The History of Malpas Court
Malpas and Malpas Court Primary School
Malpas began as a very rural parish on the outskirts of Newport, containing only a handful of houses and farms. It began to expand in the 1930's with the building of the Graig Park Estate, followed by the Woodlands, Malpas Park, Pilton Vale and Claremont in the 1960's-1970's.
The streets and roads around Malpas Court are named after famous inventors and scientists - Malpas Court Primary sits on Whittle Drive, named after Frank Whittle who famously invented the turbo jet engine.
Malpas Court as a WWII Military Base
At the peak of WWII, there were over 3.5 million American GIs in the UK, with 15,000 stationed in Monmouthshire. Many American nationals came to the UK to join the Air Force. They became known as Eagle Squadrons and became operational in 1941. Until 1944, all of the American GI's arriving in Liverpool and Newport were airmen, there were no groups of combat troops sent over initially.
The units based at or near to Malpas Court included; 756th Railway Shop Battalion, 12th Port of Embarkation, 20th Postal Regiment and 17th Major Port Division.
The 756th Railway Shop Battalion were vital to the war effort. In a period of 2 years, over 700 engines were imported into Newport from America. Here they were reassembled and transported all over Britain and France to replace engines damaged by bombing.
The junior officers were housed in the Malpas Court mansion house, the senior officers were housed in the Tredegar Arms Hotel, while other ranks were housed in Nissen huts on the grounds of the manor house. Each Nissen hut housed 20-30 men. Some of the unluckier troops ended up in bell tents. One bell tent camp was at Cae-Perllan Road and another was at Llanmartin.
Major William Frederick Greenhut commanded the unit based at St Woolos school, while the 36th Ordinance Bomb Disposal squad were based at Tredegar Park.
Newport was strategically important during the war due to its transport links via the docks, the railway, its position on a tidal river, its proximity to mining towns such as the Rhondda and because it was positioned almost directly opposite the vital port of Bristol.
In preparation for D-Day, Newport soldiers were involved very early on in organising and planning troop movements. From 14th November 1943, Newport became the District HQ Western Base. This stretched from the River Severn, right up the middle of the country including Wales and Scotland.
The last of the US army left Malpas Court in 1946.
Malpas Court Mansion House
It was built originally for Thomas Prothero between 1835-1838. It was designed by Thomas Henry Wyatt, who also designed Llantarnam Abbey.
Originally the house was situated in a landscaped parkland, running from Malpas Road down to the canal - the house situated in the centre with fine views out over the canal. The original driveway followed roughly the same route as the present Whittle Drive, with a stone lodge at the top.
Thomas Prothero was both wealthy and powerful. He started as a solicitor in Newport working for the Morgan family of Tredegar Park. He gained influency and money through his work. He became a landowner, one of the biggest transporters of coal in South Wales and was involved in many great projects at the time, including the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. He had a number of enemies, but used his position as a council clerk to silence them.
However, John Frost, a draper from Newport would not be silenced. The animosity between Frost and Prothero was partly responsible for Frost leading the chartist march down Stow Hill. Prothero went into hiding until the uprising was over and Frost and the other chartists were in prison, but played a key part in sentencing them to transportation for life.
Following Thomas Prothero's death, the house went to his son, Reverend T.E.Prothero, vicar of Malpas.
In the late 1880's Thomas Prothero's grandson, Francis F.T.E Prothero took over ownership of the mansion house.
In 1916, mining director Leonard Wilkinson Llewellyn became the new owner and lived there until 1924.
After that the mansion house appears to have sat empty until 1939.
In 1946, Newport Borough Council bought Malpas Court mansion house, developing the vast grounds into a housing estate and school, while the house itself became a social club.
By 1980, the house began to fall into disrepair.
In 1997, Malpas Court mansion house became a Grade II listed building and in 2007, work began to restore it to its former glory.