THE CHARTIST MURAL RETURNS
Rogerstone Community Council has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant (subject to planning permission) to construct a Chartist Commemorative between the bottom of Ruskin Avenue and the top of Chartist Drive.
This is close to the area where Chartists spent the night before making their way to Newport town. The art work will include a ¼ scale copy of the mural by Kenneth Budd that was previously located in the city centre. The artwork will be constructed by Kenneth's son, Oliver Budd, who has carried on his father's tradition as a muralist.
Y Cyfodiad – The Rising
On Sunday night 3-4 November 1839, John Frost led a contingent from Blackwood to the Welsh Oak (Cefn), where they waited. Thousands more assembled at Pontypool race course under the leadership of William Jones, a watch-maker of that town. He positioned ‘battalions’ strategically on the Usk road and at New Inn, kept men at the race course, directed about two thousand men to wait near the Marshes turnpike gate, north of Newport castle and ordered George Shell and John Davis to lead three hundred men through the lanes of Bettws to the Welsh Oak.
At about 6am they were joined by men from the heads of the valleys, gathered by Zephaniah Williams, a publican at Blaina. On their way south, Williams’ men ‘scoured’ the Ebbw valleys searching for men and weapons. This, along with the stormy weather and a reluctance of many ‘captains’ to leave the Blaenau, delayed their arrival. They had expected to head for Abergavenny and Monmouth, not Newport, dreaming of releasing Henry Vincent and three Newport Chartists from gaol. On the previous Friday (1st Nov) at the Coach and Horses in Blackwood, Frost and Williams had changed the plan that been debated at previous meetings representing the lodges.
As dawn broke, Frost led the combined force of three thousand workers, armed with guns, pikes, knives and cudgels, from the Welsh Oak towards Newport. They followed the Sirhowy tramroad to Pye Corner and crossed Tredegar Park along the ‘Golden Mile’ on the north side of the Ebbw. Determined to avoid confrontation with either the private ‘army’ of estate workers guarding Tredegar House or the soldiers of the 45th regiment barracked at the new workhouse on the Risca road, Frost took the Cardiff Road to town. At the Waterloo public house, they were met by a waiting crowd of hundreds of Newport supporters.
©Les James 2017