Site of Nightingale Row, Pontnewydd
West of the canal at the foot of the three locks here stood 20 houses called Nightingale Row, the source of many problems for the authorities. The row is in the bottom left corner of the 1955 aerial photo (courtesy of the Welsh Government). The canal runs through the centre. The triangular cemetery of Holy Trinity Church is in the top left corner.
The houses belonged to ironmaster Reginald Jason Blewitt, and later the Patent Nut & Bolt Company, then Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds (GKN).
There was no road access to the houses, which could only be reached by walking on the towpath and crossing the canal by the locks. In December 1905 labourer Charles Hinwood, 42, drowned while returning home in darkness from the Bridge End Inn. The landlord said Charles had been sober when he left. The inquest jury said GKN should provide a proper road to Nightingale Row instead of causing residents to trespass on the Great Western Railway’s towpath.
This wasn’t a recent problem. In 1869 a Mrs Gould of Nightingale Row missed her footing and drowned when crossing the locks on her way home.
The lower photo shows a 1937 receipt for one shilling paid by a local undertaker for using the towpath for the funeral of John Gay of Nightingale Row. This probably relates to transporting John’s body from his home to the nearest road.
In 1867 the Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper described Nightingale Row as “a place notorious for pugilistic displays by the inhabitants”. The latest fighting was another “scrimmage” between Irish families housed there.
Two fathers, Cornelius Driscoll and Dennis Madden, had argued about their children, sparking a brawl which involved nearly everyone who lived in Nightingale Row. Two dozen witnesses provided conflicting evidence to the magistrates, who concluded that Cornelius had started the dispute and Ann Love had behaved almost as poorly. He was fined £3. She was fined 20s for assault and 16s for breaking a window in the house of Charlotte Payne.
Postcode: NP44 1DR View Location Map