Lower Dock Street, Newport

South Wales Argus: THEN: Lower Dock Street, Newport THEN: Lower Dock Street, Newport

Last week we visited Lower Dock Street, Newport and received the following replies:

Jim Dyer, Newport: "It's Lower Dock Street, Newport. There used to be two pubs in the area, the Vulcan and the Masonic Arms. On the right-hand side, just out of view of the photograph, was a car showroom called Honest Ken's. Further down was the Octopus Bridge going over to Black Clawsons."

Mr Paul Mcloughlin, Newport: "The 'Now and Then' picture shows Lower Dock Street where Gwent Tyres was situated and later a coal yard. Opposite was the Vulcan Pub and going down to the corner was the Masonic Pub.

"Opposite the white building is the Masonic Hall. Behind Gwent Tyres was the Octopus Bridge and underneath ran the railway lines. I used to live in Granville Square till I was a five-year-old boy.

"Going down Dock Street they had a Post Office and next to it was a cobblers called Mr Marret. On the other corner is the Riverview club nick-named The Stick and Crutch, behind the Post Office was a brewery, then the Cattle Market and every Sunday morning a car boot sale is held in John Street."

Lance Price, Cwmbran: "The photo in the 'Now and Then' section of the May 17 edition is Lower Dock Street, Newport. I believe you can see the Masonic Hall in the background.

I do not remember the Gwent Tyre Service building but certainly remember Astoria Motors that was situated just out of picture. I am sure many people of Newport will remember the proprietor 'Honest Ken'. He sold second hand cars from what was known as the 'Bangers Graveyard'. What a character he was. I bought several cars from him and they always drove well and lasted me a long time.

He used to give a warranty with all the cars that he sold, six months or the first 600 yards whichever came first! Once you had handed over the cash for your chosen car, he would stand outside his premises and wave you off as you drove away. As long as you made it past the traffic lights at the junction of Lower Dock Street and George Street then you had used up the warranty.

His premises always put a smile on my face. As you walked in to look at the many cars he had crammed in his showroom there was a sign saying 'Complaints Dept'. It was a trap door leading to a very dark cellar with a sledge hammer suspended from the ceiling by string. There was also another sign saying 'Pick of the Week' and sure enough there on the wall was a workman's pick.

One particular car I bought from him had the registration number FOX 789. I eventually sold the plate for ten times what I paid for the car. I can honestly say Ken was one of Newport's greatest characters."

Mr C P Robins, Newport: "The Now & Then photo looks to me, like Lower Dock Street, Newport. In that area was a large commercial coal stockyard, where coal merchants would load up for home deliveries. Further down was the famous Octopus Bridge that led to the riverside where, as a youngster, I with members of my family, would spend many an enjoyable time on the iron stays, under the quays and jumping the gaps on the jetties when sometimes we would take a tumble "All this area will be developed shortly. Ah well, happy memories of childhood."

D R Everett, Newport: "The photo of the Gwent Tyre Service, Lower Dock Street/Granville Square, brought back a few happy memories as I worked there in my late teens in 1957/58. It was heavy, dirty work but we had some fun as well.

"The manager's name was Mr Preston and the foreman was Alec Mitchel. Other staff were Ken Davies (salesman rep), Reg Pearce, ' Bobby' Jordan, Aldwyn Cox (now owns the Let's Party shop, Upper Dock Street), and two ladies in the office . The triangular section was the office, with three floors for the tyre storage.

"With the cattle market nearby, on market day if we weren't quick enough with the gates, cattle often stampeded into the yard. The worst vehicles to handle were the Monmouthshire Hide and Skins lorries, which you could smell coming down the road.

"We fitters would suddenly find something very important to be doing elsewhere when they arrived.

"I later went to work at the Simonds Brewery, (just in top shot) next to the cattle market, prior to joining the RAF. The recruiting sergeant couldn't believe I was leaving a brewery for the Air Force."

Elwyn Hughes, Cwmbran: "It's Lower Dock Street, Newport. The Masonic Hall Freemason was opposite the Masonic Hotel which my father, Mr Percy Hughes, kept for many years. I started my life there some fifty years ago while they were building George Street Bridge. They came into the pub asking for helpers to lay iron rods for the foundation which quite a few of us volunteered for."

Mrs Malbina Reardon, Newport: "The 'Now and Then' picture is of Lower Dock Street. On the corner of Ruperra Street is the Masonic Hall which was for the Freemasons, and they also held weddings there. Opposite, on the other corner, was the Masonic Hotel. Next door was a cafe and also a shop which sold food, cigarettes, etc. A bit further on was the Vulcan Hotel which is empty. Across the road used to be a scrapyard for old cars and tyres. That's the side of George Street Bridge where they have built offices and a call centre.

"We lived in Lower George Street and had to move as they were going to build the George Street Bridge between 1959-60. Also a part of Granville Street is still there which had a pub on the corner called the Railway Hotel. It was pulled down but the site is still there. Also in Dock Street were offices for the embassy."

Mr J Vassallo, Newport: "The old building showing Gwent Tyre Services back in the 1940s was, I believe, Mayburys Builders. It had an underground cellar that was full of bags of lime, it was a creepy old place. The lines ran right alongside there and up into George Street through double gates when open. A family living opposite, Hicks, I believe, had a parrot which escaped and flew on top of that building. They put the cage outside trying to get it to come back down. I think the family will remember it. Also there was a shed where Lyons Tea lorry was kept. Opposite on the one corner was the Railway Hotel, on the other side was Jessemans. Further down was a Merchant Navy Comforts shop where seamen could get Burberrys and clothing coupons. Further on was the Masonic pub and on the next corner was the Masonic building. In the picture further on was the MN Federation offices, and across the road was an old station and stable yard. In the war they had a place on the platforms where they kept supplies for the prisoners of war. The railway policeman then was a Mr Jones. They were the great old days. Although we did not have much, we were happy."

Last week's picture from Argus archive

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