Caernarfon Market Hall

Palace Street, Caernarfon
Opened 1832

Author the late Stewart Hudson

 At the end of the C18th Caernarfon was a very busy town. Between 1790 and 1830 the towns population increased by almost 5,000 people and the mood of the town was of trade and expansion. The character of the walled town itself had been changed by the opening up of Walls with new arches at the end of Church St, Market Street and Northgate Street, the creation of Castle Square and removal of the curtain wall in an act of public works to create jobs for the poor in 1817 creating a new main entrance to the town.

Below the castle along the banks of the River Seiont the quay was being expanded to accommodate the increasing number of ships trading at the port. Shipwrights, Chandlers and Sailmakers plied their trades along the riverbanks. The traditional coastal trade expanded with a huge growth in the trans Atlantic trade. Fresh water, cattle and the agricultural produce

from both sides of the Menai Straits found a ready market in Caernarfon re-victualing ships for the longer voyages. The town mill was busy with Corn trade and skinning and Tanning of Hides rendered the town a noticeably unwholesome air as testified by the Borough's Grand Jury report in 1832 in which they bemoaned these nuisances preventing the town achieving Resort status for the wealthy and well to do. Within the walled town itself came a lot of redevelopment as the number of buildings from this period testify. Notably more elegant inside than the later Victorian additions one of the least noticed is the Market Hall in Palace Street.

At the heart of the commercial quarter of the town the new Market Hall was opened in 1832. Trading in Fruit and Fish it replaced an older Fish Market on the other side of Palace Street which was later redeveloped to become the new Corn Exchange, with Grain and Flour Warehouses occupying the site on the other side of Goron Fach public house. Red Lion Street, as Palace Street was known for some time, was home to numerous public houses and other meeting places

which were well supported by the towns merchants and Seamen and was at times a rather bawdy place. Other occupants of the street included various tradesmen including a cooper, a hatter, blacksmith, saddler and maltster as well as housing the Excise Officer and a Shipwright.

A fine example of early C19th market building the main hall was open with an upper gallery with natural light provided by the windows in the wooden lantern roof. The market was entered through the arched doorways at each end large enough to take Horse and Cart.

Underneath the building the cool vaulted cellars which were for some time used as the Customs and Excise Bonded Store where casks of imported Wines and Spirits were held until their release after the payment of ExciseDuty. Access to these is unfortunately not available. The building occupies one of Edward l's original 80ft x 60ft burgages (land holdings) which laid out when the walled town was formally established under the protection of the Castle and had been preceded on the site by an Elizabethan mansion owned by the Griffiths family of Penrhyn, a prominent local family two of whom enjoyed Tudor patronage as County sheriffs.