Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for NEWPORT

NEWPORT, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Monmouth. The town stands on the river Usk, at a terminus of canals from the N and the W, and at a convergence of railways from the E, the N E, the N, the N W, and the S W, 2½ miles S W of Caerleon, 4 N of the Usk's mouth, and 11¾ N E of Cardiff. It originated in the decay of Caerleon; it was described by Giraldus Cambrensis as Novus Burgus, or New Town; and it became known to the Welsh as Castell-Newydd, or Newcastle. A fortress at it, for the defence of the river, gave rise to the latter name; is commonly said to have been erected by Robert, Earl of Gloucester, natural son of Henry II.; is thought by Sir Samuel Meyrick to have been of no earlier date than the end of the 13th century, or the beginning of the 14th; is alleged, not with standing Sir Samuel's opinion, to have been the scene of a sharp contest, between Welsh insurgents and royal troops, before the close of the 12th century; became the property of Richard de Clare, Earl of Hereford; passed to the Despencers, and remained with them till the attainder of Edward III. Duke of Buckingham; went then to the Crown; was given back to Hugh de Audley; passed afterwards into other hands; was besieged and captured by Cromwell; and has been partly destroyed, partly converted into premises of a brewery. The river-front of it is still nearly perfect; includes two towers; and shows features of late perpendicular architecture, with round-headed arches. The town seems to have early risen tocommercial importance, for it was described by a very early writer as a place whence many vessels sailed to Bristol; but it appears also to have soon gone into decadence, for it was described by Leland as "a town in ruin." Walls were built around it at some unrecorded period; and three of the gates were standing in Leland's time; and one of the three continued to stand till 1808; but all the walls have completely disappeared. A friary also was in the town; and some remains of its chapel and its refectory were recently standing. The town made a great start in prosperity about the end of last century, nearly quintupled its population between 1801 and 1831, and considerably more than trebled it again between 1831 and 1861. An attack was made on it on the night of 4 Nov. 1839, by a body ofabout 10,000 Chartists, collected from the neighbouring mines and collieries, and led by an ex-magistrate, John Frost. They marched through the principal street; took post in front of the Westgate hotel, where the magistrates, with about 30 soldiers and some special constables, were assembled; broke the windows and fired on the inmates, wounding several; and dispersed under a return-fire from the soldiers, leaving 20 of their number dead, and many others dangerously wounded. Frost and other leaders were apprehended next day, and were eventually transported. Some traces of the conflict are still visible in the front of the hotel.

The town, at the end of last century, consisted of ill-paved winding-streets, and of long straggling ranges of gloomy houses; but it afterwards underwent great improvement, renovation, and extension; it extended in alldirections on the W side of the river, particularly toward the S, till it became almost united with Pill-Gwenlly or Pill, where the docks are situated; it latterly spread also on the E side of the river, forming there the well-built suburb of Maindee; and it now, in the aggregate, presents a well-constructed, well-paved, neat, and clean appearance. The upper or N part, though the oldest, contains the most respectable shops and dwellings; and the S part, along and near the wharves, is the chief scene of bustle, and has a great admixture of classes. A fine view of the town, with St. Woollos' church prominent, and with the Blorenge and the Twm-Barlwm mountains in the background, is obtained from the docks; and astill grander view of it, together with the surrounding country, the valley of the Usk, and the waters and coasts of the Bristol channel, is got from St. Woollos' church. An elegant, modern, five-arched, stone bridge, erected at a cost of more than £10,000, spans the river; and High-street goes thence, up an acclivity called Stow-hill, toward St. Woollos' church. The town hall, the custom-house, the commercial-rooms, the barracks, and the mechanics' institute are principal public buildings. The market-place was re-erected in 1865, at the expense of the Duke of Beaufort. Spacions public rooms, to serve as music-hall, as assembly-rooms, and for public meetings, with a range of offices or warehouses underneath, were erected in 1861, after designs by Mr. Habershon; are in the Grecian style, with a hexastyle Corinthian portico; and have an apartment measuring 100 feet by 65, and capable of seating 2,000 persons. A.handsome banking office stands adjacent to the public rooms; was erected in 1862, also after designs by Mr. Habershon; and is in the Italian renaissance style. Abronze sitting statue of the late SirMorgan, by J. Thomas, is in Park-square. St. Woollos' church stands on the top of Stow-hill; is partly Norman, of very interesting character; has an ancient W chapel, communicating with the nave by a rich Norman door: has also a massive tower, erected in the 15th century, and decorated on the third stage with the headless statue of a warrior; was restored in 1855; and contains some mutilated monuments. St. Paul's church stands in Commercial-street; was built in 1837; has an octagonal tower, resting on a portico of open arches, and crowned with a spire; and was repaired and decorated in 1859. There are also churches of St. Mark and Holy Trinity at Pill-Gwenlly, and chapels for Independents, Baptists, Quakers, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics. The Tabernacle chapel, in Commercial-street, was repaired and improved in 1865, at a cost of about £1, 100; and now has a new Bathstone front, in the Norman style. The English Baptist chapel was built in 1862, after designs by Habershon and Tite, at a cost of above £2, 500; is in the classic style, of Forest stone, with Bath stone dressings; and contains about 1,000 sittings. There are several public schoolsall unendowed, alms-houses with £24 a year from endowment, and a large recently-rebuilt workhouse.

