Relics and Artifacts
Conway Inventory - whatever hapened to the....?
We welcome suggestions, submissions and links to relevant information, please contact us with details.
The Mother's Union Chapel of Penmon Priory
The ship's altar used to stand on the Main Deck and after an
ignominious period stored in a garage was presented by the Conway Club
to the Mother's Union Chapel of Penmon Priory. It was originally carved
and presented to the Conway by Mr Percy Cox , the father of Cadet V S
Cox (05-09), but apparently as a memorial to Captain Miller. It was
donated to the Chapel at the suggestion of Capt Eric Hewitt in 1989. It
is now in the Conway Chapel at Birkenhead.
by the parents of Cadet Payne in his memory. Recovered from the Ship
and used ashore in the chapel hut and then the Conway Chapel at Plas
Newydd. They are now safe in the Conway Chapel at Birkenhead.
the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool, UK. This was recovered in
1968 by Brookie and many cadets. It was lifted by first removing the
encasing concrete base, beaching cutters either side of it at low
water, lashing it to the cutters by cross beams and letting the tide
lift it out. Sounds simple but it was a close run thing. The anchors
weighed 4-5 tons and were transported from Bangor, through the Swellies
in the same way with only a few inches freeboard! . Interestingly it
was Brookie who arranged that transfer and positioning many years
before. Subsequently hauled from the Dock up to the Parade Ground where
it remained for some years. Eventually transferred to the Museum. We
are informed it is a favourite spot for tourist photos.
recovered from the Strait between 8th and 10th September 1987 by members of the Seiont
Trust (a leading member was an OC). A series of photos of the recovery
are at: http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/search/words/conmway%20anchor/?no_cache=1
restored the anchor and mounted it along with an explanatory plaque
outside the Caernarvon maritmne Museum. There is a short video here.
When the museum closoed in 2015 it was refurbished and reloacted to the new Caernarfon seafront promenade
are two smaller anchors still embedded in the Menai Strait where they
were positioned to anchor the ship. They are very old anchors, but not
original Conway anchors. They were brought to Port Penhryn in 1948 to
complete the Plas Newydd moorings. Some say they came from Plymouth but
The Cadet magazine of the time says they were two of the anchors used
on the Rock Ferry mooring. The upper flukes have been removed. They
were always overgrown and probably are now very difficult to spot.
Perhaps some enterprising diver could tell us if the mooring rings and
swivel are still there, should be easy to find, just follow the anchor
to Indefatigable. Current whereabouts not known. Indefatigable had a
big sale when the school closed so they could have gone anywhere...
unless you know otherwise.
old inter-watch gig racing was presented to the St Helena Shipping
Company by the Conway Club. It was on permanent display in the
area of one of the RMS St Helena which also carried cadets in two
cabins named Conway and Worcester (see Summer 1991 Newsletter). The cup
was awarded annually to the cadet who produces the best kept log or
project through their training period aboard one of their mail ships.
By 2106 following a refit the cup has been lost.
is in a special display in the RN Museum, Portsmouth with the ship's
wheel and the large model that used to stand on the quarterdeck of the
I started this entry expecting to find one binnacle, so far I have
turned up eight! It might be a good idea to stop looking! Photos are in
the Image Archives Binnacles album:
1. The Ship's Wooden Binnacle
This was in the Ship on the Poop deck and is clearly shown in the photo
"1928 cadet arnold 2". Its distinctive features are a wooden body and a
distinctively shaped low rounded cover. It was recovered from the wreck
and there are stories that it was mounted outside Hewitt's office in
the Quarterdeck hut but none of the photos show it. Eventually it was
mounted on the grass opposite the main entrance to the New Block. It
remained there until paying off - see photos "new block exterior 08"
and "1973 Parade Deck", although the black balls seem to have shrunk
over the years. We should consider this as "the" binnacle. It is of a
type introduced in1876 with two adjustable metal balls on the sides of
the case to compensate for the strong magnetic influence of metal
hulled ships. Older versions in wooden sailing ships did not need them. It had a
Flinders Bar mounted on the back and seems to have a brass collar
around the base. The covers of The Cadet magazine from 1908 onwards
show a very similar looking binnacle so may assume it was in the Ship
from at least that year. I am searching the Cadet magazines to see if
there is any more information about it.
