Don’t rip the heart out of the Coal Exchange

Nerys Lloyd-Pierce bemoans the corporate men who are bent on destroying the Welsh capital’s heritage

The Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay is without doubt one of the city’s most fascinating buildings. Constructed as a base from which traders in the city’s industrial heyday could carry out their globally important work, it is the place where the world’s first £1m deal was struck. One would imagine it’s a building worth cherishing.

However, a freedom of information request, made by conservation engineer Jon Avent who works opposite the Coal Exchange, reveals that Cardiff City Council apparently has an intention to demolish the listed interior, keeping only the facade.

As anyone who has been inside the Coal Exchange will testify, the interior is magnificent. The former trading floor boasts rich wooden panelling, an oak balcony, stained glass… To demolish all this would be to rip the heart out of the Coal Exchange. It would destroy the very aspect of the building that illustrates its potent historical significance.

Inside, it’s possible to imagine the electric atmosphere as coal owners, ship owners and their agents met daily on the floor of the trading hall to negotiate their latest deals. During the peak trading hour of midday to one o’clock, the floor sometimes had as many as 200 men milling around, shouting, gesticulating, and wrangling over prices.

It was estimated that up to 10,000 people passed through the building each day. At one time, the Coal Exchange’s importance was such, that the price of the world’s coal was determined there. Built between 1883 and 1886 the Coal Exchange, was pivotal in Cardiff’s transformation from a small town of some 10,000 people to becoming a key commercial player on the international stage.

In more recent times, the building provided a unique, atmospheric music venue, hosting names as diverse as blues legend Walter Trout, saxophone supremo Courtney Pine and indie rockers Arctic Monkeys. So many Cardiff residents have good memories of evenings spent there, a venue brimming with character amid a sea of insipid establishments.

Cardiff’s fondness for the Coal Exchange is borne out by a newly launched petition aimed at Culture Minister John Griffiths that has already gathered more than 2,000 signatures, a figure that is rising rapidly.

The Coal Exchange is a Grade 11 listed building. The Victorian Society states that such a listing protects much more than the façade. It also protects the interior, plus outbuildings, boundary walls and all other structures within the ‘curtilage’.

The council claims the building is unsafe, and on the point of collapse. However, conservation engineer Jon Avent, who has spent the last 20 years looking at listed buildings in various states of disrepair, says he is of the firm belief that the Coal Exchange is not about to collapse. In his view, it needs a few isolated areas attended to, but nothing too challenging.

It’s hard to fathom why the council cannot see the value of restoring the Coal Exchange, potentially with help from the Heritage Lottery fund. It has been suggested that the council wants to build a modern conference centre behind the Coal Exchange façade. But why use a building of national significance for this purpose, when there are plenty of other options?

A common criticism of Cardiff Bay is that the overwhelming majority of its investment in regeneration went on the  modern waterfront development, while the historic core, with its run-down but spectacular old buildings was wilfully ignored. Furthermore, as was pointed out in Apolonija Susteric’s Artes Mundi 2012 contribution, ‘Politics in Space, Tiger Bay Project’, in the brave new world of the revamped bay, culture was ignored.

Sadly, this view is true enough. A visitor with an appetite for a richly diverse cultural experience would find the bay sorely lacking. Even the designation Cardiff Bay lacks the guts and power of a name like Tiger Bay.

Had old and new been married with vision and panache how different the story could have been. Cardiff Bay could have been a thriving and envied cultural centre, a place that seamlessly embraced ancient and modern. Instead, the Bay is a schizoid place of two halves.

How could this have been allowed to happen?

So much of Cardiff’s heritage has already been lost. The canal system that could have been a major tourist attraction is now underground. The picturesque 16th Century ruins of Greyfriars priory were bulldozed and now lie beneath Capital Tower. Almost any other city on the planet would have celebrated the priory as an historical feature to be prized. But planning has never been a Cardiff strong point, and it isn’t today.

With so much already trashed, it seems inconceivable that yet another piece of the city’s fabric can be cast aside with cynical abandon. Yet with will, vision and imagination, a magnificently restored Coal Exchange could be the centrepiece of a revitalised Mount Stuart Square. The Coal Exchange played a hugely important part in the city’s history, it should play an equally important part in the city’s future.

