Former market and Conservative Club, Caernarfon

Former market and Conservative Club, Caernarfon

The large building at the corner of Market Street and High Street was originally built as a market hall, c.1820. New rooms for the Working-Men’s Conservative Club were erected above the market in 1886.

In medieval times, a Christian stone cross stood at the crossroads here. The town hall was also here, on the plot later used for the market. A new town hall was built above the East Gate in the 1760s and the earlier one was a ruin for many years.

The market hall was used to sell meat. The arched openings (now filled in) provided ventilation. It would have been unhygienic to sell meat in enclosed buildings before refrigeration was invented.

Rooms above the market were used at different times for a school, an arms depot and a savings bank. The Conservative Club, founded in 1871, soon outgrew the rooms. Membership had grown to more than 600 members by 1886, when the Assheton Smith family of Faenol, Bangor, allowed another storey to be built and the original rooms to be made higher.

Local architect Arthur Ingleton designed the alterations. A ventilation shaft was installed, from the market hall’s new pine ceiling to the roof. The top floor featured an assembly hall with space for c.700 people and views across the Menai Strait. Concerts, meetings and other events were held there. The second floor hosted reading and smoking rooms, billiards tables, a committee room and other facilities.

The opening event included a speech by barrister Edmund Swetenham, who had recently been elected Conservative MP for Carnarvon Boroughs (covering Caernarfon, Bangor, Conwy, Criccieth, Pwllheli and Nefyn). Before him the constituency had a Liberal MP for over 20 years. He died in 1890, triggering a byelection in which Tory candidate Ellis Nanney was narrowly beaten by Liberal David Lloyd George, the future Prime Minister.

Postcode: LL55 1RN    View Location Map