The Coal Exchange, Cardiff Bay
The Coal Exchange, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff
This building was erected in 1884-1886 by the Cardiff Exchange and Office Co Ltd. Previously the site was the garden at the centre of Mount Stuart Square. The company was founded by Frederick de Courcy Hamilton, a local solicitor who played a formative role in Cardiff’s development. Another of his companies built Duke Street Arcade and High Street Arcade.
The Exchange provided a suitably grand setting for negotiating sales and shipping deals for coal from the prodigious collieries of South Wales. One of the companies which traded here in the early 20th century was shipbroker Aadnesen & Dahl, co-owned by Norwegian immigrant Harald Dahl. His son Roald, christened in Cardiff’s Norwegian Church, became one of the most successful children’s authors in history.
On one ordinary day, 15 August 1908, Aadnesen & Dahl dispatched 1,300 tons of coal from Cardiff to Ghent, Belgium. Other shipments brokered at the Exchange that day included: 5,500 tons of coal from Ferndale, Rhondda, to Genoa, Italy: 4,500 tons to Port Said, Egypt; and 2,500 tons to Portsmouth for the Royal Navy.
From 1941 to 1946 the Exchange was home to the Merchant Navy Reserve Pool. To ensure that seamen would always be available to crew vessels, the Government paid them to remain in the Reserve Pool when they were ashore.
The exchange closed in 1958, following a long decline in coal exports through Cardiff. The building was subsequently used for concerts, meetings, awards ceremonies and other activities. Artists who performed here included Van Morrison, the Manic Street Preachers, Bob Geldof, John Cale and Jools Holland. The building’s film and TV credits include episodes of Dr Who, Torchwood and Casualty.
The exchange closed in 1958, following a long decline in coal exports through Cardiff. The building was subsequently used for concerts, meetings and other activities. Before the people of Wales voted against devolution in 1979, the Coal Exchange was suggested as a home for the proposed Welsh Assembly.
The building is now home to The Exchange Hotel.
With thanks to Byron Jones, of the Merchant Navy Association (Wales)
Postcode: CF10 5EB View Location Map