Newport Past
This chronicle was assembled by Haydn Davis after years of research. You'll find more details about these events in his excellent book The History of the Borough of Newport.

Haydn's book The History of the Borough of Newport stops at the year 1974. He is currently working on a new volume which will cover the last thirty years.

Chronology © Haydn Davis


Beechwood House and grounds dedicated as a public park. [ photos ]

The single building in Llanarth Street that was the Newport Power Station is enlarged so that 36 new lamps could be erected in Alexandra, Caerleon Road and Shaftesbury Street.


Newly built Royal Gwent Hospital opened, replacing the totally inadequate, 40 year-old Stow Hill Dispensary. [ photos ]

Last of the town's wells (Baneswell) closed and sealed. Found to be clogged with dead rats.

The 500th house is completed on the Marshes Estate and the remaining 16 acres dedicated as Shaftesbury Park.

The horse-drawn tram service reaches Lysaght's Works, Corporation Road.


Alltyryn Hospital for Infectious Diseases refurbished and extended. [ photos ]

The tramway system is electrified.

Work commences on the Transporter Bridge.


First electric tramcar crosses Newport Bridge into Maindee.

The extremely serpentine section at the mouth of the River Ebbw is realigned and together with the surrounding 96 acres of land absorbed into the borough. This area will eventually be part of the new Alexandra South Dock.


Harry Houdini, the great magician and escapologist, makes a spectacular escape from a locked police cell in the Town Hall.


Newport now possesses more electrical connections than any town of comparable size.

The Great Central Hall opens in Commercial Street and, in its earliest days, stages 'Bioscope' shows, believed to be the town's first introduction to moving pictures.

The Transporter Bridge is opened. [ photos of the transporter bridge ] [ visit our transporter pages ]


Newport Corporation makes an out of court settlement to Lysaght's Steel Company for damages incurred as a result of the unexpected tolls on the Transporter Bridge.


Newport Dock Disaster July 2nd.[ account, photos and film ]


The council install a refuse destructor and incinerator because it is cheaper than tipping.


July 14th. Opening of the enlarged Alexandra Dock. [ photos of Alexandra Dock ]

August 3rd. Newport Police capture the German freighter 'Belgia' taking prisoner 20 crew and 75 naval reservists. [ Photos ]

Newport boxer, Johnny Basham, becomes welter-weight champion of Great Britain. [ article by Haydn Davis ]


Opening of the United Tube Works Ltd, Corporation Road, which was closed down 50 years later under the name Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd.

Johnny Basham becomes the first outright owner of a Lonsdale Belt by winning three successive welter-weight championship bouts.


The County Borough of Newport becomes a single parliamentary constituency.


A temporary wooden bridge is erected alongside the town bridge. [ photos ]

Several cases of rabies appear in the town.

There are race riots and a railway strike. The Army is called in to prevent disorder.

16,000 rats are trapped or killed in the town.


Newport is declared the seat of the Bishop of Monmouth and St. Woolos the pro-Cathedral of the Monmouth Diocese.

The Prince of Wales visits the town. He travels on the Transporter Bridge and tours the docks.

Violent battles in Dock Street between foreign and British sailors using guns, knives, clubs and stones.


Newport Corporation purchases Brynglas House to become one of the town's secondary or central schools.

The extent of virulent infections in the town is bad but not quite of epidemic proportions. Topping the list are: diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, measles, tuberculosis, typhoid, sleeping sickness and puerperal fever.

October 5th. Temperatures in some parts of the town register 80 degrees, Fahrenheit, a record that still stands for the time of the year.


Work commences on the Talybont Reservoir.

Newport teachers complete a Great War roll of honour showing the names of the town's 4 women and 1,511 men of the combined services.

April 1st. A tremendous blizzard covers the town in deep snow.

A council motion to build a crematorium is defeated on the grounds that "disposal of the dead by burning is pre-Christian!"

A member of the council quite seriously remarks that "Newport Castle was where King Charles had sat with his Knights of the Round Table".

All the pigs in the council piggery succumb to swine fever.

Several babies are bitten in their prams by rats.