Some years ago I saw the iconic Patti Smith play at the Coal Exchange. Wandering around Cardiff Bay on a pre-performance jaunt, she noted the shoddy new build on the waterfront, and the sad neglect of the spectacular buildings further ‘inland’. She told the audience – ‘don’t let the corporate men destroy your city’. The trouble is, they seem hell-bent on doing so.

Nerys Lloyd-Pierce is Chair of Cardiff Civic Society.

35 thoughts on “Don’t rip the heart out of the Coal Exchange

  1. It seems that Cardiff planners lack the foresight and awareness that other non-English capitals seem to retain – just. They’re happy to spend millions gutting the Coal Exchange in favour of an anonymous, all-purpose interior yet seem bent on closing St David’s Hall and the New Theatre, allegedly to make savings; compare with Belfast and Edinburgh. At two strokes they lose an architectural and cultural icon as well as closing the only hall large enough to accommodate a 500+ audience for concerts by the BBC orchestra and other large scale musical events. Is there a petition website? We could yet be saved from the paucity of planners’ imagination.

  2. Nerys – your article is spot on. I have always thought that Mount Stuart Square should be / could be an integral part of the visitor experience to Mermaid Quay, part of the Cardiff Bay arc of entertainment. The Coal Exchange is a hugely important historic building within the square. In Edinburgh or Glasgow, such a square and such a building would be afforded a high priority as part of the city’s heritage. Dare I say it, as a regeneration practitioner, I could imagine creatives enlivening such a building……more so that a modern igloo building next to the BBC studios. Whatever happens, there needs to be a ‘gameplan’ / masterplan for this building and for this area.

  3. Nothing to do with ‘planners’ I suspect, but more to do with the political direction and culture of the political leaders aiming to ‘russell’ up an economic future that is based on the wrong inception. Cardiff is an attraction over other cities for its architecture, it’s particular character, and cultural heritage and diversity – that’s what sets it apart and makes it a place worth visiting. I only hope the actual planners have the guts to say what they feel, publish their advice and stand up for the community they too serve.

  4. I first moved to Cardiff nearly 15 years ago, having lived in the SE of England for quite some time before that. I remember that I would wander around the historic part of Cardiff Bay (Mount Stuart Square, Lower Bute St, etc.) and admire the impressive but empty Victorian and Edwardian commercial buildings, very reminiscent of parts of Liverpool and Manchester. What a fantastic high-quality hotel that building would make, something like the Caledonian in Edinburgh, I would think, or what great loft apartments or office space for media companies or artisan studies for artists; a sort of oasis of style in an otherwise off-the-shelf city typified by the achingly dull Queen Street. One day, perhaps, even the offence to the senses that is Mermaid Quay might one day be bulldozed and the elegance of Mountstuart Square extended down to the waterfront.

    Fifteen years later and those buildings are still empty, The Coal Exchange is falling down and plastic buildings with plastic businesses for plastic people a la Mermaid Quay win out across the Bay…

  5. Disclosure: I am vice-chair of Cardiff Civic Society!
    Tomorrow the National Assembly for Wales Petitions Committee (start 9am) will consider the Petition to undertake an enquiry into Cardiff Council’s handling of the Coal Exchange and its Listed status. Details are here http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=218&MId=2079&Ver=4
    It would be great if as many people as can attended the committee meeting to show their support. It is an early item on the Agenda.
    The session will also be broadcast on http://www.senedd.tv
    One point that Nerys’s article omits to say – perhaps she was being tactful? – is that Cardiff Council has expended £900,000 on dubious works and consultants fees to justify the demolition plan – which Jon Avent you notice as an expert says is unnecessary – which it ‘hopes’ to recover from the developed Macob. Many of the Macob companies went into Administration last week.
    Again, this expenditure was only discovered as a result of FOI enquiries.

  6. Amen to all of that. I’ve seen Van the Man, Orlando Caichito Lopez (Buena Vista Social Club) and others play there. I feel a campaign coming on.

