More faces on Newport's Chartist mural revealed
10:20am Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
THE Argus have appealed to find the real people of Newport who are depicted in the Chartist mural and after just two days, more faces and stories have been revealed.
The mosaic mural off John Frost square depicts the Chartist Uprising of 1839 and is now under threat of demolition due to a new shopping development. The mural was commissioned in 1979 and created by the artist Kenneth Budd, who used images of real people to model the marchers on.
Bill Kershaw, 88, of High Cross Drive, was one of those models. He was a district engineer for Newport Council and said: “I was the engineer for the county and Ken became quite a friend.
“He did a tremendous amount of work with the council.”
Mr Kershaw, who is now a member of Newport Rotary, said: “I shall be very said if it does disappear. It would be a great shame.”
Geoff Thomas was another council worker who was featured in the mural twice.
He said: “The artist put me in and was dissatisfied with the likeness, so he put me in again.”
According to Mr Thomas, his chief, Don Cartwright, a well known engineer at the time is also in the mural.
Mr Budd first came to the city to work on the Old Green roundabout.
“I was the person who bought the artist to Newport,” Mr Thomas said.
“I thought it would be very sensible if we could decorate the inner circle of the Old Green with some relevant murals."
But this was only the start of a long relationship with Newport council for Mr Budd. He worked with the highways agency on multiple occasions before being commissioned for the Chartist's mural.
Mr Thomas said: “It’s all very sad that the town should lose it.”
Walter Lucas, who has since died, was a curator at Newport Museum who specialised in chartist history and helped artist Kenneth Budd with his research. His wife, Nansi (CORR) Lucas, of Bassaleg, said even if it was removed she’d like to see parts of it salvaged for relatives of those featured.
She said: “I’d like to have it.”
Pat Butcher, 67 of St Julian’s, also has a personal investment in the mural. Her father, John Turner is depicted with a top hat on and banner in hand.
She said: “It’s the absolute image of my father.”
Mr Turner was a county councillor and went on to be Deputy Mayor of Newport and Chairman of Gwent County Council.
Mrs Butcher said: “It’s something I would want my grandchildren to see. I think they should try and save it and make it a feature.
"My daughter and son are quite upset about it."
“He told me that Mr Budd had said to him that everyone in that picture was someone he knew."
Original designs from Mr Budd's son, Oliver Budd who also works as a mosaic artist, show the clever planning of the 35-metre mural. Oliver Budd was featured in the mural twice along with his father. At the beginning of the mural, he can be seen pulling a splinter from his foot and again at the end, as a child dying in his father’s arms.
Other faces the artist's son was initially aware of were those of previous Mayor of Newport Thomas Phillips and Cefni Barnett, who was the curator of Newport Museum in the seventies.
Mr Budd said: “The way dad used to work - he did a lot of research with local historians and they’d give him images – sometimes wood cuttings – and he would copy them."
The Save our Mural campaign, which Mr Budd has worked with, has attracted more than 2000 signatures online. In the letter addressed to members of Newport Council and the arts council of Wales, the campaigners write: "The Chartist movement prompted one of the most important political reforms in the UK that acknowledged levels of equality previously denied to many. This mural celebrates the lives of those lost on that fateful day in November 1839."
The campaign are not insisting on keeping the mural where it is, but are looking at the feasibility of it being moved to a new location where the people of Newport can continue to enjoy it. Newport Council have suggested creating replica mural, which if it were mosaic, Oliver Budd would be involved in.
At the beginning of August, The 20th Century Society pressure group asked the Welsh Government’s historic environment service Cadw, to list the Chartist Mural in John Frost Square and safeguard its future.
A spokesperson for Cadw said, "Whilst the request to list the mural has only just been received, Cadw has been anticipating its arrival and done some preparatory work. Cadw has also been in discussion with Newport City Council regarding how the Chartist Mural could be removed from its present location in sections and stored safely until an alternative location is found."
"We recognise the significance of the mural and the priority is to secure its future. As such a decision on listing the mural will be deferred until these discussions have concluded."
There had been protests over a proposed demolition of the mural in 2007, but the mural was given a reprieve after the last city centre redevelopment project fell through.
If you have any more information about people in the mural, let us know on 01633 777087 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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