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The second Oxford Street Market: Jubilee spirit ignites the town

By the 1890's Swansea had flourished into a grand Victorian town.

Second Swansea Market on Oxford Street

Elaborately-faced shop fronts, built with care and quality, dominated the towns' shopping centre, with opulent department stores and Theatres. Ben Evans was the largest department store around and was nicknamed 'The Harrods of Wales'. The jubilee spirit of 1887 and 1897 emphasised Swansea's transformation into a town to be reckoned with.

Modernisation was the key to expansion. Good drainage and lighting was brought in by local architects J. Buckley Wilson and Glendenning Moxham, who in 1888 won a prestigious competition and fought off 20 architects' firms to design the grand second market. 

On 22 June 1897 (the same day as Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee) a brand new red Ruabon brick-fronted building was opened to the public by the mayor, Councillor Howell Watkins. It covered the same two-acre site as its predecessor, but with a grand façade built around the Oxford Street entrance with two 60ft high towers greeting you to a new shopping experience. This time a roof covered the whole market, and was at the time the largest structure of glass and wrought ironwork in the UK. 

In December 1897 electricity was introduced to the market and by 1900 the corporation's new power station at the Strand lit the whole building. History was in the making.

The second Oxford Street Market was an impressive and important building in Swansea's architectural history and housed an incredible 597 stalls by the end of the 1920s. As always many stalls sold fresh produce from the Gower peninsula which made the market very desirable to visitors and tourists. It was boom time.

Read about the rebuilding of the market after the Second World War

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