  7. This would be a mindless loss to the Country, the City and the bay area in particular. The long term loss in asset value (to building and city) that such a demolition would represent has obviously not been addressed seriously by the city fathers. Swansea recently issued a dangerous structures notice on the elegant and historically significant Bush Hotel which was demolish soon after. This is either a case of a lack of joined up thinking or one of corporate vandalism. The same could happen to the Coal Exchange.

  8. Nerys Lloyd-Pierce offers a very eloquent defence of the Coal Exchange and I couldn’t agree more. Cardiff Council does not seem to understand the importance of our capital’s history being represented architecturally. The way that New School on Bute Terrace was ‘integrated’ into the flats development above makes a mockery of the listed status system. The old Taff Vale building at Cardiff Bay is also looking in a very sorry state at the moment.

    Nerys makes mention of a newly launched petition aimed at the Culture Minister, John Griffiths. Does anyone have any details as to how to access this?

  9. I thought I was the only person who had noticed that there are some fine buildings among the derelict victoriana of Butetown while the new stuff along Mermaid Quay is desperately mediocre and the stuff the BBC is throwing up – shame on them for evermore – is a succession of cheap and nasty eyesores. I am very glad to know that other people think so too. Cardiff Bay is a missed opportunity and not a good advertisement for Welsh taste. What can we do about it? Any ideas?

  10. Could somebody please create the link (or indeed cut and paste the text ) of the FOI article which alleges that Cardiff Council are apparently interested in gutting the main hall of the building.

    I could understand the reasoning behind a proposal to consider part demolition of either the wing facing Dumballs Road and/or the opposite wing (which was gutted by a fire many years ago and where the windows are all boarded up) – but the main hall, which is the jewel in the dilapidated building – surely not?

    I really do need to read this document to believe it possible. Where can I access it?

  11. The costing document which shows the council had spent around £900k by November of last year included £159,554 of engineers fees on works that the council considered ‘sensitive’ and needing to be ‘blacked-out’. Unfortunately for the council they failed to block out a column heading titled ‘demolition scheme’. The massive perimeter facade retention scheme planned by the council was for the gutting of the building core, and a these intentions were admitted to me by the councils engineers in July 2013…….although the council now say they deny ever making the statements to me.
    So it has to asked,………. if the council are so confident that they are protecting the building, why is so much information being kept hidden?………what have they got to be afraid of by being open with the public?………This is a building they claimed was about to collapse back in July 2013………We’ve just been through a particularly severe winter, and the only thing that collapsed was part of the fence the council put up………All anyone wants is openness and transparency……..a debate based around facts.
    Public meetings were promised for the residents and businesses around Mount Stewart Square, but the kept being cancelled by Cardiff Council…………Afraid of difficult questions perhaps????
    This is a grade 2 star building……….(in the top 8% of all listed buildings).
    It still has blocked gutters and shrubs growing out of some masonry joints…..simple maintenance tasks that could be attended to cheaply and quickly by anyone wishing to protect and save the building. But nothing has been done to address these basic issues……..IS THAT A COUNCIL AND/OR AN OWNER THAT WANTS TO PROTECT THE BUILDING……???…….or is it someone who is happy to see it deteriorate ? even the IHBC are concerned………. have a look at:-
    http://ihbconline.co.uk/newsachive/?p=7306&utm_source=NewsBlog&utm_campaign=d1395f63f7-Newsblog_Template10_4_2011&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e7d9c1b306-d1395f63f7-317259997

  12. Richard
    See the paper at the link in my comment. Page 42 is the start of paper from petitioner – the page about costs is one of the FOI disclosures to John Avent .

  13. Cardiff is a city which has undeniably experienced some significant successes, but perhaps these have glossed over some shortcomings. Cardiff is a city with no shortage of ambition or grand master plans and it seems to be able to get things done, but this may be an opportune time to take a breath and look below the surface. Fundamentally, there needs to be a bit more appreciation of the soul that a vibrant city requires and understand the tapestry of what exists. The creation of Cardiff bay and Mermaid Quay, was itself totally unsympathetic to what existed at the time and steamrollered over the great communities and fabulous history of the area. What was there before may not have been aesthetically beautiful, but it was completely wonderful in what it represented. Another example of minority viewpoints being ignored in the interests of perceived progress, but that’s for another debate perhaps.