The Cenotaph is unveiled in Clarence Place. [ photos of cenotaph ]


Summer temperatures reach 93 degrees Fahrenheit

Smallpox outbreaks cause concern.


Limited mixed bathing is allowed for the first time in Stow Hill baths.


The use of the council refuse destructor and incinerator is discontinued. Installed in 1910 because it was cheaper than tipping, it is now found to be costing £10,000 a year more than tipping!


Rain? In one period of 24 hours in January, 1.94 inches fell on the town (estimated at 878,000 tons of water).

The chief constable proudly reports that there has not been any methylated spirit drinking in the town.

The council decides not to build the Alway and Ringland Estates.

The new town bridge is opened (cost £250,000). [Follow this link for article and pictures]


A plan to build a new cathedral at Bassaleg is abandoned because the cost exceeds £500,000.

Lord Tredegar donates to Newport his deer park at Cardiff Road to be dedicated as Tredegar Park.

The total enfranchisement of women adds 9841 women over the age of 21 to the borough's voting lists.


More cases of smallpox than for many years.


The general rate is reduced by a mammoth one and sixpence (7½p) in the pound.

Newport Post Office handles a record 63,540,828 parcels in the year.


22 degrees of frost are recorded in the town on January 2nd.

Diptheria rages with an epidemic of 227 cases.

Double decker buses make their first appearance in the town together with the town's first two police cars - open tourers costing £315 each.

Maindee Fire Station closes down, the building to be converted into a town library.

May 27th and 28th. Described as the worst storm ever known to hit Newport, the resulting cloudburst causes heavy flooding at Malpas, Caerleon Road, and Maindee. Tredegar Park and the Lighthouse Road are submerged.


The 100 year-old Old Town Dock is filled in leaving just the entrance lock as a memento.

The last of Newport's famous wool fairs is held at the cattle market. Cheaper foreign imports are to blame for the closure.

Somerton Park is purchased by the Cardiff Arms Park Co. and Newport County play their first match there on August 27th against Clapton (Leyton) Orient.

On November 17th the first greyhound meeting takes place.

The Graf Zeppelin flies over the town at 1500 feet.

The disgusting, 15 year old shanty town in Brooks Field Liswerry is finally cleared of over 40 decrepit vans, tents, cardboard shacks and hovels.

Petrol at the town's pumps is reduced in price from 1/8d (8 pence) to 1/3d (6½ pence) a gallon.

For the first time in the town's history all three of the magistrates on the Court bench were women.

Newport Civil Service Club opened at Bettws.


The first road to be known as Kingsway opens. Called by some "The Town Centre Bypass", it stretches only a few hundred yards from The Old Green to the end of Corn Street.

Courtenay, 3rd Baron, Viscount Tredegar, dies at age 67 and his son, Evan, becomes 4th Baron, Viscount Tredegar.

Two lidos open at Bulmore (Bullmoor) and Alltyryn. Both are outside the borough.[ photo ]

Newport Castle is in a dreadful state. Lord Tredegar hands it over to the care of the Office of Works.

The Newport Borough boundary is extended to take in 2,853 acres of St Woolos parish (Maesglas) and parts of Christchurch, Malpas and Bettws.


Under the Children's Act 1933, a 13 year-old boy is sentenced to be birched. The sentence was suspended by the Home Office after a 1,000 signature petition was submitted. The King's signature was required for final remiss.

For the first time Newport's population exceeds 100,000.

A measles epidemic is fatal in 25 cases out of 925.

King George V's Silver Jubilee celebrated in great style. The town is surrounded by great beacons on every hilltop. Parties in nearly every street, everywhere a riot of red, white and blue.

A big storm floods many town centre shops and a night of continuous thunder and lightning brings hailstones as big as walnuts.


On January 16th another fierce storm and the highest tides for 40 years breach the sea wall at Goldcliff, flood the moors and many streets along the town reach of the River Usk.

June 17th. J.H. (Jimmy) Thomas, son of a poor family in Pill, resigns his post as a cabinet minister over a scandal involving budget secrets. [ Article by Haydn Davies ]

The decision is made to scrap Newport's tramway system in favour of diesel buses.


January 11th. The Little Theatre opens in Dock Street.

