It was constructed between 1883 and 1886 as an impressive base from which to conduct trade negotiations regarding the coal mines of the South Wales Valleys – most of which was shipped to Cardiff for distribution. The building played an important role in the industrial Cardiff of the 19th century even to the extent that the first recorded million pound business deal ever was reportedly struck within its walls. It was designed by architect Edwin Seward.
It is said that the first £1,000,000 (£1 Million pound) cheque was written at the Coal Exchange during a transaction at the turn of the 20th century in 1901 (equivalent to £77,837,086.09 today). 2500 tonnes of coal were transported to France.