Cornwall & The South: Pt 39 – Newport (Isle of Wight)

Taking a bus from the town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight, we arrived in the islands largest town, Newport, and set out to explore…

Newport:

Status: Isle of Wight Unitary Authority & County, Town, England

Date: 12/08/2015

Travel: Bus (Cowes – Newport) (Newport – Ryde)

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Newport Quay, Newport Guildhall, Victoria Memorial, Little London, Newport Minster, Calverts Hotel, Quay Street, Yellowfin Propellor, Barrington Simeon Memorial Fountain, Bargeman’s Rest Pub, River Medina, Lukely Brook, St James’s Square, County Club, Mountbatten Bust etc

The bus deposited us at the Bus Station on Orchard Street, and we cut through from there to the “High Street”. Looking past some of the charming quaint buildings which line the street, Newport Minster provided the perfect backdrop, creating a nice mixture of colours.

There has been a Church here since at least 1175, when a Chapel was dedicated to St Thomas Becket (1118 – 1170, Archbishop of Canterbury, Murdered then Canonised). One of the most notable burials at the Minster over the centuries was that of Elizabeth Stuart (1635 – 1650, 2nd Daughter of King Charles I) who sadly died aged 14. The present Church building was completed in 1857, and is one of the towns most recognisable landmarks.

Heading East up the High Street from the Minster, we arrived outside another local landmark, the stunning Newport Guildhall, originally the Town Hall.

It is typical of the various examples of grand architecture to be found on the Island, and was created by John Nash (1752 – 1835, Architect who also designed the Royal Brighton Pavilion) in 1819. The Clock Tower was a later Victorian addition in 1887.

Until more recently it was used by the Isle of Wight County Council, who moved out of the top floor in 2010. Following a major revamp, it has reopened to the public, and contains the local Tourist Information Point.

From the Guildhall, we followed “Quay Street” down towards Newport Quayside. En route, just round the corner from the Guildhall, the “Calverts Hotel” jumped out at us. A stunning residence from 1732, over the years the building has been home to a number of notable surgeons, and even the Mayor of Newport before becoming Calverts in 1970.

You can see the Coat of Arms of the UK above the doorway, featuring the English Lion/Scottish Unicorn, presumably added when the Mayor was in residence many years ago.

Further down the road, Quay Street opens up into a stunning, broad avenue which is lined on both sides by a series of listed buildings, dating from a similar time period to Calverts, 1750 – 1800.

Both the Clock Tower of the Guildhall, and the Minster Tower dominate the skyline behind, adding another layer to the scene.

We soon reached the Newport Quayside, which was once known as Little London, referencing its heydey of various Warehouses, Cargo Ships etc.

Many of the old warehouses have been demolished, however a few survived, with the warehouse at the far right of the picture a prime example, dating back to around 1750.

Despite Newport lying almost in the centre of the island, it is linked to the Solent/English Channel via the River Medina, which runs from the coast at Cowes all the way up to Newport, and the Quayside. The River also meets the Lukely Brook from the North here as well.

Again the towers of the Guildhall and Minster can be seen in the background, allowing you to get a full picture of the town, even so far away from the High Street.

A few interesting items line the Quayside, starting with the Propellor from a trawler called the “Yellowfin” which was “Berthed in this Harbour 1975 – 82”.

Second, was a drinking fountain, constructed in memory of Sir Barrington Simeon (1850 – 1909, MP for Southampton from 1895 – 1906) who was born on the Island in 1850.

Just to the right of the fountain you can see the shadow of the modern day overpass which carries the A3020 back towards Cowes. Back in the day however, it was the site of the Cowes – Newport railway, carried over a Viaduct which had a special swinging section to accommodate taller masted ships.

Heading under the Overpass, we got a lovely view downstream across the various moorings which line the river.

On the left you can see a local pub called the “Bargeman’s Rest”, and was built in 1999 on one of the former quayside plots which was used to load Beer Barrels from the nearby Mew Langton Brewery onto barges.

After relaxing in “Little London” for a while, we wandered back up into the town centre, back up Quay Street, the High Street, past the Minster to St James’s Square.

There a number of landmarks to be found in the square, starting with the Victoria Memorial, constructed in 1901 upon the death of Queen Victoria. Three Bronze Lions sit at the three corners of the base.

The standout building on the square, just behind the Victoria Memorial, and shown to the far right above, is the “County Club & Old Literary Institute”. Again designed by John Nash, it opened in 1811 as the Isle of Wight Institution.

On the previous picture, opposite the County Club you can see a stone pillar with a bust atop it. This is of Lord Louis Mountbatten (1900 – 1979, Uncle of Prince Philip, killed by the IRA in 1979) who was the Governor of the Isle of Wight starting in 1965.

Newport is a beautiful town, with lots of stunning buildings and landmarks. The old Quayside is fast being redeveloped and is becoming a premier location in the town, whilst the town centre has a variety of shops and squares you can visit. Despite the lack of a railway connection since it was closed in the 1960’s, regular bus services can take you all over the island, and link to Ferry/Hovercraft services from Cowes/Ryde to Southampton/Portsmouth respectively.

For us it was time to move on, and we boarded a bus bound for Ryde, at the Eastern end of the Island…

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