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The Monmouthsire Merlin
November 4th 1839 
[Read the full newspaper article here]

The Newport Chartist Mural: Celebrating Democracy 

THE NEWPORT CHARTIST MURAL | The artist's visual narrative reads from left to right and depicts * the heroic march of the armed Chartist insurrectionists towards the industrial port and municipality of Newport * the Chartist's marching banners for the democratic demands of the Six Points of the People's Charter * the Chartist's convergence on the Westgate Hotel, Newport to protest their demands * and the final tragedy when soldiers opened fire upon the assembled Chartists. 

The Newport Chartist Rising of 1839 has forged the democratic identity of modern Newport. The Newport Chartist Mural, Newport's first prominent landmark to the 1839 Newport Chartist Rising, was erected in a pedestrian tunnel in John Frost Square, Newport in 1978. The thirty years' existence of the Newport Chartist Mural up to 2007 is circumscribed by city centre redevelopment projects in Newport. 

Artist Kenneth Budd's monumental mosaic mural is 120 foot long and 12 foot high and contains 200,000 separate pieces of mosaic tile. The artist carried out meticulous research on the history of the Newport Chartist Rising in consultation with staff at the Newport Museum. The mural depicts the banners of the Chartist marchers, protesting the Six Points of the People's Charter of 1838: Read more on The Six Points of the Charter | Below, click on each frame for a larger view.

[1] Universal suffrage for all men age 21 and over | The Newport Chartist Mural[2] Equal-sized electoral districts | The Newport Chartist Mural[3] Voting by secret ballot | The Newport Chartist Mural[4] An end to the need for a property qualification for Parliament | The Newport Chartist Mural[5] Pay for Members of Parliament | The Newport Chartist Mural[6] Annual election of Parliament | The Newport Chartist Mural | Towards a fixed term for parliament?

The mural and the changing city space

  • View video clips of the mural here and here

Erected in a pedestrian tunnel in John Frost Square in 1978, the thirty years' existence of the Newport Chartist Mural is circumscribed by city centre redevelopment projects in Newport. The proposed removal of the mural in 2007 to make way for a new city centre shopping development proved highly controversial. Nevertheless the prospect of removal and even complete demolition focussed the minds of citizens, politicians and local government alike on a commitment to future commemoration of Newport's Chartist heritage. For in a world of consumerism in which there really does seem little else but to go shopping, the radical tradition of the Chartists provides a vital focus for the defence of Civil Society and the ongoing challenge of Democracy.  

  • 1978 - A Chartist Mural for John Frost Square | The radical political tradition of the Chartists was affirmed by the Newport public authorities in the naming of its new 1960's redevelopment scheme and public square after the Chartist leader John Frost, who led the Newport Chartist Rising of 4 November 1839. Several years later, the Chartist Mural was an appropriate enhancement for the new square. | Produced by the artist in close consultation with scholars at the Newport Museum and Art Gallery, the mural draws on the official Chartist Trial records for fidelity to historical details and the result is a vivid visual documentation of this popular rising in the cause of Reform and against the inhuman excesses of the early industrial revolution in the South Wales iron and coal districts.

  • 2007 - Chartist Mural controversy | Some thirty years later, and a succeeding phase of inner city modernization, the mural was itself the cause of controversy as plans were unveiled in 2007 for the removal of the Newport Chartist Mural to make way for a large scale redevelopment scheme. | Enlivened public debate led to a renewed appreciation of this monumental piece of public art, for the Chartist Mural had always been a vital symbol of a proud and popular history.
    • 2007 - Newport Chartist Anniversary Celebrations | With a fresh resolve for commemoration of the history of Chartism in Newport and Monmouthsire, the November 2007 Chartist Anniversary celebrations saw an unrivalled programme of events (- read more here). | In keeping with the radical democratic tradition of the Chartists, moreover, the Anniversary celebrations saw the launch of a Democracy Day campaign with both a parliamentary Early Day Motion and a public petition to the Prime Minister for a Democracy Day public holiday to commemorate the pioneers of British Democracy (- see MP Paul Flynn's blog here).

[work in progress]

[add - Friars Walk scheme ]