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Foundations for a new generation of shoppers

Designed by Sir Percy Thomas & Son and built by Robert M Douglas Limited, today's market is a space age-looking structure with a large roof.

The market today

Made of steel arched portal frames and glass, the roof spans 192 feet and floods the building with natural light. It contains an aluminium double-skin roof-covering to prevent condensation, and balances its interior temperature whether it's freezing cold or sweltering hot outside. 

The layout of the stalls was intended to lead shoppers around the market, making the most of the large open-plan structure to surround buyers with all they need. The Market has an interrupted floor space of 30,870 square feet. To resolve the outward thrust of the curved steel arches, the arched roof stands on a reinforced and pre-stressed concrete structure of slabs and beams. The column bases stand on pre-cast concrete-piled foundations which carry the loads down to the solid gravel bed about 15ft below floor level. The £1.25 million building represented optimism in the next phase of Swansea and its market history.

The market is a marvellous example of British post-war architecture which was paralleled in the other heavily-bombed towns of Britain throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Floor finishes are a combination of granolithic paving and ceramic tiles, all set in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The few walled areas are covered with blue, white and grey modernist tactile tiles and mosaics, and are still intact today.

Combining space and function, the Market seamlessly connects with the surrounding redevelopment of Swansea's new town centre. Also at this time a swoop of identical two-storey shops and a hotel were being built, enclosing the market within its perimeter. The building blocks of a new Swansea town centre were emerging. A modernist Swansea had emerged from The Blitz. 

Kingsway and Princess Way were brand new streamlined boulevards designed in the post-war architectural vernacular that, depending on individual taste, we have come to love or hate today.

Stalls in business 1961 (as seen on the opening ceremony film):  

Peacock's Stores; Gordon Walters - Fruiterers; 
T. Williams; I. Jonah - Welsh Produce; 
J. Glyn Williams; F E Moore; B. Mc Carthy; 
G. Allen; G.Fussell; Archie Gwyn;  Winnie Thomas; 
C J Morgan;  W J Tucker; John Upton; Tom Jones;
L. Vaughan; Billy Thomas - Family Butcher; Percy Watts.

The building itself has changed very little over fifty years. The pendant lampshades are still intact and light the space when it gets dark outside. The iconic clock that looms large above us is in working order, helping us to catch our buses home in time.

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