Before the Coal Exchange was built in Mount Stuart Square, the area was a residential square with a central garden. It was taken over by commerce as the city grew in prosperity. Coal merchants used to chalk up the changing prices of coal on slates outside their offices or struck deals in the local public houses.
As Cardiff became the biggest coal port in the world, the building was constructed between 1883 and 1886 by Edwin Seward as a base from which to conduct trade negotiations regarding the coal mines of the South Wales Valleys – most of which was shipped to Cardiff for distribution.
The building played an important role in the industrial Cardiff of the 19th century. Paired Corinthian columns, an oak balcony, and rich wood paneling adorn the trading hall, which was reconstructed by Edwin Seward in 1911.
Following its opening, coal owners, ship owners and their agents met daily on the floor of the trading hall where agreements were made by word of mouth and telephone . During the peak trading hour of midday to one o’clock, the floor might have as many as 200 men gesticulating and shouting. It was estimated that up to 10,000 people would pass in and out of the building each day. At one time the price of the world’s coal was determined here.
One rather cool fact is that (supposedly) the first ever £1m transaction was made in this building. I found it interesting anyway…
So after tossing quite a few ideas into the pot, we eventually ended up heading here to have a poke about. We’d planned a trip to Cardiff which was intended to be a derptastic one. The plan was to meet up with Boba Low and hit some stuff, which is exactly what we did (albeit a bit later than planned (Bristol style)).
To be quite honest, I didn’t really know much about this place until being enlightened by the others. Boba Low in particular as it was clear he’d had his eye on this for a while. Some credit is also due to @tumbles who was the one to actually put a lead up about this one a while back. There is a part of me that is surprised that no one has done this before as it’s really rather good. I say this as I believe it’s a first but I could be totally wrong and please someone speak up if it’s been done!
The main attraction is, of course, the trading floor. This is also the only place in the building where there are cameras (naturally) so we took a bit of caution. This being said, we’d successfully infiltrated the live part of the building a few hours prior (and even memorised the door code) where the security office was completely empty with no one to be seen.
The photos are a bit of a mish mash, but hey ho, it’s not all about them is it…