    The lack of appreciation of an asset like the coal exchange raises some fundamental questions regarding planning and administration. The coal exchange is more than architectural aesthetics. Ripping up the past, does not have to form the basis of realising ambitions of new, exciting, modern and vibrant. Great cities never lose sight of their history, culture and sense of place in the world. These are things that cities and areas draw their collective strength from. The coal exchange is arguably a greater legacy than the mock-up castle or the millennium stadium – it was a place that exemplified business, in a brutal age and was the face to face trading place of it’s day.

    The future of the coal exchange should not be solely about its architecture. A building needs a purpose and a meaning. Demolition would be akin to vandalism – it does need someone to envision a new purpose and in my mind it should be a 24/7 vibrant business purpose, making deals at 3 in the morning, linking with finance on the other side of the world. It could be a place to buy and sell again, not a soul-less block of apartments or a museum to past glory. Two of the big plays in this century will revolve around energy and materials and these things link to the history of this building. It could be a place to do face-to-face deals in these areas, in a world where everything is on-line.

    In the faceless internet age, there is still a need to close deals in person. One idea might be to create another exchange, one for selling advanced materials, knowledge and intellectual property related to these materials. Institutions and companies are devising materials around the world and there isn’t as far as I’m aware a focal point for trading new materials, ideas and IP in this area. If we had an exchange in place like that ten years ago, then it might now be the place to do the first $1bn graphene-based energy storage material inspired deal. It could be a hub for new industries and designers perhaps. Fundamentally, it’s too important a building to let go and it needs to be relevant in the future – linking the future to it’s past activities may be a cheat to help leverage some of it’s inherited value.

    Mermaid Quay is a bit of a symbol of the brick upon brick, monotonous, featureless wonderlands that planners have thrived on for quite some time. Who knows, Mermaid Quay may well tell its own story and become cherished with age, since it is in itself it is a visual archive of the late ‘90s. It doesn’t appeal to my senses at this time, I must confess and the coal exchange is much more pleasing on the eye.

  14. Very sad to read of such plans by cardiff city council – and apparently secret plans at that. The Coal Exchange has a place in the heart of all Welsh devolutionists I’m sure, given it was intended to be the home of wales fledgling parliament in 1979.

  15. Never ceases to amaze me that Welsh Councils (and Welsh Government) are so willing to trample on welsh history for a quick buck but Cardiff Council isn’t alone. Merthyr Council recently gave permission to build a B & Q on top of the best preserved ironwork remains in the UK, why because there’s precious little imagination at all in regeneration or redevelopment of our towns an cities these days.

    Rhobart, the petition is on Avaaz and the link is here https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/John_Griffiths_AM_Minister_for_Culture_and_Sport_Save_Cardiff_Coal_Exchange_from_substantial_demolition/?copy

  16. Before criticising the Council why don’t people read the report that went to the council’s cabinet in January. The council at a time of public expenditure cuts has already spent £900,000 on a building that it doesn’t even own. It looks to me that the Council is at least trying to find an end use for a building which the private sector has clearly failed tp do anything with. I’m not an architect but if you use the logic of some commentators on this site then the refurbished Reichstag instead of being a real statement of a unified Germany is a huge mistake. Perhaps the answer is that those who list a building also have a duty to provide the finances to bring that building back into every day use. The ruthless capitalists who built the Exchange didn’t give a damn for their fellow man let alone a building. They would probably be baffled by some of the comments.

  17. Jeff – “The ruthless capitalists who built the Exchange didn’t give a damn for their fellow man let alone a building. They would probably be baffled by some of the comments…”

    Quite so, and our experience of the consequences of their materialist philistinism over the last 100 years compels us not to repeat their errors, even if it means preserving their memory and what they stood for.

  18. Jeff Jones
    “The ruthless capitalists who built the Exchange didn’t give a damn for their fellow man let alone a building. They would probably be baffled by some of the comments.”

