High Street in 1838

Newport High Street in 1838 by Henry Ziegler

We have Caroline Davies of Davies, White & Perry to thank for preserving a wonderful watercolour of Newport High Street painted in 1838. It is fortunate that, not long after the painting was completed, a local person identified several of the characters and trades shown, and this text has been added below the watercolour.  The view is looking northwards towards the church.

The painting is by Henry Bryan Ziegler (1798–1874). He was a British artist, known as a landscape and portrait painter

In the background you can see St Nicholas’ church, in front of it a small classical type of building – the butter market, commonly called ‘The Butter Cross’, and to the right of this the old William Adam’s town hall. Both the Butter Cross and the old town hall were demolished c.1858-60, when the new town hall was built.

Let us look at some of the details. On the left we can see the post office.

The postmaster is identified as Mr Henry P Silvester, and he is shown at his front door. In front of the post office is the mail cart. This building eventually became printers Bennion & Horne/ The Advertiser, then Browns Motors. The next property is the Old Bell Inn.

In the centre we have the town crier or ‘bellman’. He is identified as Mr Simpson.  William Picken, a local Victorian antiquarian, described his uniform: the blue frock coat and the arms of the town (three fishes) embossed on a brass plate fastened on the right sleeve, a scarlet waistcoat, black velvet breeches, drab cloth leggings, and a black silk hat with a gold band round it. Next to Mr Simpson is a Mr Hutchinson. Behind Mr Simpson, sitting, is Mr Patrick identified as ‘a noted gingerbread manufacturer’ with his stall of sweetmeats.

To the right are Mr & Mrs “Cat” Hughes, carriers, who we are told put up their donkey cart at the Star Inn; now Barbers estate agents. Their donkeys were called Molly and Ned.  The Red Lion of the Red Lion Inn can be seen in the background.

The next feature to the right is what is described as ‘the Aqualate Chariot’- a white coach . Here we see members of the Boughey family coming into town. It is likely that  pictured are Thomas Fenton Fletcher Boughey and his wife Louisa (nee Giffard).

The ‘letter carriers ‘- the posties of their day- are shown bottom left. It is interesting to see that they were both male and female.

Here you can compare the west side of the street with Then and Now images

From the left :

Part of The Old Bell Inn – you can still see today the bell shapes on the dormer windows.  Then No 27-31 All were demolished in 1845 to make way for a terrace of three properties Now Clarks and Nationwide.  Then a two bay property – Now Head Quarters.  Then a four bay property – Now Evenett & Bishop and Newport Pizza.  Then a two bay property – Now Happy Smiles and  The Glasshouse.  Beyond this, the old Crown Inn – now Davies, White and Perry.

Linda Fletcher  2019