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

© Alfie Windsor 1998
HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu

The Fourth HMS Conway - HMS Nile 1826 - 1876


There were several vessels called HMS Nile prior to the vessel that eventually became HMS Conway. They were:

1800 Jul 8:

HMS Nile involved in capture of French Desiree (38) in dunkirk Roads. 3 other frigates escaped.

1800 Nov 17:

Cutter from HMS Nile destgroys French Reloaise and 2 merchant ships in Port Novalo, Morbihan.


"Lugger" HMS Nile involved in a major action with the French and Spanish 150 miles WNW of Ferol. Captured 2 Spanish ships. alos engaged in an action off Rochefort.


A 12-gun cutter was purchased in 1806. This may have been the former hired armed cutter Nile. HMS Nile was put up for sale in October 1810 and sold, but the purchaser rejected her; she was subsequently broken up in 1811.

Image for sale from John Maggs. It is one of a series of paintings created for the front page of the maritime 'Blue Peter' magazine in the 1920s and 30

1826 Oct
Laid down coronation at HM Dockyard, Plymouth as a two deck second rate sailing line of battle ship. LOA 205 feet, depth 54 feet, weight 4,375 tons. A 92 gun vessel with ten 8 inch guns, eighty two 30 pounders. Built entirely of wood her construction costs were £86,197. Sister ships were Rodney and London.

Her full complement of men was 850.

Click image to enlarge
1839 Jun 28 Sat

Launched at 6pm on the anniversary of Queen Victoria's coronation. A very large crowd, estimated at around 50,000 had gathered to watch. She was launched by Miss Warren the daughter of the Dockyard Admiral.

The Devonport Independent & Plymouth & Stonehouse Gazette reported Nile’s launch in 1839 in considerable detail. It described the figurehead, probably carved by James Dickerson, as ‘a finely carved bust of Nelson …  decorated with a scarf, formed of an ensign, gracefully tied and was also ornamented with laurel’. It is shown on the right taken when Nile was still in commission as a sailing ship. It does not seem to be of Nelson and in his ‘The Conway’, John Masefield OM (1891-94) says that it may have been of Admiral Lord Collingwood. In a 1938 letter to the Sea Breezes magazine Mr A Wilson, Secretary of Conway’s Management Committee, was quite specific, the figurehead on transfer was of Collingwood.

Click image to enlarge
1839 - 1854 Held in Reserve at Devonport.
In 1851 a new figurehead, a head and shoulders of Nelson, was created and fitted by Dickerson’s son Frederick. The design sketch is on the right below and next to it the finished figurehead masted in the Ship. This figurehead was lost on 4th June 1918 when SS Bhamo collided with Conway carrying it away

1852 Dec 14
During this period the French had launched steam sailing ships and the Admiralty began to debate the need for similar vessels in the Royal Navy. Docked in Devonport to be converted to a screw ship with a engine, propeller and funnel. This took a long time and cost £63,837. The 500 hp engine was made by Sewards.
1854 Jan 30
On completion of the conversion she was finally commissioned.
1854 Feb 25 to 1854 Jul 17
Commanded by Commodore Henry Byam Martin, Western (Channel) squadron with complement of 830 men and boys.
1854 Apr 16-18
Underwent steam trials in Stokes Bay.
1854 May 3
Commanded by Captain George Rodney Mundy. Sailed for the Gulf of Finland to join the Baltic Squadron - war had been declared on Russia on March 27th.
1854 Jul 17 to 1857 Apr 20

Commanded (until paying off at Plymouth) by Captain George Rodney Mundy.
1854 Oct 19
Left Gulf of Finland.
1854 Dec 7
Departed Kiel for Devonport.
1854 Dec 23
Dry-docked in Devonport (after a minor collision).
1855 Apr
Departed for the Baltic.
1855 Apr 13
Arrived Kiel.
1855 May
Led the inshore squadron into the Gulf to an anchorage in Biorko Sound. Engaged the Russians on several occasions capturing or destroying large numbers of vessels and supplies.
1855 Jun17
HMS Nile was off Seskar on the Baltic

