THE NEWSDESK: Time to stop the short-term thinking on Newport's medieval ship

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South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

THERE comes a point when the long-term needs to start outweighing short-term thinking driven by austerity measures.

The Newport Ship is a case in point.

The sort of short-termism which led to the destruction of the city's Lyceum Theatre is now threatening to dominate the argument about the future of the ship.

We could have merely closed up Big Pit in 1980 and let it rot. The fact that we did not means it brought more than 149,000 people to see it last year.

We could have let Caerleon's Roman ruins remain underground. The fact we did not brought more than 65,000 people to see them last year.

In total, Wales' national museum sites had 1.65m visitors last year.

Heritage tourism is a major part of the Welsh economy.

And a maritime museum housing one of the most important ships discovered in Britain - with world-wide importance - would clearly be a major driver in any local economy. Creating jobs, helping to secure small businesses.

Short-term financial pain, huge long-term financial gain.

We were lucky that the ship was discovered in Newport. We were lucky to have an historical gem wash up in the mud of the bank of the River Usk.

Other areas would eye the find enviously, think about what they could do to capitalise on such a lucky piece of their heritage had it been discovered elsewhere.

The Welsh Government has just spent £12.3m buying a business park near Bridgend to "attract new business and new jobs".

The business park is home to technology and life science firms including Sony.

It has also spent £52m buying Cardiff Airport because it recognised the importance of good transport links in this country to our economy.

It is clear Newport council does not have the funds to properly capitalise on this wonderful piece of our heritage.

And the ship does not belong to them, it belongs to the people, it is our heritage, a reminder of this city's maritime past, a treasure for future generations.

So it is high time the Assembly took note of the strength of feeling here about its preservation and the need to display it properly. And put their money into it.

We reported on Saturday that research indicated for the first time it was a two-decker capable of transatlantic crossings.

Local AMs are urging Newport council and the Welsh Government to pull together to turn the wreck of the 15th century merchant vessel into a major tourist attraction for the city.

Maritime experts believe the ship built with timbers from the Basque region was 36ft high from the keel to the sterncastle and overall including the main mast up to 80ft.

The timbers of the ship excavated at the site of the Riverfront Arts Centre in 2002 are currently stored at a unit on Maesglas Industrial Estate.

However, the unit’s lease will run out this autumn and no permanent venue has yet been found to preserve it.

William Graham, Conservative AM for South Wales East, said: “We knew it was an immense treasure and this new discovery confirms how important this vessel is in maritime history.

“Newport should be fighting to retain this treasure and display it adequately.”

Lindsay Whittle, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales East, added: “This is really exciting and fascinating news and once again highlights the importance of ensuring the permanent future of this ship.

“While public money is tight it is important that all public bodies – including Newport council and Welsh Government – pull together and work towards making this wonderful medieval ship a major attraction for tourists. This ship needs and deserves a permanent home in Newport.”

Plans to open a museum for the ship at Newport Centre were discussed last year but are now understood to have fallen through. The Argus was told by the chairman of the Friends of the Ship in February that one estimate for a museum would be around £30m.

The council is now looking at options including a trust taking over responsibility for the timbers.

It appears that in some quarters these timbers are seen primarily as a burden to be shifted elsewhere, a headache.

We could have left them to rot in the grey mud of the Usk.

The fact we did not, the fact we have spent precious resources conserving them, shows that we recognise how important they are.

The fact we are still prevaricating about what best to do with them shows how badly our mindset has been damaged by recession.

We need an attitude adjustment.

We need to think of Newport's future.

Comments (11)

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4:00pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Magor says...

I dont think many people are really that interested in the ship.It cant be compared to the Big Pit or Caerleon.The best thing would be to get it moved to a maritime museum somewhere else in Wales or the UK.
I dont think many people are really that interested in the ship.It cant be compared to the Big Pit or Caerleon.The best thing would be to get it moved to a maritime museum somewhere else in Wales or the UK. Magor
  • Score: -10

4:22pm Sun 27 Apr 14

scraptheWAG says...

you seem to be very nieve Maria the WAG would never spend a penny in newport,
you seem to be very nieve Maria the WAG would never spend a penny in newport, scraptheWAG
  • Score: 10

4:33pm Sun 27 Apr 14

DG24 says...

Could have just had the title as : " Time to stop the short-term thinking on Newport"
Could have just had the title as : " Time to stop the short-term thinking on Newport" DG24
  • Score: 5

4:47pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Magor says...

