City centre shoppers are enjoying a sociable and relaxing new experience in Swansea Market.
The iconic venue has just become yet more welcoming.
The Market Garden – a new area at the heart of the venue – is a new place where people can eat, work and enjoy themselves. They take food and drink there having bought it from nearby market stalls.
Its launch was welcomed on Saturday, December 4, with a visit by Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Mary Jones.
Gwaun Cae Gurwen Brass Band helped usher in the new era, there was more music from singer-songwriter Ailie Kenna and there was fun with festive characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, The Grinch and Elf on the Shelf.
The market’s Christmas-themed best dressed stall competition was won by Janet’s Café, with Arlene’s Sweetie Jar and Nonna’s running the winner close.
The green-themed Market Garden, developed by Swansea Council, features more than 170 plants together with an assortment of comfortable, garden-style tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy food and drink bought from a wide variety of market stalls.
The new young plants will grow to make the space more green, any plants struggling to bed in will be replaced and seasonal flowers will also be added at appropriate times.
The new attraction’s name celebrates a previous era when the centre of the venue was traditionally home to a flower market.
Operated in line with latest Covid guidelines, it has power charging facilities, recycling bins and a water station to refill water bottles. Free public Wi-Fi is planned.
Highchairs are available to those with young children. There are warmers for baby bottles and food – and there’s a toddlers’ play table.
For the first time, dog lovers can take their well-behaved pets to the market. Dogs can enjoy a bowl of water at Swansea Jack’s kennel – as long as they follow the market’s new “doggie rules.”
Bakery stallholder Jan Evans said: “The Market Garden is a fantastic addition to the market in an area that was previously not very heavily used.
“Visually, it’s a huge improvement and it’s wonderful to see our customers enjoying using this new facility already.
“I’m really looking forward to having new events there and I’m sure it’ll prove to be of benefit to everyone in the market.”
Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The market will play a key role in Swansea’s great future, being led by our £1bn regeneration scheme.
“Its Market Garden is part of a £440,000 improvement programme at this wonderful venue. It’s accessible, inclusive, well managed and will bring new footfall for traders to benefit.
“It’s designed for the benefit and enjoyment of all customers – for meeting friends and family, catching up on work and enjoying the fantastic range of food available from the market.
“It’s set to become a popular destination and is a flexible space that can also host events and exhibitions which will help attract a broader audience.”
The market, run by the council, attracts more than four million shoppers a year in non-pandemic times and is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses.
The Market Garden, which is close to the famous cockle stalls, is visible from every direction due to its 7.5m-high pergola, the shape of which mirrors the market’s monumental domed roof.
The new attraction’s design and name were decided by the public as part of a consultation exercise this year. Traders had an input too.
Key for the traders was maintaining sight lines across the market. This was achieved by designing an open pergola without any walls but onto which decorative features can be hung to add greenery and create atmosphere.
The Market Garden stands on a formerly under-used and relatively unattractive space in the centre of the market. It previously had tables rented by the day by casual traders.
They have ceased trading in that area but will remain in the market, hiring other space. They have the option of using a smart new area a few yards away, next to the world-famous stalls that sell cockles, laver-bread and other delicacies.