In the footsteps of ghosts

 

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SS Shieldhall, used to be a Clyde ‘sludge boat’. 1972 GT, built in 1954 and now saved as a piece of history and maintained by volunteers.
In 2012 she was repainted in the colours of R.M.S Titanic to mark the centenary of the sinking. She operates over the weekend as a pleasure steamer taking tourists up and down the Solent and she now ‘lives’ at Southampton.

DSC02082rcAs we sailed down the Solent in the Celebrity Silhouette for the start of our cruise to the Baltic, SS Shieldhall was returning to Southampton (top picture), and as the two ship passed each other they used their sirens to signal bon voyage.

1200px-Celebrity_Silhouette_San_JuanWe were a little larger than the ‘sludge boat’ at 122,210 gt

DSC03787r  London Hotel on the junction of Oxford Street and Terminus Terrace, in Southampton.

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DSC03808rHad to sample a local ale . . .

DSC03809rAs I drank the face disappeared, thankfully.

The pub was built in 1907 on the same spot as an early building, which is shown on a map dated 1846, and that building was called The Railway Hotel. Across the road is the old railway station, now a casino.

DSC03789rThis building was the Terminus Station, and the families of the survivors off the Titanic waited here for word of their loved ones.

DSC03790rThe hotel on the right was South Western House, and passengers could alight from the train and walk from the platform in to the hotel. It was ‘the’ place to stay while waiting for your trans Atlantic liner.

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DSC03794rThe rear area of all our yesterdays. . .

DSC03802rThe front of South Western House today.

DSC03803rNo longer a hotel, because the rooms were converted in to 77 apartments in 1998.

DSC03806rAcross the road from South Western House I found a tailor that I used (only once) in Liverpool during my time at sea. The sign was the only indication that the derelict building had once been famous.

It was in 1907 that the White Star Line moved its trans Atlantic passenger services from Liverpool to Southampton. By 1912 Southampton had become the home of 23 shipping companies.

DSC03792r Union Castle Line

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Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, this building used to be the Radley Hotel in the 1840’s when George Radley was the owner. It closed in 1907 and Royal Mail Steam Packet Company bought the building.

DSC03813rBack to Oxford Street and across the road from the London Hotel we found The Grapes. Unfortunately we never did manage a drink in the Grapes.
DSC03813c Over the top of the main door I’ve blown up the picture of the Titanic.

This pub was a favourite drink hole for engine room firemen and coal trimmers because it was one of the closest to the docks. On the day that the Titanic sailed six Titanic crew members left the pub at 11.50 am to join the Titanic as she was sailing at Noon.
As they all entered the dock area a boat train was arriving and two of the six crossed in front of the train, and the other four waited for the train to pass. When the remaining four reached the dock they saw ‘Titanic’ and realised that they had missed the sailing.
Of the four who missed the sailing three were brothers and the fourth was their lodger. The two who crossed the railway lines in front of the train didn’t return.

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Further up the road from the Grapes we came across the Sailors Home, built in 1909 for merchant seamen and orphans who would be trained to go to sea.

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Note the name of the building – it was politically correct in 1909, well before PC had been invented.

Twenty-seven crew members who sailed in the Titanic gave the address of the Sailors Home as their home. Eighteen died when the Titanic sank.
Reginald Robinson Lee, one of the survivors of the sinking, was the lookout man who first saw the iceberg. Lee died at this home in 1913 from heart failure after having pneumonia and pleurisy – he was forty three.

11464741_112299817041 He survived because he had been ordered to be a rower in one of the lifeboats –
it was lifeboat 13.

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James Moody 1887 – 1912

James Paul Moody was the sixth officer, and the only Junior officer to die during the sinking. He helped load lifeboats 9, 12, 13, 14 & 16. The fifth officer, who was with Moody, commented that the lifeboats should have an officer aboard to take control, and as the junior, Moody should go in the boats. Moody differed to the fifth officer that he should go and he (Moody) would follow.
The fifth officer boarded the lifeboat and Moody crossed to the starboard side of the vessel to help with the evacuation until the water came across the deck. He was last seen trying to launch a collapsible lifeboat while standing on the top of the officer’s quarters just before the ship sank. He was twenty four when he died.

James Moody was a Conway cadet (1902- 3) and after his death his family donated a trophy to the Conway, which was called The Moody Cup to be competed for annual in a sailing race.