Conway paid off in 1974 the Shipping Federation (Conway's owners)
passed it to the Sir John Cass College in Gravesend. They put it in
store. When Cass closed one of the Instructors found the binnacle and
purchased it for a nominal sum (Christie's New York sold a similar
model in Jan 09 for £2,500!). He subsequently emigrated to NZ taking
the binnacle with him. It contained a few Conway related papers. The
owner contacted an OC and so the binnacle appeared at the reunion
event in Nov 08. The other shelf around the body has been added since
to hold wine
The RN Museum
When Conway paid off in 1974 a binnacle was apparently donated
to the RN Museum at Portsmouth. A recent investigation at the museum
found no trace of the body of a binnacle but did turn up the cover
illustrated in the album. This is clearly marked as belonging to a
Conway/Nile binnacle but it bears no resemblance to the one that
was on the poop (1 above) or any of the others listed
The Ship's Brass Pelorus
OK, this is a pelorus rather than a binnacle so arguably it shouldn't
be in this list but I've stretched the point for clarity. This was also
in the Ship on the Poop deck and is clearly shown in the photo "1928
cadet arnold 2". Its distinctive feature is its shape and all brass(?)
construction. Brookie is shown using it in the photo "Tour of the ship
upper deck 24". I have no idea what happened to it.
4. The Chart Room Binnacle
There was another device which looks like a binnacle in the Chart Room
and shown in the foreground of "Tour of the Ship upper deck chart room
03". Its distinctive feature is a black narrow base. I have no idea
what happened to this one. PS there is a deviascope in the left
background but that would be stretching the point too far.
5. The Dock Binnacle
There was a binnacle on the dock, outside the Seamanship Room, from at
least 1958. It is shown best in the photo "1965 dock 05". It looks very
similar to the The Ship's Wooden Binnacle because it has a wooden body
and metal top but, its distinctive feature is a pyramid shaped cover.
It also has very different openings to the The Ship's Wooden Binnacle,
and a distinct wooden collar around its base. It also has a Flinders
Bar. I have no idea where this came from, or when, or what happened to
6. The Pinnace's Large Binnacle
This was mounted in the pinnace and can be seen in many photos in the
Pinnace album although none are very clear. The best one is photo
"chapel bh binnacles 2" Its distinctive features are the large metal
hood on the cover and the two light cans on the side. It also had a
Flinders Bar. This also lacks the adjustable metal balls introduced in
1854 to compensate for the strong magnetic influence of metal hulls. It
is now held by The Friends of HMS Conway and is on loan to the National
Trust for display in the new Conway cafeteria at Plas Newydd.
7. The Pinnace's Small Binnacle
This was in the pinnace but where? Its distinctive feature is its size
- it's small. It is shown in the photo "relics pinnace binnacle". It is
held by The Friends of HMS Conway and is in the Conway Chapel at
8. The Friend's Binnacle Covers
The Friends also have two more covers that seem to come from the Ship.
If you can help clarify things please get in touch but we don't need any more binnacles!
very large block from the ship used to be in the lower area of Birkenhead Town
Hall which closed some years ago. We do not know what happened to the block.
Captain's Cabin Doors
Thurnham Hall, Near Lancaster http://www.thurnhamhall.co.uk/
This timeshare hotel claims to have the doors to the Captains Cabin. Photos below. Their research
indicated they were probably bought by the Hall's then owners from the
contractor who was dismantling the ship. They are a 'novelty' in the
hotel because of their height and shape - the bottom is obviously
slightly shaped to allow for the curve of the ship's deck, and are
used as a feature by sales staff to describe the resort's attractions!
They are very attractive with a lot of intricate carving, are well
looked after and in excellent condition. Our thanks to their resident
architect who contacted us with the information. Photos of the ship are on display near the doors.
2011 update: an OC has visted the hall and examined the
doors and it seems most unlikely that they were actually from the ship.
They are simply too tall to have fitted betwen the decks! Examination
of the detailed ship's plans produced for the 1953 refit do not show
any pair of doors in the Captain's cabin, apart from the doors onto his
stern walk which are entirely different in design and shape. Please email me if you can shed any light on this mystery.
original locks and plates, donated by Captain Hewitt's family are in
Birkenhead Town Hall Museum. The lock to the Captain's Veranda Door is
held by John Southwood - a gift from Captain Hewitt.
Click image to enlarge
Coal Hole Donkey Winch
Spotted by a diver lying on the bottom of the Strait with the rest of the wreck
Reportedly passed to the Missions To Seamen but is held by the Friends of HMS Conway.
table was donated in December 1903 as a memorial to Captain Miller
(along with the Lecturn and a new harmonium). It is now in the Conway
Chapel at Birkenhead.
chapel built by the Conway Club alongside the New Block still stands
and is very well used by the Conway Centre but it is no longer used as
There is now a Conway Chapel in Birkenhead Priory containing many of the items from the old chapel. Please see the Friends of the Conway section for more information.
from the deck was made into a Lecturn that was donated by the National
Maritime Board of Great Britain to the United States Merchant Marine
Academy, Long Island, New York. It is kept in their House of Worship:
the Mariners Chapel to the right of the altar.
