About Newport, South Wales
Newport is a city and county borough in Wales, situated on the River Usk close to its confluence with the Severn Estuary, 12 miles northeast of Cardiff. With a population of 145,700 at the 2011 census, Newport is the third-largest authority with city status in Wales, and seventh most populous overall.
The original Welsh name for the city was Casnewydd-ar-Wysg. This is a contraction of the name Castell Newydd ar Wysg, which translates as “new castle on the Usk”. The Welsh name is recorded in the Brut y Tywysogion when it was visited by Henry II of England sometime around 1172. “New castle” suggests a pre-existing fortification in the vicinity and is most likely either to reference the ancient fort on Stow Hill, or a fort that occupied the site of the present castle.
The English name ‘Newport’ is a later application. The settlement was first recorded by the Normans as novo burgus in 1126. This Latin name refers to the new borough (or town) established with the Norman castle. The origin of the name Newport and the reason for its wide adoption remains the subject of debate. Newport-on-Usk is found on some early maps, and the name was in popular usage well before the development of Newport Docks. One theory suggests that Newport gained favour with medieval maritime traders on the Usk, as it differentiated the “New port” from the “Old Roman port” at Caerleon.
Newport has long been the largest town in the historic county of Monmouthshire and a county borough between 1891 and 1974. The Local Government Act 1972 removed ambiguity about the legal status of the area by including the administrative county of Monmouthshire and the county borough of Newport into all acts pertaining to Wales. In 1974, the borough was incorporated into the new local government county of Gwent until Newport became a unitary authority again in 1996. Gwent remains in use for ceremonial functions as a preserved county.
Newport’s travel to work area incorporates much of south Monmouthshire; the new 2001-based area also includes Cwmbran. The city itself has three major centres for employment: the city centre, and business parks clustered around the M4 motorway junctions 24 in the east and 28 in the west.
Organisations based in the city include Airbus Defence and Space; the headquarters of the Office for National Statistics; the headquarters of the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (formerly known as the Patent Office); the General Insurance Division of Lloyds TSB; a large Panasonic manufacturing plant; a manufacturing plant for International Rectifier; the headquarters of insurance comparison site Gocompare; the headquarters of Wales and West Utilities; the shared-service centre for HM Prison Service; the Passport Office for much of the south and west of the UK; and the Wales headquarters of the Charity Commission and British Red Cross. In 2014 Admiral Insurance opened a large newly constructed office opposite Newport railway station.
In 1997, Newport secured what was then thought to be Europe’s largest-ever inward investment when the LG Group announced a £1.7 billion project creating 6,100 jobs, and supported by public sector grants. Facilities were built on the Celtic Lakes business and science park, but market conditions led to the semiconductor plant never opening, and the CRT plant eventually closed in 2003. In 2005 Irish radiator manufacturer Quinn Group bought the former LG Phillips building, which became its European base.
Industry in the east of Newport was formerly based at the Corus Llanwern steelworks, and although the rolling mill is still active, steel manufacture ceased in 2001. Permission has been granted to transform the 600-acre (240 ha) former steelworks site into a £1bn mixed-use development comprising housing, office and industrial space, public open space and a range of community facilities.
At the mouth of the River Usk, the Sims Metal Management plant hosts the world’s largest industrial shredder for scrap metal with access by road, rail and sea. The plant, which is also the world’s largest car crusher which was featured in the TV series ‘How do they do it’.
Newport Cattle Market, in the Pillgwenlly area of the city, closed in 2009 and was demolished to make way for a new supermarket.
The first stage of regeneration involved improving the city centre road network, turning Kingsway and Queensway into boulevards. The Southern Distributor Road to the south of the city opened in 2004, including the new City Bridge over the River Usk, improving access and opening up new areas for development. The Newport City footbridge opened in 2006 linking the east and west banks of the river for pedestrians and cyclists.
Newport railway station was expanded in 2007 to four full size platforms capable of receiving 10 car Intercity Express Programme services to and from London Paddington. In 2010 a new station building was finished, carried out by engineering firm Atkins. During construction it was Wales’ most environmentally friendly station work, using a hypermodern green ETFE structure similar to the materials used in the Eden Project and the Beijing Olympics’ ‘Water Cube’. In 2019 railway electrification and resigning work will be completed, completing the 21st-century modernisation of the Great Western main line and reducing journey times to London to 1 hour 30 minutes.
Newport bus station was redeveloped in 2013, expanded in 2015 with the Friars Walk development, and now offering 24 stands connecting to the rest of the city, as well as Cardiff and Bristol. Local railway stations are reopening, starting with Rogerstone station in 2008, Pye Corner station in 2014, and with three others planned in the city’s Unitary Development Plan. Transport for Wales intend to restart services between Newport and Ebbw Vale Parkway by 2021.
A state-of-the-art District General Hospital is envisaged to be built to replace the Royal Gwent Hospital. The former Corus steel Whiteheads site was speculated but this was rejected in favour of redeveloping the Llanfrechfa Grange Hospital site, near Cwmbran as a specialist and critical care unit.
The M4 relief road skirting the southern edge of the urban area of Newport has been proposed as a means of reducing the congestion on the existing M4 motorway (presently squeezed through the Brynglas Tunnels) and making Newport and the surrounding areas more accessible for motorised vehicles. The relief road scheme was cancelled in July 2009 but relaunched in 2014. There have also been calls for a barrage across the River Usk to be incorporated with the M4 relief road, so that the level of the river would stay permanently at high tide level, although possible plans for a Severn barrage across the River Severn would reduce the need for such a scheme.
Newport bus station
The nearest airport with scheduled domestic and international flights is Cardiff Airport, 30 miles (50 kilometres) southwest of Newport. The airport is a 35-minute drive away from the city, or a 55-minute train journey which involves changing at Cardiff Central for Vale of Glamorgan Line services to the nearby Rhoose Cardiff International Airport railway station. The airport is also accessible by transferring to 24-hour TrawsCymru T9 busses which begin at Cardiff Central station.
In 2003, a proposal for a new “Severnside” airport near Newport was rejected by the Department for Transport. The airport would have featured runways on a man-made island in the Severn Estuary.
See also: Newport bus station
Newport bus station is the largest bus interchange in the county, with 24 stands. It was built as part of the adjacent Friars Walk shopping centre and the station opened in December 2015.
Bus services are primarily provided by the municipally funded Newport Bus company, and neighbouring firm Cardiff Bus. Other operators include Phil Anslow Coaches, Stagecoach in South Wales, New Adventure Travel (N.A.T.), and until recently, First West of England.
Inter-city National Express services run from a stop near the Riverfront arts centre opposite the bus station and Megabus (Europe) services operate outside of Newport Railway Station.
See also: Railway stations in Newport
Newport railway station in 2011
Newport is the easternmost Welsh city on the United Kingdom rail network and has close proximity to major economic centres in Cardiff and Bristol. Newport railway station is the third-busiest station in Wales, and due to its interchange options it serves as a major transfer station.
The Great Western main railway line connects the city with termini at Bristol, London Paddington, and Pembroke Dock; the Welsh Marches line connects with Holyhead, Manchester Piccadilly, and Llanelli; and the Gloucester line connects the borders region including Cheltenham. The Wessex Main Line also provides an hourly service from the city to Portsmouth. The station has four platforms and is a mandatory stop on all express services to and from London Paddington.
The city is well linked with the nearby Welsh capital Cardiff, with approximately six rail and five bus services between the cities every hour. Services to/from Bristol stop at Newport on average 2–3 times per hour while there are nearly 4 services to/from London each hour.