Cyril Highman (1922 – 2016) Founder Member of Friends of Tredegar House

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Cyril Highman(1922 – 2016) – an   appreciation.

Cyril Highman, who died on 4th December 2016 after a long life well lived, was one of the founding committee members of the Friends of Tredegar House. He was a man of integrity, humour and kindness – and my uncle.

He began life in Tredegar and the family moved to Newport in 1932. Cyril attended Newport High School and at the age of 15 sat the  entrance exams for the Civil Service – something that his father decided would be a good career for him. It meant moving to London to take up employment in the Home Office. He would often talk about the fact that his father had decided his career. He had no complaints about that, saying that of course in those days a steady job, with a good retirement pension, was the dream of   many.

With the outbreak of the second world war, Cyril was keen to join up   and applied to the RAF to work as a radio mechanic. He was eventually released from his reserved occupation work at the Home Office in 1942. Most of his time in the RAF was spent at various stations in the UK working with radar, but his unit was sent to Germany at the end of the war. He was there for some months and the sights he saw made a very deep impression. He had loved German lessons while at school thanks to the teaching of Mr. Dawson and had had a German landlady  at the start of his working life in London.

On his return to the UK he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was sent to the sanatorium at Cefn Mabley, where he spent 18 months and where he met his wife (also a patient), my father´s sister Betty, who was a Newport  girl.

 

September 24th 1949 Malpas Church

Fortunately, Betty and Cyril both recovered and they were married in 1949 at St. Marys Church Malpas, Newport.

Much of their married life was spent in Walton-­‐on-­‐Thames to accommodate Cyril working in London, but the pull of returning to Newport was too strong to resist when a job possibility arose for him. On his return to Wales, Cyril became involved in various societies. He was the secretary of the Newport Civic Society for many years and   both he and Betty were keenly involved in the Friends of Tredegar House from the very beginning of the Society. He was meticulous in keeping records for the Friends and was secretary for a number of years. He had always enjoyed learning about local history and put this interest to very good use with these societies. He was also one of the first supporters of the Ruperra Conservation Trust.

His fascination with technology – radar, hi-­‐fi equipment (building his own speakers at an early age) -­‐   also meant that he  was very  interested in computers. I remember that when he bought his first one he asked someone to come and tell him about the workings – and he meant  the  technical  workings  rather  than  how  to  operate  the machine! It was a wonderful form of communication for him in later years and he used to keep the family up to date with each other by passing on various emails we had written to   him.

We are fortunate that he decided to write his memoirs, (dealing with the years from 1922 – 1949)which make fascinating reading and are even more impressive as they were written when he was in his eighties without recourse to diaries or journals, which he never kept. He loved cycling, regarding it as one of the best forms of transport,   and his longest trip was from Barnes to South Wales over a period of two days in 1940. Music was another love, especially popular songs from the famous Big Band era of the 1940s.  He was a fine pianist himself. Cyril also enjoyed listening to Welsh hymn singing, no doubt due to his Methodist  background!

One of the letters of condolence after his death described him as a man with an ”historic memory, and a precise, properly concerned constitutionalist who would have made an excellent local government official”. In a way Cyril could be said to have taken on some of that  work in a voluntary fashion. Two examples are his involvement with   the Blue Plaques scheme for the Newport Civic Society and the fact     that he never feared to write to the South Wales Argus if he felt a point needed making.

His mental ability, kindness and humour were with him to the end. We will miss him!

Helen Davies

Many thanks to Helen for providing this lovely account of her uncle Cyril for Friends of Tredegar House

CPL Highman in Gatlow JUly 1946

Cpl. Highman in Gatlow July 1946

 

Blue Plaques In Newport

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Thanks to Cyril Highman of The Newport Civic Society for the following

CITY OF NEWPORT BLUE PLAQUES
Erected at sites of historical, natural or architectural interest in Newport

DOS NAIL WORKS AND COTTAGES. Built 1835 for J.J. Cordes, later of Brynglas House. It was the first large local factory and ran an evening class for its child employees.
Location: Factory Road (aptly named), a turning off Mill Street. The plaque is affixed to the still surviving office building, Cordes House.

THE WESTGATE HOTEL. Rebuilt 1885, still on the site of the town’s medieval western gateway. Here in 1839 troops repulsed the Chartists. Doric columns which flanked the portico are retained.
Location. A prominent city centre site at the junction of Commercial Street and Stow Hill. No longer in use as a hotel. Listed Grade 2.

THE CATTLE MARKET. Built in 1844 by the Tredegar Wharf Co. which earlier developed Pillgwenlly. For centuries before, produce and livestock had been traded in High Street.
Location: Off Commercial Road in an area bounded by Ruperra Street, West Market Street, East Market Street and South Market Street. South range, Listed Grade 2. The market site was cleared for re-development as a supermarket in 2010..

