Settled since the Bronze Age, Newport is one of Wales’ biggest cities today. From Roman ruins to Civil War memorabilia, Newport has a lot to offer for curious visitors. This guide outlines the history of Newport, as well as all that a traveller needs to know about applying for the new British ETA.
The UK ETA for Newport: A Complete Traveller’s Guide
Newport’s location, on the fertile estuary of the River Usk, means that it was first settled by fishermen. Many early Celts lived in the area, and ruins of their ancient hillforts remain. Later, Newport would become one of the westernmost points of the Roman Empire. The Romans built a fortress here as a defensive point, claiming the important river crossing as their own. They were clearly far-sighted, as Newport’s estuary location would later make it attractive to invading forces: during the first millennium, it was sacked by the Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons in turn, and finally, the Normans.
Caerleon Roman Fortress
Caerleon, in Newport, boasts some of the UK’s most extensive Roman ruins. Open to the public, this complex includes a fort and swimming baths, as well as the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain. As the Roman Empire started to crumble in the 3rd century, soldiers were gradually recalled back to the heartlands of the Empire. The last soldiers to leave Wales departed in the late 4th century, abandoning fortresses like this.
Newport in Battle
Newport remained under Norman control for centuries after the invasion. Rhys Gethin took it by force in 1402, fighting for Welsh independence from the English crown. However, the rebellion ultimately failed. Two and a half centuries later, Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army used Newport as a campsite during the English Civil War. In the 20th century, a Civil War cannonball was dug up during road works in the city centre. Today, it can be seen in Newport Museum, along with many other artefacts from the city’s history.
The first castle was built in Newport shortly after the Norman invasion but was destroyed in a battle during the early 14th century. The rebuilt Newport Castle was completed some decades later, built at a strategic point overlooking the river. During the Wars of the Roses, the Welsh lord Owen Tudor — grandfather of King Henry VII — was imprisoned here. Later in its long history, the castle was seized by Henry VIII. It was rarely used as a residence and eventually fell into disrepair. Today, it stands in ruins beside the River Usk.
The Welsh Saint Gwynllyw built a church in Newport in the 5th century. King of the region of Gwynllwg, he was an important figure in the development of Christianity in Wales. Legends recount that he was a fierce warlord who regularly led his men into battle. However, inspired by a religious vision, he abandoned his kingdom and became a hermit later in life. He was later buried there, and his final resting place became a destination for pilgrims. During the many battles that took place in Newport, the church was destroyed and rebuilt several times. Finally, in 1949, it was granted the status of a cathedral.
Built as an ordinary parish church, Newport Cathedral does not have the size or splendour commonly associated with cathedrals. It was granted the title of a cathedral for its historical importance and is the seat of the Bishop of Monmouth. Much of its architecture dates back to the 12th century, although the site was originally consecrated as far back as the 5th.
The Newport Rising
The last large-scale armed rising in Great Britain occurred in Newport on the 4th of November, 1839. Newport had become a key city in the Industrial Revolution, thanks to the burgeoning Welsh coal industry. Against the backdrop of industrialisation, working men in the Chartist movement started to agitate for more rights, including universal suffrage. Following rumours of an uprising, some Chartists had been pre-emptively held in the Westgate Hotel, which was manned by soldiers. It is estimated that 5,000 of their comrades marched on Newport in response. The question of who fired first, the Chartists or the soldiers, remains a historical mystery. Regardless, between 10 and 24 Chartists were killed in the fighting that followed, with over 50 wounded. The leaders of the rising were convicted of treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. After public outcry, these sentences were commuted, and instead, they were transported to spend the rest of their lives in the Australian penal colonies.
Known as the site of the Newport Rising, the Westgate Hotel is a 19th-century building that currently stands vacant. While there are plans to refurbish the hotel and bring it back to life, today, visitors can admire the impressive Regency exterior. In front of the hotel are three statues: named “Union, Prudence and Energy”. Made by sculptor Christopher Kelly, they commemorate the 1839 Newport Rising. A commemorative plaque can also be seen in Newport Cathedral.
The UK ETA for Newport
From the year 2024 onward, international travellers visiting Newport and other parts of the UK will have to go through the new ETA system. The ETA, which is an acronym that stands for ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation’, is a programme being introduced by the British government to digitalise the borders and have greater control over arrivals and departures. It is based on similar systems currently in place in the United States and Canada and is intended to replace the current British visa programme waiver in place.
Travellers from 92 different countries will be eligible for the UK ETA for Newport. This covers citizens of countries who do not currently require a visa to enter the United Kingdom, including the United States, Canada and countries in the European Union. Under the new system, foreign visitors who plan to stay for less than six months or 180 days will need to have a valid ETA. This includes those who are visiting Newport as tourists, studying for a short period, or travelling on short-term business.
Visitors who plan to work in the UK or stay for more than six months at a time will still require a visa to enter the country. This will not change under the new UK ETA system.
UK ETA Applications
A list of requirements has been published for potential visitors to the UK. For example, to acquire an ETA, travellers must have a valid biometric passport. They will also need to disclose personal information, including details relating to criminal records, immigration offences or memberships in proscribed organisations.
The entire application process can only be completed online. ETA Applicants will need to enter their personal information, as well as details about their travel plans. They will be required to indicate how long they intend to stay in the United Kingdom, what the purpose of their visit is and where they will be staying during their trip. Contact details will also be required, including an address while in the UK. This might be a hotel or hostel, a friend or relative’s home, or another private residential accommodation.
When completing the application form, applicants must pay a fee using a debit or credit card. Once this fee has been paid and the form completed, a processing time of up to 72 hours begins. Travellers should not board their flight, ship, etc. until their ETA has been approved. Thus, it is important to apply well in advance, allowing time for this 72-hour period to be completed.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Newport
Once a traveller has an approved ETA, they have permission to spend up to six months in the United Kingdom. There is no border control between the constituent countries of the UK, so a visitor with a UK ETA for Newport can choose to leave Wales and visit England, Scotland or Northern Ireland without the need for any further paperwork. However, the ETA is not valid for any other country, including the Republic of Ireland.
A Trip to Newport With an ETA
Some travellers choose Newport for its long history and interesting sites. Others come to the city as a starting point to explore the scenic hills and valleys of Wales. Either way, once you are equipped with an ETA, you are free to travel to Newport and beyond, discovering this historic part of the UK for yourself.