A 2 pounder wheeled Krupp
field gun, minus breech used to stand outside the gun room in the Ship - whether
to protect the inhabitants or keep them in order is not clear.
When the Ship was lost the gun was salvaged and transferred to the
entrance of the Nelson Block. It was presented to the Ship by Capt H M
Perfect RN (1882-84) or by Lt Herbert Mosley (OC) - differnet sources
claim different donors!. It was captured from the Chinese by Capt H M
Perfect RN and his boat crew from Undaunted at the storming of
Tien-suin on 14th July 1900 during the Boxer rebellion. An engraved
plaque describing its capture has been polished to illegibility by
generations of cadets so we may never know the full story. When the
ship paid off in 1974 the gun was transferred to the National Maritime
Museum, Greenwich but is not on display.
The ship had two figureheads over the years. Details are here. When Conway paid of a safe home was found for the figurehead at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth where it can be seen from the road.
Fifes were specially designed for Conway and the Menai Strait. Sail
number 2 was Morwys with a white hull. Sail number 5 was Thelma and had
a red hull. Thelma was a gift to the ship in 1954/5. Fifes are a 24 feet Bermuda rig keel boat also used by Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Click image to enlarge
pleased to report that Fife No. 5 is alive and well, having been
lovingly restored by Bill Thompson (58/61). She has been acquired by
another Old Conway - T A Kershaw ('Tak') who lives in Beaumaris. Anyone
know what happened to Morwys? There is a small fleet of Fifes raced by
the Royal Anglesey Yacht Club. They are now called 'Conway Fifes' - http://www.royalangleseyyc.org.uk/Racing/Fife.htm They have adapted the Conway ensign as a burgee.
is now presented annually by the Navy League of Canada Sea Cadets to
the Corps demonstrating the highest degree of proficiency in small boat
handling during their Spring Regatta. As many as 300 cadets are
involved in the competition
by the parents of J E Haig (41-43), this trophy was presented to the
best mountain expedition of the year in a competition between each
Division. Returned to the family in 1974.
Harley Memorial Shield
Held by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich but is not on display.
Birkenhead Priory Museum, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.
Housed in the Conway Chapel in Birkenhead Priory.
brass lecturn was donated in December 1903 as a memorial to Captain
Miller(along with a Communion Table and a new harmonium). It is now in
the Conway Chapel at Birkenhead.
was normally kept in the dock Seamanship Room. It was painted white
with the words HMS Conway painted on it and Conway crests. It is now in the Conwy Chapel at Birkenhead.
decorated panel, possibly the section that allowed a light to shine
through into the Magazine, is held by Bangor Museum (Gwynedd Museum
Service) but is not displayed.
Click image to enlarge
In the Conway Chapel, Birkenhead
Click image to enlarge
Twelve Quays, Egerton Dock, Birkenhead, Liverpool, UK.
mast was re-erected on 25 September 1993 in memory of the 11,000 cadets
who passed through the Conway and those who lost their lives at sea.
Although called the mizzen mast details gleamed from The Cadet magazine
indicate that it was actually the original Main Topmast.
Conway sea cadets provided a guard of honour at the unveiling ceremony.
Members of the Vancouver Conway Club organised replacement spars and
new wood for blending into sound sections of the original. Within a few
years the mast needed significant repair which was completed in 2008.
The current mast contains little of the original, although the
Togallant and Gaff are original, so is best considered as the Conway
Memorial Mast. There is film of it here and here.
Sailing Club, North Wales has a portion of the original mizzen mast.
OC's and Old Worcester members of this club made a substantial donation
towards the restoration of the Mizzen Mast, in return the Mast
Committee donated a nine foot section of the original mast to them. It
has been erected within the Bar area flying a small Conway ensign.
Model Of The Ship - The Gee Model
large and fine model was made and presented to the ship by Mr J Gee in
1956. It is actually a bit of a historical hotch-potch; it shows the
ship in her Nile days as a pure sailing ship – note no funnel! Nile was
only commissioned after she was converted to steam. It also shows the
post-1938 figurehead – Nile's original figurehead was only a
bust of Nelson with far less body. It is now part of a Conway display
which is the centrepeice of the RN Museum, Portsmouth. It previously
stood on the quarterdeck of the New Block as shown below. I believe Mr
Gee is the other gentleman in the photo!