PARK SQUARE TRANSFORMER. From 1895 rubber-covered cable carried 2000 volt A.C. current from Newport’s first power station in Llanarth Street to transformers which reduced it to 200 volt for supplying the wealthier householders.
Location: Park Square (lying between Stow Hill and Commercial Street) Listed Grade 2. A similar example is located in Graham Street, Baneswell

THE OLD TOWN DOCK. Crowded river moorings proved inadequate for Newport’s expanding coal and iron trade. The first enclosed dock covering over four acres was built in 1842. Extended in 1858 it was filled in in 1931.
Location: From the southern end of Lower Dock Street it extended to what is now the Southern Distributor Road. The plaque is affixed to a listed building known as the Malt House

THE CUSTOM HOUSE. As ship movements concentrated ever further down river, ship brokers, chandlers, consulates and bonded warehouses became established in Lower Dock Street. H.M. Customs moved here from Skinner Street in 1858.
Location: Lower Dock Street. Listed Grade 2.

CAMBRIAN HOUSE. Built in 1854 for Thomas Spittle, who developed the Cambrian Foundry on a site later known as Spittle’s Point. He also owned works on the east bank where three iron ships were launched.
Location: St John’s Road, off Chepstow Road. Listed Grade 2.

PREACHING CROSS. This marks the original position of the town’s preaching cross. The base of the cross is now situated in the graveyard of Newport Cathedral.
Location: Stow Hill at its junction with Havelock Street. Note the reproduction town cross erected in High Street

BANESWELL. Before piped water in 1848, Newport’s 19,000 inhabitants drew from springs and wells as in medieval times. Districts were named after wells, though cholera and typhoid epidemics indicate they were not a pure supply.
Location: Pump Street, Baneswell Note the district named Eveswell on the Chepstow Road side of Newport

VICTORIA PLACE. Rennie-Hill, builders of the Town Dock erected this Regency style terrace on land given by William Townsend to provide access to Stow Hill from the south-east.
Location: Stow Hill, some 200 yards below the Cathedral. Listed Grade 2 (nos. 1 – 13 consequtively)

CRINDAU HOUSE. 1580 on moulded porch entry. Initials H.M. with date probably refer to Humphrey Morgan of Llantarnam who married Katherine Herbert, heiress of Crindau.
Location: Chelston Place, off Redland Street, Malpas Road

THE RAGGED SCHOOL. A national charitable movement provided Ragged Schools for children unable to pay to attend the National and British Schools run by the churches.
Location: Junction of Lower Dock Street and Mellon Street

THE FRIARS. Home of Octavius Morgan (1803-88). Antiquarian and horologist brother of 1st Lord Tredegar, M.P. for Monmouthshire 1841-74. Initiator of archaeological fieldwork at Caerwent and Caerleon and the Legionary Museum.
Location: Friars Road near its junction with Belle Vue Lane. Now occupied by the local health authority. Listed Grade 2.

TREDEGAR ESTATES OFFICE (1905). Formerly extending into Glamorganshire and Breconshire, the Tredegar Estate was, until its dispersal in 1956, the County’s biggest landowner. Here its records were kept and its rents paid.
Location: Pentonville, adjoining Mill Street. Surviving records are now lodged in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. Listed Grade 2.

BOUNDARY STONE. This marked the limit of the town from its medieval origins until 1835, when its first extension took in the workhouse (now part of St Woolos Hospital) and Pillgwenlly,
Location: Newport Cathedral raised walkway alongside Stow Hill. Visible only from the roadway.

JAMES FLEWITT MULLOCK 1818-1892. To commemorate the life of a Victorian Newportonian – artist – art teacher – bibliophile – educational reformer – bon vivant – horticulturalist and clerk to Newport and St Woolos Burial Board, the first municipal body of its kind in Britain.
Location: St Woolos Cemetery, Bassaleg Road, Affixed to former Keeper’s Lodge, inside entrance gates.

EMLYN ENGINEERING WORKS, The Newport Centre is built on the site of the former Emlyn Engineering Works opened in 1857 and owned by Charles D. Phillips. The works were a major iron foundry supporting colliery, shipping and railway interests.
Location: The Newport Centre, Kingsway. Note adjoining Emlyn Street.

GEORGE PHILIP REYNOLDS 1864-1907. Founder in 1887 of the Boys’ Brigade in Wales. The movement began at this church as the 1st Newport Company, which still meets in the City. The church was listed Grade II in 1997 for its polychromate italianate style.
Location: Havelock Street Presbyterian Church, Havelock Street, off Stow Hill.

NEWPORT PROVISIONS MARKET. Built in 1854, an early example of a large span cast iron frame building featuring its glass-filled barrel roof. The Dock Street offices and tower were constructed later in 1887.
Location: Upper Dock Street extending through into High Street. The plaque is mounted at the Dock Street end. Listed Grade 2.

