THE WESTGATE Hotel is a hive of activity in preparation for this year’s Newport Rising festival.

The festival – which takes place at the start of November – commemorates the Chartist uprising of 1839, with events including a torchlight march, gatherings in the Westgate Hotel, and a ceremony at the Cathedral.

And following the hugely successful launch of the Newport Rising: Chartism Redrawn graphic novel in July, the Our Chartist Heritage group have been continuing their work to restore the hotel in time for the festival.

David Daniel, project development officer for Our Chartist Heritage, said preparation was well underway for the festival, with work being done to the lower ground floor and the first floor of the hotel.


“For quite a few weeks now we have been in there every day,” he said. “We have a core team of volunteers working on painting, cleaning and repairing and bringing areas back in to use in time for the festival.

“Before we went in it had been empty for around 15 years. There was evidence people had been sleeping there, and windows and mirrors had been smashed. We are repairing damaged floors.

“Fortunately, the stunning staircase and most of the stonework has not been damaged.

“We are concentrating our efforts on the lower ground floor and the first floor.

South Wales Argus:

(Volunteers working in the lower ballroom at the Westgate Hotel. Picture: Our Chartist Heritage.)

“We are down there and are cleaning floors, and reconnecting the plumbing and electrics. People have been in there and taken all the copper and wiring, so a lot of the work we are doing is replacing that.

“It’s a listed building, so we have to be very careful with the repairs we are carrying out.

“We want to create a 19th century bar in the ballroom with vintage paintings and decorations, and have a more contemporary bar upstairs – the Rising Bar – which will feature works from the graphic novel.”

After the torchlight march following the route of the chartists on Saturday, November 2, a number of events will be taking place at the Westgate Hotel.

South Wales Argus:

(The Rising Bar at the Westgate Hotel. Picture: Our Chartist Heritage.)

Mr Daniel said: “On the Saturday after the march, we will be hosting live performances at the Westgate Hotel, with a group called Soviet Leeds performing in the ballroom.

“The festival will see the most people in the hotel in a number of years.”

Our Chartist Heritage are looking to establish the hotel as an arts centre going forward.

“We are talking with the owner and other parties as to a way the hotel can be brought in to more permanent use. The festival is a good taste of what can be done at the venue,” said Mr Daniel.

“There are five floors of rooms in the building and getting them all in use is the long-term goal, but converting the areas we have been using in to a mixed-use art centre is what we are looking to do.”

To view the full programme of events for the Newport Rising festival, visit