John Frost's Grave Stone

John Frost's Grave Stone by Richard Frame

On my regular trips to Newport Museum and Art gallery I would always pause at the cabinet that housed the Chartist Collection, which included a photograph of John Frost’s house in Stapleton, near Bristol, where he went to live with his wife and daughter when he was finally allowed to return to Britain in 1856.Since 1983 I’d been living on Bassaleg Road and had taken an interest in locating those people buried in St Woolos Cemetery who had played a role in the development of the town. It wasn’t just those who had grand memorials to keep their names alive: I was equally interested in the dips in the ground of those unknown souls who played their part as well. This meant long periods thumbing through old newspapers in Newport Reference Library and seeking out their stories.It occurred to me that I didn’t know where John Frost was buried. Was his body brought back to Newport after his death in 1877 or was it put to rest near Bristol? It soon be…

Musket Balls and Misconceptions

Musket balls and misconceptions
by Ray Stroud
Many youngsters through the years have found it difficult to resist the temptation of squeezing their fingers into the holes in the pillars of the Westgate Hotel.We had all, probably, been regaled with stories of the Chartist attack on the Westgate, and of the musket balls that had penetrated the building during the battle.But were these tales based on truth or myth?In recent years, many in Newport have adopted the ‘myth’ position, arguing that they had been drilled into the pillars at a later date, possibly to attach gates or some other structure. But does that theory line up with the historical evidence?

The portico, which today sadly stands concealed behind sheets of chipboard, is the only remaining feature of a building that was constructed in 1799.Interestingly, it is actually not made of cast iron as many believe, but of wood.This portico was part of a ‘second Westgate Inn’, erected on the site of a fifteenth-century manor house at the …

A Legacy from Newport's Victorian Era

A Legacy from Newport’s VictorianEra
by Mary Evans

Access to green spaces became a valued part of our lives during lockdown and public parks played a major role in many areas. As I have been walking through Belle Vue Park and Tredegar House Parkland over the past few months it has struck me how their reopening during lockdown was carrying on the tradition of the public park movement of the late 19th Century. Newport reopened its parks on the 18 May this year when initially visitors were limited to a 5 mile radius. The oldest of its parks, Belle Vue, is a legacy of the public park movement which was such a success in the later part of the 19th Century and depended on funding from town and city corporations across Britain.
In the early part of the Victorian era access to public open green spaces would have been a dream for the majority who lived and worked in the dire conditions of the rapidly growing industrialised towns. That is until the 1830s when out of concern for the moral and phys…