This town is the closest to the Old SevernBridge leading from Wales into England, so is popular area for people who work in Bristol but can’t afford English property. It is a very ancient market town, the region famous for its salmon fishing, shipbuilding and a surprisingly wide range of industries. It is mostly a long, very steep High Street running from the bus station beyond the remains of the town wall, down to the WyeRiver . It is a really lovely place, with a good mix of old shops from Georgian times and earlier, the town gate which once housed the first bank:
Down near the river is the castle, long fallen into disrepair. Apparently its owner the Duke of Beaufort was ordered in 1690 to demolish it, and send the stones to Chester, but instead he leased it out to tenants. In the 18th century a Mrs Williams guided early tourists round the site. She was famous for having a great grandmother, grandmother and mother all allegedly live to over 100. she died in 1790 . Over the years the decaying castle was sublet as sail manufactory, wholesale wine cellar, glass manufactory, and nail manufactory and malt house. Its gardens were reported as ruinous and overgrown, but as such sites were good heat and sun traps, they became used as market gardens.
Down the High Street coins
and snippets of poetry, some in English, others in Welsh:
are embedded in the pavement, with occasional plaques describing the history of nearby buildings, which is great, and encourages visitors and locals to look around them. There are also some fine pieces of .public sculpture such as The Boatman by Andre Wallace, a reminder of the town’s heavy reliance on the river for transport and its industries.
At the bottom of the hill is the Museum, former Gwy House built for a surgeon in 1790, in 1907 became a girls school, then a veteran’s hospital after the first World War, then the local hospital which closed in 1976, and the museum opened in 1983.
Photography is banned, so no pics on the history of electricity, gas and policing, nor about the days as a school and hospital, and the many local industry. They have some pictures of the Wye through history, and also some displays on the history of ironing and curling tongs and laundry. And for the kids, a stuffed badger and a fox that has seen better days.
The Wye became famous in the 18th and 19th centuries for its romantic scenery, attracting painters and poets. The Rev Dr John Egerton, rector of Ross took boat trips down the river from about 1745, at the same time as R.O Cambridge, at Whitminster in Gloucester, was bringing visitors upstream from England to see the ruins of Tintern Abbey.
There were a lot of industries in the area, many of them linked to shipbuilding, but they also produced carbon water filters to produce clean water, and there was a bobbin factory which became a lodging house for shipyard workers in world War I when it was called the BobInn, showing how names evolve.
This is a marker on the base of the bridge showing how high the tide could rise; it is not far from the Severn River, which has huge tidal surges, the Severn Bore each year, which locals can surf.