Page 17 - MarketTimesAugust2019
P. 17

 Pontypridd indoor
market is a beacon of
pride and hope in a
South Wales town that
was devastated by the
demise of coal and the
decline of steel. Nicola
Gould pays a visit
Pontypridd’s outdoor market, which once filled the streets to bursting every Wednesday and Saturday, may be just a shadow of its former self.
But the indoor market is thriving thanks to the efforts of the private owners of the Victorian market who have invested heavily in an ongoing programme of modernisation.
“This market is going from strength to strength,” said Tony Warwick, who has been trading here with his wife Vivienne for the past seven years selling anything and everything that he finds cool, from rock star cushions, lamps and incense to bags and fascinators.
“The company employs a gang of men working six days a week including two carpenters and a painter, and they bring in tilers and electricians when they need them.”
And the investment is bearing fruit, in particular in the food hall where work to transform the glazed roof is nearing completion. And the long- established, quality food traders have upgraded their businesses to match the bright, attractive new look.
With a third-generation butcher sourcing the finest local meat and making its own sausages on the stall; a baker who starts baking on the stall at the crack of dawn; and the market’s very own Welsh cakes stall, it compares well with any of London’s trendiest food emporiums.
And the rolling programme of improvements aims to bring the entire market up to a high standard, according to market manager Keith Woods, who began his working life more than 40 years ago sweeping up the market floor and has managed the market for the past 25 years.
Pontypridd, which lies at the gateway to the valleys 10 miles north of Cardiff, has boasted a vibrant market for centuries.
In the days when it was a small rural town, the drovers would bring their animals to town to sell every Wednesday and Saturday.
When coal and steel transformed the town into a hive of industrial activity the wealthy business people decided to capitalise on its success and build a market hall.
The indoor market was opened in 1877 and comprises a main market hall, the adjoining former town hall which was incorporated into the market before the turn of that century, and an adjoining annexe called Penuel Way.
The listed building, with its original stone floors and maze of halls, is now home to 65 traders offering every kind of product and service, from an impressive food offer, a vegan café and shop, to traditional lines and services including key cutting, watch repairs and a barbers.
There seems to be a busy café around every corner and the market continues to be a community hub for locals where they meet, eat, drink, shop and chat.
Keith says the market is the heart and soul of a town that has lost so much. The deep coal mined around Pontypridd was of the finest quality used to power steam ships that voyaged all over the world. Steel chains
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