Site of seamen’s lodgings, Pill, Newport

Site of seamen’s lodgings, Pill, Newport

Seafarers from across the globe once lodged in this area of Newport, making it one of Wales’ first multicultural communities.

Photo of Roy Dickinson in demob suitBetween them, George Street, Commercial Road and Ruperra Street had at least six boarding houses for sailors at any one time. The area was conveniently close to the docks for weary travellers. Many of the seamen later found permanent homes in the Pill area. After the First World War, race riots broke out in the vicinity.

A West African named John Davies kept the “African boarding house” at 3 George Street. One of his lodgers was Tom Savage, who later died in the Second World War. You can read more on our web page about Tom.

One sailor who settled in Ruperra Street – keeping a grocery shop there – was Caleb Augustus Dickinson (1879-1933), a ship’s cook from Jamaica. His son, Roy Dickinson (also known as Roy Williams), served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War as a flight mechanic on board the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable. Roy is pictured right in his “demob suit” (worn when he first left the Navy).

Photo of Newport sailor Benhamin JohnsonBenjamin Johnson (1892-1961) lived in Ruperra Street with his young family. His father was a chief of the Kru tribe in Liberia. Ben, pictured left, served in the Merchant Navy for most of his adult life.

James Samuel Boyd (1898-1941) and his wife Elizabeth lodged with Benjamin and his family. James, from Sierra Leone, was a ship’s fireman (stoker) and coal trimmer. He died when his ship, the SS Grelhead, was torpedoed off Morocco in 1941.

Postcode: NP20 2PA    View Location Map

With thanks to Rebecca Eversley-Dawes, of the Historic Dock Project

Website of the Historic Dock Project