Spillers Records in Cardiff is the oldest record shop in the world
Why Spillers Records store in Cardiff is so famous
Cardiff’s Spillers Records holds the distinction of being the oldest record shop in the whole world. It was first set up back in 1894 so its fame is justified on that alone.
Spillers Records used to be on The Hayes and is where I have browsed for and bought a lot of albums and singles in my time. It is a record store that became a lot more than just a shop because it became actively involved in supporting the South Wales music scene.
Photo of Spillers Records
Spillers Records then and now
Spillers Records has been a part of Cardiff all my life and as a teenager back in the 1960s it is one of the places I used to buy my first records. I used to love browsing through the stacks of albums and pulling the covers out to look at them.
Those were the days when vinyl ruled supreme and an album’s sleeve could be a real work of art, as well as an information source. The sort of records you looked for and collected said something about you too as an individual. It was making a personal statement.
Spillers was always on The Hayes, an area which has become pedestrianised and is part of the Café Quarter. The Hayes has an entrance into the Morgan Arcade and it is into this arcade that Spillers Records has relocated in 2010 following problems with rental increases made by the landlords of the original site. Many local people were dismayed at hearing the news that the legendary record shop might close and a campaign to save it was set up and a petition for supporters to sign
Fortunately Spillers Records has survived and didn’t have to move far to find a new home. The Morgan Arcade is now where this famous record shop is based.
Spillers Records in the Morgan Arcade
EP Mask by Steve Andrews
Spillers Records and music in South Wales
Spillers Records has always supported the local music scene in South Wales and beyond to the rest of Wales by stocking releases by acts on Welsh labels. But it has done much more than this because it has displayed posters for gigs and releases by local acts and had an advertising board where messages could be posted. It has helped musicians find others to form a band or maybe just to help buy or sell some musical equipment.
Spillers Records has been a place where if you are a local singer or musician then you are quite likely to meet others you know or maybe make new contacts there.
The record shop has given those just starting off in the world of music a place to sell their independent releases or limited editions. It allowed sale or return on stock the shop was supplied with. I remember selling my plum-coloured vinyl EP Mask that had been released by the German Pink Lemon Records in Spillers, and also my vinyl debut album Sound of One that was another limited edition release from Germany, this time on Very Good Records.
It was very exciting to have my records on sale from a local outlet though I was soon to find that there was a lot more to it than just having your releases in a shop. Unless that information was well promoted there was no guarantee they would sell. Spillers put albums by very famous acts in the front windows and on display so your music got hidden amongst all the other recordings that were on sale.
Gruff Rhys at Spillers Records 3 of 3
Gruff Rhys and Super Furry Animals
Nevertheless, I did make some sales and one I will never forget was to a real celebrity from the Cardiff rock and pop scene. Gruff Rhys, who fronts the Super Furry Animals, bought my EP Mask.
I had met Gruff at an event in Café Calcio in Cathays. I remember that it was a tribute to Neil Young. The venue had a series of tribute nights and my good friend Chris Fowler was involved. Anyway, I got chatting to Gruff and told him about my record. He very kindly said he would get it and he kept his promise.
Live music at Spillers Records
Speaking of Gruff Rhys, he appeared performing live at the reopening of Spillers Records in the Morgan Arcade. He is a real supporter of local music himself and he and the other Super Furries were happy to see Spillers carrying on again.
Spillers Records has had many other live gigs and public appearances by celebrities. Howard Marks aka Mr Nice, who is a best-selling author and DJ, as well as being famous for campaigning for the legalization of cannabis, was once at the shop so that the public could come along and meet him.
On another occasion back in the shop when it was on The Hayes, Spillers was honoured by a live performance by James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers. He played some songs from their 2009 album Journal For Plague Lovers. The Manics are another Welsh band that hit the big-time and international stardom but who have always stayed in touch with their roots and have supported the local music scene.
Long may Spillers Records continue in its new home!
James Dean Bradfield - Doors Closing Slowly
© 2013 Steve Andrews
More by this Author
Roy Harper is a much acclaimed British singer-songwriter and guitarist who has worked with big names such as Kate Bush, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour and Paul McCartney.
The Jew's Harp or Jaw Harp is a very strange and ancient musical instrument with a very distinctive sound. Also known as the Ozark harp it is associated with Country and Bluegrass music.
Lacy nylon slips and petticoats were once a commonly worn item of women's lingerie but although this is no longer the case this form of underwear is still very popular with many people.