Former Park Hall and Hotel, Queen Street, Cardiff
Cardiff’s dock feeder canal flows beneath this large building, erected in Victorian times as a prestigious venue for entertainment and overnight stays.
Previously a theatre stood on the plot between the southern end of Park Place and the feeder canal, parallel to Park Place. Crockherbtown – now Queen Street – lay along the southern edge of the plot and crossed the canal on a bridge.
By the 1880s the area of Cardiff near the Crockherbtown railway stations lacked a large hotel for people arriving by train, so the new Park Hall & Hotel Company raised £55,000. A driving force in the venture was John Stuart Corbett, a cousin of the Marquis of Bute. As the Bute Estate’s agent, he helped to develop much of Cardiff’s infrastructure and facilities in the 19th century.
The plot was enlarged by building an archway over the feeder canal. The building’s east wall rests on what was the canal bank. The water emerges in nearby Churchill Way, where the feeder was uncovered in 2022.
The 1884 drawing shows the frontages on Park Place and Crockherbtown. The 10 shops facing Crockherbtown included a larger unit at the south-east corner for a “coffee palace”. Above was the hotel, which had c.100 rooms. Behind the shops was an enclosed service passage for the shops and hotel.
The public halls, north of the passage, had entrances on Park Place (the entrances on the left in the drawing). The main hall held up to 2,500 people, and the orchestra space was big enough for 250 musicians! It featured Wales’ largest organ, by leading manufacturer Henry Willis & Sons. The smaller hall accommodated up to 600 people.
The hall’s opening concert in 1884 included the Cardiff Choral Society, which adopted the venue for rehearsals. Local exams for Cambridge University hopefuls were held here in 1884. Other Victorian events here included balls, a chrysanthemum show and Cardiff Football Club annual meetings.
Winston Churchill, then a young MP, gave an address here in 1903. Renowned soprano Adelina Patti gave a concert here in aid of Cardiff Infirmary in 1909.
The main hall was a cinema from the First World War until the 1970s, after which it was repurposed to expand the hotel, which now has 142 rooms.
Postcode: CF10 3UD View Location Map