Traders at Market Arcade in Newport on restoration project

AN HISTORIC arcade in Newport has been transformed by a huge restoration project.

Market Arcade is a grade II-listed building of historical significanace – built in 1869 it was the first arcade in Newport, and the second in Wales.

But over the years it had fallen into disrepair.

South Wales Argus: Market Arcade before the work was carried outMarket Arcade before the work was carried out

But in February 2020 contractors Anthony A Davies took on an ambitious £1.1 million restoration of the arcade, with money awarded through National Lottery Heritage funding.

And now it has been restored to its former glory, with work carried out including:

  • Widening the arcade; 
  • Installing gates at both entrances to kerb anti-social behaviour in the evening;
  • New flooring and windows installed;
  • A fresh paint job;
  • New ceilings, lightings, and tiling.

The project has given the arcade a new lease on life and – although traders have faced challenges while work has been carried out – there is hope for a brighter future.

Tattoo studio Lucky Seven Tattoo and barbers Claudio’s remained among the construction workers while the renovation work was carried out.

Claudio Martini, who owns Claudio’s, which has been based in the arcade for at least seven years, said: “It was quite hard work with the floor being done and the scaffolding up – it was like treading through a minefield.

“The arcade looked like it was shut [while work was carried out] and we lost quite a bit of trade; it’s thanks to our repeat customers that we managed to stay afloat.

“It’s not the builders’ fault and they were good to us – getting customers to me when they could.

“The work has to be done and the arcade looks lovely and inviting.

“I’ve definitely seen an increase in footfall now and the market should bring more footfall in when it opens.”

South Wales Argus: Barber and business owner Claudio Martini Barber and business owner Claudio Martini

Recycled wood shop Resiclo, is set to return to the arcade, as shown by signage within their unit.

South Wales Argus: Reseiclo will return to Market Arcade in NewportReseiclo will return to Market Arcade in Newport

Market Arcade also has new additions: Ffoto Newport opened up there last year – you can read more about that here.

South Wales Argus: Ffoto Newport in Market ArcadeFfoto Newport in Market Arcade

And, with another unit within the arcade housing cameras in the window, it seems likely the site will become a hub for photographers.

The development has also seen two businesses, previously based at Newport Marktet, set up shop in Market Arcade:

  • Thomson’s Welsh & Celtic Gifts.
  • Kriminal Records – read more on their new shop opening here.

A woman browsing the gift shop, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s nice to see the arcade done up and to see old buildings not in neglect and disrepair.”

South Wales Argus: Welsh gifts are available at Market Arcade in NewportWelsh gifts are available at Market Arcade in Newport

Although there is still some work to be done – such as adding signage to the shop fronts – Dean Beddis, who owns Kriminal Records, is pleased with the progress.

Mr Beddis said: “I’d say around 98 per cent of people who’ve come in to browse and chat so far have been old friends.

“But, as the arcade looks open now, more people have been coming in and hopefully this will get better.

“The arcade is looking great; now let’s get Newport back to the thriving market town it was.

“These things don’t happen overnight, but we still have hope – a word that only the devil doesn’t use.”

South Wales Argus: Market Arcade in Newport has been transformedMarket Arcade in Newport has been transformed

He added that he hopes more independent shops offering “unique bits and pieces” will open up in the city centre, helping the city compete with the likes of Cardiff in terms of retail.

Mr Beddis also expressed hope that with Market Arcade, and the redevelopment of Newport Market under way, that accessibilty in this part of the city centre is improved.

South Wales Argus:

“People want accessibility and to be able to get into the city centre,” added Mr Beddis.

“But we’re taking little steps in a positive direction.”

Newport Market is currently undergoing a separate redevelopment project, which should be completed in five weeks’ time.

You can see how that’s coming along here.

South Wales Argus | Business