Belle Vue Court

Belle Vue Court, also known as Belle Vue House, used to stand in what is now the south east corner of Belle Vue Park, at the junction of Belle Vue Lane and Cardiff Road. It was part of the Tredegar estate and remained so in 1892 when Viscount Tredegar gave the adjoining field to the Newport Corporation to create the park.

The house appeared in the 1841 census ("Bellvue", St Woollos, Newport) as the residence of Frederick Justice, the agent to the Tredegar Estates for some 40 years.[1]. He and his family were still there in the 1851 census.

By 1881 the property was listed in the census as Belle Vue Court and was home to Frank Widdowfield, Colliery agent, and family. In the 1890s the Reverend JT Wrenford, vicar of St Paul's Church Newport, lived there[2], and this was recorded in the 1891 and 1901 censuses. In 1904 Reverend Wrenford's funeral procession assembled at Belle Vue Court.[3] By the time of the 1911 census, Alfred Augustin Matthews and family were in residence.

In 1913 the Council approached the Tredegar Estate about acquiring Belle Vue Court and its grounds.[4] In 1916 it was reported that the Mayor and Alderman Mordey had discussed with Lord Tredegar the acquisition of Belle Vue Court by the Corporation as an extension to the park. The matter was deferred until after the war but Lord Tredegar was aware that the Corporation wished to aquire the property.[5]

In January 1920 the Parks Committee agreed to accept the offer from the Tredegar Estate for the Corporation to purchase Belle Vue House for the sum of £2,250 plus costs.[6] The Western Mail reported in September on an enquiry by the Ministry of Health into the proposed purchse. The grounds were said to be "something over two acres" and it was stated that "at present the Corporation was paying £50 a year for the house, and letting it in the present urgent housing crisis at 6s per week per room."[7] In the event the purchase did not take place because the Minister of Health did not consider that sufficient reason had been shown to acquire Belle Vue Court and borrow £2,325 for the purpose.[8]

The Council acquired Belle Vue Court later in the 1920s. The Western Mail reported in October 1923 that the Council had been recommended to purchase Belle Vue Court and grounds from Messrs John Jenkins Limited, for a public museum and art gallery.[9] The site was allocated to the Museum and Art Gallery Committee, which in 1930 suggested an exchange of land, specifically that the Parks Committee receive Belle Vue Court house and grounds in return for a portion of Belle Vue Park on which a museum and art gallery would be constructed.[10] The Council, however, rejected the proposal to build a museum and art gallery at an estimated cost of £25,000 on the Belle Vue Court site.[11]

In 1948 the Parks Committee formally requested that the Museum and Art Gallery Committee hand over Belle Vue Court as an extension to the park, and it emerged that the property had already been transferred to the Housing Committee.[12] It was reported in January 1949 that the Housing Committee considered the Belle Vue Court grounds unsuitable for housing development and it was agreed that the house and land be appropriated as an extension to the park.[13] In April 1950 it was reported that a portion of the land was in use for allotments and the Smallholding and Allotments Committee had agreed to vacate that land by the 2nd February 1951.[14] Aerial photographs confirm that this space was used for allotments in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The Parks Committee approved a layout for the extension land in September 1951 and directed the Superintendent to carry out as much work as possible within the sum provided in the current year's financial estimates (£850). The complete scheme was estimated to cost £2,735.[15] In October the Committee accepted a quotation of £92-10s-0d from Hill and Smith Ltd. to supply gates for the new entrance to the park.[16] The extension was finally absorbed into the park in 1953 after the house was demolished,[17] and it was decided that the new entrance from Cardiff Road would open to the public in the summer of 1954.[18]

Sources of Information

  1. Cheltenham Chronicle 11th January 1902 page 3 & Gloucestershire Echo 10th January 1902 page 3
  2. Staffordshire Advertiser 10th January 1891 page 4
  3. Western Mail 25th February 1904 page 7
  4. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th July 1913
  5. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th August 1913
  6. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 16th January 1920
  7. Western Mail 30th September 1920 page 6
  8. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 9th February 1921
  9. Western Mail 6th October 1923 page 11
  10. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 16th May 1930
  11. Western Mail 10th September 1930 page 11
  12. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 25th October 1948 & 17th December 1948
  13. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 26th January 1949
  14. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 21st April 1950
  15. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 21st September 1951
  16. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 19th October 1951
  17. The Restoration of Belle Vue Park, Newport by John Woods The Bulletin, Welsh Historic Gardens Trust, No. 53
  18. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 21st July 1954