Home > Food > Cardiff Character: Neil Adams

Cardiff Character: Neil Adams

Penarth born Neil Adams is the director of E. Ashton’s Fishmongers in Cardiff’s Central Market and has worked there since his family took over in 1973.

The family have not always been based in the centre of Cardiff. Neil points to a photo displaying the year 1928 and explains, “My father used to have a shop in Penarth and it wasn’t a very big place. When this stall came on the market he sold the shop and came here.”

Alongside his brother Jonathan they are fifth generation fishmongers. Their father John Adams, who is now in his eighties, isn’t involved in the day-to-day running, handing over the reins more than 20 years ago.

However, his son quipped, “He comes and does a few office jobs to keep away from my mother.”

Neil Adams with some of his 25 employees hard at work behind

Neil Adams with some of his 25 employees hard at work behind

Mr Adams says, “We’re not as busy as we used to be. The counter 20 years ago would have been heaving. There are less and less people coming through the market but we are still doing good business.”

With the declining numbers they have learnt to diversify by supplying local businesses.

He boasts, “The catering side has really taken off. We have developed it and I think we are quite good at it.”

It’s not just Cardiff wanting their fresh produce with supplies going to hotels and restaurants in areas such as Swansea, Chepstow, Abergavenny and even Bristol.

Neil has some explanations for the decline in the popularity of fish and one is the current generation.

He explains, “The younger people don’t know how to cook a bit off fish, and when people are working they just pop something in the microwave. Years ago people knew what to do with fish but sadly they are dying out.”

Another major factor in the decline are supermarkets. As Neil says, “People want to shop in one place with fresh fish already being pre-packed.”

There may be less numbers in the market but out of the current stalls, this one, situated at the Trinity Street entrance, draws some of the biggest crowds. And these customers do have their favourites.

“We sell a lot of cod, salmon, haddock and plaice. Other things have picked up like sea bass in recent years,” he says.

The fish is sourced worldwide, from the colder climates of Alaska, to the warmer environment of the Seychelles. There is a huge variety on the counter, such as tuna from the Indian Ocean and rare catches like swordfish, red snapper and grouper.

With people now going on holiday to exotic places it has caused the business to change stock.

Neil proudly states, “We have a lot more variety than we used to, we even have sea urchins out there today.”

With market stalls doing all they can to survive Mr Adams is calling for some help from other sources.

He says, “We would like the council to spend more money on the market.”

He drew comparisons to Swansea market, stating. “It’s a hell of a lot smarter than this one. It’s a much more modern place.”

He is not calling for major restoration, saying, “It is a bit run down but it does have a bit of charm. It could do with a lick of paint and bit of tidying up.”


Read More
Splott community group wins funding for social activities
Fine Dining Table with Wine and Candle
Voxpop: Do the public think Cardiff lacks fine dining establishments?
#InPoverty: Children without books could be hit hardest by gap in council budget
Cardiff Character: Ieuan Harry