Calls for council to rescue one of Newport’s most historically important buildings
Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter
The future of the hotel at heart of 1839 Newport Rising should be secured by the city council, according to two councillors.
The Westgate Hotel was at the centre of a political storm in 1839, when Chartists marching to London clashed with the authorities, demanding the release of prisoners.
Fighting broke out, and soldiers opened fire on the crowd, leaving dozens dead or wounded, and the leaders of the so-called Newport Rising were convicted of treason.
Nearly 200 years later, the privately-owned building remains a monument to this flashpoint in the struggle for democracy – its walls still apparently pockmarked with bullet holes – but recent events have thrown its restoration into fresh uncertainty.
City councillors Will Routley and Ray Mogford are now calling on the local authority to “do everything in its power to ensure the future of this historic building”.
In recent years, the hotel has been refurbished by locals intent on preserving it and transforming it into a community arts space for exhibitions and concerts.
The Westgate was also ground zero for the hugely successful grassroots efforts to collect clothes and everyday essentials for displaced Ukrainian refugees who fled the Russian invasion in 2022.
But the group behind the hotel’s restoration announced last month its work had “come to an abrupt halt” and its deal with the leaseholder had reportedly been “terminated”.
Coverage of the group’s plight caught the attention of Cllrs Routley and Mogford, who will seek local government intervention in the future of the Westgate at a full council meeting next week.
Their notice of motion reads: “The Westgate hotel, a historic landmark in our city, holds significant importance as a turning point in history that advanced modern-day democracy, a reminder of our struggles for political beliefs.
“We call upon this council to do everything in its power to ensure the future of this historic building.
With your support, we could be reclaiming this remarkable building, preserving our history while shaping a brighter future for the Westgate, the city, and our citizens.”
Newport City Council was approached for comment.
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