Newport's Westgate Hotel is set to re-open its doors for the launch of a Chartist-inspired graphic novel 'Newport Rising', written and illustrated by local artist Josh Cranton in collaboration with RISE Propaganda and commissioned by Our Chartist Heritage, the charity behind the Newport Rising Festival.
The new owners of the Westgate have agreed to work in partnership with Our Chartist Heritage, to celebrate the unique history of the building and are supported by a strong public sentiment to see the Westgate’s doors open again. The launch of the graphic novel ‘Newport Rising’ will take place on 12 July 2019, after which new uses for the building will be actively explored, including public exhibitions and a heritage information centre.
Built on the site of an earlier hotel of the same name, the Westgate Hotel took centre stage in the 1839 Newport Rising when thousands of Chartists from the Gwent Valleys marched on Newport in an abortive attempt to free political prisoners as part of a national movement to win the vote for the working man. Twenty-two Chartists were shot dead by the authorities outside the Westgate; this is the story that inspired Josh Cranton’s graphic novel ‘Newport Rising’.
Unoccupied since the early 2000s, ownership of the hotel has changed hands numerous times. Some areas of the building have suffered unsympathetic refurbishments over the years and other areas have been severely damaged by the elements. Despite extensive repair work to the roof and structure of the building, its stunning ballroom and architecture remains at risk and in need of further restoration. Further work is required to safeguard the building for the future, which will include exploring and developing viable and sustainable uses for the hotel. Our Chartist Heritage and the owners hope to work together to achieve this, with assistance from Newport City Council.
Project Development Officer for OCH David Daniel said:
"We're absolutely thrilled to be able to host this launch event at the Westgate Hotel, at the site of the dramatic historical events that are central to the Chartists’ cause and the character of Newport today. The impact of the sacrifices made by the Chartists was ultimately felt all over the world and remains in the hearts and minds of Newport's citizens. We are incredibly thankful to the owner for his support and vision in forging this partnership so that we can work together, in the spirit of the Chartists, to bring about this positive change."
The launch of the ‘Newport Rising’ graphic novel will see the doors of the Westgate Hotel open again for the first time in well over a decade, and members of the public will be able to pledge their support for this venture by coming to the Westgate Hotel from the 12th - 20th July , when Chartist artwork, both modern and contemporary, as well as the newly published graphic novel will be available to view and purchase.