Castle Arcade, Cardiff

Castle Arcade, Cardiff

This arcade is unusual because it has a right-angle turn in its centre. It was created in two phases, between 1882 and 1889, replacing various dilapidated buildings based on medieval burgage plots – narrow rectangles of land at right angles to the street.

The first part of the project was a new four-storey building called Albert Chambers, on High Street, incorporating the entrance to the future arcade. The frontage is decorated in classical Byzantine style.

A local newspaper reported in 1886 that the planned new arcade would “greatly relieve the pressure of traffic” (passing around the corner of High Street and Castle Street) and would be “extensively utilised by all classes of inhabitants”. The cellars under the shop would be accessible via a ramp down from Womanby Street (west of the arcade), so that “heavy goods can be taken direct to the shops without impeding ordinary arcade traffic”.

The entrance from Castle Street is through a three-storey building which echoes the architecture of the Dutch Renaissance.

The section from High Street has three storeys, with public walkways on balconies at first-floor level. The balconies continue round the corner and almost half way along the north-south section. The rooms above the shops were described in 1886 as “suitable for professional gentlemen”, and today are home to various small businesses and organisations.

If you’ve just scanned the QR codes in the window of Seasons Café Bar (at the arcade’s Castle Street entrance), take a look inside. There’s a framed receipt book which was found in the wall when the first-floor toilet was renovated. The book was printed in the 1880s and the last entry is dated 1895. The premises were then occupied by a fruiterer and an electrical engineer called Thomas Maddren, who went bankrupt in 1897. The shop was still selling fruit in 1920, sharing the premises with a tailor.

Where is this HiPoint?

Postcode: CF10 1BU


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