1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Newport (Monmouthshire)

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NEWPORT, a municipal and county borough, contributory parliamentary borough, seaport and market town in the Monmouth parliamentary division of boroughs, Monmouthshire, England, on the Usk, 5 m. from its confluence with the Severn, and 133½ m. W. of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. (1891) 54,707; (1901) 67,270. It lies chiefly on the right (west) bank of the river, and on the E., N. and W. it is sheltered by a line of lofty hills. The old parish church of St Woollos stands finely on Stow Hill. Originally it consisted only of the present nave, a fine specimen of grand though unadorned Norman architecture; but a massive square tower (of the time of Henry III.) and a chancel were subsequently added; a large western Early English lady-chapel is interposed between the nave and the tower. The old castle, built about 1130 by Robert, earl of Gloucester, was greatly altered in the late Perpendicular period. The remains include two towers and the river frontage. The old Dominican monastery is entirely rebuilt and occupied as a private residence; but there are a few fragments of a house of White Friars. The principal public buildings are the spacious Victoria Hall, the Albert Hall, the town-hall, county council offices, market-house, custom-house, and museum and art gallery. Newport owes a rapid increase in importance to its situation on a deep and spacious tidal river, which renders it a convenient outlet for the trade of a rich mineral district. It has extensive docks and wharves, to which large steamers have access at all tides. Three docks, the Alexandra, South and Old Docks, had together a water area of about 60 acres, besides the Alexandra graving dock and dry docks. But additional accommodation was found necessary. In 1905 the Alexandra Docks and Railway company let the contract for the extension of the docks by 50 acres of water area, and the scheme was enlarged later so as to afford an additional area of 86 acres in all. The new works, added to the old Alexandra Dock, give a total deep-water area of over 130 acres. The first part to be completed (48 acres) was filled in the autumn of 1907. The river is crossed by a transporter bridge, opened in 1906, and having a span of 645 ft. and a clear headway from high water of 177 ft., with a travelling truck worked by electricity. Iron ore, pig iron, timber and grain are among the chief imports, while coal and iron goods are exported. Besides the Great Western railway, Newport is served by the London and North-Western, the Rhymney, and the Brecon & Merthyr systems. The town possesses large iron foundries and engineering works, and among other industries are the manufacture of wagons and wheels, nails, bolts and wire, shipbuilding and the making of railway plant, chemical manures and agricultural implements. There are also large breweries, glass and pottery works, and an extensive cattle market. Newport gives name to a Roman Catholic bishopric, but the cathedral church is at Belmont near Hereford. With Monmouth and Usk, Newport returns one member to parliament. In 1889 Maindee, a populous suburb on the left bank of the Usk, was incorporated with Newport, and constitutes one of its five wards. The town is governed by a mayor, 10 aldermen and 30 councillors. Area 4431 acres.

Newport, an ancient mesne borough and castle, occupied an important position on the Welsh marches. The town, which is not mentioned in Domesday, grew up round the castle built early in the 12th century. Giraldus Cambrensis, writing in 1187, calls it Novus Burgas, probably to distinguish it from Caerleon, whose prosperity declined as that of Newport increased. The first lord was Robert Fitz Hamon, who died in 1107, and from him the lordship passed to the earls of Gloucester and Stafford and the dukes of Buckingham. Hugh le Despenser, who held the lordship for a short time, obtained in 1323 a charter of liberties for the burgesses, granting them freedom from toll throughout England, Ireland and Aquitaine. The earl of Stafford granted a further charter in 1385, confirmed by his grandson in 1427, which gave the burgesses the right of self government and of a merchant gild. On the attainder of the duke of Buckingham in 1483 the lordship lapsed to the crown, of whom it was held in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Pembrokes, and in the 19th by the Beauforts. The town was incorporated by charter of James I. in 1624 under the title of “ Mayor and Bailiffs.” This charter was confirmed by Charles II. in 1685 and holds force at the present day. By the act of 1535–1536 Newport is entitled as an ancient borough to take part in the election of a member for Monmouth town. The commercial importance of the town dates only from the second half of the 19th century, the Old Dock being partially formed in 1842, while the Alexandra was opened in 1875. In 1801 the population of the town was only 1135. In 1385 the borough obtained a market lasting fifteen days from the vigil of St Lawrence (August 10). The charter of 1624 granted two fairs, one on the feast of the Ascension, and a second (still held) on St Leonard's day (November 6). Newport was the scene of a serious Chartist riot in 1839.