Coal Exchange

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For the coal exchange in London, see Coal Exchange (London).
The Coal Exchange, 2008

The Coal Exchange first opened as the Coal and Shipping Exchange was a market floor for trading in coal in Cardiff, Wales. It is situated in Mount Stuart Square in Butetown, and was for many years the hub of the city's prosperous shipping industry. It later became a music venue, before being closed indefinitely in 2013 due to building safety issues. Offices remain in use in the West Wing.[1] Parts of the wings of the building remain open, and are currently used as offices for a number of local businesses. Following a series of proposals to demolish the building, Cardiff Council purchased the Coal Exchange, and in 2016 it was announced that the building was to be fully refurbished as a hotel, with a museum detailing the history of the building and of the Cardiff Docks.[2]


The Coal Exchange logo

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.[3]

As Cardiff became the biggest coal port in the world, the building was constructed between 1884 and 1888 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.

Clock inside the trading hall

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.[4]

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.[3]

It is claimed that the first £1,000,000 business deal was made at the Coal Exchange during a transaction at the turn of the 20th century in 1901. 2500 tonnes of coal were transported to France.[4][5]

Post-war period[edit]

Cardiff's reliance on coal made the Bute Docks highly vulnerable to any downturn in the demand for it. With the end of the war the docks went into further decline. The Coal exchange closed in 1958 and coal exports came to an end in 1964.

The building became Grade II* listed in 1975.[6]

In 1979 the Coal Exchange was earmarked as a future home of the proposed Welsh Assembly[3] and a heavily reinforced underground carpark was constructed (also envisaged to act as a nuclear shelter)[7] but the plan for devolution was rejected by the Welsh people in a referendum. In 1983 the building was considered as a headquarters for the Welsh language television station, S4C,[7] though this also failed to take off. The Exchange Hall was used with great regularity during this period as a filming location for various parts of the entertainment industry, for example the BBC drama Bevan.[7]

Re-opening, closure & current status[edit]

In 1988 the building was re-acquired and subsequently completely refurbished in 2001 to turn it into a major venue. The venue hosted acts such as the Arctic Monkeys, Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour Scene, Stereophonics and Biffy Clyro.[8]

The Coal Exchange closed indefinitely on 7 August 2013 as a result of building safety issues. With the subsequent liquidation of the company which owned it in 2014, ownership of the Coal Exchange passed to the Crown Estate. It is currently the subject of ongoing efforts to preserve the historic fabric of the building by the not-for-profit organisation Save the Coal Exchange Limited.[9] In February 2015, Welsh Government Economy Minister Edwina Hart commissioned a feasibility study into future re-use of the building. In May 2015 it was confirmed that the exchange would be used for filming of the remake of The Crow. In 2016 it was announced that the building was to be fully refurbished as a hotel, with a museum detailing the history of the building and of the Cardiff Docks.[10]


Coal Exchange is served by Cardiff Bay railway station and Cardiff Bus service 7, 8, 35, and Baycar.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Campaign Website". Save the Coal Exchange. Retrieved 2015-05-24. 
  2. ^ "Cardiff's Coal Exchange saved in £40m hotel revamp". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "South East Wales | Coal Exchange and Mountstuart Square". BBC. 2009-11-04. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  4. ^ a b "History". Coal Exchange. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  5. ^ [1], BBC News. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  6. ^ Cardiff Exchange Building, Butetown, British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
  7. ^ a b c Evans, Catherine; Dodsworth, Steve; Barnett, Julie (1984), Below the Bridge: A photo-historical survey of Cardiff's docklands to 1983, Cardiff: National Museum of Wales Cardiff, pp. 37–38, ISBN 0-7200-0288-5 
  8. ^ "Open Mic | Venues | Cardiff Coal Exchange". Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  9. ^ Save the Coal Exchange Retrieved 24 May 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Cardiff's Coal Exchange saved in £40m hotel revamp". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  11. ^ "Location". Coal Exchange. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Coal Exchange at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°27′56″N 3°10′06″W / 51.46544°N 3.1682°W / 51.46544; -3.1682