First World War Mosaics would 'enhance' city walkway and deter vandals

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Newport’s newest public space is to get a new look after a successful application for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) was made by Newport City Council for the area to be the site of a commemorative mosaic to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The mosaic will focus on the changing role of Newport women during the war and in particular on seven Newport women who lost their lives while contributing to the war effort and whose names have not been recorded and remembered.

Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of the council, said the HLF awarding the grant was very good news for the city, enabling the project to go ahead.

“We are delighted that our application for Heritage Lottery Funding was a success and we hope residents and visitors alike will come and see the mosaics while appreciating the history behind the images.

“It is right we acknowledge the hard work of local women and the role they played in the First World War and in particular the seven women who lost their lives in the war effort.”

The council hopes the mosaics will help to reduce the anti-social behaviour which has plagued the public space since it opened last year, while also providing an area of interest for local people and visitors to Newport giving the young people who made it and local residents a sense of pride and ownership.

The seven women featured all have a unique link to the area and to St Paul’s Church as many of them were baptised, married and cared for the sick and wounded there when the church became a temporary Red Cross Hospital during the war.

The book ‘Every Woman Remembered – Daughters of Newport in the Great War’, written by local author Sylvia Mason, provided the information about the seven women, while local artist Stephanie Roberts will work with Newport youth groups to design and create the mosaic to go up in St Paul’s Walk public open space.

Stephanie said: “As well as being influenced by the book and presenting itself as a memorial to the women who died, I’ve designed the piece to portray the nurturing qualities of women and the newly emerging multifaceted roles of women in society.

“I feel honoured to embrace the importance of the project’s significance in connection to the crucial role of women in society, during the past century and into the future.”

A plaque featuring digital technology will allow residents and visitors to discover more about the heritage of Newport in the First World War.

Councillor Jane Mudd, the council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing said: “The mosaics will be a point of interest in St Paul’s Walk in the newly created open space and we hope people will appreciate this new feature.”

The public space in St Paul’s Walk was originally designed to create a gateway between Commercial Street and Kingsway, but businesses in Commercial Street have complained about street-drinking and drug-taking in St Paul’s Walk since it opened in 2017.

Andrew Jacobs, trustee of the building where the mosaics will be placed said: “This is a great initiative. I am delighted this will be showcased on national buildings which came into existence shortly after the First World War.”

The plan is to unveil the mosaics in time for First World War centenary celebrations in November 2018.