Page 18 - MarketTimesAugust2019
P. 18

made in the town’s steel works were also used on ships sailing the high seas.
But the Thatcher years took their toll and there was no back-up for towns like Pontypridd, according to the locals.
The outdoor market was particularly badly affected by the downturn, Keith said. “There used to be more than 100 traders including some who travelled from London. It was a real destination market.”
They set up stall along Market Street, down the adjoining Church Street and on land purchased in the 1980s by the Pontypridd Market Company.
Stuart Davies, who first helped out on the outdoor market aged eight, has experienced that downturn at first hand.
“I had three Saturday jobs on this market from the age of eight when my dad refused to buy me a motorbike which I had set my heart on and I decided to earn the money,” he said.
He began trading full-time at 17, changing his lines to match changing trends. “The market was really booming in the mid-80s,
then the closures hit hard and shoppers didn’t have the money.”
That eased in the 1990s when tax credits started coming through, but the outdoor market has never recovered, Stuart said.
Keith added: “It was really hard to see the coal and steel jobs go and the outdoor market suffer after it has been such a success, but the indoor market has managed to stay strong and it is a source of great pride for everyone in Pontypridd.”
And much of the credit has to go to Pontypridd Market Company, the private operation that has owned and run the market throughout its history.
Keith said that since the 1950s the main shareholder has been the Stradling John family. It was Alfred Stradling John, an accountant in Pontypridd, who took on Keith, and Alfred’s grandson, Nigel, is now at the helm.
The market’s charter was granted on its opening in 1877 and exactly 100 years later the company successfully petitioned Parliament resulting in the Pontypridd Markets Fairs and
FEATURE • PONTYPRIDD Town Hall Act, which allowed the company to
borrow more in order to invest in the market. “Up until then traders had brought their own
tables and the market was a pannier-style market,” Keith said.
The company invested in creating units and stalls and undertook major work including rewiring, all of which was desperately needed.
The indoor market has weathered the downward market trend of recent years and the private company is now well into its latest modernisation programme which is being carried out around the traders.
They are unanimously positive about the improvements. Butcher Philip Bevan, whose great uncle started the business in 1918, said: “They have done a brilliant job. The roof was all glazed and it was dirty and dated. They are doing the final section now and it’s looking really good.”
Bevans Butchers, in its original spot, has been totally transformed and now rivals any fine meat emporium, with all locally sourced meat and Philip’s brother, Nigel, hard at work
   Keith Woods began his working life sweeping the floor at Pontypridd market more than 40 years ago and has managed the market for the past 25 years
Angharad Thomas has made a success of her vegan café and shop, Soul Spice, in the food hall which she started two-and-a-half years ago
   John Thomas is still running the cold meat, pies and eggs stall he took over and expanded to great effect 33 years ago
Stuart Davies got his first Saturday job on Pontypridd outdoor market aged eight and has been standing it full-time since he was 17 selling different lines to keep up with the times

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