    I don’t think we need to consider the puzzlement of these ruthless capitalists when it comes to our present cultural heritage and the opportunities it offers any more than we need to consider their likely puzzlement at present day working conditions and universal suffrage.
    They would undoubtedly find the present a foreign country.

    The coal exchange which includes it’s interior is an asset to Cardiff and could attract thousands of extra visitors to Cardiff every year.

  19. I have to confess to being baffled by Jeff Jones’ logic. First of all he equates gutting the Coal Exchange with the refurbishment of the Reichstag, the first destructive, the second constructive.

    Secondly, he equates a desire to protect a building of historical significance for both Cardiff and Wales with sympathy for ruthless capitalists.

    Finding a use for the building is clearly of importance and maybe a more public debate is required on this. And certainly, financing any project in relationship to the Coal Exchange is essential to that debate.
    But whatever the difficulties involved in coming up with a solution does not justify architectural vandalism and the promotion of philistinism as a social virtue.

  20. Why have CADW not taken over the building?
    The Coal Exchange has far more historical relevance to the people of modern Cardiff and Wales than ruined 12th century Norman castles.

  21. The Reichstag building is interesting because it shows how you can adapt a 19th century building to a constructive modern use. Foster’s design saw the interior of the building completely gutted. No one in Germany even considered restring the building to its original 19th century interior. In my opinion many of the comments are really not being fair to a Council which like all Welsh local authorities is facing a period of severe pressure on its finances. The Council could have walked away and merely placed an enforcement notice on the private owner to make the building safe and secure. Instead it had spent by January of this year £900,000 and if my memory serves me right there is an on going cost of about £540 a day. There is no guarantee that the Council taxpayers in Cardiff will get any of this money back. If any of the exterior is to survive then the building has to have a use in the future which will bring in income. Rather than criticise the Council I would have thought that the sensible approach would have been to support the Council’s attempt to regenerate an old building in a way which could add value to the area in which it is situated. It’s easy to collect signatures for a petition the hard bit is to actually produce a viable solution at a time of real pressure on public finances. It might not be perfect in the eyes of some but compromise often isn’t.

  22. Hey, perhaps Leigh Richards has got it. Williams says shrink the number of local councillors and Silk points out we need more AMs. The Assembly building can only take 80 AMs tops. So flog it to Cardiff Council for a new council chamber, nearer to their staff in County Hall. Then the Assembly could take over the Coal Exchange and refurb it to accommodate 100 AMs. True we’d have to find a use for City Hall. But Wales needs a modern art museum Right next to the existing national museum would be a good place and the latter could empty its storerooms and put stuff on display. Sorted.

  23. Jeff Jones raises some valid points.

    Why did the council spend £900k (probably more by now) at a time of public expenditure cuts? Unfortunately a very large proportion would appear to have gone on ‘professional services’. How were those services procured to ensure ‘best value’ to the public purse? Did they use a tender process, or were ‘contracts handed out’? Has anyone asked that question?

    If only the £900k had been spent on the building it would be in a far better state.’The ruthless capitalists who built the Exchange not giving a damn for tthe building’ (Jeff Jones comment), certainly produced a fantastic building… I’d love to see a few buildings they did care about.

  24. What Jeff Jones does seem to want to recognise is that signatures are people expressing a view. It’s called democracy. Imposing plans with no democratic process doesn’t happen in the UK, or is Cardiff different to the rest of the country? If the councils scheme is genuinely in the best interests of the building then they should have the confidence and integrity to be open about what has been being planned.

    So please be clear on what you are supporting Jeff: a democratic and open process or a council that bypasses such processes. A public enquiry is sought to enable the full story of the Coal Exchange to be told… nothing else at this stage. What have the Council got to hide? If they are so confident of their approach then be open.

  25. Jon the Council is being open. If it wasn’t then it would not have placed the item on the cabinet agenda in January. If it wasn’t interested in saving the Coal Exchange it also would not have spent £900,000 on a building it doesn’t even own. If people are concerned about the way in which the Council has approached the issue then the appropriate approach would be to lobby members of the appropriate scrutiny committee to look at the issue.