The town has a head post-office‡ in High-street, designated Newport, Monmouthshire, a receiving post-office‡at Pill-Gwenlly, railway stations with telegraph, three banking offices, and two good hotels; is a head-port, a seat of county courts, and a polling-place; and publishes three weekly newspapers, and a monthly advertiser. Markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays; and fairs on Ascension day, 30 April, 19 Sept., and 6 Nov. Ship-building is carried on in six or seven yards; and there are breweries, iron foundries, large anchor and chain-cable manufactories, a shot-manufactory, sheet and rolled iron factories, and several very large timberyards. A vast export traffic exists in pig-iron, bar-iron, bolt-iron, rolled iron, tin-plates, wire, and coals. A considerable import traffic exists in provisions, in miscellaneous articles of general consumption, and in very largequantities of timber. The export-trade is fed from thogreat region of iron mines and collieries, brought hitherby converging railways and canals from all the N Wsection of the county; and rose to speedy development and to enormous increase at the formation of the railway s. The import-trade is mainly an introversion of the export-trade, in throwing back supplies to the populous mineral region; and has been much stimulated, first by the formation hither of the Great Western railway, next by the formation of the branch line from Bristol, crossing the Severn at New Passage to Port-skewett. An obstruction to commerce existed in thecharacter of the tide, which comes in with "a bore, "rises to the height of 36 feet, and does not give floating accommodation at low water to large vessels; but this obstruction was overcome by the formation of docks. The first docks were opened in 1842; cost £180,000; and have an area of 4½ acres, and depth and berthage forships of 1, 200 tons. Other docks, with an area of 7¾acres, were opened in 1858; and others, to be called the Alexandra docks, and to cost about £600,000, were authorized in 1865. The vessels belonging to the port at the beginning of 1864, were 12 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 470 tons; 89 large sailing-vessels, of aggregately 18,015 tons; 2 small steam-vessels, of jointly 55tons; and 1 large steam-vessel, of 272 tons. The vessels which entered in 1863 were 37 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 12, 471 tons, from British colonies; 1 foreign sailing-vessel, of 380 tons, from British colonies; 186 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 24, 364 tons, from foreign countries; 223 foreign sailing-vessels, of aggregately 39, 595 tons, from foreign countries; 6 British steam-vessels, of aggregately 2, 785 tons, from foreign countries; 1, 749 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 113, 925tons, coastwise; and 423 steam-vessels, of aggregately58, 727 tons, coastwise. The vessels which cleared in 1863 were 102 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately31, 464 tons, to British colonies; 24 foreign vessels, ofaggregately 12, 642 tons, to British colonies; 480 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 88,052 tons, to foreign countries; 1 British steam-vessel, of 490 tons, to British colonies; 25 British steam-vessels, of aggregately 13, 470tons, to foreign countries; 6, 481 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 381, 223 tons, coastwise; and 260 steam-vessels, of aggregately 40, 998 tons, coastwise. The amount of customs in 1862 was £13, 500. Steamers ply daily to Bristol, and twice a-month to Cork.

