St Mark’s Church, Newport
The tower of this Victorian church is a Newport landmark – a companion to the Civic Centre’s clock tower in the view from the vicinity of the railway station.
A new church was needed in the 1870s because the population of St Woolos parish was growing rapidly. Lord Tredegar donated land for the church, on condition that £4,000 for the building work was raised by the end of 1870. The fund-raising appeal was almost £1,000 short of the target by November 1870, but the foundation stone was eventually laid by Lady Tredegar on 20 July 1872.
The church opened in 1874. The vestry, chancel screen and reredos of carved oak were installed in 1902.
Inside the church is a memorial to the 39 victims of the 1909 Newport dock disaster. They were digging out the new South Dock when the sides of a deep trench collapsed onto 46 men. Seven survived, and a newspaper delivery boy called Tom Toya Lewis received a bravery award for his part in the rescue effort. You can read more and see photos on this page.
Many couples wed at St Mark’s, but not all of the marriages were successful. In 1899 Samuel Walkley, 30, of Albany Street, was sent to jail for six months for bigamy. He had married Eliza Johnsen at St Mark’s Church in January 1898 while still being the husband of Mary Ann Williams, whom he had married in 1890. He said he had separated from Mary eight years earlier and they had agreed not to interfere with each other’s lives.
In 1902 horse dealer John Moxon paid £200 damages plus costs for breach of promise to a woman he had promised to marry at St Mark’s Church despite still living with “another woman as man and wife”.
Booklets available in the church describe the building’s stained glass windows and its organ.
About the place-name Gold Tops:
The street north of the church, and the area between it and the railway station, is called Gold Tops. Older spellings such as le Col toppe (1568) and Coldtop (1610) show that the name is English and means “cold top” – a cold, exposed hilltop. The Gold variant of Cold first appears in historical spellings in the 19th century, possibly because people began to associate it with Goldcliff (south of Newport), which probably refers to the golden appearance of the cliff rocks.
With thanks to Richard Morgan, of the Welsh Place-Name Society, for place-name information
Postcode: NP20 4PH View Location Map