What is Arcadism?

Arcadism is an invented word. And it is defined as enhancing the viability of the glorious Victorian and Edwardian arcades dotted around Cardiff’s Castle Quarter and the Hayes. The arcades are a rich part of Cardiff’s heritage and collectively date back 148 years.

To understand the concept of ‘arcadism’, it is important to first know a little about each of the arcades. There are six of them to be precise.

Meet the arcades:
First, there is Castle Arcade, a multi storied architectural gem overlooking Cardiff Castle. It began commercial operations in 1887.

High Street Arcade follows suit and interconnects to Castle Arcade via a maze of beauty bars, hobby stores, artisan galleries, even an authentic Big Apple deli.

Duke Street Arcade is a corridor of secrets, and coffee shops waiting to be explored. It also interconnects the first two arcades to form the trio – Castle Quarter Arcades.

Round the corner, by the Cariff Central Library is the Royal Arcade. The oldest of the courts, but boasts of many gourmet cafes and quirky pen and paper stores.

The Morgan Arcade is described as being the most preserved of all the arcades and is also located on St Mary street, linking it to the Hayes.

Together, Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade form the quintissential Morgan Quarter.

Wyndham Arcade, unlike the rest was built in the Edwardian era and is an alleyway of quaint shops. It runs parallel to Cardiff’s Cafe Quarter, Mill Lane, cutting through to the bottom of St Mary Street. It is popular for afternoon tea.

People’s verdict:
Almost everyone would agree that the arcades hold charm and character, and give Cardiff a certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’ Catherine Woods, the owner of Green Valley Moves and a long time resident of Cardiff says, “I think there is something quintessentially Cardiff about the arcades which show off the beautiful Victorian architecture in the vicinity.”

According to Catherine there is something really unique about having a compact city that has wonderful arcades threaded through. “It’s intimacy also allows independent specialist shops to survive which is great for the local economy,” Catherine explains further.

Larissa Camargo, a visitor from Brazil echoes Catherine in her sentiments by adding:”I think it makes Cardiff unique, as you don’t go around seeing the same shops you would in every other city.”

Cardiff Arcades

Empty chairs need to be filled

Word in the corridor:
Independent businessmen and women in the arcades all share a common view. That business in the arcades isn’t what it used to be. Partly due to newer shopping malls like St.David’s Shopping Centre promoting the opening of mega chain stores. The shopping mall is taking all the glory (along with all the customers). Take for example the fact that the arcades close shop by 6pm. St.David’s is open till 8pm on weekdays.

The core objective of arcadism thus becomes clearer in this context. It’s to rally around the arcades and increase footfall and customer visits via social media. The most powerful of voices.


10 thoughts on “What is Arcadism?

  1. Very informative…always wondered whats was in the minds of those engineers and architects who build these aracades..way back in the 18 century. Did they ever think..their creations would still be cherished and lived in….today? Respect✋

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The fact that a core of people value independent shops in addition to using chain stores means that there is always room for quirky, unexpected businesses in an increasingly homogenised world.

    Where I live, Crickhowell in Powys, prides itself on its diverse independent shops, where the only chain businesses are a pharmacy and a bank, and the Post Office which sits in that no-man’s-land. It’s that sense of mingled ‘localism’ and difference that encourages visitors and locals alike to patronise these outlets knowing that the profits aren’t going out of the country tax-free to offshore-based multinationals.

    I only hope that ‘diff locals and visitors are made more aware of the gems that lie behind the franchise frontages of the capital’s shopping area.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love anything unique, so bazaars, markets, antique shops and arcades are the number go-to places to explore when I’m abroad in the UK.

    I was lucky enough to be able to explore the Cardiff arcades with my sister whilst on holiday, and really do have to say that there were so many to explore in such a short time! But, each shop was worth exploring and had so much to offer, with quality and proper individual attention that shopping malls can’t really offer you.

    This article paints the arcade in such a tantalising light and does justice to how truly wonderful the small shops and businesses really are.

    Can’t wait to see more articles soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised on my first visit to Cardiff when I found out about all the arcades.

    My sister and I love to explore the ones in London, but the ones in Cardiff are so unique and have so many amazing little shops!

    You either need a whole week to explore everything about Cardiff, including the little shops in all the arcades, and quite a but of pocket money, so be prepared for a whole lot of fun when you do go!

    I can’t wait to visit again!


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