Heritage, Crafts and a Cup of Tea
In 2012 members of the Newport History Society fulfilled a long held ambition, to open a Heritage Centre in Newport. The Town Council allowed the Society to use the unoccupied front room of 3a (part of the Newport Guildhall) rent free, to display archaeological artefacts discovered by the Societies Field-group, along with photographs and documents relating to the history of the town and surrounding villages.
On Saturday the 21st June 2012 the Newport Heritage Centre opened its doors for the first time. The plan was to open on Saturdays from 10am until 2pm. The Centre would be staffed by volunteers from the History Society, who would talk to the general public about the displays and where possible identify historical artefacts found by members of the public. In the first year 3a, as it became known received 1406 visitors. This was deemed a success by all involved and the council agreed to let the History Society to continue using 3a rent free, until the council elections in 2015, after which the project would be reviewed. In 2014 the number of visitors to 3a increased, with 1475 people visiting the Heritage Centre. However, the Council were now facing large cuts in funding and the town councillors informed the History Society that it would need to start paying rent for its continued use of 3a. Unable to raise funds to pay the rent, it looked as though the Heritage Centre would have to close its doors.
It was at this point, that Tim Pryce became involved. Tim had set up a ‘Pop Up Shop’ at No2 Wellington Road. The shop had proved popular and soon became a recognised part of the towns High Street. Unfortunately, the landlord found a new tenant and as a result Tim needed to find alternative premises. It was suggested by members of the town council that the History Society and Tim share 3a. In January 2015, Tim Pryce offered to take on the lease for 3a, resolving the financial issues.
Today visitors to ‘Newport Central’ can see and purchase locally produced crafts and produce, or relax and have a cup of tea and a slice of home-made cake surrounded by display cabinets, filled with locally discovered archaeological treasures. The current displays feature artefacts from the early Mesolithic Period right through to the present day, over 6000 years. Displays are updated and regularly changed throughout the year, with a digital monitor providing information relating to the artefacts exhibited. The jewel in the crown, as far as the historical displays are concerned, is the ‘Sheriffhales Roman Coin Hoard’. Found on the 2nd of August 2009 by Mr Terry Hayward. A total of 86 bronze coins were recovered, dating from the reign of the Vespasian (69-79AD) to the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-169AD).
Newport’s ‘Heart of England in Bloom’ group are also now based in ‘Newport Central’. The group will have information available on how to get involved with activities, such as planting up and maintaining flowerbeds situated around the town, along with a display of trophies and awards won by the group in previous years. Members of ‘Heart of England in Bloom’ will be available to talk to the general public in ‘Newport Central’ every 3rd Saturday of the month, from 10am until 2pm, see press for details or pop in and say hello and find out for yourself what ‘Newport Central’ is all about.