Moody-CupMoody Cup

The cup is now on display at the Liverpool Maritime Museum. His memory is kept alive today when each year the cup is loaned to the Conway Club Sailing Association where it is awarded for the best sailing log of the year.
During my time on the Conway, we used to race sailing boats on the Menai Straits and it was a great honour to win the cup for your ‘top’. (Top is equivalent to ‘House’ in other schools – I was a member of Maintop.)

There is a link between Reginald Robinson Lee and James Moody. Reginald Lee was the masthead lookout and James Moody was the junior officer of the watch on the bridge when Lee saw the iceberg.

The Sailors Home building is no longer a Sailor’s Home. but a Salvation Army Hostel. In  2007 the inside was gutted to update the hostel. The only remains of the original building is the outside front façade.

The land around the area of Oxford St used to be owned by a rich French Norman,  Gervase Ia Riche.

When he died he left the land to Richard the Lion Heart, who in turn left it to his brother King John.

Edward III gave it to his wife Queen Phillipa to start a new school in Oxford, which became Queens College Oxford. This is why Oxford St, College Street, John Street and Queens Park in Southampton are so named, and the college still owns much of the land.

Queens College Oxford sold the site of the Sailors Home for £1500 in 1907 to build a Sailors Home.

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RMS Titanic

If you ever  visit Southampton I recommend a visit to the Titanic Museum , which is well worth seeing. The Titanic section is within the Seacity Museum

R M S TITANIC Celine Dion

 

Living history

DSC02057rWhere ever we went in Southampton we came a cross history, whether from a few years ago to over a thousand years ago.

DSC02056rHe still guards Bargate, and watches over the peace of the town.

 The town has been in existences from the Stone age, through the Bronze and the Iron age.
It was called Clausentum by the Romans from 43 to 410 AD.
When the Romans left the Anglo Saxons came, and referred to the town as Hamwic or Hamtun, both names referred to the same area. Excavations have revealed a street plan of Hamwic, and further excavation found one of the best collections of Anglo Saxon artefacts in Europe.
In the 11th century the Anglo-Saxon chroniclers referred to the town as South Hamtun.
England was split due to warfare, and the Viking king, Canute, was crowned in this town, (the other part of the country chose Eadmund, who ruled in London). It is thought that it was in Southampton waters that Canute ordered the sea to halt.
His action was to prove to his courtiers that he was not divine, but only human. Over the years he has been portrayed as arrogant to think that he could stop the tide, when in fact he was proving that he wasn’t divine, and that only God had the power to still the waters.

quotebykingcanuteshaftesburyabbeymuseumshaftesburyKing Canute’s name was also spelt as Cnut, but I don’t know where the ‘Knut’ originated. He was crowned King of England in the old St Pauls cathedral, London, in 1017. He was also the King of Denmark and Norway.

DSC02058rA short walk further on from Bargate we came across the Dolphin Hotel where it is said that Jane Austen celebrated her 18th birthday on the 16th December 1793. Later she lived in Southampton from 1808 to 1809. The home in which she lived has gone and on the empty plot a pub was built.

DSC02266rIt looks Tudor and older than it is, I think it was built around 1870.

DSC02265rA view inside the current pub, the flags were for the football competition in Russia.

DSC02063rNot too far from the pub is an old church dedicated to the members of the Merchant Navy. It is called Holyrood church and is known to be in existence during the reign of Henry II in 1160. It was originally built at another location, but in 1320 it was demolished and rebuilt at its present location. It has been a place of worship for the Crusaders, soldiers heading to Agincourt, and Phillip II of Spain in 1554 when he was travelling to Winchester to marry Queen Mary.

After being refurbished in 1851 it could seat 974 people and regularly Sunday services had 462 in the morning and 405 in the evening.

It was during the night of the 30th November 1940 that Southampton was bombed by the German air force. The following morning Holyrood was in ruins.

DSC02064rIt is now a memorial church to Merchant Seamen, because it has always been linked to sailors. Southampton lost 538 of her seaman when the R.M.S Titanic sank. Of approximately 900 crew on the Titanic, 685 were from Southampton.

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DSC02065cThe plaque on the wall near the anchor.

DSC02067rcA later memorial.

DSC02062r   On the pavement at the front of the church is this anchor from QE2, she is still afloat and has been converted to being a hotel on the waterfront in Dubai.

DSC02061rDuring the bombing the lectern from Holyrood was rescued as the church burned.

