THE EDITOR'S CHAIR: Past presents future opportunity for city
FOR those of us who remember it happening, it is remarkable to think that ten years have raced by since Newport’s medieval ship was discovered on the banks of the Usk during construction work for the city’s Riverfront Theatre.
But it is even more remarkable to think that without a concerted campaign led by a few determined individuals and backed by this newspaper, the ship would now be buried in the foundations of the theatre.
The ship’s timbers were discovered during my first stint at the Argus and it was initially feared that, bar for a few bits raised for research, the ship would be buried in concrete.
Thankfully, people like Charles Ferris, Jan Preece and the late Terry Underwood began the Save Our Ship campaign to persuade Newport City Council to raise as much of the vessel as possible for posterity.
The SOS campaigners staged a round-the-clock vigil at the site and it soon became clear there was huge public support for their cause, particularly as thousands upon thousands of people queued up to view the ship in its muddy grave.
The council, then led by Sir Harry Jones, soon changed its tune on the future of the ship and – to be fair – then did an exceptional job of raising money from a variety of sources, including the Assembly, to raise the timbers.
Ten years later the painstaking work of preserving and then, eventually, reassembling the ship continues.
It is remarkably difficult work because nobody knows what the ship should look like.
It is the equivalent, according to one of the experts working on the timbers, of being handed a massive pile of jigsaw pieces without a picture on the box.
Perhaps a bigger challenge than rebuilding the boat is finding somewhere to display it when the work is completed.
The ship has the potential to be a huge tourist attraction if it is displayed in the right place.
At the moment there is still nowhere to place the ship and no money to create such a venue.
That needs to change.
I’d like to think a home for the ship would be a priority for the city – but I fear more immediate problems are a bigger concern for Newport’s current and previous political leaders.
That’s a pity because, in the case of the ship, the past has a big part to play in the future.
The view from behind the scenes in the newsrooom
TODAY marks the start of a page I’ll be writing every Thursday in print and online.
I’ll be writing about some of the big stories your Argus is covering and letting you know what happens behind the scenes in the newsroom and how and why we decide which stories to cover.
Let us know what you think of your Argus
THIS week sees your Argus launch the latest stage in our redevelopment of the paper as we continue to mark our 120th anniversary.
Earlier this year we relaunched our news, opinion and information pages, giving them a new look and including some new content including pictures of the day from our own photographers and readers, and new positions for the television listings and the crosswords.
On Monday we launched a new set of regular features, mixing opinion from our own journalists with columns from local politicians and a look back into our 120-year-old archives.
We’d love to know what you think about the changes. Contact me using the details elsewhere on this page.