Review: Now That's What I Call Newport by Jan Preece (Amberley Books)
I’ve lived in Newport now for the best part of 15 years and in my time as an entertainment writer for both The Argus and Entertainment South Wales, I have become fascinated in the city’s cultural history. However, as much as there is remembered, there is much that is frequently forgotten. Little nuggets of information relevant to Newport’s development during the 60s, 70s and 80s are frequently brushed under the carpet. Thankfully Pillgwenlly born author, Jan Preece has stepped in with an invaluable book chronicling Newport’s times of change socially and culturally during those decades.
Now That’s What I Call Newport (Amberley Publishing) is a pictorial history reflecting changes in people’s habits and lifestyles which were felt as traditional industries based around its docks declined.
Much of the old dock area, including homes, have been been swept away in recent regenerations. However, Jan recaptures more than a sense of the past with a fascinating portrayal of Newport before it reached city status during the decade defining 60s, 70s and 80s.
Recalling images of architecture, shop fronts and redevelopment across the city, Jan also focuses on the people of Newport, adding his own unique insight gained via a passion for heritage and the past.
Along the way, the reader is treat to a 1970s Newport County AFC line-up (Jan himself been the club’s own photographer for several seasons), early presentations at Newport’s Dolman Theatre (led by Miss Rita Page) and long forgotten carnivals, parades and shows. There’s also a fascinating glimpse at the career of Newport’s own 60s pop group The Rikki Alan Trio (later The Interns).
Recollections of local stories relating to Green Shield Stamps, fish and chip shops and long gone tobacconists fascinate as do glimpses of some of the famous names that have visited “The Port” from the royalty of Prince Charles to showbusiness stars including Lulu, Dick Emery and Norman Wisdom.
Then there’s the story of the ghost that decided to pay an unexpected visit on a guest in Newport’s oldest pub, The Murenger, back in the 60s. A story worthy of revisiting and thankfully preserved here for new and future generations to enjoy.
Now That’s What I Call Newport is an important document for anyone who has an interest in the cultural development of Newport prior to the 1990s, and one you will want to revisit with family and friends time and again.
Now That’s What I Call Newport is published by Amberley and available for £14.99 via www.amberley-books.com and also available on Kindle, Kobo and iBook formats.