Coal Exchange, Cardiff, Wales

The Coal Exchange is a grand building in Cardiff with a huge carved-wood trading hall and ornate features, where businessmen would negotiate the trading of coal.

Coal Exchange, Cardiff
 

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.

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - The grand exterior of the building
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – The grand exterior of the building


 

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!

Interesting FactInteresting Fact
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 Coal Exchange Ltd who ran the venue for over a decade still retain the lease for the trading hall and have done an excellent job of preserving the hall and main entrance, which both remain in a good state of repair.

Coal Exchange, Cardiff -Lions stand on pillars in the main entrance
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff -Lions stand on pillars in the main entrance

Coal Exchange, Cardiff -The clocks would be set to show am and pm high water times
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff -The clocks would be set to show am and pm high water times

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Clock and lion
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Clock and lion

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Entrance hall
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Entrance hall

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - The grand trading hall with dark oak columns and balconies
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – The grand trading hall with dark oak columns and balconies

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - A large clock at one end of the trading hall
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – A large clock at one end of the trading hall

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - On the balcony
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – On the balcony

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Exchange sign
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Exchange sign

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - The trading hall viewed from ground level
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – The trading hall viewed from ground level

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - The wording under the clock reads empus Fugit, meaning "Time flies"
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – The wording under the clock reads empus Fugit, meaning “Time flies”

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Originally the roof was a huge arch with skylights to flood the hall with light. Not the position of the lions in the main hall too.
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Originally the roof was a huge arch with skylights to flood the hall with light. Not the position of the lions in the main hall too.

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - The original roof is now above a suspended ceiling
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – The original roof is now above a suspended ceiling

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Original roof ironwork
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Original roof ironwork

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Arches and décor above ceiling
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Coal Exchange – Arches and décor above ceiling

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Room to the side of the trading hall
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Room to the side of the trading hall

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Stained glass behind the bar
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Coal Exchange – Stained glass behind the bar

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Original top balcony
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Original top balcony

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Grand room with red décor
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Grand room with red décor

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Bed in decaying room
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Bed in decaying room

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Old wallpaper in curved room
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Coal Exchange – Old wallpaper in curved room

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Kitchen in small flat upstairs
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Coal Exchange – Kitchen in small flat upstairs

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Glass partitions and fireplace
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Glass partitions and fireplace

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Wood panel room
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Wood panel room

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Christmas tress
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Christmas tress

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Much of the building is now decaying
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Much of the building is now decaying

 

Barclays Bank

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

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Bank managers office
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Bank managers office

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Behind the counter
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Behind the counter

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - In front of the counter
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – In front of the counter

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Cabinets and columns in the bank
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Cabinets and columns in the bank

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Entrance to vaults
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Entrance to vaults

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - Inside the vaults
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – Inside the vaults

Coal Exchange, Cardiff - External building detail, "Exchange" above the main entrance
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Coal Exchange, Cardiff – External building detail, “Exchange” above the main entrance

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