Newport (Trefdraeth) is an Ancient Borough with a rich history extending back to the Norman Conquest. This trail, published by the Newport Town Twinning Association, contains a list of interesting places in and around the town. All of the sites can be reached in the course of a couple of hours of leisurely walking. The sites listed will give the visitor a glimpse of the "built heritage" of which the community is so proud; we hope that you will enjoy exploring our streets and open spaces, and that your walk will encourage you to discover more about our history and traditions.
The route description is as follows:
Walk up Market Street and then turn right along Upper Bridge Street.
Near the chapel turn left and walk up Mill Lane. then urn left across the bridge, passing in front of the Castle.
Turn right to College Square and bear left along the Cilgwyn Road.
Take the first left down Feidr Bentinck, and the first left into Goat Street. Continue to the Church Chapel and then walk down Upper St Mary Street.
Cross the main road and continue down Lower St Mary Street. At the bottom of the street, take the footpath to the right, crossing the old school playing field and emerging onto Feidr Pen-y-Bont.
Turn left and walk down the road. Take a short detour into the Carreg Coetan Housing Estate to see the Cromlech.
Continue down to the road bridge. Before crossing the bridge turn left and follow the footpath along the south side of the estuary all the way to Parrog. Turn right to the car park and Boat Club.
If you have time, continue along the sea front to Cwm and the old lifeboat house.
Retrace your steps to the Parrog car park and then continue up Parrog Road to the main road.
Turn left and return to the town centre.
1. Market Street. This is where the town market used to be held. Originally it was a very wide street, catering for market stalls (and animals!) on both sides. Later on some front gardens were enclosed; but the wide pavement in front of the bookshop and Spar supermarket still gives a clue to the original purpose of the street. Ffair Gurig and other fairs for the sale of horses and cattle were alse held here up until about 1939.
2. Bethlehem Baptist Chapel. The Baptists started preaching near here as early as 1675, but the first meeting house was built in 1760. This was enlarged as "Capel y Bont" in 1789, with further rebuilding work and enlargement in 1817 and 1855. The Baptistry used for baptisms is up Mill Lane, a short distance above Pont Henrietta Mair.
3. The Old Woollen Mill. Newport was once a well-known centre for the woollen industry, producing flannels and other rough cloth. This was the biggest mill in Newport, and the machinery was run by water power. The overshot mill wheel was driven by the small stream called Afon y Felin, alongside the building.
4. Woollen Factory. This was another, somewhat smaller, woollen mill on the western side of Mill Lane, which operated until around 1924. There was a water wheel on the eastern side of the lane, and this turned a shaft which ran overhead across the lane to drive the machinery (via belt drives etc) in the factory.
5. Castle Mill. This old mill, which has seen better days, was owned by the Lord Marcher and operated by a tenant corn miller. Under the feudal system the occupant of Newport Castle, as Lord of the Barony of Cemais, controlled much of the agricultural production of the neighbourhood and he had a monopoly on corn milling. The corn mill continued to operate until about 1934. It was unusual in that the water power needed to drive the big wheel came from the castle moat, which served as a millpond. Water came not just from the small stream but also from an elaborate herring-bone water-collecting system in the fields above the castle.
6. Newport Castle. The castle was built by William Martin, the Norman Lord Marcher of Cemais, around the beginning of the thirteenth century. The stone fortress, dating from about 1260, probably replaced an earlier wooden stockaded structure. It was defended by a moat and by a curtain wall,which has now virtually disappeared. There was a massive gatehouse flanked by two circular towers, and three other towers. By the mid-1500s the castle was in ruins, and so it remained until 1859 when Sir Thomas Lloyd converted the gatehouse (overlooking the town) into a Victorian residence. The castle is owned by the current Lady Marcher of Cemais, and is only rarely open to the public.
7. St Mary's Church and Churchyard. There was a church here in the early days of the Norman settlement, probably dedicated to St Curig. In the thirteenth century it was rebuilt and re-dedicated to St Mary; but only the tower remains from this period. The church was greatly enlarged in 1835, and it was rebuilt and restored to its present state in 1879. The feature of greatest interest is the massive squat Norman-style tower, and in the spacious and airy churchyard the gravestones tell us a great deal about the family histories and professions of Newport people over the centuries.
8. Madame Bevan's College. Here, on College Square, in the colour-washed houses on the right, was one of the foremost educational establishments of nineteenth-centuryPembrokeshire. It was set up as part of the Circulating Schools movement led by Griffith Jones, and the main benefactor of the Newport school was Madame Bevan of Laugharne. It provided a sound education for local children between 1804 and 1875, and was also used for the training of hundreds of teachers. John Morgan (1786 -1865), master of the school for 47 years, lived in the cottage on the left.
9. The Church Chapel. This simple building was built in 1799 by the Bowen family of Llwyngwair for the use of Methodists, who were at that time still looked upon as part of the Anglican communion. It was used for prayer meetings and other services until the Calvinistic Methodists seceded from the established church in 1811, and since that time it has served as a church hall and meeting room for the parish congregation.