In May, the town is once again festooned in flags and illuminated at night with thousands of coloured lights as the coronation of King George VI is celebrated.

July 14th. For the first time in several hundred years a reigning monarch makes an official visit to Newport. King George cuts the first sod of the new civic centre. [ photos ]

Newport's first ever Lady Mayor is chosen.

Lightning strikes buildings all over the town.


The issue of 96,000 gas masks is commenced and the first public air raid shelter is built in Brunel Street.

Six feet deep trenches are dug in the Capitol Car Park and some public parks.

July 14th. Maindee Swimming Baths opened.


Nearly 2 miles of 6 feet deep trenching to accommodate 10,000 people is completed.

The first 2,000 of an estimated 11,500 domestic air raid shelters are installed.

June 3rd. Under the terms of the Military (Compulsory) Training Act 1939, hundreds of young men aged 20 to 21 gather at the Employment Exchange to register.

July 1st. The Talybont Reservoir is completed 16 years after its commencement allowing each person in Newport 23.17 gallons of water.

Newport County AFC is promoted from the 3rd Division to the 2nd Division of the English League.

September 3rd. War is declared.


The Friars Street thermometer registers 26 degrees of frost, the lowest since 1815.

February. Town's issue of ration books is completed.

April. In the war-time South Western Division of the Football League, Newport County finishes bottom.

May. On the first day of the appeal for volunteers for the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV), 336 Newport men step forward. By June 1st this number has risen to 1,200.

Newport's 20,000 housewives start to manage on reduced rations (8 oz of sugar, 4 oz of butter).

7,000 evacuee children arrive in the town, to be distributed around the county.

During June, the town has 50 air raid alerts, the first of 480 to follow in the next 12 months.

June 26th. First bombs fall on the town. St. Julians and Dewstow Street are hit.

October. Newport's Fighter Plane Fund buys its first Spitfire (£6,000).

September 11th. The ship "City of Benares" carrying evacuee children to the USA is torpedoed in the Atlantic. Seven Newport children are lost.

September 20th. A Heinkel bomber, brought down by barrage balloon cables, crashes on a house at the top of Stow Hill killing the son and daughter of the family.

September 26th. Newport's famous tramp poet, W.H. Davies, dies. [ Article by Haydn Davies ]

October. A lone German bomber drops a stick of bombs over Pillgwenlly. Damage is suffered in a straight line across six streets. The Alexandra Dock Hotel is hit, the landlady killed and several customers injured. [ photos ]

Newport Borough Police Force takes on its first three women police constables.


March. The Newport Destroyer Fund buys a destroyer (£750,000).

Newport Transport employs female 'clippies' on buses and trams for the first time since the first World War.

May 10th. A mock gas attack in the town centre catches many people without their gas masks. Victims of the tear gas are treated by first aid personnel.

May 31st. Another raid by a solitary aircraft. Bombs cause direct hits on Fields Park Road, Ridgeway Avenue and Glasllwch Crescent. 23 people killed, 24 injured. 560 houses receive damage in varying degrees.

July 1st. In the early hours, huge parachuted land mines fall on Kensington Place, Beechwood, Archibald Street and Eveswell Street. The death toll is 35 with 46 injured. Later that same day, the new St Julians High School is opened.

August 29th. Bombs fall on Beaufort Road, Beaufort Place and Badminton Road.

September 26th. A single bomb falls into the garden of St Paul's Vicarage.

October 7th. Several bombs fall on Rogerstone rendering 130 houses uninhabitable.

December. 200 allotment plots rented out with all occupants 'digging feverishly for victory!'


January. The Empire Theatre, Charles Street, burns down. An electrical fault is suspected.

July 9th. 700 couples dance in Beechwood Park to the music of the National Fire Service Orchestra. Watched by a crowd of over 1,000.

July 13th. All Newport licensees are ordered to ration their beer supplies for 3 months.


March 31st. King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth visit the town. This is the first official visit by the Princess to a town outside London.


May 28th. The Alexandra Dock is packed with shipping of the D-Day invasion fleet.

June 4th. The docks are empty of ships and the 36,000 tons of ammunition and explosives that they carry.

