The Cinematic Ceiling Of Clifton Street’s Woolworths

In my last post I touched upon the Woolworths store on Clifton Street in Cardiff. As well as the great music (and at times not-so-great) the store was always impressive for another reason – it had a wonderfully ornate ceiling that made the store feel cavernous and grandiose. What I didn’t know, until recently was that the store had actually been a cinema for a very short period.




A cinema! Well, that explained the ceiling then! During the time I knew it as a Woolworths, the interior was all painted white, ceiling included. The roof felt quite high for a small store, and was curved down its length. There were a number of ornate ceiling roses as part of the construction of the roof, and the lower roof at the entrance would have been the projection area that projected into the hall. There should have been clues to its purpose that I should have spotted as a youngster, from the outside, the stylish façade of the first floor exterior pointed to a past life (as you can see from this photo taken in 2008), and I believe there may have been a filled-in projection hatch visible from the shop floor.

However, despite many memories of the fine building, I have not found any photos of that memorable ceiling to remind me of its grandeur. Furthermore, since the closure of Woolworths in 2009 and the stores conversion to a Tesco Express, the ceiling has been hidden thanks to interior alterations to the building. Photographic evidence would suggest that the plasterwork has been partially gutted which is a real shame. Even if I wanted to go back and take a look, or a photo or two, that time is now long gone.

I was scouring some old video material I had lying around, and happened upon this short clip which featured a brief pan up to the ceiling in the time it was still intact. What a lovely surprise – yes it’s fuzzy, it’s blurry, and it’s not very grand, but there for one moment is that old ceiling again, back how I remember it. You can see it in the clip below which dates back to 1999 from a show called Shop Talk which was all about Clifton Street.

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