The Parkgate Hotel has been redeveloped from two historic civic buildings dating from the turn of the 20th Century – the former Head Post Office for Cardiff and the city’s old County Court on Westgate Street.

The Post Office

Designed by Sir Henry Tanner, Chief Architect to the Office of Works, The Post Office was one of the first large buildings in Cardiff to use Portland stone, a material taken up in the ensuing years to construct Cardiff’s magnificent civic centre at Cathays Park.

Completed in 1897, The Post Office’s opening served to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria. Built on the site of a circus purchased from Lord Bute, the Parkgate building from which the new hotel takes its name was seen as a public monument and a manifestation of Cardiff’s rising importance.

Writing in 1897’s Illustrated History of Cardiff, Arthur Mee described The Post Office as one of the finest establishments of its kind in the provinces, which abundantly showed the confidence that the London authorities saw in the future of Cardiff.

Built in the Dutch Revival style, the building was granted a Grade II listing in 1975 in recognition of its historical significance and its representation of the grand late-Victorian and Edwardian civic architecture.

The roof was a Renaissance celebration with a central cupola, guilded in ornate leadwork, and is further adorned by a quartet of stone statues. The main entrance gable is flanked to the left by a miner and, to the right, a man with a ship (a Royal Mail Steam Packet), depicting Cardiff’s growing status as a major port for the transport of coal. The Parkgate gable is flanked to the left by a telephonist and, on the right-hand side, a postman, reflecting the occupations associated with the building.

The interior was largely functional but it included a grand, double height entrance hall which housed the public counter area, with counters on three sides, and writing tables in the centre. Classical-style features included blind arcading, composite columns and a coffered ceiling.

The Post Office moved to new premises in The Hayes in 1983. BT renovated the 5,000 sq m premises into Grade-A offices during the 1990s, but later incorporated all staff into the nearby Stadium House. The building has stood empty for several years before its redevelopment into the Parkgate Hotel.

The County Court

Smaller in scale but more elaborate in architectural detail than the adjoining Post Office, The County Court and Inland Revenue Office was constructed seven years later in 1904.

The building was designed in a French Renaissance Revival style by architect Henry Nicholas Hawks and it was constructed in red brick and given a Portland stone façade to match its neighbour. The extravagant front aspect comprises five bays with the central three bays recessed and the steeply pitched slate roof is topped with an octagonal cupola lantern made of timber, copper and lead.

The second floor exterior shows two balconies with iron railings and is topped by a balustrade with the Royal Coat of Arms and the date of construction projecting from the centre.

County Courts in England and Wales heard financial cases for the recovery of small debts and demands, so this explains the merging of the County Court and Inland Revenue Office at Cardiff.

With a grand entrance hall, the ground floor was in use principally for the County Court functions and included a main Plaint Office, divided into public and clerk space with a large counter, a registrar’s room and offices for the High Court, bankruptcy and various clerks.

The first floor was occupied by the Inland Revenue and included a public office and various private offices for clerks and surveyors. The second floor contained living and amenity spaces, while the basement was used largely for filing and administrative functions.

Like the old Post Office, the building was designated with a Grade II listing in 1975 but both the County Court and Inland Revenue functions moved to different Cardiff locations during restructures. The site was acquired by the Welsh Rugby Union in 1998 and has remained largely vacant and unused ever since.


Although both buildings have suffered from modern renovations and dereliction, the period features that do remain from its early 1900s heyday have become a key feature of the refurbishment of the Parkgate Hotel.

The vision behind this project has been to build on the quality of the historic setting. These Grade II listed buildings set a standard for this unique hotel to breathe new life into a part of Cardiff that is enjoying exciting redevelopment.

The Brand Story

The Parkgate Hotel branding takes inspiration from the past with the distinctive ‘P’ logo drawing influence from the quills that would have been used on the old writing tables, while the feathers are also a subtle nod to the hotel’s ownership by the Welsh Rugby Union.