Click image to enlarge

near Cronstadt that guards the approaches to St Petersburg. The Captain was John Wilson Carmichael.
1855 Sep 18
Nile's boats boarded and burnt some Russian vessels, reportedly near Hammeliski (possibly Humaliski on the island of Björkö, now called Primorsk, Leningrad Oblast).
1855 Oct 26
Left for Kiel and Devonport
1856 Apr 23
Part of the Spithead Review to mark the end of the Crimean War.
1856 Jun 17
Sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia to patrol the North American and West Indies stations. She was the flagship of Rear Admirtal Arthur Flagshawe.
1856 Jun-Dec
Visited Halifax, Bermuda, San Domingo and various Caribbean ports.

1857 Visited San Domingo, Port Royal and Havana
1857 Mar 12
Departed for Spithead and Plymouth. Paid off.
1858 Feb 28th
Carpenter 1st Class Thomas Barnard was appointed. he left the ship on 1st Oct 1859. He had previously served in Conway.
1858 Mar 1 to Dec 7
Commanded by Captain Henry Ducie Chads, later promoted Rear-Admiral and she became his flagship at Queenstown, Ireland.
1858 May 13
Spent 7 weeks in Greenock (River Clyde) as a show ship open to visitors.
1858 Summer
Exercised with the Channel Fleet.
1858 Oct
Departed for the West Indies but was caught in a hurricane and returned to Cork for repairs some 40 days later. Moved to Plymouth for further repairs.
1858 Dec 7
Commanded by Captain Arthur Parry Eardley-Wilmot, flagship of Rear-Admiral Charles Talbot, Queenstown
1859 Apr
Departed for Bermuda under the command of Captain Edward King Barnard and carrying the flag of Rear Admiral Alexander Milne, the Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.
1859 Jul 3 Arrived on the Mersey for a similar visit, mooring very near the first HMS Conway then awaiting her first New Chums and official opening. See image below

1859 Aug 1
Ship's band attends opening of HMS Conway.
1859 Aug 11
Departed for Holyhead. A few days later called at Queenstown.
1859 Aug 24
At half-past 6 o'clock on Saturday evening Nile steamed out of Cork harbour to join the Channel squadron at Spithead.
1859 Sep 2-16
Exercised with the fleet in Torbay
1859 Sep 8
The Times reported she was commanded by Capt. A.P.E. Wilmot;
1859 Sep 16
Returned to Plymouth.
1859 Oct 3
The Times reported that "It is expected that the Nile will return to Queenstown, where her crew will probably be reduced to 350."
1859 Oct 15
Sailed into the Atlantic for the West Indies.
1859 Nov 4-5
Caught in hurricane in North Atlantic, suffered considerable damage and loss.
1859 Nov 26
Arrived in Cork for urgent repairs.
1859 Dec 17
Towed to Plymouth for further repairs.
1859 Dec 31 to 1864 Apr 23
Captain Edward King Barnard, appointed Captain at Devonport. Nile becomes flagship of Rear-Admiral Alexander Milne, North America and West Indies
1860 Apr 18
Sailed for Bermuda.
1860 Jun 2
Arrived Bermuda.
1860 Jun19
Arrived Halifax as flagship North American Squadron. Halifax Museum Negative 14902 is a photo of HMS Nile in Halifax Harbour.

