This could equally be a 'Nightlife' or a 'Restaurant' tip. The Old Murenger House is an incredible building, but easy to miss on the edge of the city centre. A 'murenger' was a civic tax collector.
The building dates from circa 1530 and the sort of thing that no longer exists in any nearby towns and cities. It is the last old timber-framed building in the Newport. Inside, the pub is a wonderful dark wood-lined bar and lounge, with a friendly bar selling good Sam Smiths beer.
There is also a menu of tasty pub grub.
On John Frost Square you can find the Newport Museum and Art Gallery. And the Tourist Information Centre. And the town Library.
The building is possibly one of the ugliest buildings I have seen and inside it feels like a 1970's hospital in places, however...
The Museum is on the upper floors. It has a whole load of extremely interesting and helpful displays. In my view, the most interesting was the history of Newport and Monmouthshire, its castles and industry. And a corner devoted to the South Wales Chartist, their demands, the Uprising, the trial and deportation of the leaders.
On Floor 3 there is also a very interesting collection of antique teapots and a history of tea drinking in Britain.
The Art Gallery on the top floor is pleasant. There is a permanent collection of paintings of coal miners, and local mining communities. There are also large temporary exhibtions.
Finally from the top floor their is a good view over Newport's rooftops.
OPENING TIMES: Mon-Thurs 9.30 to 5, Friday 9.20 to 4.30, Saturday 9.30 to 4
UPDATE: The cafe has closed and in 2013 the Art Gallery is being run down and relocated. This is a result of local council budget cuts - newport Council don't think art is important to a city!
Right in the centre of Newport is the modern John Frost Square. Right in the middle of John Frost Square is an enormous metal clock, in the shape of a Greek temple. A bit dull, you might think at first sight.
Well... I urge you to wait till the big hand is on the 12
This is what Newport likes to call "In the Nick of Time".
On the hour, every hour, the strangest most remarkable display of mechanical genius and wit occurs!!
The entire 6-metre high structure whirrs into activity. Hatches open. The case splits and opens. Pendulums, bells, gadgets and gimjaws appear from all directions. Small metal men with wings frantically wind the apparatus up and down. A large bird waddles out of the right-hand side and then turns around and goes back in. Mad! Completely BARKING MAD!! You just have to see it. I've never ever laughed so much at a clock striking the hour :-)
In Feb 2007 this amazing clock was sold and dismantled (against the wishes of the city's inhabitants) as part of Newport's redevelopment!! It was constructed for the National Garden Festival in 1992 so had outlived its expected lifespan. I'll keep this tip here for a while as tribute to its memory. The Square is (2012) to be demolished and redeveloped.
Newport Wetlands is a haven for all sorts of Wildlife. It is situated right next to the Severn Estuary which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Wetlands attract Birdwatchers from around the Country. The reedbeds attract Bitterns, Bearded *** and Water Rail to name a few.
The Visitor Centre here at Newport Wetlands was opened in March 2008, insidee you will find a well equipped shop offering everything from Bird Books to Christmas Cards. There is a lovely Cafe in the Centre offering panoramic views over the lakes and beyond with tables and chairs for you to sit outside, weather permitting.
Just beyond the Visitor Centre there is a nice picnic area and well equipped play area for the children. On your way into the reserve you can pick up a map the visitor centre which shows all the main walking trails, cycle routes and viewpoints over the lagoons.
This is a fabulous place to get away from it all whether you are a birdwatcher, like walking in the Countryside or just want to go for a coffee.
Open every day (closed Christmas Day), 9 am to 5 pm (Coffee Shop open 10 am to 4 pm).
Admission and car parking are free.
Goldcliffe is a fabulous nature reserve situated at the Northern end of the Gwent Levels overlooking the Severn Estuary. It is an area which has great scientific importance in providing lagoons and saltmarsh habitats for a number of wading birds. The lagoons are situated just a short walk away from the road and have viewing screens and with seating areas but be warned there is no shelter if the Welsh weather takes a turn for the worst! On the lagoons you can see Avocets, Little Egret, Bar tailed Godwit and many more waders. A short walk to the right of the lagoons will take you to the seawall where you can see Shelducks, Curlews and many others feeding on the mudflats of the Estuary. From here you will also get fantastic views of the Islands of Flatholm and Steepholm in the Bristol Channel in front of you and Cardiff Bay to the West.
Undoubtedly the best attraction in the Newport area is Tredegar House. It is a large country house set in parkland just off the main A48 road en-route to Cardiff. The rich (and very strange) Morgan family lived here for 500 years until 1951.
For £5.60/£4.10 admission (2007) you get a guided tour of well over 1 hour. It was probably the best tour I've ever had, thanks to the enthusiastic guide. The existing house is partly C16th, modernised in the C18th and restored in the 1970's. It is filled with fabulous paintings, wood carving and moulded ceilings. But what makes it most interesting is the story of the family - one was saved from death by his horse, another thought she was a bird, while her son kept an alligator in his bath!
There is also a large cafe and gift shop, free parklands and a lake and a large 'car boot sale' once a month.
