When Newport received city status in 2002, it became the third largest city in Wales. Luckily filmmakers took an interest in the area even as far back as a century ago, so we have great visual records of the town’s people and places in the past.
Old Photos Showing Newport’s Past
YouTube channel CollidingPlanets Exploring uploaded a montage of black and white photos, showing a wide range of local people and places over the past century.
Through The 1920s
Held to raise funds for the Royal Gwent Hospital, marvellous floats, costumes, musicians and large crowds turned out for the 1923 Fete and Carnival. It’s a great look at the streetscape too.
Newport Carnival 1924
The first float in the 1924 carnival was worthy of a Hollywood film set. Later floats are smaller but still impressive . Moreover, it’s surprising how smoothly the event ran, given the crowds present and restricted roadway.
This collection of short clips is part of the British Pathé collection. Most of the footage is of land and seascapes, but at the end we briefly see men working in the dockyard.
A Peace Float Just Before World War II
This British Pathé clip takes a cheerful look at the local carnival. Run in aid of the Gwent Hospital, the carnival consisted of a procession of floats watched by crowds of spectators. The afternoon rounded off with a competition for the ‘babies’, although the children shown appear to be primary school age.
It’s also interesting to see the ‘PEACE’ sign on one of the floats. World War II broke out on 1st September 1939, just weeks after the filming of this carnival.
The 1950s and 1960s
A short clip from HuntleyFilmArchives, showing the docks and an aluminium factory which dominates the landscape.
Part of the ITV Cymru/Wales Archive @ NLW, this mute black and white film from 1962 records the last passenger train from Newport to Brecon. The long lost village of Pantywaun also appears.
Also known as The International Film School Wales, Newport Film School was part of Newport School of Art, Media and Design at University of Wales. Set up in 1966 by Principal John Wright, approximately 500 undergraduate and postgraduate students studied a range of film-related courses.
Sadly, the Newport Film School closed following the 2013 merger between the University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport, which formed the University of South Wales.
The 1980s and 1990s
In 1988, Anthony Gilbert, Alan Gilbert, and Paul Moorefield filmed a trip to the town centre shops, and the Kingsway Shopping Centre. Everything from the fashions to the store fronts and even the can of Pepsi look very different to today.
Also, a large number of people appear in this short film, from young children with their parents, through to elderly pensioners with their friends.
It’s well worth watching Anthony Gilbert’s video of the 1987 carnival, just to see the astonishing contrast with the floats used in the 1920s and 30s. In addition, local people may spot themselves amongst the crowds of onlookers.
In September 1992, a film student captured moments of everyday life on a local street. Some passers by also said where they were headed. LA Super8 uploaded the short clips to their YouTube channel.
It’s astonishing how many people appear in a film lasting less than five minutes. Also, the contrast between people’s behaviour during daylight hours and night time is striking.
John Hewinson’s footage from 10 April 1994 shows a number of locations around an almost deserted town centre.
Back to Newport Local History Resources page
Back to Local History Videos homepage