    From my perspective all I can see is a Council looking for a practical solution to a problem which frankly it did not create. I can think of a number of councils in the UK where the reaction would be limited to health and safety full stop, and where there would no attempt to be involved in any future use of the building.

  26. Jeff
    If the council are being open…….
    Why are parts of the meeting excluded from public access?
    Why are element of costings blacked out in documents?
    Why were all the promised public consultations for residents and businesses around the area cancelled?
    Why are the council and Macob refusing access into the building by interested parties?

    The council are certainly looking for a ‘solution’…
    Under normal circumstances getting a council scrutiny committee to review would be a logical step.
    Unfortunately Cardiff have shown that they don’t follow such processes, they simply stall and delay any attempts at such dialogue. So we are where we are, unfortunately.

    Cardiff were encouraged and invited to discuss and be open, and to demonstrate the robustness of their arguments, but refused. So disappointing.
    I appreciate we have different views on this and probably would never agree, but this simply reflects the fact that there will inevitably be differing views across the city and beyond and it is reasonable to allow those opinions to be expressed and not aggressively suppressed by a council seeking to impose its intentions without consultation.
    A fair, reasonable and balanced approach…..that’s all. And if the conclusion and justification with ALL the facts on the table is to demolish the core, then fine. I’ll support it as well…..but only with the justification on the table. The presumption with all listed building is to retain….and conserve, and not demolish.

  27. It is ironic that Jeff Jones seeks to critisise the ‘ruthless capitalists’ who built the Coal Exchange, but not the ruthless capitalists who now want to destroy it. It is totally clear that the reason for gutting the core of the building is to maximise the development return for Macob……is that not ruthless capitalism?
    As for the cheap jibe at those who have expressed an opinion and signed the petition, perhaps Jeff (and his ‘supporters’) would like to russell-up their own petition and see if they can come up with a good-way of dealing with the situation……?
    As for the apparent abuse of the building act (section 78) by Cardiff Council, perhaps some justification on this would be welcome.
    It is a shame that this nationally important building is becoming a political football clouded by council spin and misinformation.

  28. If you read the Cardiff Council Cabinet report from 29th Jan 2014 it clearly states that the facade and trading hall will be saved:

    “Consequently the Council is seeking to enable the following:
    · Recoup the costs incurred by Cardiff Council to date.
    · Protect and remove the retained listed primary structure of the Coal
    Exchange facilitated by the dismantling and redevelopment of the
    areas of unsafe structure and secondary fabric.
    · Support the development of a commercially viable project that can
    be delivered using private funding.
    · Secure for public use the southernmost entrance of the building, to
    include the historic hall and potential for use to support local
    business.”

    Therefore to say in this article “To demolish all this would be to rip the heart out of the Coal Exchange. It would destroy the very aspect of the building that illustrates its potent historical significance.” Is untrue and scaremongering. In para 20 of the cabinet report the costs are clearly and transparently stated so to claim that these were only disclosed via an FOI request is also untrue.

    I do wish people would talk about facts and not immediately fall into the trap of ‘conspiracy’ or the Council having an alterior motive. The motive is to bring back into use a key building that played a huge part in Cardiff’s historical growth as a city, and that the private sector has let decay for decades. Read the Cabinet report here, and make up your own minds:
    http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/content.asp?nav=2872,3250,3251&parent_directory_id=2865

  29. If only the documents were complete and factual.
    Firstly the claim that costs incurred for action taken using section 78 powers can be recovered needs scrutiny. Cardiff council simply don’t want to explain or justify their actions in this respect. Section 78 powers should be exercised by a qualified council employee known as a ‘proper officer’, but a phone call to Cardiff council building control received the response that the council doesn’t have anyone in this position.
    S78 powers are draconian and used in cases of extreme and immediate danger to the public…….there is no evidence that this ever existed….so why were such powers used…..what motives?
    Months on blocking of FOI request by Cardiff Council……..
    Documents with blacked out headings…….
    No consultation with local residents and businesses………
    Does this sound like an open and transparent council?
    Proposed …..’dismantling and redevelopment of unsafe structures’…….what might that mean?
    As there is a clear suggestion that the whole building is considered unsafe, this keeps the concerns over apparent intentions to remove all the core of the building very much alive.
    So if the Council are so sure that they are keeping the principal core elements of the building lets have an open public presentation of the current proposals and an opportunity for views to be expressed…..and not suppressed.
    If the council doesn’t want conspiracy theories to grow then they shouldn’t create the environment and evidence that rampantly feeds such theories.