July to December. Many trainloads of wounded servicemen and civilians arrive for treatment at the Royal Gwent and St Woolos hospitals. During the same period nearly 1,800 evacuee children arrive to escape the new threat of the V1 pilotless planes (buzz bombs or doodlebugs) and the V2 rockets.

September 17th. Black-out lifted. Street lights once again illuminated.

The Home Guard stands down. Celebrated by a massed parade through the town.

December 8th. Newport High School suffers a disastrous fire.


May 8th. VE Day commences a week of unrestrained merry-making, dancing, singing and drinking - as long as the beer supply held out!

August 28th. Heaviest rain in the town for 70 years - 3.09 inches in 24 hours.

September 29th. Field Marshal Lord Montgomery arrives to receive the freedom of the town.


The U.S. Army leaves Malpas Court camp. [see map of camp] [see article on Malpas Court] [see article on the GIs in Newport]

June 10th. Victory Week begins and all the celebrations are repeated.

January 17th. In the Alexandra Dock, a ship unloads the first bananas seen in the town for 6 years.

October. Transporter Bridge tolls are suspended.


February. The heaviest snowfall in the town's recorded history. Hundreds of thousands of tons of snow clog the streets. The stone piers of the Newport Bridge are encased in ice.

The town's cinemas are open on a Sunday for the first time.

The largest ever cargo of 600 motor vehicles is shipped from the Alexandra Dock.


The town's first bus station opens on the open market at the top of Dock Street.

St Woolos Church is declared the permanent diocesan cathedral. [ photos ]

Newport County AFC, near bottom of the 3rd Division, win through to the 5th round of the FA Cup, beating on the way, 2nd and 1st Division sides. Drawn away to 1st Division Portsmouth, the home side win by 3 goals to 2 - but only in extra time.

November 6th. Holy Trinity Church Christchurch is gutted by fire.

November 12th. St John's Church Maindee is gutted by fire.

The first television signals reach Newport from Sutton Coldfield.


The last of the old Newport potteries, Dudley Street closes down.

Tredegar House is sold to become a Catholic school. [ photos of Tredgar House ]


National coal shortage. A ban is placed on the use of electricity in advertising. All windows in the shopping centre are blacked out.

In the fourth clash of the season between Newport and Cardiff rugby teams a 3 -3 draw means that Newport remains unbeaten.

June 18th to the 30th. A fortnight of festivities celebrating the Festival of Britain. 70,000 visitors come to the Festival Hall - a converted aeroplane hangar - in Kimberley Park (Crindau Park), Malpas.


A start is made on the massive St Julians Estate, 960 houses and flats.

April 12th. Grove Park, Pillmawr Road, Malpas is opened as Newport's 25th public open space.

September 25th. St John's Church Maindee reopened 2 years and 10 months after its disastrous fire. Restoration costs £50,000 - its original cost in 1865 was £2,000.

The 1951 Census shows that Newport has 31,000 households, 16,700 of which have no exclusive bathroom.


The town's public parks are opened for the first time on a Sunday for games and athletics.

June 2nd. Coronation Day - another excuse for joyful carousing.

June 6th. The most spectacular carnival ever presented. The watching crowds stand six deep for miles.

July 16th. The newly-crowned Queen visits Newport. 50,000 people turn out, many having slept all night on the pavements.

November 17th. Newport re-establishes its old ship-building business.


Death of Frederick, 5th Baron Tredegar. His son John becomes the 6th Baron.

August 4th. First new ship floated out of dry dock to the Alexandra Dock for fitting out.


April 1st. 309 acres from Caerleon and Llanwern added to the borough to accommodate the developing estates at Bishpool, Ringland and Alway.

On Good Friday, Trinity Church Christchurch, devastated by fire in 1949, is rededicated by the Bishop of Monmouth.

July 24th. St John the Baptist Church, Risca Road is destroyed by fire.

October 13th. The town's automatic telephone exchange becomes equipped with the facility of 'Tim' the speaking clock.

October 27th. The 64 year-old "Ravenswood", the smallest but most well known of P & A Campbell's White Funnel fleet arrives at Cashmore's ship-breaking yard.

December 30th. Newport's greatest ever traffic jam. The town bridge and centre grid-locked for hours.