DSC02092cIt is the oldest brass eagle lectern in the country dating back to around 1420. It took two men all their strength to carry the lectern to safety, and is now used in St Michael’s church. The jewels are missing from its eyes, and there is some damage on its wings. During the English civil war it was painted brown to look like wood so that it wouldn’t be melted down.

DSC02089rSt Michael’s church, a block away from Holyrood, St Michael’s is the oldest building still  in use in Southampton.
The church was founded in 1070 AD and still has Sunday services today

DSC02091rThe view inside St Michael’s

DSC02090rI saw this model of the ‘Mayflower‘ in St Michael’s church.

The link is that the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Southampton. In 1620 the Mayflower  anchored in Southampton water waiting for her consort Speedwell, which had sailed from Holland with more Puritans.
The two vessels set sail for America in August, but shortly after, the Speedwell sprung a leak and the two ships put in to Dartmouth for repairs.
Repairs completed and they sailed again for the Americas. When they had sailed about 200 miles from Lands End the Speedwell sprung another leak. Both ships returned to Plymouth.
Some of the passengers off the Speedwell moved to the Mayflower and others returned to Holland. On the 6th September the Mayflower sailed for America, later Speedwell was sold.
On the 9th November 1620 they sighted what we now know is Cape Cod. The rest is history.

DSC02081rThis was our destination close to the waterfront.

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The brightest part of the day is that this Maritime Museum had changed in to something else. It has become a micro brewery called the Dancing Man.

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The Dancing Man brewery began in 2011 and in 2015 they moved in to this building.

DSC02078rRestaurant upstairs – bar downstairs, or outside in the sun.

DSC03831rThey have seven different beers, all brewed on the premises, so I thought I’d have a drop of Jesus’, the taste was another miracle. Jesus turned water in to wine, and the Dancing Man turned water in to beer.

DSC02267rWe were never far from a touch of history. The above shows the original walls of the old town. On the right the modern building is a shopping centre.

DSC02052rEven inside a shopping centre they had created a feeling of yester-year. I took the photograph and behind me were very modern shops.

It was school holidays so what did we used to do – we went to the seaside.

DSC03827rcBeach Rules but where is the beach?

DSC03826rcIs it only the British who sit in deckchairs row after row?

This beach was on the main road in Southampton, miles away from the water and the ships.

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Sand had been spread across what I think was a small square in front of the building with the white roof that can be seen. The large deckchair on the left was part of a competition of about eighteen large deckchairs spread throughout the main old town area and one had to track them down and tick them off a list – we didn’t get involved.

The weather was very kind to us during our stay in Southampton – two days, three nights before the cruise and three days three nights after the cruise – well worth the visit as neither of us had visited Southampton before.

 

 

 

Quit ye like men and they did . . .

 

From the beginning the ship attracted a certain type of boy.

1860 Mathew Webb captain_matthew_webbwent on to be the first man to swim the English Channel.

1861 Warrington Baden Powell  later in life was the founder of the Sea Scouts.

1868 Admiral Sir  Sackville Carden Carden KCMG RN sir_sackville_carden was asked by Churchill, who was First Lord of the Admiralty, to produce a strategy to knock Turkey out of the First World War. His plan was accepted and he was in charge of the initial landings, which were successful. He was replaced when he became ill and his plan was altered, which included landing troops further south than the original plan – this alteration became the Gallipoli failure.

1871 Sir Hamilton Gould Adams hamilton_goold-adams commanded the troops that defeated the Matabele 1893 and was in command of Mafeking through out the siege. As Governor of Queensland he laid the foundation stone for Brisbane town hall in 1917.

In 1889 The Cadet was started – I had the whole magazine in 1960.I can not remember what happened the-cadet-frontback-cover

to the innards. Above is the front & back of the same edition.

herbert-haddockOn a different note Capt. Herbert Haddock (Conway 1875- 77) was the first Captain of the Titanic. He delivered the vessel to the White Star Line, (from the builders) at which time, even though he was one of the Company’s most experienced captains, he was removed and posted to the Olympic as commander, and Captain Smith of the Olympic was given command of the Titanic.

james-moodyJames Moody (1902-03) was the sixth officer on the Titanic and had only been at sea for six years. He stayed with the ship making sure the lifeboats got away until the end, he didn’t survive the sinking. There is memorial to him Woodland Cemetery Scarborough.

