RESIDENTS of a new housing development in Chepstow gathered together on Friday for a first look at a new communal space which celebrates the town's industrial past.

The event marked the grand opening of the former No.4 slipway, one of the hearts of the local shipbuilding trade in days gone by, and now a lovingly crafted recreational space for the residents of the Brunel Quarter development, complete with stunning views of the Wye and the Severn Bridge.

Local MP David Davies cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, following a short speech from Chepstow Society chairman Guy Hamilton.

Speaking to the Argus, Mr Hamilton said the town had been "a centre for shipbuilding and trade since the Middle Ages" and played a vital role in supplying the navy with timber during the Napoleonic Wars.

South Wales Argus: Shipbuilders in Chepstow.Shipbuilders in Chepstow. (Image: Unknown)

But the rise of steam ships in the Victorian era meant Chepstow lost out to larger nearby ports like Newport and Cardiff, and it wasn't until the advent of pre-fabrication that the town's trade was resurrected, during the First World War.

Thousands of people flocked to the town during the interwar years for employment in the burgeoning industry, which later diversified into bridge-building in peacetime after 1945.

South Wales Argus: How the shipyards at Chepstow used to look.How the shipyards at Chepstow used to look. (Image: Unknown)

The transformation of the old slipway into the new community space is a tribute to the ships built by Chepstow residents over the centuries, and at its centre is a life-size representation, marked out in the brickwork, of the type of vessel once launched from the slope.

South Wales Argus: Residents exploring the new slipway.Residents exploring the new slipway. (Image: Unknown)

Dozens of residents joined members of housebuilders Barratt to listen to a fascinating talk from Mr Hamilton, who said "it's important for the people coming into Chepstow, and the people who already living in Chepstow, that we do remember the area as it was".

"I'm sure the people living here will enjoy living in this area and being reminded of the history of Chepstow as a centre for shipbuilding," he added.

South Wales Argus: (L-R) Richard Lawson, David Davies and David Kelland cut the ribbon.(L-R) Richard Lawson, David Davies and David Kelland cut the ribbon. (Image: Unknown)

Richard Lawson, Barratt sales director, said the firm was keen to celebrate the town's industrial heritage and "we've been able to create something that commemorates that".

And David Kelland, Barratt's operations director, added: "We made sure to capture the industrial look and keep this heritage - it's absolutely stunning, and when the river walk comes into place as well, it'll be a wonderful place for people to mingle and reflect on the history."