The town was chartered by Edward II.; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18councillors; and unites with Monmouth and Usk in sending a member to parliament. The old borough comprised only 252 acres; but the new borough comprises 1,007 acres, and includes an additional-part of the parish more populous than the old borough, and a part of Christchurch parish. Real property of the old borough, in 1860, £45, 898; of which £1, 600 were in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 8, 519; in 1861, 9,060. Houses, 1, 540. Pop. of the new borough, in 1851, 19, 323; in 1861, 23, 249. Houses, 3, 666. Pop. of the part of the parish beyond the old borough, 13, 916; of the part of Christchurch parish, 273. The parish is called St. Woollos; and it took that name from the eldest son of an ancient regulus of South Wales. Acres, 3, 584. Real property, in 1860, £165, 210; of which £52, 205 were in railway s. 1851, 20, 279; in 1861, 24, 756. Houses, 3, 920. A section of the parish, which contained a pop. of 12, 879 in 1861, was formed into the chapelry of St. Paul in 1839; and that section was subsequently divided into the two chapelries of St. Paul and Pill-Gwenlly. The manor belongs to the Duke of Beaufort. Tredegar Park is the seat of Lord Tredegar. Traces of a Roman camp are at Twyn-Gwnlliw. The living of St. Woollos is a vicarage, united with the chapelry of St. Mark, and the livings of St. Paul and Pill-Gwenlly are p. curacies, in the diocese of Llandaff. Value of St. W. with St. M., £278; * of St. P., £350; * of Pill-Gwenlly, £300. Patron of all the three, the Bishop of Llandaff.

The sub-district is conterminate with the parish. The district comprehends also the sub-district of St. Woollos, containing the parishes of St. Bride-Wentllooge, Peter-stone, Marshfield, Coedkernew, Bassaleg, Risca, Henllis, Bettws, Malpas, Llanvihangel-Llantarnam, and Michael-stone-y-Vedw, part of the last electorally in Glamorgan; the sub-district of Mynyddyslwyn, containing the parish of Mynyddyslwyn, and the hamlets of Lower Bedwas, Upper Bedwas, Lower Machen, Upper Machen, and Rhydgwern, the last electorally in Glamorgan; and the sub-district of Caerleon, containing the parishes of Llangattock, Llanhennock, Kemeys-Inferior, Llangstone, Christchurch, Nash, Goldcliff, Witson, Magor, Wilcrick, Bishton, Llanwern, Llanmartin, Penhow, and Llan-vaches, and the hamlet of Llandevenny. Acres, 110, 255. Poor-rates in 1863, £25, 218. Pop. in 1851, 43, 472; in 1861, 51, 412. Houses, 9, 350. Marriages in 1863, 504; births, 1,826, of which 90 were illegitimate; deaths, 1,029, of which 417 were at ages under 5 years, and 30 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 5,065; births, 17,092; deaths, 10, 532. The places of worship, in 1851, were 36 of the Church of England, with5, 800 sittings; 20 of Independents, with 4, 589 s.; 20 of Baptists, with 6, 460 s.; 8 of Calvinistic Methodists, with 1, 333 s.; 15 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3,045 s.; 2 of Primitive Methodists, with 300 s.; 2 of Bible Christians, with 314 s.; 3 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 675s.; 2 undefined, with 460 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 300 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 1, 300 s. The schools were 29 public day-schools, with 2, 611scholars; 65 private day-schools, with 1, 544 s.; and 77 Sunday schools, with 6, 403 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Newport Tn/CP       Newport SubD       Newport PLU/RegD       Monmouthshire AncC
Place names: CASTELL NEWYDD     |     NEWCASTLE     |     NEWPORT
Place: Newport

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.