The building was erected in 1884-1886, on what was previously the gardens at the centre of Mount Stuart Square, by the Cardiff Exchange and Office Co Ltd. That company was founded by Frederick de Courcy Hamilton, a local solicitor who played a formative role in Cardiff’s development. The land was leased from the Marquess of Bute, who was responsible for the building of Cardiff Docks.
The building’s exterior is Bath stone and yellow brick and the architects, Messrs. James, Seward and Thomas, used a style derived from the French Renaissance.The original main building was supplemented with blocks on each side of the square. The Cardiff Coal and Shipping Exchange met in the central hall and the Cardiff Incorporated Chamber of Commerce had offices on the north side.
In 1911 the architects were called back to do a remodelling of the interior which included the paired Corinthian columns and rich wood panelling which adorn the exchange floor surrounded by oak balconies and galleried tiers of offices overlooking it.
In 1975 it was Graded II* as one of most historically important commercial buildings in Wales.
At various times the Coal Exchange was earmarked as a future home of the proposed Welsh Assembly and later the Welsh language television station, S4C. Both failed to take off but following a refurbishment in 2001 to was turned it into a major music and events venue, hosting gala dinners, weddings and acts such as those Welsh favourites Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics.
In August 2013, the building was closed due to building safety concerns and this magnificent part of the history of Cardiff and South Wales Valleys looked doomed. There were even suggestions that much of the Coal Exchange would be pulled down!
But, in 2016 it was announced that hotel developer Lawrence Kenwright of Signature Living had purchased the building with plans to fully restore and refurbish the whole building. Signature Living are now converting the building into a luxury hotel which celebrated the history of both the local area and the Exchange itself. Work in still in progress but the former trading hall is now restored and will be the venue for the main confernce programme.
Wales Millennium Centre is a landmark arts venue and a cultural destination, opened by Her Majesty the Queen on November 28, 2004.
On its 7.5 acre site in Cardiff Bay, the Centre has a 1900 seat lyric theatre, designed for opera, large scale musicals, ballet and contemporary dance.as well as a number of other performance spaces. The Centre is also home to eight other cultural organisations, including Welsh National Opera.
Annually the Centre receives over 1.5 million visitors making it Wales' number one visitor attraction.