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The Isle of Wight branch of the Campaign for Real Ale


Ancient market town and the Island capital. Newport has become the fastest-growing Island town in all respects except pubs, where successive ravages by Whitbread have denuded the town of many of its finest hostelries. Whitbread's contempt for local tradition was most evident when the axe was wielded over the town's most venerable hotel and best-known pub, the 200-year-old Bugle; it is now a branch of Mothercare. No doubt others would have followed but for the fact that the Beer Orders led to Whitbread offloading several local pubs to the then-extant Gales and Ushers, which provided welcome variety in the few pubs left open.

Newport is rich in history and contains many fine old buildings such as the almshouses in Crocker Street, the Roman Villa in Avondale Road, Gods Providence House in St Thomas' Square, the old King James VI Grammar School, now a youth club, in Lower St James Street, the old Nursing Association with its 'Blue Jenny' statue in Crocker Street and the 17th Century Castle Inn at the top of the High Street. Church Litten park contains the grave of Valentine Gray, a chimney boy whose death at the hands of a cruel master led to the outlawing of that despicable trade.

When visiting Newport by car, remember that the town is saturated with traffic lights, which can be found almost everywhere except where they're needed. The daftest system is on the infamous Coppins Bridge roundabout, the busiest road junction on the Island, which frequently has motorists at screaming pitch.