Situated on the banks of the River Usk, Newport is a vibrant city known for its rich history, active sporting scene and buzzing atmosphere. Sometimes overshadowed by its better-known neighbours, Cardiff, and Swansea, we’ve pulled together 7 things Newport is famous for.
1. Newport Transporter Bridge
Arguably Newport’s most famous landmark, the iconic Transporter Bridge has dominated the city’s skyline since its construction in 1906. One of only 6 bridges of its type remaining in the world, the bridge has been described as an ‘aerial ferry’, transporting vehicles and pedestrians across the River Usk. The bridge not only provides a practical means of crossing the river, whose mud flats render it incompatible with regular ferries, but also a unique experience accompanied by spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas.
2. A vibrant music scene
Newport’s vibrant music scene is well-documented. The city has been home to scores of renowned musicians and bands, including Feeder, Goldie Looking Chain and Joe Strummer of The Clash. In the 1990s, Newport was heralded ‘the new Seattle’ thanks to its burgeoning grunge scene and the plethora of alternative rock bands that formed there, amongst them Novocaine and 60ft Dolls.
Nowadays, Newport holds various music festivals and events throughout the year, including the Folk Festival held in the grounds of the magnificent Tredegar House. The city is jam-packed with live music venues, making it a must-visit destination for music enthusiasts.
3. Iconic sporting events
Sport plays a significant role in the fabric of Newport. From rugby to ballet, the city brims with sporting prowess and achievement. Newport has hosted many of the world’s most prominent sporting events, including The Ryder Cup and Tour of Britain, attracting sports fans from around the world.
4. Historic sites
Newport has a rich history and boasts several historically significant sites. The most well-known is the medieval Newport Castle, the ruins of which can still be viewed from the city and the banks of the River Usk. A short drive from Newport lies the Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths, a magnificent historical destination offering a fascinating glimpse into Roman life. Visitors can explore the ‘natatio’, an open-air swimming pool into which a Roman Soldier can be seen diving, thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
5. The Chartist Movement
Newport is closely connected with the Chartist movement, a significant moment in British working-class history that advocated for the rights of the working classes and political reform.
The movement emerged in London and has been divided by historians into ‘moral’ and ‘physical’ forms of Chartism. In 1839, the starkest example of ‘physical’ Chartism erupted in Newport, known as the Newport Rising. Protestors stormed Newport to liberate Chartist prisoners, resulting in numerous deaths and the transportation of the Chartist leaders.
Newport’s links with the movement remain visible around the city today. The Westgate Hotel, the site of the rising, still stands as a proud tribute to this important historical episode. Ten of the men killed are buried in the grounds of the magnificent St Woolos Cathedral and if you look closely, you can still make out the 6 points of The People’s Charter of 1838, detailing the reforms demanded by Chartists, inscribed on Friar’s Walk steps leading to St John’s Square.
6. Its buzzing arts scene
Newport boasts a dynamic arts scene. The city’s annual calendar is packed with festivals and community events celebrating the work of the scores of local artists who have made Newport their home. The city centre Riverfront Arts Centre aims to make the arts accessible to as many people as possible through its extensive programme of performances, workshops, film screenings and other events. Over the past few years, street art murals to rival those of nearby cities Cardiff and Bristol have sprung up around the city, turning many of Newport’s streets into works of art and strengthening the city’s arty vibe.
7. Steel Wave
Located on the banks of the River Usk, the striking ‘Steel Wave’ art installation is a nod to Newport’s steel and maritime history. Standing at 40 feet high, the award-winning metal structure was constructed by Peter Fink from 50 tons of sheet steel. Visitors can take a moment to marvel at the sheer size of the imposing installation before exploring the nearby riverbank area.
Ranked by The Guardian as one of the UK’s top city destinations in 2021, Wales’ third largest city has plenty to shout about. Blending a fascinating history with a lively contemporary cultural scene, Newport is a must-visit for anyone in search of a unique Welsh city break.