Swansea Market

Swansea Market

swansea_market_oxford_streetSwansea has had a covered market since the 17th century. The current building opened in 1961, replacing an earlier hall bombed in the Second World War.

The first indoor market was held in a building near Swansea Castle from 1652 onwards. In 1774, a purpose-built Market House opened nearby, at the top of Wind Street.

The market moved to the present site in 1830 with the opening of a new hall, which featured a clock tower at its centre. Fresh produce from the surrounding countryside was sold there. Victorian visitors liked to see the female stallholders in Welsh flannel, many of them selling cockles and laverbread from north Gower. You can read about this continuing tradition on our page about the cockle stalls.

During the long trading hours, women stallholders cooked meals for themselves and family members on small fireplaces at their stalls. Many vendors lost their stalls and stock when in the “greenstuff” area of the market was badly damaged by fire one night in 1876. A quick-thinking person turned off the gas supply (for lighting) to prevent an explosion. Firefighters extinguished the blaze before it reached the clock tower.

The market hall was rebuilt from 1895 to 1897. The new hall had electric lighting and a grand Oxford Street frontage of red brick from Ruabon, near Wrexham (shown in the photo above, courtesy of West Glamorgan Archive Service). Two tall towers flanked the main entrance. With its huge roof of glass and wrought iron, the hall accoswansea_market_bomb_damagedmmodated almost 600 stalls in the late 1920s.

During the First World War, egg collections and bird shows were held there to raise funds for wounded soldiers. At a dog show in 1916, army and police officers rounded up all of the men who looked old enough to be conscripted into the forces. Bertram Edmonds, who had a fruit stall in the market, was killed in the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, leaving his wife and six small children.

The hall’s roof was destroyed when the German air force bombed Swansea in February 1941 (see the photo on the left, courtesy of West Glamorgan Archive Service). Nine months later, stalls were set up at temporary sites in Oxford Street and other locations nearby. Rebuilding other bombed areas took precedence after the war, and the open-air stalls continued for 20 years.swansea_market_hall_construction

The present market hall opened in May 1961. It was designed by renowned Welsh architect Percy Thomas. The roof features steel, aluminium and glass. It spans 59 metres (192ft) and is supported by concrete columns and piles. The photo on the right shows it under construction (courtesy of West Glamorgan Archive Service).

With thanks to West Glamorgan Archive Service

Postcode: SA1 3PQ    View Location Map

Website of Swansea Market