New semi-detached houses offered for sale on a town building site at £2,575.

March 16th. Mr H F Spencer, managing director of Richard, Thomas & Baldwins Ltd. announces the possibility of building a huge steelworks on the moors, east of Llanwern.


Jive or jitterbug dancing is banned in many Newport dance halls but is permitted at 2 in every 7 dances at St Julians School.

January 31st. Sale at Sothebys of the Tredegar Estate's fabulous collection of of silver plate. Total realised: £18,648.

February 16th. The highest tide ever recorded in the River Usk (50 feet 8 ins) almost laps over the top of the Alexandra Dock sea gate. Heavy flooding along the town reach.

June 5th. The 61 year-old landing stage for Campbell's steamers at London Wharf, Clarence Place, is towed away for reinstallation at Rotterdam.


March. The Shaftesbury Street Clearance Order is made.

April. A new, £30,000 ballroom, The Majestic, is opened in what used to be the Tredegar Hall Cinema on Stow Hill.

The luxury liner "Reina del Pacifico" arrives at Uskside for breaking up.

The death is announced of Margaret, Baroness Lady Rhondda of Llanover House, Llanwern. [ Article by Haydn Davis ]

A new £640,000 College of Technology opens at Alltyryn.

Newport starts the first mobile library service in Wales.

The Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, confirms Llanwern as the site of a new steelworks.


June. A request is received by the Monmouthshire County Council for planning permission for the new steelworks on 2,580 acres stretching from the Newport Borough boundary to Bishton.

August. Newport Borough Council present to the Ministry of Transport a recommendation for a bypass of the town centre by means of a motorway bridge and twin tunnels under Brynglas.

This year sees a drought that lasts for 8 months.


January. The commencement of the building of Spencer Steelworks causes terrible traffic disruption by hundreds of heavy, motorised loads passing through. This is further aggravated by huge loads going to the new Uskmouth Power Station at Nash.

A new fire station is built in Maindee on the bombed site in Archibald and Eveswell Streets.

A last performance closes the Great Central Hall in Commercial Street. Sir John Barbirolli and the Hallé Orchestra play Elgar's Enigma Variations.

April. The well known Talbot Inn, Charles Street ceases trading. [ photos ]

July. It is announced the previous 6 months have seen 248 road accidents, 66 injured and 5 killed - mostly because of the mayhem involving the new steelworks.

September. By now the huge steelworks site has been raised by 3 feet overall by the pouring of 7,000 cubic yards of concrete.

November 8th. The Borough Council makes a firm decision to promote a parliamentary bill to build the George Street Bridge and 160 houses and shops at the Maindee end (Morris Street) are scheduled for demolition.

December. Boots Chemists (then at 13 Commercial Street) is gutted by fire.


All the western side of Shaftesbury Street is finally cleared except for the Winning Horse public house. (This was to stand derelict until 1970 when it suddenly collapsed injuring a passer-by and damaging several cars.) [ photos of demolition work ]

February and March. 427 abnormal loads, 21 of which were super-abnormal, pass through the town, each time causing total disruption of the traffic.

The George Street Bridge is approved by the House of Commons but the proposed six lane highway is amended to four lanes.

September 2nd. Spencer Steelworks commences production with 14,500 tons of Canadian ore.


April. The 17th century Mill Street Chapel is closed for demolition to be replaced by a Royal Mail building. [ photos ]

July 2nd. Work commences on the George Street Bridge.

September 10th. Work commences on the 450 feet long, split river bridge and the 1,200 feet long Brynglas tunnels on the M4 Motorway bypass.

October 26th. Spencer Steelworks is opened by H.M. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

November 11th. Following a national referendum, Newport's public houses open on a Sunday for the first time in 47 years.


For the first 7 weeks of the year, Newport freezes almost solid in the worst winter since 1947. Water supplies are cut off by frozen underground pipes, transport is severely disrupted and deliveries of food, milk, coal etc. are almost totally suspended. When the thaw arrived in late February, it revealed thousands of burst pipes and hundreds of yards of collapsed roof guttering.

March. The 151 year-old Salutation Hotel at the corner of Commercial and Cardiff Roads is demolished.