Tredegar House Webpage
Follow the steep road next to the Westgate Hotel, up Stow Hill out of the city centre. At the top, on a large island of grass and trees is St Woolos Cathedral. I was amazed at how lovely this cathedral is. Far nicer, in my opinion, than Cardiff's cathedral at Llandaff.
There has been a place of worship on this hill since the 6th century. The east end today is made up of a squat 15th century tower and the ancient St Mary's Chapel. It feels ancient, it looks ancient, and it is!! It has the most beautiful Norman arched doorway I have ever seen.
The whole body of the cathedral is made of lumpy stone walls, white-washed. It has a vaulted wooden roof to die for, made of curved timbers centuries old.
The floor is almost entirely paved with tomb stones, sometimes dating back to the 17th century.
There are some modern bits too, not bad, for example the 1960's Chancel. Complete with window and mural by artist John Piper.
Outside there is a memorial to the 20 Chartist demonstrators who were shot dead suring the uprising of 1839. They are buried in ummarked graves.
My favorite fact is that the Cathedral was attacked and knocked down by pirates in 1050 :-)
So much, so fabulous, I might add another tip later ;-)
It is hard to avoid seeing the tall white tower which looms high over Newport. You see it from a long distance away if you arrive by train. This austere looking stone building is, in fact, Newport's Civic Centre and Law Courts, which opened in 1940. This is where Newport's Council sits.
You can reach it, if you want, by following the road from Newport Train Station up the hill for about half a mile.
The building is particularly notable for its massive triptych of painted wall murals, by the distinguished German emigree artist Hans Feibusch (1898-1998). They were painted in 1964. They record some of the story of Newport from early Celtic times.
In the Square between High Street and Commercial Street are a collection of bronze statues dedicated to Newport's Chartist movement. Yes, around ever corner you seem to find something to remind you of the Chartists :-) Good! They were brave men!!
This collection of sculpture was made in 1989, to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Newport Chartist Uprising.
An unusual collection really, about human size, of men, women and children. Not a great heroic monument but more like a people's monument. There is an inscription describing their purpose on the smallest of the works of art.
Well the good news is that the Newport's lost cross has been found again. A remarkable story. When the town was building Clarence Bridge in 1925 the top half of this medieval stone cross was found in the mud of the River Usk! If you look today at the submerged shopping trolleys and rubbish in the thick brown river mud, you will wonder at the minor miracle of re-discovering this artefact!!
The original top piece of the Cross, beautifully carved showing a scene of Jesus's crucifixion, is on display in Newport Museum.
Meanwhile, a stone replica has been made and erected in Newport High Street, together with a full description.
The cross is believed to date from 1450-1500.
Hard to miss. You see it by the river as you enter Newport by train or bus. The "Steel Wave" or "Y Don Ddur" is a massive bright red 15m high sculpture by artist/architect Peter Fink.
It was made in 1990 as "a tribute to the Newport steelmakers and seafarers", sponsored by 17 companies including British Steel.
The artist had to collaborate with Newport Borough Architectural Services and engineering firm, Wallace Evans.
You just cannot realise quite how big this sculpture is until you walk up to it. It reminds me of the massive wharf cranes that you find at some ports. And it is not too dissimilar to the arched George Bridge, just downstream.
Right next to the River Usk and Clarence Bridge is the remains of Newport Castle. It dates back to the 11th century. Well, that's not strictly true any more. When the railway was being developed the 11th century motte was destroyed. What is left is a small portion of the East end of the 14th century defences.
On one side of the remains is busy four-lane road to Newport bus station. On the east side is the muddy bank of the River Usk, complete with shopping trolleys and stolen bicycles protruding from the slime.
It is possible to climb up part of the old castle. You can get a glimpse of what the old fortified town was like. That is, if you ignore the winos and the occasional bag-laden shopper.
In 2006 Newport's Transporter Bridge will be 100 years old. It was built over the River Usk in the days when large sailing ships still navigated up the river. The bridge is very easy to find, towering above the countryside.
There is only one other British Transporter Bridge still in working order (Middlesborough) . The design is based on the French Transbordeur bridge in Rouen.
It is great fun, almost as good as a fairground ride. And far cheaper :-) Cars and people are carried above the river in a large suspended cradle, pulled by two 35-horsepower motors! The cradle can fit about 6 cars plus foot passengers and bicycles etc.
Several years ago I helped build Newport's main cycle path and the Transporter Bridge was my route to 'work'.
There is a small charge for motor vehicles (50p) and pedestrians and cyclists travel for free. I should warn you that there isn't a great deal to see on the other side of the river, apart from factories and offices (and 'my' cycle path of course).
Bridge operating Mon-Sat 8am to 5.50pm, Sundays 1pm to 4.50pm.
There is now also a small Visitor Centre on the Newport side of the river, which has limited opening hours. There are some very reasonably priced souvenirs on sale.
For a panoramic interactive view of the bridge see the BBC webpage
Newport has one of the few remaining transporter bridges.
This is an experience
A metal framework bridge spanning the river in an n shape and a platform suspended from the top of the frame by huge cables which traverses the river. Holds 6 cars and a few foot passengers, takes about 3 mins to cross and is over 100 years old