Cardiff’s Queen Street BHS to close

The original Cardiff BHS, 1970s

I felt nostalgic tonight when I read that Cardiff’s main BHS store in Queen Street is to close.

The store was once the site of the largest Woolworths store in Wales, before Woolies closed in around 1985. British Home Stores (BHS) relocated a few hundred yards from the store you can see in this wonderful photo.

The original Woolworths was a special place. It had a cafeteria on the upper mezzanine floor. Even in the 1970s it was selling loose biscuits behind a glass counter window. BHS was never quite as iconic, although it did briefly have an in-store Nationwide Building Society branch in the late 1980s.

The photo shows Queen Street before it became traffic-free in 1975. Judging by the gleaming K-reg Rover on the left I’d say it was taken in 1972 or 1973.

The details are fascinating. Every car is British. The Dutch clothing store C&A was still a household name (it left Britain in 2000). Top Rank Suite enjoyed the glam rock era.

The crane in the background was building Brunel House, which was meant to house British Railways’ Western Region headquarters. (Another botched reorganisation at the taxpayers’ expense…) The Venetian-looking building on the right once overlooked the Glamorgan canal, which entered a tunnel here. (It was filled in over 50 years ago.)

The sign for the hair removal clinic (above Stead & Simpson on the right) suggests we were already obsessed about appearances!

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