When visiting the Swansea area one of the great treats has to be a visit to the Market. There has been a market in Swansea since the middle ages. The current building (the fourth) was built in the 1960s following the older Victorian market being levelled by German bombing in 1941. It is the largest indoor market in Wales and sells pretty much everything from food to clothes, knitting yarn and books to electronics, records and dog baskets.
I used to spend half my life in the market when I was 12. My grandma, or Nana as we called her, had a florist’s stall in the market for 45 years at Stall 44a (it is now stall 20a). She was the out and out Queen of the Market and knew everyone! Fond memories include Thayer’s dairy ice cream (strawberry of course), Saturday nights at Nanas where she would cook huge pans of laverbread, steak, cockles and of course thick hunks of bread coated in Welsh butter for 20 people!
You can get all your fresh produce and local delicacies in Swansea market.
Welsh butter (salty yellow and creamy), Welsh home-cured bacon, Welshcakes (scrummy as fruit or jam versions), a Swansea loaf (a type of crusty milk loaf and good to make a bacon sarny), cockles and mussels and a whole host of shellfish and seafood such as the ubiquitous laverbread (a black goop made from seaweed).
Other things not to miss are the home-prepared pies and sausages from Rees the Butcher, as well as their slow cooked beef (which melts in the mouth when made up in a bap). But talking of sandwiches, the roast pork stall is a firm favourite for their pork roll with sage and onion stuffing, and apple sauce!
Where to find Swansea Market
Located at the heart of the city centre, just off Oxford Street, the market has four entrances: the top gate near Lloyds Bank; the bottom gate opposite the Santander Building Society (used to be Abbey National); the side entrance near Dolphin SA1 (aka The Dolphin Hotel); and the Quadrant Gate where the market joins the shopping centre (this used to be part of the loading bay).
The market has changed over the years that I’ve known it. But there is still the same eclectic mixture of stalls selling pretty much everything. If you want something to eat, there are of course loads of takeaway stalls. But you can get traditional Welsh food – an Oggy (lamb pasty), a corned beef pasty, a tub of cockles, a bag of warm fresh Welshcakes, bread pudding, a warm beef and onion (Swansea) pie, or even a custard slice (similar to a French mille feuille, but with ‘real fake custard’!)
I love Swansea Market. It is part of my past. Although it’s not as it once was with paper bags of jarred sweets, paperbacks for 20p, the broken biscuit stall and the haberdashers where you could buy long johns, vests or corsets!
If you are in Swansea go and visit. Don’t forget to take a bag of warm Welshcakes home with you. To check opening times etc, please visit their website here.