Report - Coal Exchange, Cardiff - May 2016

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Behind Closed Doors
Regular User
Jan 12, 2013
The Coal Exchange in Cardiff was constructed as a place where trade negotiations regarding the sale of coal could be conducted. Constructed between 1884 and 1888 by Edwin Seward, the grand building features paired Corinthian columns, an oak balcony, and rich wood panelling in a large trading hall, which was reconstructed in 1911.


History of Cardiff’s Coal Exchange

Mount Stuart Square in Cardiff was a residential street with a central garden. As the city of Cardiff grew, the area was gradually taken over by businesses where business men would gather and coal merchants would use chalk to mark the prices of coal onto slates outside their premises.

The Coal Exchange was constructed to form a centralised trading place, and became an important role in industrial Cardiff. Coal owners, ship owners and trading agents would meet daily on the floor of the trading hall, and during peak hours there could be as many as 200 men negotiating deals. It was estimated up to 10,000 people would pass through the doors every day!

For a time, the price of the worlds coal was determined at Cardiff’s Coal Exchange, and the worlds first £1 million deal was made there in 1904.


Cardiff relied heavily on the coal industry and the the Bute Docks eventually began to see a downturn in demand. The Coal Exchange closed in 1958, and coal exports came to an end in 1964.

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Trading hall in useThe building became Grade II* listed in 1975, and was used sporadically for TV filming until 1988 when it was purchased to be used as a major venue. It was extensively refurbished and from 2001 hosted acts such as the Arctic Monkeys, Van Morrison and the Stereophonics. The refurbishment retained the trading hall, although with the addition of a suspended ceiling hiding away the original glass roof. By 2013 serious safety issues concerning the structure forced the closure of the events venue.

The building is now in varying states of decay – the west wing is still in use as offices by a number of business, whereas the east wing has seen many years of neglect, causing some floors to collapse and some areas have suffered a fire. The non-profit organisation ‘Save the Coal Exchange’ has done an excellent job of preserving the trading hall and main entrance which both remain in a good state of repair.

Visited with @SpiderMonkey





The clocks would be set daily to show AM and PM high-water times


The huge trading hall was where business would be done






Originally the ceiling was open up to the roof with a large glass skylight


The original ironwork and skylight still remain above the suspended ceiling




Behind the bar were some very nice stained glass windows







Much of the building is now suffering a lot of decay


Barclays Bank
Some of the building was used by Barclays Bank and the vaults beneath still remain.





There are many more areas to look around and the vaults had lots of interesting bits to shoot, but we ran out of time before we had to top up the parking meter.

Boba Low

Regular User
Aug 25, 2010
Should've given us a shout if you were in Cardiff! She's such a beauty isn't she, recently featured on bbc4's going going gone which made it look beautiful. Should really do something with my photos.
Likes: AndyK


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nov 19, 2009
Fantastic work, this place is amazing..I would have stayed and got a ticket...
Likes: AndyK


Behind Closed Doors
Regular User
Jan 12, 2013
Should've given us a shout if you were in Cardiff! She's such a beauty isn't she, recently featured on bbc4's going going gone which made it look beautiful. Should really do something with my photos.
Didn't know you were around there, will let you know next time I'm over that way.
And yeah post your shots, would like to see those.

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