Click image to enlarge
This is the only model with one side left unplanked so that you can see inside.
Model Of The Ship - The King's Model
July 22 1932 HM the King was presented with a model of the Conway made
onboard by the carpenter Mr John Bullis Williams assisted by cadets. It
was paid for by the Conway Club. The hull was cut from the African Oak
of a starboard side lower deck fairlead. It was to a scale of one-eight
of an inch to the foot. It took two years to complete. It has 156 dead
eyes and 91 blocks made from old school rulers. The metal is silver
plated ship's copper. There are 120 yards of rigging (wire and silk
trout line), 622 bolts (domestic pins), 6 feet nine inches of chain on
boat davits, 1798 clove hitches in the rigging. There are 16 coats of
paint and enamel. The model is now in the Science Museum, London but
not on display. He made a clock from the remaining wood - photos are in the Image Archive
Two photos of this model are below. One was
published in The Cadet in 1933. It shows the ship in her converted
state as Conway in 1931-3 – witness the various additions on deck,
especially the foc's'le, and the powerboats, cutter and gigs on the
davits. Note also there is no figurehead as the original was lost in
1918 and not replaced until 1938. In the second photo the model has
been removed from its stand, the ensign removed and some adjustments
mde to the masts. You will see this model is very different to the Gee
Model but is very similar to the Williams Model.
Click image to enlarge
Model Of The Ship - The Powers Model
In October 1933 many cadets exhibited models at
the Ship Model exhibition in the Bluecoats School, Liverpool.
Instructor Powers had made a very fine model of the ship, "...a very
beautiful representation...". I wonder where that is now?
Model Of The Ship - The Williams Model
This model was also made by the ship's
carpenter Mr John Bullis Williams, at the request of Chief Officer
Commander George Witheridge Couch sometime after 1932. It is approx 26"
long x 16"high. It was very similar to the King's Model although it has
a seagull on the mainsail yard whereas the King's did not! It is in
by Moody's family in memory of James Paul Moody (1904-06), 6th Officer
on the Titanic. Competed for at Conway as an open sailing competition
in MSOD's by Cadets choosing their own crew. After the closure of
Conway the Moody Cup was presented by the Governors to the Conway Club
Cruising Association for the best Annual Cruising Log submitted by an
Old Conway. The Cup was on loan to the Merseyside Maritime Museum but
is now on display in the Conway Chapel.
Please also see the Notable Conways section and the Friends of the Conway section for more information.
MSODs (Menai Strait One Design) (1954 to 1974)
MSODs (Menai Strait One-Design), were 20 feet long, built out of
mahogony on oak frames, clinker built and half decked. Rumoured to be
uncapsizeable. The first four MSODs purchased were numbered and named
18 - Lightning, 8 - Taeping, 17 -Ariel and12 - Flying Cloud. The fifth
was 10 - Sobroan
were super boats – half-decked, carvel-hulled Bermudan sloops – that
put up a good performance without threatening to drown their crews,
they were all but impossible to capsize."
There is a great web site at http://www.msod.org.uk/ learn what happened to them all and add your reminiscences.
'HMS Conway' brass nameplate is now in the main entrance of Conway
House, Kelly School, Tavistock, Devon, UK. The school holds many other
items of Conway memorabilia including a sword.
stood outside the part of Plas Newydd - the Nelson Block used as
dormitories. It is now on display in the Conway Museum at Birkenhead.
New Block, Plas Neweydd
County Council now own the 'new block' built at Plas Newydd. It is
called the Conway Centre and used by them as a residential centre for
pupils from Cheshire. It is not open to the public but many OCs have
visited anyway! Their web site has photos of the Nelson Centre and dock.
Painting Of The Ship Off Rock Ferry
Conway Centre, Plas Newydd, Anglesey, Wales, UK.
Hewitt’s insistence on an office mezzanine floor above the quarterdeck
had created a light three story space that is filled by Gordon Ellis’s
magnificent 16 foot by 10 foot painting of the Ship at Rock Ferry. It
remains in place to this day and every one of the 15,000 or so children
and staff passing through the Conway Centre each year receives a brief
explanation of the painting and Conway in general. National Trust
visitors to Plas Newydd cannot visit the painting. The painting was the
privately commissioned gift of Mr Leslie Harding (the Vice Charman of
the committee and partner in Bibby Brothers & Co) especially for
the New Block entrance in 1963. He wanted to ensure that, as first hand
memories of the Ship passed away, there would be some tangible reminder
of Conway's origins for future cadets. Mr Harding chose the highly
appropriate words from the Navigation Act of 1660 that hang with the
“It is upon ships and sailors under the good providence of god that our wealth, safety and strength chiefly depend.”
