This is an early photograph of the centre of Chepstow, Beaufort Square in about 1870.

It was known simply as The Square for centuries, but might not appear to justify the title today carved up as it is by roads, steps and terracing. But this photograph shows that it was really a large, open, if always sloping space.

For hundreds of years it was the site of markets and annual fairs, and stocks and pillory as well as market cross were once sited here.

Even at the time of this picture it still served as a central meeting place and focus for celebrations and public commemorations.

The dominant feature by this time was the tall and impressive Chepstow Old Bank built in 1850. It housed successive banks and the managers lived on the top floors, until its demolition 50 years ago in 1969 and replacement by the current Barclays Bank building.

The Old Bank had a green copper roof which is referenced in its modern replacement. But there’s another more significant change to Chepstow that happened 100 years ago in 1919 when the block of buildings adjacent to the Bank Buildings were demolished to widen the High Street for the increasing motor road traffic.

The loss of the bow-windowed buildings removed the sense of the enclosed space of the Square.

The same block of buildings at their other end, also made one side of Bank Square, which also lost its sense of being a square at the same time.

It was the first major impact of modern traffic on the town.

Text by the curator of Chepstow Museum.