|HMS Conway 1859 - 1974
© Alfie Windsor 1998
The New History of HMS Conway
The new history is now available and our publisher, Witherbys Publishing & Seamanship International, has produced a first class book. It is approximately 10” by 8”, with 450 pages and 260 black and white photos. Our thanks to Michael ‘Con’ Lloyd (56-58), who works for Witherbys, for convincing them to publish it. We are honoured that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has written the Foreword.
Proceeds are split between the Club and the Friends.
Many of you will have read Masefield’s ‘The Conway’ but his second edition only covered up to 1953, with the loss of the Ship given very brief, last minute attention. 21 years of subsequent Conway history have never been documented. This new book puts that right, providing a comprehensive review of the Ship’s history, operation, organisation and daily life.
It provides a full chronology from conception in 1857 to paying off in 1974. Arranged in 42 chapters, all significant events are described. These include the refits of 1937-38, “Abandon Ship” during the Merseyside Blitz, the move from the Mersey to the Menai Strait, the opening of Plas Newydd, creation of the hutted camp, the long struggle to create the New Block, transfer from the MMSA to the British Shipping Federation/Cheshire Education Authority, the change from a Captain Superintendent to a Headmaster and the events leading up to closure.
The sad loss of the Ship is covered extensively, with a chronology of events explaining precisely what happened. We are indebted to the late Captain David G Williams (49-51), for his incredibly detailed and authoritative analysis of the very unusual physical factors, unique to the Menai Strait, which were allowed to contribute to the loss of the Ship. His work, supported by the investigations of oceanographers and a wealth of scientific, meteriological, tidal and other material explains why the loss happened.
The book also describes how training adapted to the shipping industry’s evolving needs and to changing education standards. There are vignettes of the Captain Superintendents, Mr Browne, Mr Lord and 48 notable Old Conways (including several Presidents of the Conway Club). There are detailed ‘conducted tours’ of the Ship (Nile), Camp and New Block and a description of daily routine in each ship/ location over the years.
Most importantly, there are Old Conways' reminiscences of people, places, life and events. Copying Masefield, and to protect the innocent, reminiscences rarely “name names”.
Appendices include a dictionary of Conway slang, the history of each of the three vessels that were Conway, a complete list of Gold Medal winners and a brief list of over 700 shipping organisations, 159 uniformed services and 126 civilian jobs in which OCs have served. (Ed the online lists now have 1,025 shipping companies, 69 pilot services, 52 harbourmasters, 291 uniformed services and 143 civilian jobs).
A huge amount of research has gone into this book. Thousands of public and private documents were consulted. Hundreds of people contributed. In short, everyone’s Conway years are covered in words and pictures. Thanks to David Fletcher Rogers (43-45), OCs’ participation in the Falklands' Campaign is also described
"Shipmates, This volume is an immeasurably valuable contribution to the understanding of OCs everywhere, as well as an unique opportunity for a general readership to gain a clear picture of who the Ship's cadets were and who they are today. The style is easily readable at the same time as being intelligently informative, and it has held my attention throughout. To say that the research that went into his record of the Ship's history is immensely impressive, is to say the least. And the cover is first class! Alfie's book will enable cadets of widely differing years to understand the Conway story as a whole. Some who knew only the Ship's Mersey days, others who remember only her anchorage off Bangor Pier, yet others who knew her at anchor off Plas Newydd after going out to serve on board following two terms in the House, those few who spent a term under canvas on a rugby field - perhaps to go on to the huts, those who knew only the huts, and finally those who spent their Conway years in the stone frigate: all these former cadets are part of a tradition which simply had to be recorded in order to complete the picture for every one of them who read this book. John Masefield's New Chum makes excellent reading (especially to those of us who were on board, if only for a term or two) but Alfie has bridged the years and set everything in a perspective that enriches us all." David Brown (52-53)
"It really is first class Bravo Zulu." Jim Hume (37-40)
"It is obvious that you have done a wonderful job. I naturally turned to the bit with which I had some particular concern, the move to Bangor, and in the process came on the photo on page 108, only to realise that the cadet who is second from the right was me!" Jim Fairweather (39-41)
"Sincere congratulations on a most professional job." Geoffrey Haskins (40-43)
"I am pleased to say that my copy of HMS Conway has arrived, congratulations on what must have been a mammoth task. Well done." Bill Wilson (46-48)
"I'd like to add my thanks to Alfie for his splendid book. Now I see how good it is I've ordered a second copy. Well done." David G Williams (49-51)
"A great book, lots of illuminating reading, which will take many hours of enjoyable study to full absorb." Keith Spawforth (52-53)
"Wonderful job! I'm glad some of my stuff was of use." Snatch Cammack (51-53)
"The content and forethought are incomparable." John Fanaken (52-54)
"A comprehensive and readable account, thanks for an excellent memento that'll take front line on the book shelf." George Spearing (59-61)
"Superb - well done to you and all concerned. It will provide hours of enjoyment, and provoke a lot of reminiscing, thanks for a great reminder of a wonderful experience." Richard Ahl (59-61)
"I was stunned by the weight of it! It's a big book, chock full of interesting stuff and superb photographs, as well as a glossary of Conway lingo at the back which had me laughing out loud several times. The Loss of the Ship was a heartbreaking read, even for me who was never on the Old Ship. Thankyou Alfie. You have done a superb job. If any of you out there have not yet ordered a copy, don't hesitate any more. It's a superb publication which you won't regret shelling out for." Ian Mcrae (61-63)
"It is without doubt a magnificent effort, and Alfie should be justifiably proud of his achievement. The attention to detail is fantastic, I cannot begin to imagine how many hours must have gone into collating and making sense of all the information." Tony Coates (61-63)
"A superb effort. Its beautifully laid out and a credit to all Alfie's time, commitment and efforts. It won't disappear on to the bookshelf, it will sit on the coffee table and I'm sure visitors will open it and be intrigued." Alistair Barclay (64-66)
"The production values are excellent and the page layout very reflective of the type of publication it is." Mike Wild (64-68)
"You have achieved a mammoth task and managed to put many things in a wider perspective. Old Conways will be in your debt. I feel that your book enables us all to draw a well defined line on the story." Basil Lord, Headmaster (64-74)
"The book is absolutely bloody marvellous!! Well done." Peter Ransome (65-68)
"Congratulations upon this tremendous achievement! I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying reading your new book. It is really most impressive.It brings back so many memories of my years as Head of English and Foretop Housemaster at Conway." Nigel Johnson (Staff 66-70)
"It was a rattling read, a bloody good job and a must for any OC." Steve Budd (71-73)
"It's excellent, well written, good reading and well worth the dosh.. pride of place on the bookshelf. " Phil Nicholas (71-74)
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