Penarth’s Windsor arcade

Located on Windsor Road, a quick 25 minute bus journey away from Cardiff city centre, is the quaint and charming Windsor arcade.

Privately owned, the arcade was designed by Edward Webb as a commercial development for entrepreneur Solomon Andrews and built in 1898 on Plymouth Estate land.

Today this Grade II listed hidden gem serves as a bridge, connecting Windsor Road and Ludlow Lane in Penarth.

The arcade is not a busy place, neither is it flamboyant. On the contrary, it’s quiet and unassuming. But the skills it lacks in being able to command attention, it makes up for in character.

Windsor arcade

Stroll through

With a bakery, tea room, sweet shop and flower market, its where the locals may wander through to meet an old friend and catch up on the days events.

Windsor arcade

Spring blooms

A young couple would venture here to grab a flat white to soak in the rustic ambience or a working mum would visit on her way home to purchase a lolly for her toddler.

An executive may even rush in to grab a sandwich or have a quick business lunch with colleagues. The scenarios are endless.

You really don’t need a reason to visit this arcade, but if in Penarth, add it to your ‘to do’ or ‘to see’ list. Strolling through the entire arcade might take just under 10 minutes if you don’t stop at one of the tea rooms for a cuppa. Nonetheless, it would be the 10 best spent minutes of your afternoon.

 

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Did you hear about the Morgans?

You may be forgiven if your initial thoughts triggered memories of Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant escaping wild bears or riding bulls and horses at the rodeo.

In Cardiff, merely whisper the word ‘Morgan’, and you will be pointed in the direction of the best preserved of arcades – the magical Morgan Quarter, sparkling with Christmas lights right about now.

The Morgan Arcade and the Royal Arcade interconnect to form this upscale shopping destination. With over 50 boutiques, galleries, gourmet delis and cafes, it delights visitors every day of the week.

Ever wonder what it’s like working in a Victorian era building filled with so much history and charm?

Andrew, from Spillers Records, the world’s oldest record shop, describes the experience as working in a “micro climate.”

“All the shops know each other and everyone helps each other. Since it’s away from the hub of the main district, it’s peaceful as well,” Andrew describes.

Located in an avenue just off the Hayes, the arcade has managed to carve a name for itself as being chic and upscale. It’s unique boutiques are brimming with hidden gems.

Eva Morgan who has worked in the arcades for three years, gets it bang on target when she says: “I enjoy my job and enjoy being in the arcades. Our shops are quite niche.”

Quite rightly so.

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.