If you frequently visit a café or buy gifts from a certain shop, make sure you get behind the business to help them get on the top 10 list. Looking at the current top 20, it’s all still to play for!”

Dyfed Bowen, General Manager of Rules of Play in Castle Arcade, says: “The support we’ve received since the campaign launched has been incredible. It makes us feel special to see that hundreds of people have voted for us so far, especially when you look at all the other well-known shops in the arcades such as Barkers Coffee and Science Cream.”

Aw. All the feels.

To make sure your favourite independent gets the recognition it deserves in the campaign later this year, MAKE SURE YOU VOTE!

There’s more about the City of Arcades on the socials …

Cardiff’s arcades form such an important part of the city centre’s identity. If you’re interested in learning more, see our other posts:

More about the City of Arcades

The campaign is being run by For Cardiff, an organisation that represents businesses in Cardiff’s city centre (known as the business improvement district, or BID). A BID is an arrangement where central businesses can make decisions about the improvements they want to make in their city centre, and have a say in the amount they think should be spent on these improvements. BIDs are usually run by not for profit companies,  controlled by the businesses that fund them. This post is kindly sponsored by the City of Arcades, helping us keep the social purpose at the heart of We Are Cardiff.


Walking Cardiff’s arcades

Cardiff’s arcades are definitely a hallmark of a city shopping experience. Given the strong concentration of Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary arcades in the city centre, Cardiff was known to some as the City of Arcades (this is according to WalesOnline though, so take all the salt you deem necessary with that claim).

Whatever is in the name, Cardiff’s arcades are amongst its finest features. I used to work in a shop in the High Street Arcade back in the early 2000s, and most of my lunch hours were spent wandering the holy trinity of High Street Arcade, Castle Arcade and Indoor Market. People-watching is at a premium in such locations – as too is the architecture, if you remember to look up.

Contributor Rob Khoo stepped out in the arcades recently to furnish us with some classy black and whites.







Rob says: “I had a nice sunny Sunday afternoon with little to do; so a delicious lunch in The Vegetarian Food Studio followed by a wander into town and then up and down the arcades whilst trying not to spend any money. A difficult task when there are so many great independent shops there, managed to get away with it though – just! Great to see so much going on in the Hayes too, Hijinx Theatre were doing a fine job of entertaining the shoppers, and the plant stall was lovely as well.”

If our antique arcades have piqued your interest, there are the following links you might want to visit:
Photographer Amy Davies spent some time a few years back wandering around our arcades and documenting them. The result is this lovely blog: Cardiff Arcades Project. It’s a few years old now but a great resource.
If you’re of an artistic bent, check out Jennie Savage’s Arcades Project: A 3D documentary. It was a series of projects initiated by artist Jennie Savage which took place in Cardiff’s Victorian and Edwardian Arcades between October 2008 and October 2009. Cardiff is known as the city of Arcades because it has the highest concentration of Victorian and Edwardian Shopping arcades in the UK. Between 2008-2009 artist Jennie Savage led an exploration into these spaces, inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades project and constructed in the light of the St David’s 2 Shopping Centre.

Aaaand if you’re just after plain and simple tourist advice, have a look at the Visit Cardiff site.


Visiting The Boardroom – a new Cardiff cafe

Jodie Ashdown has been wandering the arcades of Cardiff … and uncovered a new gem of a cafe. Welcome to The Boardroom!

the boardwalk cafw

Tucked away in Duke Street Arcade is a new lifestyle café which wants to bring the surf, skate and snowboard culture into the centre of Cardiff.

From the outset, it’s plain to see that The Boardroom is inspired by extreme sports: from the seats made of used skateboards (courtesy of Spit and Sawdust Skate Park) and the deck bunting, to the surfboard table and the mounted snowboards; a lot of love, care and attention has gone into the details.

the boardwalk cafw the boardwalk cafw

The owner, Caroline Nieuwenhuis, is a Cardiff local who has returned to her hometown after a stint in Newquay studying Surf Science and Technology and working as a surf instructor. At just 24, she has managed fulfil her dream of opening a café off her own back, with help from a Welsh Government grant, and she hopes to supply a place where people can meet, chat and hang out.

caroline the boardwalk cafw

And she has big plans. A TV set has just been installed to play back-to-back surf, skate and snowboard movies, and surf club socials and meetings are being organised. Extreme film premières and other events are also being discussed.

