HUNDREDS marched through the streets of Newport last night in the biggest tribute to the Chartist Rising in recent years.

At this stage, organisers say more than 600 people took part in the torch-lit march to Westgate Square but the true figure, they admit, could be several hundred higher.

"It's growing year on year," said festival director David Daniel. "It was definitely the biggest yet, which is great, especially with the poor weather in the morning.”

Festivalgoers enjoyed male voice choir and light show performances in Belle Vue Park before their own torches were lit and the trail set off, snaking through the fields, down Stow Hill and into the city centre.

South Wales Argus: At least 600 people took part in the torch-lit march

This year marked the 184th anniversary of the fateful Newport Chartist Rising, the fiery culmination of a decades-long movement which sought democratic rights for ordinary working people.

That day, thousands from the south Wales valleys marched on the Monmouthshire town of Newport, as it was then, where fighting broke out outside the Westgate Hotel.

Between 10 and 24 protesters were killed and dozens more injured. The town’s mayor and four soldiers were reported as injured while they detained some protesters inside the hotel. It was the last major armed rising in Wales.

The six points of the Charter included privileges that some in the twenty-first century take for granted, including secret ballot voting and the right to vote for all men aged 21 and over.

Five of the six demands have since come to fruition – the sole exception being annual parliaments, something the Chartists felt would make MPs more accountable to their electors – though none were achieved during the lifetime of the movement.

South Wales Argus: People came from Bristol and Blaenau Gwent to join the march

“It’s a shared experience and it’s special to Newport,” said Mr Daniel. “People of all ages, from all backgrounds and all ages join in. It’s ours. It’s part of what makes Newport, Newport.

“Not everyone knows about it initially, but they quickly find out. For those who do know, it’s a special way to honour that history.

“It was tragic that people died in Westgate Square fighting for things that we take for granted today. It’s important we remember that," he said.

"We try to remind people that if there is something wrong with the way the world works, not just in democracy but all parts of life, the best way to make the change is by working together.

“If young people are looking at the way things are run, they should get involved. It’s about taking action and working for positive change, whatever that may be.”

Many incumbent flagbearers of democracy in Newport, including Ruth Jones MP, Jessica Morden MP, Jayne Bryant MS and John Griffiths MS, were in attendance, as was Dafydd Iwan, who concluded the march with a stunning rendition of “Yma O Hyd” (Still Here) outside the Westgate Hotel.

Mr Griffiths, Welsh Labour MS for Newport East and Severnside, said: “Democracy is precious and been fought hard for by generations before us. Chartists’ struggles played a key role in achieving the vote for the masses.

“Our past must inform our future in a way which strengthens and renews democratic process locally, nationally and internationally.”