HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu HMS Conway 1859 - 1974

Alfie Windsor 1998
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Dockings

 

The ship was dry docked twice, once in 1895/6 and again in 1937/8. She was also docked for repairs in 1937 and 1938. It had been intended to dry dock her again in 1939 but the war and the move to the Menai Strait intervened. It was not until 1953 that another long overdue refit was planned.

First Dry Dock - 15 December 1895 to 28 Jan 1896

17 Dec 1895     The ship was docked in Bilston Graving Dock for an overhaul. All her copper was removed. She was scraped, recaulked, refelted and recoppered. Ten tons of copper were used. She was repainted.

28 Jan 1896      Returned to her mooring.

 

1930s

The following recollections were written by the then Captain Superintendent, Captain Goddard.

Soon after his appointment Captain Goddard reported that : "During the 27 years since I had left Conway as a cadet, there had been few additional facilities for training and I found that the ship's structure had deteriorated badly. I immediately submitted plans for the renewal of classroom furniture, main deck class rooms to be properly portioned to make them sound proof and new seamanship and Royal Navy Class rooms to be made with a laboratory to be built on the upper deck. With the valuable assistance of Mr Lawrence D. Holt, Chairman of the Committee of Committee of Management, arrangements were made for the Conway to be towed to the Victoria (sic) Dock, Birkenhead, for refit in 1936 and 1937. During these, approximately 60% of the ships side above the water line was renewed, the heads and boiler rooms were dismantled and renewed, a forecastle deck extending right across the upper deck and so far aft as the galley sky light was added. The galley was fitted with modern cooking ranges etc and new cabins built for the galley staff." His recollections were slightly out, the actual details were:

Docking ‚ 29th July to 13th September 1937

The ship was moved to Vittoria Dock after inspection showed that the heat from the cooking range had done much damage to the main deck beams and the deck sheathing. It was decided to dock her and also to replace the range. 550 square feet of planking was replaced and extensively re-caulking completed. The main timbers exposed were found to be in excellent condition. English oak was used.

A short film clip of the ship being moved to the dock is at :

Film clip of ship moving to and in Vittoria Dock

You will need Microsoft Media Player installed to view it and will need to register with the ITN film Archive.

Docking 20th July to 11th September 1938

The ship was moved to Vittoria Dock for further repairs including recaulking of all the decks. All yards and spars came down, all rigging was stripped, tested and made good. new davits, deadeyes and three new topgallent masts were needed. The superstructure on the foc's'le was removed and all remarked on the fine lines exposed. These were promptly covered again by a completely new foc'sle structure including new heads, a new boiler and a new water tank. The prominent tall black chimney was removed. They found 37 coats of paint on the foremast!

The new figurehead of Nelson carved by Carter Preston of Liverpool and subscribed for by the Conway Club was masted.

Masting Ceremony Sunday 11th September 1938

During the July - September 1938 overhaul, the new figurehead of Nelson carved by Carter Preston of Liverpool and subscribed for by the Conway Club was masted. Great pains were taken to ensure that the uniform and famous signal was correct in detail. It was, fashioned from three and a half tons of dovetailed teak and thirteen feet in height.

A short film clip of the figurehead being carved is at:

Film Clip of figurehead being carved

You will need Microsoft Media Player installed to view it and will need to register with the ITN film Archive.

The ship was moved from the dock and taken alongside the Liverpol Landing Stage for an unveiling ceremonmy by Dr J Masefield OM, the Poet Laureate and an old Conway. He wrote a poem for the occasion. Incidentally, this was apparently the only occasion of a wooden wall being secured alongside the stage.

A short film clip of the Masting ceremony is at:

Film clip of Masting Ceremony

You will need Microsoft Media Player installed to view it and will need to register with the ITN film Archive.

 

Second Dry Docking - 12th December 1938 to date not known

Perhaps as a result of the inspections whilst docked in July to September it was decided to dry dock the ship and under the supervision of Mr W H Dickie of Messer's Alfred Holt and Company, this was successfully accomplished in December, in Birkenhead. Captain Goddard records:

"This was no mean achievement, for to decide whether the ship, which was then 100 years old, was strong enough, caused a lot of anxiety and thought. She had a hog of 2' 6" which had to be considered when she took the blocks, and, in addition, many of the oak stanchions and beams were thought might be strengthened and would split. As a precaution, all the decks were shored up with 12" square baulks of timber.

When the ship was safely in dock and secured, I landed to watch the dock being pumped out. As she was taking the blocks a foreman called out from the Lower Deck gangway that the ship was creaking badly and he feared she would break in two. Mr Dickie, who was standing next to me, quickly replied "Good, it is the ship that does not creak that I am afraid for". Creaking shows that there is plenty of life left in the timbers. Suffice to say that she spelled on the blocks safely and with the hog taken out of her the original lines returned, showing her to be a thing of beauty.

Her previous dry docking had been in 1896 and in the 42 years which had elapsed the underwater portion of the hull had deteriorated but slightly. The copper sheathing had perished and required renewal, but only one 28' x 12" x 12" oak strake had to be replaced on the port side just below the waterline and a small piece near the stern port."

 

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