Adrian Coakley-Greene of Coakley-Greene Fishmongers, Swansea Market
Coakley-Greene was first established at No. 1 Goat Street in the centre of Swansea in 1856 by Adrian’s great, great, grandparents.
This photo was taken in 1907 and shows Adrian’s proud great grandmother, with her daughter, outside of their fishmongers. The window display was full of fish but there was no actual glass window and certainly no ice or mechanism to keep the fish cool.
Goat Street was destroyed during the air raids in 1941 and Coakley-Greene was relocated to the temporary Swansea Market building.
Coakley-Greene’s relocated fishmongers at the temporary Swansea Market in 1952.
The newly built market opened on Oxford Street in 1961 with great excitement and the hope for the future prosperity of the market traders.
Adrian’s father, Francis took over the business from his parents at that time and a new era began.
This photo was taken circa. 1969 and features Francis Coakely-Greene and his staff. Francis is now 97 and can still be seen on occasions behind the counter of the stall in Swansea Market.
Over the last 50 years, Adrian has seen how people’s shopping habits have changed and how the business has had to adapt. In particular, he increased the variety of species of fish on offer; as more people began travelling abroad on holidays, their tastes in fish became more adventurous. In addition, as the population of Swansea over the last 50 years has become more ethnically diverse, more exotic species of fish became in demand.
The constant is the need to ensure an attractive display at all times and give confidence to customers that the fish is being kept in the best possible conditions. Adrian and his staff spend hours every morning with ice chips, ice sculptures, parsley, lemon etc making sure that customers are greeted with a sight to behold.
Adrian’s father, Francis, is extremely proud that at one time, his stall was visited by personnel from Selfridges in London who wanted help with ideas for their own fish department. The thank you letter offered that the ‘mighty Company of Selfridges will be happy to entertain you to a lunch or some convivial entertainment of your choice’.
Over the years, Coakley-Greene has been renowned locally and beyond for its interest in unusual fish. From 19 stone porbeagle sharks and Norwegian red king crabs to 6ft long skate, Coakley-Greene has sold them all. Although, his most exciting find was a fish so rare, it is only known by its Latin classification – Luvarus Imperialis – a cross between a tuna and a dolphin. It normally swims so deep under the sea, it is virtually unseen. Adrian gave the big, red, blunt-snouted creature to marine biologists and its new home is believed to be the Natural History Museum in London.
One of Adrian’s most favourite moments over the last 50 years, is meeting Prince Charles. Prince Charles, who visited Swansea on 3 July 3 1969 to issue the proclamation grating Swansea city status, came to Swansea Market in 2012 to see at first-hand why Adrian and his fellow traders are so important to the Market and to the city in general.
Whilst things have changed over 50 years and retail is certainly more challenging now, Adrian is positive about the future of his business and Swansea Market.
“Swansea Market has historically always been a great attraction for people from far and wide, if only to enjoy to the famous cockles and laverbread. Generally, people view independent fishmongers as specialists and we work hard to offer a superior product and knowledge to our customers. Our family business has experienced sustained growth over the last 50 years and together with my daughter Annabel and our team of staff, we certainly intend to keep up that tradition!” – Adrian Coakley-Green