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HMS CONWAY……….CONTRIBUTORS SECTION:-

We are pleased to have obtained permission to print the following details:-

THE WRECK OF H.M.S. CONWAY  by JOHN COWELL 

Picture Postcard Magazine  No: 150.  October 1991

Contact Brian Lund on:-   www.postcardcollecting.co.uk   

reflections@postcardcollecting.co.uk

John Cowell has written several books on North Wales, Bangor  etc. and is a renowned collector of Postcards, he is able to be contacted on john@thenetbiz.net  for copies of his books and a vast selection of Postcards on H.M.S. Conway - by Tuck, Frith and Mason as well as the famous Mark Radley of Bangor  sequence (four in all)  and original 1948 and 1949 postcards of the move of H.M.S. Conway  to Plas Newydd.

THE WRECK OF H.M.S. CONWAY  by JOHN COWELL  Oct. 1991

Visitors to Anglesey during the 1940s would have noticed H.M.S. CONWAY , A Merchant Navy Cadet School, moored in the Menai Straits near Bangor Pier. Originally named H.M.S. Nile, she was built in Devonport in 1839 as an auxiliary screw battleship of 90 guns.

During the Crimean War she was attached to Sir Charles Napier’s Squadron in the Baltic and later saw service as a flagship in the West Indies and North American stations.  In 1876 she was acquired by the Mercantile Marine Service Association, and after permission was granted by the Admiralty to change her name to H.M.S. CONWAY ,  she became a training ship in the River Mersey off Rock Ferry.  She remained there until 1941 when the “blitz” on Merseyside forced her owners to move her to a safe anchorage in the Menai Straits.

Accommodation on the Conway  was becoming inadequate to cope with the increasing demand for training places, so in 1949 arrangements were made with the Marquis of Anglesey for part of his country house at Plas Newydd to be used as a shore establishment, and in April of 1949 the Conway was towed to new moorings there. It was a short but difficult journey (see photo elsewhere) through the treacherous Swillies Channel  and one which could be undertaken only on the highest tide of the year. But it was accomplished successfully.

Four years later it was decided that the Conway  be towed to Cammell Laird’s dry dock at Birkenhead to be examined  and refitted for a further two or three decades of service.  She had to be moved on the high Spring tide in order to negotiate the dangerous Swillies, where there would be a clearance of only 4 feet between the Devil’s Teeth rocks.  On the morning of Tuesday 14 April 1953 the Conway began her fateful journey,  being assisted by the Liverpool tugs Dongarth and Minegarth.  She had negotiated the most difficult part of the Swillies between the Britannia Railway Bridge and the Menai Suspension Bridge when she met the flood tide.  This had been estimated at 5 knots but a sudden north-westerly wind almost doubled the force.  The tugs which were themselves only capable of 10 knots, could make little headway against the rushing tide, and when a tow rope parted the Conway’s  bows swung towards the Caernarvonshire shore, where she ran aground before a large crowd of onlookers.  An inspection at low water by salvage officers revealed that she was badly strained and buckled, with little hope of refloating her.  At the next high tide she flooded aft and was immediately declared a total loss.

The untimely end of the Conway aroused a great deal of national interest, and postcard publishers were not slow to record the disaster.  Two cards were produced by Tuck, one by Frith and one by Mason in the Alpha Series. But it was a local publisher Mark Radley of Bangor, who issued the more impressive cards, four in all, in a real photograph series. (see photo elsewhere)  He had earlier produced cards of the Conway  at her original anchorage in the Menai Straits and on her outward journey to Plas Newydd in 1949 (see photo elsewhere) thus completing a unique and historic series.

 
 


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