Civic Society gives ideas for Newport Chartist memorial

Civic Society gives ideas for Newport Chartist memorial

Civic Society gives ideas for Newport Chartist memorial

Civic Society gives ideas for Newport Chartist memorial

First published in News
Last updated

NEWPORT Civic Society has written to those tasked with finding a replacement for the Chartist mural torn down to make way for the Friars Walk shopping development, following a public discussion last month.

The original mural, designed by Kenneth Budd, depicted the march on Newport in November 1839 by campaigners demanding democratic reform, which saw 22 Chartists shot dead by soldiers at the Westgate Hotel in Commercial Street.

At a meeting on February 13 members of the public debated what form a new commemoration could take.

Co-chairman of the Civic Society Nick Webb has now written a letter to Pat Drewett, who is heading the new commission tasked with finding a suitable commemoration.

In the letter he outlined the key ideas to come from the open discussion at the civic centre, saying: “There was a strong level of affection not just for what the Chartist mural commemorated, but also the mural itself as a piece of art. This was reflected in the calls from many of those present that a new artwork should be either a recreation or include representation of the original mural.”

The discussion came after Newport City Council announced former Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Monmouth Dr Rowan Williams, Assembly presiding officer and Newport West AM Rosemary Butler and the Chartist Anniversary Committee’s Pat Drewett would serve on a new commission to look for a replacement for the mural.

In his letter, Mr Webb went on to say that a suggestion of a public re-enactment of the march on the Westgate Hotel was “well received”, and that there was also discussion of a digitised narrative of the Chartist story, one option for which could be a projection onto a building in the city.

Newport residents’ anger at the mural’s shock demolition last October despite a campaign to save it was evident at the meeting, with David Hando, from the Civic Society, describing it as “municipal vandalism”.

But people were hopeful a replacement for the mural in John Frost Square could be found and be a positive step in Newport’s regeneration.

The letter concluded: “The meeting demonstrated a mood to move forward swiftly with a new commemorative piece of artwork so that it can be in place for the 175th anniversary [this year] and that the momentum not be lost.

“We wish the Commission well in their work and hope that the Civic Society will have opportunities to work closely with you as plans progress.”

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