BEFORE the advent of the drone, there were few chances to see aerial views of Gwent, but the Argus archive has a range of shots from the last century when cameras were taken to the air and looked down at our world from above.

Docks and railway

An evocative shot shows the knot of rail lines which girdled Newport in its heyday. Mendalgief Road here forms the boundary of terraced streets, beyond which are endless lines of track, some crammed with coal wagons waiting to unload at the docks or lying empty and waiting to return up the valleys to be filled again with coal.

The towers where cargoes would be unloaded at Newport Docks can be seen in the late 1950s shot of merchant ships moored in the glass-like Alexandra Dock. A more recent shot from 1988 shows how shipping by then had changed with containers stacked on the dockside and ship at anchor.

Transporter Bridge

The Transporter Bridge features in many aerial views of Newport. This shot looking north-east shows how little development there was east of the River Usk before the Second World War.

Stephenson Street, the light coloured road which carries traffic to the Transporter, cut through fields here, but now is flanked by industrial sites. Further north, there is the Orb steelworks, but beyond that there are fields still. Still recognisable is the Waterloo Hotel and the terraces of Pill.

Then they would have been only a couple of decades old. Another shot looking westwards shows again how little of this area of Newport was developed.

Uskmouth Power Station

The picture of Uskmouth Power Station shows it early in its working life. The coal-fired power station was built in 1959. At Newport Docks in the distance, a cruise-liner can be seen berthed.

As well as generating power for over half a century, the site has been used as a location for Doctor Who. In the episodes ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ and ‘The Age of Steel’, the station was used as the setting a Cybermen Factory.

Art College

The view looking east over the centre of Newport shows the Art College and Clarence Place. On the right of the shot is the Davies landing stage which took its name from Davies Brothers, the builders’ merchants sited opposite the college. Its signage tells how they are importers of ‘Timber, slates, cement’ and they are ‘builders’ merchants and ironmongers’. The firm was sited here because this is where their wares would be offloaded from the river. But now this part of the river has been cleansed and is strictly for strolling or living. Those smells of timber and mortar can still be had, just not in the centre of Newport any more.

Newport centre

An earlier shot shows the centre of Newport circa 1930s. To the middle-right, the Monmouthshire canal, which ran from Brecon before joining the Usk at Crindau, can be seen.

The buildings around the Old Green and Newport Castle before the area was levelled in 1970 can be seen.Towards the bottom-right, Newport’s Lyceum Theatre can be picked out. It was one of Newport’s grandest buildings but as audiences dwindled after the Second World War and pressure grew to redevelop Newport, the theatre was closed and the decision taken to demolish it in 1961.

Panteg Steelworks

There was first a steelworks at Panteg in 1873 when Sampson Copestake & Co started to produce steel rails for export to India. Investment during the Second World War saw Panteg produce steel for armour and helmets. The works closed in 1996.