Bill Shepard’s Newport Memories
The irrepressible Island historian Bill Shepard was instrumental in the creation of Newport’s well-known walk, The Mill Trail. For many years, as part of the Island’s Walking Festival, Bill led this very popular walk on behalf of the Newport Rivers Group and taught us something new. Some tiny architectural detail on the side of a building yields a fascinating story; some flat, grey car park is transformed by Bill’s memories into the trout-filled, damselfly-covered mill pond it once was. Human history is everywhere on the walk – how duck eggs were collected from the rowing boats at Carisbrooke pond or how the post-workers used to scale a wall and tap on the window as a secret entry code. Bill’s all-encompassing, irreplaceable knowledge even extends to what flowers grew where.
The Newport Rivers Group and Bill himself were keen to make sure that all these natural, social and architectural threads that go to make Newport and its rivers so diverse and fascinating a place, were preserved on film. As a result, over the course of two years, Bill was filmed walking along the Newport River courses and around Newport Quay.
Despite slightly flaky sound and pixelation, these films make fascinating viewing.