The Fascinating Story of Richard Palethorpe Culley

At The Exchange Hotel, we’ve been busy preparing to bring Cardiff a new, luxury dining experience. Culley’s Bar and Restaurant will be opening within the Exchange Hotel, offering overnight guests and day visitors the opportunity to dine at the Exchange in style.

While restoring the iconic building, we delved deep into the history of the Cardiff Coal Exchange, discovering plenty of stories that have shaped the city today. The striking venue is filled with the tales of decades gone by. We hope to cultivate these stories and celebrate the history of the Coal Exchange in every possible way.

The Story Behind Culley’s

Humble Beginnings

Richard Palethorpe Culley was an iconic figure in Cardiff and played an important role in the history of The Coal Exchange. Named after the man himself, it was the local philanthropist and entrepreneur who inspired our upcoming restaurant and bar.

Born in 1843, Mr R.P. Culley was the son of an inkeeper, learning the tricks of the trade through an unusual but encouraging upbringing. Culley watched his father play host to an array of travellers over the years, offering catering, beverages and a comfortable nights sleep to those who needed it.

When his father passed away in 1861, Culley set off to pursue his entrepreneurial skills, leaving his home village behind. Inspired by his father, Culley became a Travellers Clerk and eventually a Brewers Traveller, marrying Jane Simpson of Exeter and settling in Plymouth.

A Prosperous Journey

Culley sought opportunity to prosper from the very beginning of his career. In 1881 Culley secured a catering contract in North Yorkshire, providing hospitality to officers of the Commissariat and Ordinance Regiments.

And that wasn’t all. Culley was also making a profit back at home, sharing a grocers shop in Plymouth. The company were known as Culley & Tyacke. With a wealth of experience to implement, Richard Culley continued on his journey – his big break came with the opening of the Cardiff Coal Exchange in 1886.

Culley secured a catering contract with the Coal Exchange to work in the lavish Coal Exchange Restaurant. A combination of Culley’s charisma and experience meant he excelled at rubbing shoulders wih the establishment and building relationships. Culley wined and dined the Welsh Coal Industry’s self-made millionaires and most influential guests, elevating his profile and showcasing the best of Cardiff Bay.

A Renowned Figure in Cardiff

Culley was at the height of industrial fame and had earned his place as a respected local philanthropist to the people of Cardiff. With his own football team named the Culley Stars, Richard played an important role in the Cardiff community. The effervescence and success of Culley landed the entrepreneur a regular spot in the newspaper.

Barry Dock News wrote in July 1891 :

“On Saturday evening last Mr R.P. Culley of Cardiff, entertained a few press and personal friends at the Barry Dock Hotel, a large establishment which Mr Culley has recently added to the numerous list of businesses with which he is associated.”

bottledigging.org.uk

In Cardiff, Richard’s business ventures only continued to flourish. Bottles were branded with his company name  and he had two grocers shops in the city by 1898, including 92 Queen Street and ‘Culley’s Stores’.

Culley’s place in the drinks industry was also steady in growth; he was an an agent for numerous wine brands and Tennent’s Lager.

With our own restaurant and bar, we aim to capture the charisma and innovation of Richard Palethorpe Culley and cultivate his influence on the historic Coal Exchange building.

We hope you’ll join us in taking a step back in time when Culley’s is ready to take your order! Incorporating stylish, modern twists throughout the hotel and restaurant, the Exchange Hotel is set to offer the city an experience like no other.

Make sure you keep updated with the progress of Culley’s over on our Exchange Hotel Facebook page, where we’ll be keeping you in the loop with our exciting plans!

If you would like to enquire about the Exchange Hotel, please don’t hesitate to give our team a call on 0151 305 7928.