10. Ebenezer Chapel. The Independents were active in Newport from about 1700 onwards, worshipping first of all in private houses. Around 1743 an L-shaped chapel was built here, and for about a century it was simply known as "Capel-L". But then a growing congregation demanded larger accommodation, and around 1844 the present chapel was built with room for 750 worshippers.
11. The Old Primary School. This typical Victorian school was built in 1875 as the "Board" School for children of all ages; but later it became the Newport County Primary School. In 1993 it was abandoned with the opening of Ysgol Bro Ingli in the town, and in 1995 it was converted by Preseli Pembrokeshire District Council for use as a Business Centre and Youth Hostel. The old caretaker's house has been converted by the West Wales Energy Group as the Newport Eco House.
12. The Street Pattern and Burgage Plots. The old town of Newport had a north-south axis, with the main streets running from the castle down to the estuary. The lower part of Long Street and the lower part of Lower St Mary Street are "abandoned streets" which were once bustling with life. The elongated gardens running perpendicularly to these streets show the outlines of the burgage plots held by the original burgesses or settlers in the town in the Middle Ages.
13. Carreg Coetan Arthur. This is the most easily accessible burial chamber in the Newport area, located in a small enclosure in the Carreg Coetan housing estate. Like Pentre Ifan, it dates from the Neolithic period, about 3500 BC. It was excavated in 1979-80. There is a massive capstone balanced on two of the four uprights. The name indicates that local people used to believe this to be King Arthur's Quoit.
14. Pilgrim's Stepping Stones. If you stand on the bridge and look upstream you can see (except at high tide) a series of fine stepping stones over the river. Traditionally these are associated with the medieval pilgrims who were travelling to St David's via Nevern. There was a bridge here in the Middle Ages, but according to tradition it was removed in the 1600's to prevent an epidemic from reaching the town from Nevern parish. Until 1894, when the precursor to the present bridge was built, the stepping stones were used at low tide and a ferry boat operated when the tide was high.
15. Shiphill Lime Kiln. This is a large and spectacular lime kiln (also referred to as the Bryncyn kiln or the Sheephill kiln) on the northern shore of the estuary. Limestone fragments and culm were carried to the adjacent little creek by sailing vessels which came in on the tide. The kiln may well have been built in medieval times, and it was used to provide lime for the castle "grange" at Berry Hill. There was also a small shipyard here, owned and operated through most of the nineteenth century by the Havard family. The lime kiln has now been renovated.
16. The Parrog. This is the "new port" which gave the town its English name. For 500 years after the conquest there were few port facilities here, and herring fishing smacks and trading vessels were simply beached and then loaded and unloaded at low tide. In the 1700's trade was increasing rapidly, and the Court Leet allowed local merchants to extend and raise a spit of land at Parrog and to build storehouses and trading quays. In the early 1800's several dry-stone quay walls were built of slate slabs from the "sea quarries" beyond Pen Catman. There were at least four lime kilns on the Parrog, two of which remain. The largest warehouse has been converted by the Boat Club as its headquarters. One other little storehouse remains, together with the old Parrog mortuary.
17. The Seaside Houses. Along the seaside between the quays and the Cwm there is an attractive jumble of little salty cottages and more substantial houses served by small tracks and lanes. Some of them have walled gardens. Originally there must have been a small fishing community here, and some of the cottages are probably more than 400 years old. Other cottages were built later by the merchants and mariners of the port. In the 1800's, with the development of the early tourist industry, a number of substantial lodging-houses were built; and from 1850 onwards many of the Parrog holidaymakers came from the South Wales mining valleys.
18. The Lifeboat Station at Cwm. This is a classic example of a white elephant. It was built in 1884 for the Newport lifeboat "Clevedon", but abandoned in 1895 because of the difficulty in launching the lifeboat at certain states of the tide and because of the dangers associated with the bar at the mouth of the river.
19. Newport Pottery. This substantial building was at one time a malthouse, but it was later bought by the Cardigan and District Agricultural Co-operative Society and used as a depot. It sold coal, culm and other goods imported by sea and landed at the Parrog, and also corn and agricultural implements. After standing empty for many years it was converted for use as a pottery, and is now due to be converted for use as aplace of residence.
20. The Newport Inns. At the beginning of this century there were 24 inns in Newport, but most of them closed as a result of the temperance movement associated with the religious revivals or because of increased excise duties on alcohol. Today only four remain. The Golden Lion Inn is a very old coaching inn, known as The Green Dragon before 1830. The Royal Oak is also very old, and is named after the oak tree in which Charles II hid in 1651. The Castle Hotel is a spacious and more recent building, known for about a century up until 1970 as The Commercial Hotel. The Llwyngwair Arms is another old coaching inn, with a coaching and stabling yard approached through an arch on the north side of the main road. It is the meeting place of the Court Leet, an ancient institution which keeps alive some of the traditions of the Ancient Borough of Newport. The Lady Marcher attends some of ite meetings, and the annual mayor making ceremony is held here in November each year.
The Town Trail was kindly provided by Dr Brian John.