capt-_arthur_h-_rostron_r-d-_r-n-r 1885 Sir Arthur Henry Rostron – he was thirteen when he joined Conway and in 1895 he joined Cunard Line. He was Captain of the Carpathia in 1912, and rescued nearly 700 survivors of the Titanic. Later he commanded the Mauritania and was Commodore of the Cunard Line.

philip_bent1912 Lt Colonel Philip Bent VC, DSO gained his 2nd Mates ticket after leaving Conway, but volunteered for the army in 1914 as a private solider, and was posted to the Leicestershire Regiment. His regiment was sent to the Western Front.
Losses were so great that within three year this 23 year old had been promoted from the ranks through various positions to become Lt Colonel of his regiment. His battalion attacked Polygon Wood in Belgium. The attack was unsuccessful and the Germans counter attacked the British lines. The situation became critical, so Colonel Bent collected a platoon that was in reserve and a number of other soldiers and lead them in to a counter attack. He lead from the front shouting ‘Come on Tigers’ – unfortunately he was killed, but the attack was successful. For his bravery he was awarded the VC.

In WW1 Conway cadets were awarded 3 VC,(Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the British military, it has only been award to 1358 times since 1856) 42 DSO, (awarded to officers in the army above Captain – it was considered that the individual had just missed out on a VC), 48 DSC (a navy medal), 21 MC, (Military Cross usually given for bravery on land), 2 AFC, 4 DFC (the AFC stands for Air Force Cross and the DFC is Distinguished Flying Cross) unusual awards for cadets of a naval college.

During WW2 the Commander (2nd in charge) of HMS Ajax at the battle of the River Plate was Douglas Everett 1911-13. Rear Admiral Everett, as he was to become, was Chief Staff Officer for the planning of the invasion of Sicily, and later Commander in Chief Hong Kong amongst other senior appointments.

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Ian Fraser 1936 – 38 – commanded a midget submarine against the Japanese. During his approach to the Japanese cruiser Takao, he deliberately left the safe channel and entered a minefield to avoid being detected by hydrophones. The target was in very low water and only the midship section was where the water was deep enough for him to place his mines. After forty minutes approaching the cruiser he forced his own craft under the centre of the target. He placed limpet mines and dropped his main charges, which were attached to his midget sub. He had great difficulty in extracting his midget sub from under the cruiser, but eventually he was clear and made his way out to sea through mined waters. he was awarded the VC and the Legion of Merit by the USA. When the mines exploded they blew a hole in the cruiser 20 x 10 mt (66 ft x 33 ft)

Beneath the waves – lionel_crabbBuster Crabb  1922 – 23 – in WW2 he volunteered for mine and bomb disposal and was posted to Gibraltar in 1942. The Italians, using human torpedoes, attacked Gibraltar from Algeciras in neutral Spain. Crabb scouted the harbour at night looking for unexploded under water bombs. For his work and courage he was awarded the George medal, which is the second highest award for a civilian. In 1948 he spent time checking the hulls of ships for mines in Haifa in Israel.In 1956 he disappeared while diving near a Russian warship in Portsmouth harbour. Officially he was reported drowned, but rumors have it that he was working for MI6 Some say he was captured and taken aboard the Russian vessel. A corpse was found later that year, but it was badly decomposed and its head was missing along with its hands  . . . . .

On the literary side for Conway we havejohn_masefield John Masefield (1891-94) the poet laureate, who wrote many poems linked to the sea. Sea Fever being one of his most popular along with  Cargos

This short poem was found after his ashes had ben interned in the poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey.

 

Let no religious rite be done or read
In any place for me when I am dead,
But burn my body into ash, and scatter
The ash in secret into running water,
Or on the windy down, and let none see;
And then thank God that there’s an end of me.

duffdoug Douglas V Duff  (1914 – 15) – author of over one hundred novels after an exciting ‘Boys Own’ real life. His ship was torpedoed in 1917 (he was sixteen at the time)  and was one of only two survivors. He went back to sea and was torpedoed again when he was eighteen. After the war he joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary and tried to arrest Michael Collins, who told him not to be daft because he was surrounded by body guards and they would shoot him. Later he joined the Palestine Police Force. The photo is of him in the Palestine Police uniform. In WW2 he joined the Dover patrol, set submarine nets in the Suez Canal and sailed a schooner called ‘Eskimo Nell’ through the German blockade in to Tobruk. He later became involved in broadcasting and TV work until his death in 1978.

