County History

Our county made history in January 1818 when Nathaniel Wells, of Piercefield, was appointed High Sheriff of Monmouthshireby the Prince Regentand became Britain’s first black High Sheriff. The Office of High Sheriffof Gwentwas established in 1974, replacing the Shrievalty of Monmouthshire.

In Gwent we are fortunate to have an established Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund which aims to provide a safer and better quality of life for the people of Gwent by supporting community-based initiatives which mentor and inspire young people in order to help reduce crime and enhance community safety. Current, past and future High Sheriffs’ steer the Fund’s Panel working alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent and the Community Foundation in Wales. There is more informationabout the Fund under “Voluntary Sector Support.”

Gwent is a preserved county and a former local government county in south-east Wales. It was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, and was named after the ancient Kingdom of Gwent. The authority was a successor to both the administrative county of Monmouthshire (with minor boundary changes) and the county borough of Newport. Under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, Gwent was abolished on 1 April 1996. However, it remains one of the preserved counties of Wales for the ceremonial purposes of Lieutenancy and Shrievalty, and its name also survives in various titles, including Gwent Police.

Gwent encompasses five unitary authorities which are the Blaenau Gwent County Borough, Caerphilly County Borough, Monmouthshire, the City of Newport and Torfaen County Borough. In 2017, the population of Gwent was estimated as 587,800. It covers 600 square miles and is a combination of rural and urban areas. The following descriptions of each of the unitary authority areas gives a flavour of the diverse nature of Gwent:

Blaenau Gwentis defined physically by the beautifully desolate mountain tops which divide and watch over its vibrant, bustling valleys. The three main rivers, the Sirhowy, the Ebbw and the Tillery, slip south through towns and villages which, to the untutored eye, often seem to merge together into one. Make no mistake, however – each community proudly maintains its own character and traditions.

Caerphilly is an historic town with a distinctive mix of old and new, a strong mining heritage and manufacturing presence, and interesting tourist attractions. The magnificent medieval castle of Caerphilly is the centrepiece of the town, with its formidable towers and moat. Built in the 13th century, it is the main attraction of this area and draws visitors from far and wide to cross the fantastic drawbridge and see the incredible leaning tower, still standing despite all the odds.

Monmouthshire covers 330 square miles of farmland, forestry, mountains and rivers. Celebrated for its ancient market towns, Monmouthshire is revered as one of the most picturesque counties in the UK, boasting rolling hills and quiet valleys, scenic footpaths, and fine views over green countryside. Monmouthshire has the most castles per square mile of any place in Britain and its towns and villages are characterful, with historic buildings and individual shops. The economy is mainly based on the agricultural industry, however, tourism in the area now accounts for almost a quarter of employment.

Newport is a multi-cultural city with its own unique atmosphere, where traditional industries sit alongside new electronics and financial service sectors. Standing at the gateway between England and Wales, Newport covers a geographical area of just over 73.5 square miles and is a vibrant, forward-thinking city steeped in a rich industrial heritage, dating from the nineteenth century when its important strategic location was first recognised. It is a cathedral and University City. It is located on the River Usk close to its confluence with the Severn Estuary.

Torfaen is the most eastern area of the South Wales valleys, and is home to a number of visitor attractions, such as the first World Heritage Site in South Wales. With the north of the county retaining a rural feel with acres of countryside and being rich in historical and cultural heritage, tourism plays a great part in the economy. The former industrial town of Pontypool with its traditional indoor and outdoor market is the next largest settlement located in the heart of the borough with around 36,000 population. The World Heritage Site town of Blaenavon is famous for the Big Pit coal mining museum and Europe’s best preserved 18th century ironworks.

Voluntary Sector Support

The Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund

The Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund aims to provide a safer and better quality of life for the people of Gwent by supporting community-based initiatives which mentor and inspire young people in order to help reduce crime and enhance community safety. Managed by the Community Foundation in Wales, the Fund is a testament to partnership in philanthropy. The current, past and future High Sheriffs oversee the Fund working alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent and the Community Foundation in Wales. Our annual participatory grant-making event, ‘Your Voice, Your Choice’, is a partnership between the Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent. It is an innovative grant-giving format which enables local people to prioritise initiatives that they think will best address local needs. It also gives people an alternative way to communicate their message, and a platform to share their energy, passion and vision for a thriving Gwent. The impact that this amazing work has within Gwent includes:

– Fostering community cohesion
– Increasing opportunities for young people
– Supporting vulnerable individuals
– Developing physical and mental health and wellbeing
– Tackling the root causes of bullying by building confidence
– Fostering self-assurance and self-esteem through community engagement
– Developing community ownership and responsibility
– Channelling the energy of young people through sport and education

Please support the Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund by donating through our Just Giving page or find out more by visiting our website – www.ghscf.org.uk.


The Gwent High Sheriffs’ Community Fund
Cronfa Gymunedol Uchel Siryf Gwent