1989 Captain Hewitt discovered the Prie-Dieu outside an antique shop in
the town of Conway. It had been presented by the cadets in memory of
Captain A T Miller and has a brass plate to that effect. By skilful
negotiation an excellent price was agreed, the money being paid by the
Conway Club. It is now in the Conway Chapel.
Click image to enlarge
sure you are aware that timbers salvaged from the Conway are still in
existence. You may not know that some have been sampled (by Dublin and
Bangor Universities) and identified as African Oak (which of course is
not an oak at all). A wide variety of woods were used in her
construction, including English oak from Shropshire for the 1938 refit.
African Oak was used only for the lower deck.
Australia Conway Club. A small piece of ship's timber from the 1938
refit at Cammell Lairds, Liverpool is the base of the Conway Senior
Challenge 1938 sports cup originally won by W A Johnstone (37-38) on
sports day Easter term. The cup found in an antique shop in Albany
Western Australia by local Conways and is now held by the Western
Australia Conway Club.
Timbers were used to create the various Honour Boards displayed in the Conway Chapel at Birkenhead Priory
and copper still survive and are held by an OC. I believe they spent
some time in someone's back garden. He has kindly offered to turn them
into items of interest for OCs - tankards, coaster, belaying pins etc.
Contact details are on page 5 of the Spring 98 Newsletter, and I'm sure
the Hon Sec could also put you in touch.
Timbers and copper litter the Menai Straits foreshore.
One enterpriising diving coupe from Bangor rescued enough timber from the wreck to make themselves a fitted kitchen
Sections of timber are in the Liverpool Arms, Beaumaris..
Lecturn made from wood from Conway's deck given by the National Maritime Board of Great Britain to the US Merchant Marine Academy (New York) and used in their chapel
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
This is in a special display in the RN Museum, Portsmouth with the ship's bell and binnacle and the ship's model.
A window from the ship is in a display case of the Liverpool Arms, Beaumaris.
Silverware & Trophies
The Conway Club owns a number of Conway's cups and these are displayed in the chapel at Birkenhead.
Davies (42-43) has a piece of the sternpost - about 12 inches square by
about 18 inches long - varnished and with a plate to record what it is.
Also a copper nail, suitably mounted and a dowel about 3" diameter with
a war department arrow on it.
section of the Taffrail was mounted above the bar of the MN Officers
Memorial Club, Aliwal Street, Durban South Africa. It was presented by
a group of OCs in the 50s. When the club closed everything was sold off
and the taffrail eventually eventually found its way into a pub run by
P.G.Banks Pr Tech (Eng) A.I.Mar ex Brocklebank engineer. He kindly
offerred to send a photo but his email address was lost. Mr Banks if
you read this please email me again!
1955 the "Conway Trophy" has been competed for annually by the the
Cadets of HMCS Venture, HMC Dockyard, Esquimalt, British Columbia,
was originally awarded to the most proficient Division in Seamanship,
Signaling, and Boat Work but more recently there has been greater
emphasis on sports. Some 300 cadets complete every year. It is a
section of Conway's taffrail, heavily varnished and mounted on four
pillars. The base has a silver plaque bearing the Conway crest. It was
taken to Canada by Capt HV Todd (17-18) and eventually obtained by D
MacKay (15/18) who turned it into the "Conway Trophy".
Captain Webb Memorial Shield
by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich but is not always on
display. "Last time I saw it it was in the Queen's House in a display
cabinet in the basement."
Menai Strait, which separates the Isle of Anglesey from mainland North
Wales, was described by Nelson as: "one of the most treacherous
stretches of sea in the world.
Whoever could navigate a ship
here, could sail any sea in the world." Few would dispute his
pronouncement; it is an area of overfalls, eddies and swirling water.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the Swellies, as the Strait is
known locally, has a wreck.
HMS Conway was a 96-gun
line-of-battle wooden warship much like Nelson's flagship, Victory. Her
ill-fated journey from her permanent berth off the stately home of Plas
Newydd to Birkenhead for dry-docking and a refit in 1953 ended after
only a couple of miles. She hit the Platters rocks, close to the shore
just west of the suspension bridge, and a fire devoured what remained
above the water. Nowadays she remains largely forgotten.
though, is solid stuff. Iron-hard baulks of it, along with a few copper
rivets, washers and sheathing, is all that remains of the ship. These
lie on the seabed, some partially covered, others standing proud, in
just a few metres of water. As a wreck dive, the Conway is, perhaps,
not up to much." Unlike her Cadets who were always up to a great deal!
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