DG24 wrote:
Could have just had the title as : " Time to stop the short-term thinking on Newport"
The future is Debenhams.
[quote][p][bold]DG24[/bold] wrote: Could have just had the title as : " Time to stop the short-term thinking on Newport"[/p][/quote]The future is Debenhams. Magor
  • Score: 1

4:47pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Katie Re-Registered says...

Can't help thinking that something witty and fitting with Newport's quirky artsy image like a giant glass bottle in the centre of our city to showcase the Newport Ship might prove costly initially but would pay dividends when it makes Newport a regular sight seeing stop for coachloads of tourists. Moreover, the fact that it would be the only one in the entire world might prove to be a strong pulling factor and generate significant publicity towards Newport. Sometimes it pays to think outside of the box.
Can't help thinking that something witty and fitting with Newport's quirky artsy image like a giant glass bottle in the centre of our city to showcase the Newport Ship might prove costly initially but would pay dividends when it makes Newport a regular sight seeing stop for coachloads of tourists. Moreover, the fact that it would be the only one in the entire world might prove to be a strong pulling factor and generate significant publicity towards Newport. Sometimes it pays to think outside of the box. Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 12

4:52pm Sun 27 Apr 14

Woodgnome says...

I don't agree with Maria on a lot but she's right on this one. Ignore the Philistines who want to dump it.
I don't agree with Maria on a lot but she's right on this one. Ignore the Philistines who want to dump it. Woodgnome
  • Score: 7

5:18pm Sun 27 Apr 14

scraptheWAG says...

why should we pay extra council tax for someones hobby burn the crap
why should we pay extra council tax for someones hobby burn the crap scraptheWAG
  • Score: -16

8:40pm Sun 27 Apr 14

The People's Republic of Newp says...

scraptheWAG wrote:
why should we pay extra council tax for someones hobby burn the crap
I'm starting to suspect you simply wish to 'scrap' everything that doesn't fit with your own blinkered 'vision'.
[quote][p][bold]scraptheWAG[/bold] wrote: why should we pay extra council tax for someones hobby burn the crap[/p][/quote]I'm starting to suspect you simply wish to 'scrap' everything that doesn't fit with your own blinkered 'vision'. The People's Republic of Newp
  • Score: 9

10:49pm Sun 27 Apr 14

scraptheWAG says...

The People's Republic of Newp wrote:
scraptheWAG wrote:
why should we pay extra council tax for someones hobby burn the crap
I'm starting to suspect you simply wish to 'scrap' everything that doesn't fit with your own blinkered 'vision'.
no just dont want to keep paying for all this crap
[quote][p][bold]The People's Republic of Newp[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]scraptheWAG[/bold] wrote: why should we pay extra council tax for someones hobby burn the crap[/p][/quote]I'm starting to suspect you simply wish to 'scrap' everything that doesn't fit with your own blinkered 'vision'.[/p][/quote]no just dont want to keep paying for all this crap scraptheWAG
  • Score: -6

9:37am Mon 28 Apr 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Katie Re-Registered wrote:
Can't help thinking that something witty and fitting with Newport's quirky artsy image like a giant glass bottle in the centre of our city to showcase the Newport Ship might prove costly initially but would pay dividends when it makes Newport a regular sight seeing stop for coachloads of tourists. Moreover, the fact that it would be the only one in the entire world might prove to be a strong pulling factor and generate significant publicity towards Newport. Sometimes it pays to think outside of the box.
I really like the ship-in-a-bottle idea.
[quote][p][bold]Katie Re-Registered[/bold] wrote: Can't help thinking that something witty and fitting with Newport's quirky artsy image like a giant glass bottle in the centre of our city to showcase the Newport Ship might prove costly initially but would pay dividends when it makes Newport a regular sight seeing stop for coachloads of tourists. Moreover, the fact that it would be the only one in the entire world might prove to be a strong pulling factor and generate significant publicity towards Newport. Sometimes it pays to think outside of the box.[/p][/quote]I really like the ship-in-a-bottle idea. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 5

10:51am Mon 28 Apr 14

joncwatts says...

Great idea about ship in a bottle,
Alternatively look at the Cutty Sark and Mary Rose museums, http://www.rmg.co.uk
/cuttysark and http://www.maryrose.
org/
This could be an excellent source of tourism revenue for Newport and South Wales
Great idea about ship in a bottle, Alternatively look at the Cutty Sark and Mary Rose museums, http://www.rmg.co.uk /cuttysark and http://www.maryrose. org/ This could be an excellent source of tourism revenue for Newport and South Wales joncwatts
  • Score: 4

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