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Newport Branch Meetings, 2022 November 29


Newport Market Arcade by Steffan Ellis

Steffan started with Medieval Newport and traced its increase in size and commercial importance to the 19th Century. By then the town had long been granted a Charter so that it could hold a market and a market hall had been built.

In about 1870 an important lane linked the main shopping street (High Street) and the Market and onto the river Usk, so important for trade. Amongst the shops in the lane was Fennell’s, a prominent fishmonger. Its owner, Edgar Fennell, had been very successful and was sufficiently prosperous to be able to create an arcade to cover the lane. This became known as Fennell’s Arcade.

However in 1904 the arcade was severely damaged by fire and needed reconstruction. Edgar Fennell had died in 1899 and his business had passed to his sons, who were not able to run it successfully and so when the reconstruction was complete there was no Fennell’s shop and so the name changed to Newport Market Arcade.

During the next fifty years the commercial centre moved out of the market area and this became very significant when the John Frost Square area was developed. The result was that the arcade was neglected and became almost derelict and far from being salubrious. However, in about 2015 a group was set up to regenerate the arcade and they succeeded in gaining a significant grant from the Heritage Fund. Steffan is a leader of this campaign and worthy progress has been made and is continuing to restore this important Victorian feature to its previous glory.

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