  30. Thank you John for all your work to save the Coal Exchange. I have spent many years working on events in the buiding, and for 2 years with Promo Cymru in offices just off the balcony above the trading floor. Like many other people I love the building, its design and massive construction. I have a lot of photos taken in the Exchange, including of the roof above the false ceiling. I also discovered that during the remodelling of the main hall much of the original work, including the wrought iron balconies, were covered over and not removed or destroyed. Which all gives lots of exciting opportunities for the renovation. The Council may feel they are proceeding correctly, but its not legally. I went down with a camera yesterday to take some photos of a beatiful building on a sunny spring day, and also to see which firm had erected the scaffold. There is no name plate visible, which is illegal. If the company, which may have been Macob Scaffolding Ltd. is no longer operating and no other firm has taken resposibility, then there is no regular maintenance, which is illegal.
    Very little of the exterior of the building is scaffolded compared to the amount of the road which is fenced off, supposedly to protect the public from falling masonry or slates. It does provide room however for the bulldozers.
    The road closure notice is for 18 months, which seems a long time for an emergency.
    There is also a derelict building less than 100 metres away and next to Butetown Primary, where slates do fall off onto the pavement in high winds, and it still stands.
    The Exchange is know owned by not Macob Exchange but GYG Exchange ltd., which is wholly owned by GYG Holdings limited. It seems to have come out of insolvency by volontary agreement on 13/02/2014. Its accounts at Companies House are listed as overdue. Last filed figures showed it have a net worth of -£4,386,794. And it changed its name twice recently, 18/07/2012 and 04/02/2013.
    So the chance of us receiving our £900,000 and daily rising look exremely remote.
    And it has been over 10 years since Macob received outline planning permission for the flats, offices etc. but only after they had produced full plans and drawings, details of materials, details of interior sound insulation so the hall could be used, and much more. None of this has been done.
    No councillors or council employees should be involved in this dubious, risky programme which will almost certainly end in the courts if it proceeds. And if the demolition tries to begin, I will gladly end up in court for sitting in front of the bulldozers, and I’m sure some of you will join me.

  31. Just become aware of this. Is there any active campaigning still happening as I’d be more than willing to help. Personally I think raising awareness & petitioning in the local area would help, or if already done, do a bit more! I could imagine it being a great cultural venue (keeping as much intact & restored as possible), maybe a market & cafes in day, plus small business spaces, and an arts venue at night, why not? I’ve only lived here a couple of years so I don’t know much but it certainly seems a crying shame to let it go.

  32. The coal exchange played a vital role in the coal trade that made South Wales the Dubai of it’s day Fuelling Steamships, Railways and industry all over the world. It is a part of our history.
    My father was a pilot on Cardiff Dock – he would often proudly tell me that he was the “…last of the Alexander pilots on Cardiff Dock. He would sometimes take me with him in the school holidays. I have a vivid memory of leaning over a balcony in the coal exchange and he said “I can remember leaning over that balcony just as you are now and seeing that floor black with men in tail coats and top hats buying and selling tons of coal on a handshake”

    David Alexander

  33. All I wish is for the building to be used.
    Social housing would be my first priority or hotel with a restaurant etc
    I am assuming the major issue at present is the roofs of the building as being unsafe and likely the structure holding everything up. From what I can gather there is funding available to pull the thing down and rebuild back to its original condition. Regulations for good reasons maybe the stumbling block for its future use. Fire escapes would be major works affecting the exterior and internal structures. Listed buildings will want to have a say. Ultimately establishing the best use of the building has yet been decided.

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