Wednesday 23 March 2016

The Victorian arcades in Cardiff

The most distinctive aspect of Cardiff is its Victorian and Edwardian arcades which seem to be everywhere. Full of independent shops they offer an alternative to the usual high street shops and it's a pleasure wandering around looking in the shop windows or going in to browse.

There are five of them:

Castle Arcade

Most are generally two storeys high. The ground floor is lined with shops and cafes. Some are lavishly decorated, particularly the Castle and High Street ones.

The High Street Arcade

Some of the arcades have a first floor balcony serving further units which tend to be creative businesses rather than shops

The Morgan Arcade

The Royal Arcade

Apparently the area underneath this arcade is the site of an 1800s cholera pit

They are glazed and therefore filled with natural light.

and the Wyndham Arcade

Some bend and fork giving the impression that they go on forever.

The arcades make Cardiff an independent shop heaven - here are some that we found particularly interesting:

Barker's Coffee shop

joke shop

design for the home

a coffee shop with a huge Toulouse Lautrec mural


Science Cream,

an ice-cream parlour which uses Heston Blumenthal-inspired chemistry to turn locally supplied ingredients into ice-cream and other frozen deserts. This happens while you wait: you specify what you want, and a few minutes later, your ice-cream is ready

a head shop


A dedicated button shop that's been around for 30 years

plants and flowers


which includes these gorgeous ceramic jugs from Spain

Wally's delicatessen

is huge, full of delicious treats

Dot was my favourite: a dress agency that also sold new clothes

stylish, elegant, quirky clothes - irresistible

bath products

that look as delicious as pastries.


  1. Love the black dress with white horizontal strips hanging on a door.

    1. That was one of my favourites too: it's by a Cambodian designer and it has a belt (not shown in the photograph) that is optional, but which gives you a hour-glass figure, if used - I like clothes that can be worn in different ways.

      There was so much I liked in that shop...

      I chatted to the women and one of them had just come back from Cheltenham. I said: 'you must have gone to Blue then' and she said 'of course'. It's the same kind of clothes, but very different kind of prices - Dot is more affordable.

  2. I was interested to see Wallly's because that is where I used to get my mail order Bravo coffee (kafethaiki) for my mother. I used to buy lovely Welsh cheese at the same time.

    1. It does not surprise me, Olga, they seemed to have everything - it's one of the nicest delis I have seen in a long time.

      I hope that seeing Wally's in this post only brought back tender, happy memories.... and no sadness.