Newport (Welsh: Casnewydd) is a city and principal area in Wales, in the United Kingdom. Standing on the banks of the River Usk, located roughly between Cardiff and Bristol, it is the cultural capital and largest urban area in the historic county of Monmouthshire and governed by the unitary Newport City Council. The population of Newport is 140,100 making it the third-largest city in Wales. It has a greater urban area in excess of 160,000 (est. 2006).
The name ”Newport” derives from the fact that Caerleon was the ”old port” on the river Usk, but as ships became bigger, they could no longer navigate the river to Caerleon so a new port/dock was built near to where the Riverfront Arts Centre stands today.
The original Newport Castle was a small Motte-and-bailey castle in the park opposite St. Woolos Cathedral. It was buried in rubble excavated from the railway tunnels that were dug under Stow Hill in the 1840s and no part of it is currently visible. Newport also has the Latin name Novus Burgus, meaning new borough or new town. It is sometimes labelled Newport-on-Usk on old maps.
The city’s importance as a trading port in the Middle Ages was emphasised when a 15th century ship, referred to locally as the Newport ship, was uncovered from the bank of the Usk in 2002, during the construction of the Riverfront Arts Centre. The city is home to the world-class Celtic Manor Resort, Europe”s leading five-star conference resort and home of the Celtic Manor Wales Open, the annual European Tour golf tournament. The resort is also venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup.
The River Usk at Newport has always proved an attractive place to make a home. Bronze Age fishermen settled around its fertile estuary and later the Celtic Silures built hill forts overlooking it. In AD 75, on the very edge of their empire, the Roman legions built a fortress at Caerleon to defend the river crossing. According to legend in the late 5th century CE: St. Woolos church was founded by St. Gwynllyw, the patron saint of Newport and King of Gwynllwg . The church was certainly in existence by the ninth century and today has become St. Woolos Cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of Monmouth. The Normans arrived sometime from around 1088-1093 to build a castle and river crossing downstream and the first Norman Lord of Newport was Robert Fitzhamon. Around the settlement, the New Town grew to be become Newport, and was granted a charter by Hugh, Earl of Stafford in 1385. A second charter establishing the right of the town to run its own market and commerce came from Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham in 1426. A further charter was granted by James I in 1623.
As the Industrial Revolution took off in Britain in the late 19th century, the Welsh Valleys became key suppliers of coal and iron: these were transported down local rivers and the new canals to ports such as Newport, which grew rapidly as a result. Newport became one of the largest towns in Wales and the focus for the new industrial towns of the Eastern Valleys of south Wales.
Newport was the focal point of a major Chartist uprising in 1839, where John Frost and 3,000 other Chartists marched on the Westgate Hotel at the centre of the town. The march was met with an attack by militia, called to the town by the Mayor: at least 20 marchers were killed and buried in St Woolos” churchyard. John Frost was sentenced to death for treason, but was instead transported to Australia: he returned to Britain (but not to Newport) later in his life. John Frost Square, in the centre of the city, is named in his honour.
The county borough of Newport was granted city status in 2002 to mark Queen Elizabeth II”s Golden Jubilee. The city is undergoing a major regeneration programme led by Newport Unlimited.
Newport has four international twinning links:
- Heidenheim in Germany – The Newport – Heidenheim Twinning Association was formed in 1980 to promote and assist Newport’s link with Heidenheim.
- Kutaisi in Georgia – The twinning arrangement between Newport and Kutaisi, Georgia dates from 1989. Kutaisi is the second city in Georgia, set in a beautiful location between the Caucasian mountains and the Black Sea. The Newport – Kutaisi Twinning Association was founded to promote international friendships and to strengthen links between the two communities.
- Guangxi Province in China – Newport has been twinned with Guangxi Province in China since 1996.
- Annapolis in the United States – Newport is a sister city of Annapolis, Maryland.