AMBITIOUS plans are being developed to increase the use of Newport's historic Westgate Hotel, repair internal damage, and open up more rooms.

Following the hugely successful launch of the Newport Rising: Chartism Redrawn graphic novel, the Our Chartist Heritage group is to be based at the hotel, and wants to host many more events there.

And people will have the chance later this month to see inside at an open day, and to get involved with the project to revive it.

South Wales Argus:

Inside the Westgate Hotel

“We’re pleased to be able to stay in the Westgate for the immediate future, and build on what we’ve achieved so far," said David Daniel, director of the Newport Rising Festival.

“In just six weeks, thanks to our dedicated volunteer team, we were able to transform most of the first floor into a really attractive public art and exhibition space and open the building back up to the people again.

"During the week we were open for the exhibition, so many people shared really special memories that they had about the hotel with us - it’s clear that the hotel is not only vital as the site of the Newport Rising of 1839, but also holds a special place in the memories of current generations that got married at the hotel, met friends there and stayed in the rooms when the hotel was still a thriving business at the centre of the town.

“One phrase that we often heard from visitors was ‘isn’t it a shame that it’s empty?’ or ‘isn’t it a pity that no-one is doing anything with it?’.

"We agree that something should be done and so, with the support of the owner and Newport City Council, we intend to repair and re-install as much as we can of the damage caused over the years by break-ins, vandals and others; remove the hoarding from the front door and side windows, making the building and this area of Commercial Street much more attractive, and work to bring more areas of the building back into use - especially the lower ballroom area.

"Beyond that there’s plenty more to be done and we’ve certainly got a vision for the future, but our focus at the moment is on the positive changes that we can achieve now, by working together."

Westgate Hotel has been unoccupied since the early 2000s, It is best known for its significance in the 1839 Newport Rising, which saw thousands of Chartists march from the Gwent Valleys to Newport, hoping to free political prisoners as part of a national movement to win the vote for the working man.

South Wales Argus:

Members of the Our Chartist Heritage

“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if, on November 2 this year, when we hold a torch-lit march in the footsteps of the Chartist as part of Newport Rising, after arriving at the Westgate everyone could come inside and join together to celebrate Newport’s place in the fight for democracy?” said Mr Daniel.

The team faces an enormous task, though, with significant costs for repairs, equipment, waste removal and other essentials.

To raise awareness and funds, organisers are hosting an ‘open day’ at the Westgate Hotel for anyone interested in the project on Monday August 19, 4pm-8pm.

One event which has been pencilled in by the Our Chartist Heritage group will be the Newport Rising Festival from November 1-3.

If you would also like to make a donation to aid the group, visit here