Cardiff is often referred to as the City of Arcades. The series of indoor shopping arcades reflect Cardiff’s fascinating Victorian and Edwardian heritage. Up until the 1790s there were just 25 retail shops in Cardiff comprising of ‘market stalls’.
The Cardiff Arcade Co was established in 1858 for the purpose of erecting an arcade – the Royal Arcade – to connect The Hayes and St Mary Street. It was Cardiff’s first indoor shopping arcade helping to significantly increase the number of shops available.
In 1879 David Morgan (1833-1919) opened the store David Morgan & Co in The Hayes, catering mainly for the drapery trade. He opened a second shop in St Mary Street in 1898 accessible from The Hayes by way of the Morgan Arcade (initially called the New Central Arcade, begun in 1896 and completed 1899). The Morgan Arcade ran parallel to the Royal Arcade.
David Morgan became a director of The Cardiff Arcade Co in 1892 and other members of the Morgan family later became major shareholders of the company.
The business extended into the furniture trade under the direction of David Morgan’s son John Llewellyn Morgan (1869-1941) from 1912 and into other merchandise under John’s eldest son David Bernard Morgan (1899-1955) and his successors. Sadly the David Morgan department store closed in 2005 but its legacy of a fine arcade of shops and apartments thrives today. To learn more about the fascinating history of Cardiff and the role of the historic Arcades there are a number of reference and pictorial books.
Local author Brian Lee has published many books about Cardiff’s heritage which include;
Cardiff Remember When by Brian Lee (The History Press)
David Morgan An Illustrated History 1879-2005 The Derby Book Publishing Co (formerly Breedon Books)