But to be honest even without all that extra stuff, it’s just a nice spot to grab a coffee or a smoothie and have a break from work, shopping or whatever else you are doing in town. Food is kept simple with bagels (including gluten free) on offer, along with brownies and cakes. It’s a way to unite the subcultures of Cardiff which are ever present but a little disconnected.

the boardwalk cafw the boardwalk cafw

Without trying to sound too League of Gentlemen, is a local café owned by a local girl, so why wouldn’t you check it out?

I can recommend the Green Reviver. It’s bloody lovely.


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A-Z of Cardiff – A is for Arcades…

Writer Katie Hamer is busily discovering parts of the city and revealing them through her We Are Cardiff series, the A-Z of what makes Cardiff special to her. She’ll be sharing the parts of the city she finds with you over the following weeks, so stay tuned! 

The Hayes

A is for Arcades

I love these covered shopping streets, for providing shelter from the weather, and because I can browse without dodging traffic. Other cities have arcades too, but only Cardiff is “The City of Arcades”.

There’s a strong café culture here, even on a Monday morning. I’m greeted by cooking aromas. I feel tempted to stop at one of the outside tables, and sample some local cuisine. I have to remind myself that it’s just a couple of hours since I had breakfast. Oh, well!

Cardiff’s historic arcades are divided into the Castle Quarter, and the Morgan Quarter. I have a special fondness for the Morgan Quarter, so it’s this part of Cardiff that I decided to write about. I know this Quarter best because I worked at David Morgan, The Family Store, around which these arcades were centred. I worked there as a temp prior to its closure in 2005.

On Monday mornings long past, I would run down the Royal Arcade, to the staff entrance. I had to be on the shop floor five minutes before opening time. This was no tall order, as my department was on the top floor, and the staff’s changing rooms were in the basement. How I would panic if the train were delayed. Bad punctuality was frowned upon, even more than greeting a senior member of staff with their first name.

What David Morgan represented, was traditional values, and exceptional customer service. Along with everyone else who worked there, I felt a huge sadness on the day the store finally closed. Stepping out of the shop for the last time, I wondered what the future held for these special arcades. I still recall my department manager telling me that, within ten years, Cardiff would become indistinguishable from any other city in terms of shops.

Well, we are nearly ten years on, and I’m pleased to say that this isn’t the case. The oldest of the three arcades, the Royal Arcade actually predates David Morgan Ltd, so it is perhaps not so astonishing that it has survived the store’s closure. This particular arcade opened in 1858, 21 years before The Family Store was established.

Royal Arcade

Royal Arcade 2

Thankfully, when the David Morgan family dissolved the Cardiff Arcades Co in late 2004, new owners, Helical Bar, stepped in to save them. It’s wonderful to see how much investment the new owners have placed in them, and how they have preserved them for future generations. True, there are vacant shop units, but that’s the state of shopping centres everywhere, these days.

Morgan Arcade 4

Morgan Arcade 3

The Royal Arcade and the Morgan Arcade are very much at the heart of the Morgan Quarter, with their rows of shops linking St Mary Street with the Hayes. There’s a vibrant mix of boutiques, health food outlets, artists’ studios, furniture stores and bookshops. One of my favourite surprises is hidden in the middle of Morgan Arcade. This is where you can find Spillers Records, the world’s oldest record shop. It opened in 1894, but hasn’t always been where it is now. In fact, its existence predates that of its current location by five years.

I feel I should also mention the Wyndham Arcade, as it is more easily overlooked. These days, it’s more tagged on to the Café Quarter, and it has the ambience you’d expect from such a location. It’s quieter than the other two arcades, with a relaxed atmosphere that reminds me of the cobbled streets in the Algarve. This arcade is light and airy, and more inviting than I ever imagined it to be, from photos.

Wyndham Arcade

Wyndham Arcade 2

I have only scratched the surface of what is so special about these arcades. I could spend a whole day exploring them, and still have more things to come back and see. Have I convinced you? Why not come and explore them yourself – they’re worth a visit. Please share your opinions in the comments below.

Morgan Arcade 2