In a street plan of rectangles, City Arcade cuts a line between Union Street and Union Passage at a curious angle. I had always imagined this was from building on an existing boundary or street. Instead, it turns out to be a Victorian method of breaking up urban blocks to create retail shop fronts. Arcades can be gated at night for extra security without affecting the regular thoroughfares.
Work began to the design of T.W.F. Newton and Cheattle in 1898. When it was completed in 1901 it continued all the way to New Street. That section was destroyed by aerial bombing in 1941.
The decorative arcade entrance in Union Street includes decorative work by W. J. Neatby. A terracotta frieze of sea monsters sits above the main arch. On either side are turrets with musician-gargoyles playing pipes or horns that might be made of lead or pewter