In more modern times we have

cyril_abrahamCyril Abrahams (1928 -30) author of the Onedin Line.

There are a large number of Conway authors, some writing text books, others biographies and yet others novels.

In the sporting field we had Sir clive_woodwardClive Woodward Coach / Manager of the British rugby team that won the World Cup 2003.

D.G Chapman represented Great Britain in the Amsterdam Olympics 1928

John Bligh – rugby for England – Walter Elliot Rugby for England – E.A Hamilton-Hill Rugby for England

Jay ‘Birdie’ Hooper – represented Bermuda in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Back to the sea for one family –

The Warwick family –

bil_warwickCaptain Bil Warwick 1926 – 28, Master of the Queen Elizabeth & Queen Mary and he was the first Master of Queen Elizabeth II, and later became the fourth Conway to be come Commodore of the Cunard Line.

His brother was also an old Conway 1948 – 49 and went to sea, and his son Eldon John 1955-56 followed the family to sea and ended up in command of his own ship.

Bill’s youngest son

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Ron Warwick 1956 -57, after a number of years at sea became chief officer of Queen Elizabeth II when she was requisitioned for the Falkland war. In 1990 he was appointed Captain of the Queen Elizabeth II and later became the first Captain of Queen Mary II and in 2003 became the Commodore of Cunard.

Falkland War

The invasion was reported by the British Antarctic Survey Base commander Steve Martin 1970-73.

Later Brian Lockwood 1972-74 reported that the Argentinians had landed on South Georgia.

When the decision to retake the Falkland Islands had been made the Assistant Chief of Defence, Vice Admiral David Brown 1941 – 45, got to work.

He had the help from other Conway cadets – Deputy Chief of Fleet Support Rear Admiral Edwards 1941 – 44.

Preparing the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Captain Butterworth 1941 – 43

Chief of Staff to the Joint Service Commander of the task force Vice Admiral Peter Woodhead 1954 – 57

Passenger ship ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ Chief Officer R. W. Warwick 1956 -57

Chief Officer of the Norland (which was a North Sea ferry fitted out as a troop ship) R. B. Lough 1961 – 63

Geesport a forward support ship – Captian G de Ferry Foster 1954 – 56

Europic Ferry – carrying troops, helicopters and equipment – Master W. Clarke 1959 -62, Chief officer Norman Bamford 1961 – 63, Second officer Alan Burns 1948 – 50 and one of the Staff Sergeants being ferried to war R.L Peacock 1969 – 71

Baltic Ferry – Master E. Harrison 1954 – 56 Second officer Bill Langton 1967 – 69

RFA Fort George Master DGM Averill 1941 – 43

RFA Sir Tristram master Captain G Green 1949 – 51

There were eight other old Conway’s involved  – I don’t think the Argentinians realised what was about to happen to them now that HMS Conway was involved.   :-o)

What ever your politics in the UK Ian Duncan Smith 1969 – 74 used to be the leader of the Tory party in the UK. Currently an MP in the British Parliament.

capt-hewittCaptain Eric Hewitt 1919 – 21 – he joined the RNR (Royal Navy Reserves) on leaving Conway and completed his sea time for 2nd Mates in the merchant navy. On the outbreak of war in 1939 he was called up for the RNR, and having served over the years in the RNR held the rank of Lt Commander.

He served in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and took part in the invasion of Sicily. He was mentioned in dispatches for protecting a Mediterranean convoy. He was involved with the Normandy landings and when promoted to Captain he was the youngest serving Captain in the RNR.

He was on Earl Mountbatten’s staff in Singapore responsible for the movement of all ships in the Far East. He followed Mountbatten to India to supervise the withdrawal of British forces from India by sea.

In 1948 he accepted the position of Staff Captain at HMS Conway and the following year he was Captain Superintendent. It was Captain Hewitt who interviewed me when I applied to join the Conway.

In 1956 Captain Hewitt was ADC to HM The Queen and later became High Sheriff of Anglesey.

Captain Hewitt was a fine example for hundreds of Conway cadets over the years. He died in 1995 at the age of 91.

The above list of old Conway boys is just a very small sample of the 11,000 cadets that experienced life as a young teenager at HMS Conway between 1859 and 1974.

Conway closed in 1974, so it’ll not be long before we can no longer say ‘You’ll find on the bridge a Conway boy.’