Jones Arcade, Ystrad Mynach, Wales


Jones’ Arcade is a short simple arcade built in 1912 in this small Welsh Valleys town just north of Cardiff. There’s only a handful of shops, nearly all catering for different aspects of health and beauty, so quite a change from when the arcade first opened.

Ystrad Mynach would hardly be the sort of place for people to ‘promenade’, and the arcade could barely be seen as a short cut between two streets since Penallta Road and Bedwlwyn Road join anyway just beyond the arcade, but at the time it was built, having an arcade was a way of giving this small town a bit of trading status over its neighbours Bargoed and Caerphilly.

It may seem quiet compared to many of the arcades visited for this project, but at least it felt like it had an identity – with its bodycare and health theme – and was certainly in better shape than when my predecessor Margaret MacKeith reviewed it 40 years ago. The glass ceiling gave it light, the yellow painted upper floors made it cheery, and the shop fronts were all well-cared-for.

The 1990 refurbishment left the basic structure in place, but the high window panes date almost certainly from that time, with some of the doorways and shop entrances possibly the only original features remaining, in addition to the name and date over both entrances.

I didn’t get to enter any of the businesses, since on the whole it’s not an arcade where you buy things as opposed to services. So, if anybody knows of any original features I missed inside one of the shops, do get in touch…

My pick of the arcade’s past

Local building company the Jones Brothers built this arcade with eight shops in 1912. It was seen at the time as giving Ystrad Mynach a clear advantage over nearby towns in commercial terms.

One local newspaper, writing over 50 years later, said ‘the Queen Mother’ visited the arcade in 1933 – this presumably referred to the future George VI’s wife Elizabeth, who was known for so many years during the reign of QEII as ‘the Queen Mother,’ but in 1933 would have been the Duchess of York. Contemporary reports of the Royal visit certainly confirmed the Duchess being in Ystrad Mynach to launch ‘Empire Shopping Week, (a kind of Buy British campaign of its time), but none of the reports mention her actually setting foot in the arcade itself, so that will sadly have to remain as conjecture.

In the 1950s, you could buy a Coventry Eagle bike from Mr Anstee’s shop at No 10, The Arcade. And by the 1970s, you could get an electric blanket from Ken Evans at No 2B. By the 1980s there were elected Members of the European Parliament, and Labour MEP Allan Rogers had a constituency office running out of No 3A in The Arcade.

Sources for the above stories all and specifically, Queen Mother story: 1) Merthyr Express, 22 November 1990, Reach Plc.

What memories do you have of visits in years gone by?

Have you got any good stories to add on the past of this arcade?

What’s your favourite shop in the arcade today?

Have you seen this arcade in any film or mentioned in any books or novels?

Is there a website for this arcade?

No, in fact Jones Arcade, Ystrad Mynach does not even appear as a ‘street’ on Google maps, though some of the businesses in the arcade do define their address as being in the arcade. If anyone knows how to add the arcade as a place/street on Google Maps, please do so and let me know so I can adjust the map entry on this website.

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