JAMES MATTHEWS. Chief Librarian of Newport from 1875 to 1917. Author of ‘Historic Newport’, one of the few histories of the town, published in 1910 and reproduced by Newport Library in 1996. Previously closely involved in setting up the first children’s library in England.
Location: Newport Central Library and Museum, John Frost Square.

NEWPORT TOWN HALL. Stood with its imposing clock tower on this site from 1842 to 1960. The office transferred to the new Civic Centre in 1950. Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery addressed the citizens from its gallery when granted the Freedom of Newport in 1945.
Location: British Home Stores, on the completely reconstructed site in Commercial Street

THE OLD POST OFFICE. Site of Newport’s first Head Post Office built in 1844 and re-built in 1907, the Edwardian facade being preserved in the total reconstruction of the island site in 2001. Once housed the town’s first telephone exchange, known as ‘The Savoy’. Listed Grade 2 in 1985.
Location: High Street. Note its siting close to the railway station where mail was delivered and despatched and to which it was connected by its own subway

ODEON CINEMA Designed in the Art Deco style by Arthur Price. One of a chain of cinemas created by Oscar Deutsch in the Thirties. A rare surviving example in Wales of the Odeon style. Listed Grade 2 in 1999.
Location: Clarence Place.

NEWPORT HARBOUR COMMISSIONERS LANDING STAGE. Paddle steamers of P & A Campbell’s famous White Funnel Fleet regularly sailed from near this point. Opened in the 1880s, extended in the mid-1890s and closed in the 1950s.
Location: South-eastern end of Newport Town Bridge. Newport Town Bridge is Listed Grade 2.

TREDEGAR HOUSE. For 500 years until 1951 the ancestral home of the Morgans of Tredegar. Listed Grade 1 as one of the finest restoration houses in Britain. Now in the care of Newport City Council.
Location: Cardiff Road near Junction 28 of the M4 Motorway. The House is surrounded by some 90 acres of beautiful Parkland. The plaque is mounted on its south-east face overlooking the cobbled service courtyard. The estate was leased to The National Trust in 2012.

JOHN FROST, 1784-1877. Chartist, Mayor of Newport 1836-7. Born Thomas Street.
Location: Thomas Street no longer exists as a public thoroughfare and has been absorbed behind a glazed facade linking the Old Post Office with the re-built Corn Exchange offices.

WILLIAM HENRY DAVIES, 1871-1940. Newport born poet and author.
‘What is this life, if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare ……..’
Two years after his birth in 6 Portland Street, William was taken into care by his paternal grandparents, proprietors of the nearby Church House Inn. The plaque was unveiled by John Masefield, Poet Laureate, in 1938. William died two years later on 26th September, 1940.

MAI JONES, 1899-1960. ‘We’ll keep a welcome in the hillsides’
Welsh songwriter, producer of radio show ‘Welsh Rarebit’ and entertainer
Resident at 19 St Mark’s Crescent, Newport
Plaque unveiled on 7th May 2010, the 50th anniversary of her death

WETLANDS RESERVE, Uskmouth East
Plaque unveiled 2nd March 2000 by the Chairman of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.
A major nature reserve acquired, designed and implemented in mitigation for the removal of the Taff Ely SSSI between 1996 and 1999. It was a joint project of the Land Authority for Wales and the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation

NEWPORT SHIP. In 2002 the remains of a large merchant-ship, dating from the fifteenth century, were discovered on this site.
LLONG CASNEWYDD, Yn 2002, ar y safle hwn, cafwyd hyd i olion llongfasnach fawr yn dyddio’n o’l i’r bymthegfed ganrif
Newport Riverfront Theatre. Unveiled jointly by Newport Civic Society and The Friends of the Newport Ship in October 2011

BELLE VUE PARK. Opened in 1894 by Lord Tredegar. Designed by Thomas Mawson, landscape architect, Windermere. Restored 2006 with aid of Heritage Lottery Fund.
PARC BELLE VUE, agorwyd yn 1894 gan Arglwydd Tredegar. Cynllunlwyd gan Thomas Mawson, Pensarn Tirlun, Windermere. Adferwyd yn 2006 gan Gyngor Dinas Casnewydd, gyda chymorth Cronfa Dredtadaeth y Loteri.

LADY RHONDDA – Margaret Haig Mackworth Suffragette and Editor
Set fire to letter-box in cemetery wall in Risca Road in June 1913 Plaque erected at house adjoining in June 2015

Link to Lady Rhondda

Revised June 2015 NE WPORT CIVIC SOCIETY
www.newportcivic.org
Registered Charity No. 700399 City of Newport Blue Plaques Revised2.doc
No 28 070510
City of Newport Blue Plaques Revised2.doc

 

Copyright © 2012 Friends of Tredegar House