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Howells Department Store

A Grade II* Listed Building in Castle (Castell), Cardiff

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Latitude: 51.4798 / 51°28'47"N

Longitude: -3.1782 / 3°10'41"W

OS Eastings: 318279

OS Northings: 176306

OS Grid: ST182763

Mapcode National: GBR KJM.BH

Mapcode Global: VH6FD.V2PF

Plus Code: 9C3RFRHC+WP

Entry Name: Howells Department Store

Listing Date: 1 February 1988

Last Amended: 30 April 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 14109

Building Class: Commercial

Location: Occupying a prominent corner site with Wharton Street to S, and Trinity Street to rear.

County: Cardiff

Community: Castle (Castell)

Community: Castle

Built-Up Area: Cardiff

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Built as premises for James Howell & Co Drapers. Twelve bays to N date from circa 1875-6, and circa 1889 by W D Blessley, architect; three bay classical block to S by Sir Percy Thomas, architect, 1928-30 showing influence of North American Beaux-Arts style (cf Selfridges, Oxford Street, London). Extension to rear (along Wharton Street) in 1960s engulfed former Bethany Baptist Chapel of 1864-5 (by J Hartland & Son); the stone front, and cast iron columns from this building remain visible in shop.


North block of 12 windows, 4 storeys, in Renaissance style. Dentil cornice and relief frieze; parapet with lion head panels, 3rd floor windows with cornices and shallow balconies. Second floor windows with shell hoods; balustrade runs full width of building. First floor has large tripartite windows, polygonal pillars with foliage capitals, frieze with key decoration. On ground floor, slender pilasters with foliage panels flank large shop windows with art deco upper lights. S block in classical style. Tall 3-bay 4 storey facade to St Mary Street. Parapet with cappings, dentilled main cornice with lion masks, wreaths to frieze. Giant fluted Ionic columns through all storeys with painted tripartite infill glazing panels; triglyph frieze over second floor, lattice work panelling over 1st floor. Plain surrounds to shop fronts with original bronze recessed glazing; classical detailing includes antifixa, fluted friezes, paterae etc. Recessed centre doors in ramped surround. Recessed rounded angles to left and right with exceptional low relief panels (figurative) at second floor level; curving classical panels below triglyph friezes. Similar 3-bay return elevation to Wharton Street with anthemion bands to giant square piers. Plain Doric bays to left hand return masked by modern bridge and contemporary link corridor with latticework cladding.
Wharton Street frontage continues in simplified classical idiom; 1960s corner block at Trinity Street. Then three bay block, 3 storeys plus attic; Dutch Renaissance style, in red brick with bathstone dressings. To N (right), 3-storey Classical block, Portland stone, with giant order of Doric pilasters on first and second floors. To N again, 10 bay block in yellow brick and bathstone bearing dates1878 and 1889.


Beaux Arts block has coffered ceilings to open pilastered retail floors; rear lift shaft with surrounding staircase. Extension of 1960s took in Bethany Baptist Chapel; stone front and cast iron columns from this building remain visible in shop.

Reasons for Listing

Graded II* as department store building of more than special interest. The S block an unusually finely detailed and well-preserved example of inter-war Classicism by South Wales' most distinguished C20 architect; N block unusually well-preserved example of C19 department store.

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