1860 Entertained the Prince Of Wales onboard. Visited Halifax, Bermuda and Ireland Island.
1861 May 6
In Grassy Bay, Bermuda
1861 Visited Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica and Bermuda.
1862 Jan 29
With the Admiral's flag, she was at Bermuda.
1862 Feb 4
According to the Bermuda Royal Gazette, she was at Bermuda, commanded by Capt. Barnard, flag of Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B.
1862 Feb 7
With other vessels engaged in recovering the stores from the Conqueror a total wreck on Rum Cay.
1862 Mar 29
Still at Bermuda
1862 Jun 5
Replaced as Queenstown guardship by the newly commisioned  Sans Pareil.
1862Visited Bermuda, Halifax, Charlottetown, Nassau and Newfoundland.
1863 Visited Jamaica, Havana, Bermuda, Barbados, Antigua, Martinique.

Some of Nile's crew circa 1865

Intervention In The American Civil War?


The battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 marked the highpoint of the Confederacy who hoped for international recognition, especially from Britain and France.   There were rumours that Britain would support the Confederacy and   on Sept 15 th the Union's Foreign Secretary Seward   issued a notice to all consulates decrying Britain and France's   belief that the Union could   not win and that secession was likely.


Nile was flagship of the North American Squadron, Rear Admiral Milne was CinC. Public Records Office records show there was steady communication between Milne, the Admiralty and the Duke Of Somerset - the First Lord Of The Admiralty from 1861 discussing the   capacity, readiness and potential response of the North American Squadron to any interference with British merchant shipping. On 29 September 1863 Milne visited New York with what is described as the Russian Fleet (see New York Times archives). They remained for at least 4 weeks during which they were very well received by the people of New York and were entertained to balls and other events – the local businessmen (Roosevelts, Astors and Browns) forming a special committee for the purpose. There was a formal visit of New Yorkers to Nile. On October 12-15 Milne and Secretary Seward visited   a number of fortifications together. Even at the time of the visit the Confederate side was still strong was still strong


There are suggestions that this visit was a cover for high level negotiations with the Union which would decide finally whether or not Britain remained neutral in the American Civil War. I can find no direct evidence to support this but would be interested to hear from anyone who can shed light on the matter.
1864 Visited Port Royal, Jamaica, Havana, Bermuda and returned to Spithead by 18 April.
1864 Apr 23
Placed in Reserve at Devonport where she first started.
1875 Mar 20 to May 13
Engines, boilers, underwater fittings and funnel removed.
1876 The Admiralty carried out many renovations to the ship and a fitted a new foremast (the old main mast of HMS Satellite), main mast, mizzen mast and bowsprit from HMS Jason. Many spars were transferred from the second Conway.
1876 Jul 24
Moved to Birkenhead and moored in The Soyne off Rock Ferry pier. Renamed HMS Conway.
1941 Mar 31
Suffered amny near misses form German mines during the Liverpool blitz. Order given to Abandon Ship when one mine was swept close to her stern.
1941 May 22
Moved to the Menai Strait to avoid further danger from the blitz and moored at Glyn Garth off Bangor pier.
1949 Apr 13
Moved to a new mooring near Plas Newydd
1953 Apr 14
The ship slipped her moorings and was taken in tow by the Dongarth (again!) and the Minegarth - the same pair that had brought her from Glyn Garth. During the difficult passage of the Swellies she ran aground on the Platters Rocks below the Menai Suspension Bridge. She settled as the tide fell and broke her back and she became a total loss. The wreck was returned to the Admiralty for disposal. Removal of the wreck became the responsibility of the Caernafon Harbour Board. Details of the removal are in the Gwynedd County Archives.
1956 Oct 30
Burnt to the waterline whilst being dismantled.

Click image to enlarge

Later HMS Nile


A new Trafalgar Class HMS Nile was begun  - She was the last British battleship to be completed with a single citadel; all subsequent capital ships had separate citadels fore and aft. Also, she was the first British battleship to mount a secondary armament of quick-firing guns - guns in which the charge and shell are combined together in a cartridge which is loaded as a single unit.


This vessel was part of the fleet off Tripoli when HMS Victoria was sunk (rammed) by HMS Camperdown on 22 June.

1912 Jul 9

Sold and broken up at Swansea.

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