Wales

The Ryder Cup of 2010 has been over for some months now, the cup safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet of the R&A - at least for the next two years.

Thousands of golf fans defied the rain and mud to descend on the Celtic Manor in October.

There is no doubt that it was a fantastic occasion, for golf and for Wales, and despite the rain the Celtic Manor proved to be the ideal host venue. People across the world saw the scenes and, perhaps for the first time in their lives, realised what a beautiful country Wales was.

But what about the Celtic Manor itself? How much do we know about its history?

Well, for a start it sits smack on a number of old Roman roads, the Via Julia being the most important. If you are interested in the history of Roman Britain this could be the ideal place to make a start.

The Roman involvement in Wales was limited - the people were far too warlike to allow easy access. But the legionary fort at Caerleon lies only a mile or so away from Celtic Manor and this was one of the most important military garrisons in the northern extremities of the Roman Empire.

It was a frontier fort and was always full of soldiers and the "hangers on" who accompanied any military establishment in those days.

A little further on is the Roman town of Caerwent, a significant settlement that needed to be guarded. And in order for soldiers to move quickly about there needed to be roads - hence the fact that Celtic Manor sits astride at least three of them.

Of course, we now know the place as a hotel and golfing complex. The house that formed the basis for the first hotel on the site was built in the 1860s and was called Coldra House.

It was the home of Thomas Powell Jnr, then Chairman and owner of the Powell-Duffryn works and coal mines. Unfortunately he did not live in the house for long as he, his wife and young son were murdered while on holiday in Abyssinia.

The body of Powell's son was never recovered and this led to several ghoulish suggestions in the local press of the time, even to accusations of cannibalism by the natives. Such suggestions were highly unlikely but in the 1860s anywhere abroad was considered exotic.

Coldra House remained in the Powell family, being leased out, until 1915 when it was sold to shipping magnate Sir John Beynon.

He added a new wing and made several other alterations but in the late 1930s he donated the buildings to the local Health Authority. Coldra House became a maternity hospital, opening on 1 January 1940.

Before the hospital closed its doors in 1975 it is reckoned that over 60,000 babies were born there. One of them was Sir Terry Matthews who, with the old house boarded up and ready for demolition, decided that it still had a part to play in the life of Newport - and Wales.

Sir Terry, founder of Mitel and Newbridge Networks in Canada, was also Chair of Celtic Inns and hoped to turn the old hospital into a top quality hotel complex.

The original plan was for a 17 bedroom hotel and an 18 hole golf course. The hotel duly opened in 1982 but the golf course was delayed and did not come into operation until the 1990s.

Since then the hotel has been extended and developed and now has over 300 rooms and several conference centres. There are three separate hotels - the Resort Hotel, the Manor House and The Newbridge on Usk, just a few miles away, and a total of three golf courses - the Twenty Ten, the Roman Road and the Montgomerie.

The 2010 Ryder Cup was played on the Twenty Ten Course, the first golf course ever designed and built specifically for the Ryder Cup. Thousands of golf fans, European and American, defied the rain and mud to descend on the Celtic Manor.

They came, primarily, to watch the golf but it would be good to think that some of them at least stopped to consider the fascinating history of the hotel and the area - and, more importantly, to make a conscious decision to come back at some stage in the future.

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