June 11th. The hottest day for 45 years.

September 10th. The Borough Council votes to complete the building of the Civic Centre clock tower (suspended by the war) at a cost of £126,900. This despite a poll of 8734 signatures in which the public voted 40 to 1 against. [ original design ]

October 24th. Dedication of the newly-extended St Woolos Cathedral in front of a congregation of 600.

December 22nd. The last 30 feet of road decking is completed over the George Street Bridge.

The last section of catwalk is completed over the Severn Bridge. The first man in history walks the 6,000 feet across the river in 18½ minutes.


April 9th. The £2 million George Street Bridge is declared officially open.

July. The first 1,000 homes out of 3,000 completed on the £8 million Bettws Estate.

August. Newport is closed as a coal port, giving the trade to Barry Docks.


January. Demolition and clearance of town centre properties begins.

May. The Llandegveth Reservoir is opened 8 miles north of Newport.


February. By this time the town centre is a mighty eyesore of rubble-strewn demolition sites. The beautiful old Lyceum Theatre and the great bulk of the riverside Star Flour Mill building have vanished. [ photos of the Lyceum ]   [ photos of Star Flour Mill ]

A compulsory purchase order is made on 58 unfit houses, all over 100 years old, in Frederick, Portland and Broad Streets.

April 1st. The borough is enlarged by the addition of 3,501 acres in Caerleon and Bettws. The population rises by 7,433.

The Severn Bridge toll is fixed at half-a-crown (12½ new pence).

The 3,000th house is completed on the Bettws Estate.

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, opens the £6 million extension to the Royal Gwent Hospital.

September. The Queen Mother opens the Severn Bridge.


February. The Malpas to Tredegar Park section of the M4 Motorway opens.

March. The 12 mile section of the M4 from the Severn Bridge to the Coldra opens.

The town abbatoir at Shaftesbury and Wyndham Streets closes for good.

The 130 year-old Borough Police Force merges with the Gwent Constabulary.


January. The new library, museum and art gallery in John frost Square suffers flooding from the roof ventilation and heating systems.

April. Princess Margaret opens the new library.


The old fire station in Dock Street closes for demolition. [ photos of fire station ]

May. Lovell's Athletic, Newport's famous amateur football club, belonging to the equally famous local confectionary works, ceases to exist after 40 years of success.

A Rogerstone-born American business man offers to buy the Transporter Bridge for £1 million.


August. Leaks in the Alexandra Dock's entrance gates cause the dock to be closed for the first time in 77 years. The repair work takes 4 months, costs £900,000 and costs the dock 2 million tons of cargo.


Shipbuilding ends in the town. The Newport Shipbuilding and Engineering Company ceases operation due to competition from larger firms and foreign competition.

September. Commencement of the building of a £60 million extension to Spencer Steelworks, involving the largest blast furnace in Europe.

The 1971 Census shows a drop of 1190 to 111,810 in the town's population with only 2% speaking Welsh.


With the opening of the final section of the new A449 dual carriageway from Usk to the Coldra, Newport is now connected to the Midlands and the North by a good class road system.


Newport Rugby Club experiences its worst ever season. Suffering 28 defeats, it finishes with its heaviest ever - 60 points to 15 by the Barbarians giving a total of points against of 786. This only 3 years after its most successful season ever.


The Local Government Act 1974. The area of the Borough increases from 12,000 acres and a population of 108,000 to 45,103 acres (70 square miles) and a population of 130,000. Absorbed are Caerleon Urban District Council and much of Magor & St Mellons Rural District Council including 20 village communities. The ancient office of alderman is abolished.

1975 to 1990

The new town centre - John Frost Square, the errors, the difficulties and the Chartist influence.

"The Newport Town Centre Strategy" is published containing unashamed admittance of past blunders and seeking to lay blame on past councils. It also states that John Frost Square presents a poor image through badly designed buildings, lack of shelter and unsatisfactory access, especially the dingy stairway to the bus station.
The bus station itself receives an extremely costly refurbishment which does not result in any significant improvement.


The Transporter Bridge is given a complete and expensive overhaul in the hope of revitalising its interest as a tourist attraction.

