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Making its mark

For centuries there had been a focal point for trade documented in the town but not a specific building as such.

Swansea Market beginnings

Swansea market has a colourful and vibrant past that spans centuries, supplying the people of Swansea with the vital goods they need to survive, keeping farmers and traders alike in business. With fertile fields and pasture land surrounding Swansea's vicinity, folk walked miles to town to sell their perishable wares and livestock.

"Swansey is a market town and chief place of Gowerland" wrote John Leland who visited in the 1530s. The earliest covered market dates back to 1652, which was located under the shadow of the Castle but the first purposely built market building was known as Market House and erected in 1774.

Market House was situated at the Castle end of Wind Street with the wonderfully named Butter and Potato streets leading down either side of the building with Island House in front which dates back to Medievel times.Market House was a low roofed, one floored building supported by pillars and had no outer walls. Surrounding streets were stood cheek by jowl and lack of space meant traders would spill over on each others pitches.With no health and safety regulations, it would have been a raucous experience creating a cauldron of the senses.

By the 1870's Island house was demolished to make way for the new street trams and Market House followed suite. Swansea had also outgrown its Castle located market and by the end of the 19th century expansion was needed as the town population mushroomed from around 13,000 in 1830 to over 90,000 by the 1890s. 

Read about the new market built in 1830

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