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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Coal Exchange to 'stock exchange'
The floor of the Coal Exchange busy with would-be stockbrokers
The floor of the Coal Exchange busy with would-be stockbrokers
Hundreds of children played stockbroker for the day in a building that was once the trading hub of south Wales' booming coal industry.

Cardiff's Coal Exchange was transformed into a stock market trading floor where 280 pupils bought and sold virtual stocks and shares.

Built between 1883 and 1886, the building is believed to be where the first recorded 1m deal was struck.

It is due to close in October for the start of a 20m redevelopment.

Split into teams of five from each school, the children began with 15,000 of virtual money to invest, with the winners those who boasted the highest portfolio at the closing bell.

That honour went to the pupils from Lliswerry High School, in Newport, who were presented with a cheque for 500 for their school.

The aim of the event was to get young people thinking about possible careers in the finance industry, according to organiser, the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (Uwic).

'Buying and selling'

"When the pupils went into the Coal Exchange they saw the live trading pit with between 10 and 15 traders all in red blazers" said Laura James, from Uwic's First Campus project.

The traders were all real-life workers in the finance industry - but the pupils experienced the cut and thrust first-hand during five "virtual" trading days.

"Each of the pupils had a role" added Ms James.

"One of them might have been in charge of keeping an eye on stocks and shares, another buying and selling. They all relied on each other."

A large screen displayed changing information about share values as well as news flashes the children had to react to.

Winning team from Lliswerry High School, pic by Alex Skibinski
Pupils experienced the cut and thrust of a real stock exchange

This fourth year the Stock Market Challenge took place in the Exchange Hall which is currently an arts and entertainment venue and will continue to be used for public events after the Coal Exchange's redevelopment.

The creation of 116 apartments, offices, restaurants, shops and bars is also planned by the building's owners Macob.

Cardiff was once the world's biggest coal-exporting port, according to historian Brian Lee who said the Coal Exchange had cost 40,000 to build.

"The Coal Exchange was the heart of everything - all the big deals, all the share dealing and everything that went on at that time" he said.

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