There are adverse comments from prominent people about the shoddy, over-priced car-parks and the new, poorly designed Cambrian Road car-park.


November 11th. The council ratifies a plan to build a barrage over the River Usk - The River Usk Barrage Bill.

Newport Castle is opened to the public.


Several years of feasibility tests, assessments and evaluations for the Usk barrage commence.


Much argument by local dignitaries, MPs and the House of Lords criticising the damage done to Newport's image by the poor aspect of the River Usk. A survey of the town's population shows 66% in favour of a barrage - this positive optimism suddenly stirs an anti-barrage faction into action.

July 13th. In the House of Lords the second reading of the River Usk Barrage Bill takes place.


January 8th. A barrage public enquiry commences.

April 23rd. The public enquiry ends.

September 13th. William Haig, the Secretary of State for Wales, rejects the barrage project.

The £800,000 rebuilding of the façade of the Library, Museum and Art Gallery is not a spectacular success.

Large retail stores are springing up all round the suburbs despite warnings that the town centre must suffer.

A massive Euro Park on 255 acres at Magor, with a high-speed rail link, is proposed.


April. The Euro-freight project is another deal that is taken away from Newport. William Haig, Secretary of State for Wales, awards the contract to Wentloog in the City of Cardiff. He promises other options to revitalise Newport's fortunes.

July. The Secretary of State for Wales signs a contract for the giant Korean Company, Lucky Goldstar Electronics, (L.G. for short) to build the largest microchip and semiconductor factory in Europe. The site is at Imperial Park, Celtic Lakes, Newport. This is a £1.7 billion investment, immediately planned to bring over 6,000 jobs and possibly 14,000 more as the spin-off effect kicks in. Two comments at the time:

"This is the ultimate vote of confidence in Newport's future. Newport has earned its place as one of the business investment centres of Europe" - Councillor Sir Harry Jones, leader of the council.

"This is the second Industrial Revolution as far as Newport is concerned. Newport will never be the same again!" - Councillor John Jenkins, Chairman of the Economic Development Committee.

Often, before and thereafter, prematurely optimistic remarks like these were to return to haunt the senior council members who made them.

A multi-million pound drainage scheme is commenced to prevent any more raw sewage from entering the river water. This involves a series of large walk-through tunnels partly under the River Usk carrying all the town's raw sewage to a new sewage plant at Nash.

The new Labour Government's Secretary of State for Wales, Ron Davies, intimates that if he had been in post when the Newport Barrage was being discussed, he probably would have allowed it.


The Far Eastern stock markets suffer dramatic falls. 'Lucky Goldstar' (LG) sells out and the new owner does not consider it viable to continue operations of such magnitude in Newport. The LG bubble bursts with £170 million having been wasted.


It is announced that HM the Queen is to upgrade two British towns to the rank of city. As an opening gambit in its campaign the town is designated "Gateway City - a city in all but name."


The campaign gets under way with an avalanche of claims from MPs and town councillors alike, many of which are grossly exaggerated and some patently untrue but all of which are guaranteed to sound good to the Lord Chancellor's panel of adjudicators.

Newport fails to obtain city status.


July 25th. It is announced that to celebrate her Golden Jubilee the Queen is to confer city status on four more towns, one in each of the four home countries. This means that Newport now has only to compete with five other Welsh towns - Aberystwyth, Wrexham, Machynlleth, Newtown and St Asaph.

September 1st. The campaign begins. Much of it contains the same old historic exaggerations but they seem to go unnoticed.


March 14th. Newport is granted city status.

The Ryder Cup is awarded to Newport's Celtic Manor golf complex, to be played in 2010.

In the summer, during the digging of the foundations for a new riverside arts centre, the hull of a large 15th Century sailing ship is discovered. Marine archaeologists date the timbers to 1465. The historically moribund city council order this, the oldest merchant ship ever discovered in Europe, to receive the briefest of examinations and then to be reburied so as not to hold up the building of the arts centre. There is a fierce public protest, the council back down and the timbers are saved for preservation. The council claim that their decision (under pressure) was the sole reason that the medieval ship was not lost!


The new riverfront arts centre is imaginatively named the "Riverfront Arts Centre".