Old market hall, Caernarfon

Old market hall, Caernarfon

The market building which opens onto Palace Street and Hole in the Wall Street was designed by local architect John Lloyd and built in 1832 as a corn market. The large cellars were used to store wine in Victorian times. The large cellars were a bonded warehouse, where imported goods were stored without customs payments being paid. Duties would be paid when the goods were distributed. The wall-mounted crane on the Palace Street frontage was used to raise and lower goods.

Drawing of Plas Mawr, Caernarfon
Watercolour of Plas Mawr, courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

Space for the new market building was cleared by demolishing Plas Mawr, the large Tudor house which gave Palace Street its name. A plaque on Plas Mawr showed the initials “W.G.M.G.”, probably referring to William and Margaret Griffith. William died in 1587. He and Margaret are commemorated by marble effigies in St Peblig’s Church. William’s father, Sir William Griffith, had served King Henry VIII.

Plas Mawr was a house in multiple occupancy by 1788, when a merchant, a mariner and a shoemaker are recorded as tenants there.

Old photo of Caernarfon market hall interior
The market hall interior in the post-war period,
courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

In the 1880s, local historian WH Jones noted that older residents of Caernarfon recalled Plas Mawr being very high, of “almost tower-shaped construction”, with long stone staircases inside. (It resembled the surviving Plas Mawr in Conwy in some respects.) Some of those residents had attended a private school in Plas Mawr, run by a Rev Davies. Tenants continued to live in other parts of the building until its demolition.

The watercolour of Plas Mawr, by an anonymous artist, is from the Thomas Lloyd Collection of the National Monuments Record of Wales. The old photo shows the market hall interior. Both images are shown here courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales.

Plas Mawr was owned by the Assheton Smith family of Faenol, near Bangor, when it was demolished. The market building extended onto the neighbouring plot, and a line of slate in the market’s cobbled floor denoted the boundary of the Assheton Smiths’ land.

The market hall was renovated in 2014 for new uses, becoming the home of the Old Market Brewery, restaurant and bar. The hall is used for events and the cellar for horror-themed entertainment around Hallowe’en.

Postcode: LL55 1RR    View Location Map

Website of Old Market Brewery – including details of events

Copies of the old watercolour, old photo and other images are available from the RCAHMW. Contact: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk