Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Secret Arcade Needs You!

There are reportedly over 500 pre-1900 shopping arcades still in existence in Britain. Given our enthusiasm for all things arcade related, we have started a campaign to document as many of these as possible and we need you to help us! We would love to hear from you with any information you may have about historical shopping arcades in your town - and it would be great if you could email us a photo or two!

The Royal Arcade, Norwich

Our ambition is to build an archive of surviving arcades, both those that have sadly gone into decline or those that are thriving. We will have a permanent ' The Secret Arcade Needs You' link on the blog so we can upload information on an ongoing basis . All of your contributions will be credited to you and your town or if you wish you can remain a 'secret arcader', that's fine by us!

To take part simply email us with your findings, great or small to with the subject as 'The Secret Arcade Needs You!'

Disclaimer: The Secret Arcade reserves the right to discount any entries that are deemed unsuitable.

A Potted History of the Shopping Arcade

Definition: An arcade - a covered pedestrian shopping alley - provides comfortable, stylish and safe shopping away from the dirt and clatter of the street, not to mention the rain (a bit like The Secret Arcade).

Paris was the cradle of the shopping arcade (originally known as shopping palaces). Built to provide a haven for the new breed of Parisian fashionistas - away from the narrow streets without pavements and crowded with horse-traffic, amongst other things we wont mention.

Galeries de Bois, Paris

Starting with the Galeries de Bois in the 1780s, arcades gradually spread across Paris, with a burst of building in the 1820s. The arcades of this decade mainly have pitched glass roofs. The Galerie d'Orleans, which replaced the Galeries de Bois in 1828-30, was the first to be covered by the glass tunnel vault which subsequently dominated arcade design.

Galerie d'Orleans, Paris 1828

Arcades suited the British climate. London has two fine early arcades. The Royal Opera Arcade was built by Nash and Repton in 1816-28. The elegant design with a dome over each bay was the inspiration for several others. But it was soon outshone by the outstandingly successful Burlington Arcade built in 1818-19 to the design of Samuel Ware.

Burlington Arcade, London

The Victorian imagination ran riot with the possibilities of wrought and cast iron: the County and Cross Arcades in Leeds are among the most flamboyant and Cardiff has no less than five arcades from this period.

County and Cross Arcades, Leeds

To take part simply email us with your findings, great or small to office@thesecretarcade.comwith the subject as 'The Secret Arcade Needs You!'

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely idea. County Arcade in Leeds was my first one that came to mind but you have that one already!