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

Alfie Windsor 1998
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From Mersey To Menai May 21 - 22 1941

After the Abandon Ship incident, the Conway Committee decided that training clearly needed to be carried on in more peaceful surroundings, and decided that the 102 year old wooden wall should be moved to the Menai Strait in North Wales. It would be her first sea passage for 65 years.

She was towed by the Rea tugs Langworth and Dongarth to Glyn Garth Mooring on the Menai Straits, Anglesey, West of Bangor Pier and close to the Anglesey shore - the mooring is still marked on charts. She arrived of Bangor late in the evening.

ship arrrives at bangor

The son of an Old Conway recalls: "A bird watching historian friend of my father's (a few years earlier, obviously) happened to spot the Conway arriving from Birkenhead, through his telescope from the roof of his student digs.   What a surreal moment that must have been. Remember it was wartime so there had been no announcement in the papers or on the radio! The roof he was watching from was that of a house called Plas Menai in upper Bangor, which (before the block of flats for OAPs was built about 20 years back) had a nice view of the Straits over Siliwen."

Article in the Cadet October 1959 (Centenary Edition) by Captain T Goddard RNR

"It was decided to send the ship to the Menai Straits where there was an anchorage off Bangor which would suit us. It was well into May 19 41 that the moorings could be laid by the Trinity House Ship Beacon, and tugs were available. We slipped our moorings at 1500 and 24 hours later were secured to our new ones off Bangor. Entering Crosby Channel the stern tug was let go and made fast forward so the two tugs towed the ship at 3 to 4 knots. The tow to the Bar Light Vessel, 17 miles from the Sloyne, took nine hours - nearly seven of which were against the flood tide so that we could better keep her under control.

We averaged seven knots over the ground from the Bar Light Vessel to Puffin Island, where we stopped until nearly High water when we negotiated the channel. This was uneventful but the S bend in it between No 1 buoy and Beaumaris required quick alterations in course with only two feet of water under our bottom. On sighting Conway as she rounded Gallows Point, my daughter Rosemary, who was acting as my Secretary, sent telegrams to all Cadets to rejoin the ship. To make up for lost time the Summer term was extended well into August, so that during the whole of the war not a day was lost to the Cadets."

ship arrives bangor 2

Article in the Cadet October 1941 by JS Fairweather

"We had been waiting day after day, thinking that the next would bring us word of when we would leave the Mersey for the Menai Straits. Many were the times we were told that we would be moving in a day or two's time, only to find, when the time came, that yet another delay put the time of moving still further ahead.

The waterboat moorings had been taken up and brought onboard, as at that time the spring tides made them accessible at low water. Unfortunately it was found impossible to take the sailing dinghies around with us , though they were brought by lorry later on. Everything in the ship was made secure in case we had bad weather, the orlop decks were fitted with deadlights and caulked up.

The day which we had been waiting for arrived, a crew of seamen came off early. They did the heavier work, the things that could only be done by experienced hands, such as making the towing hawsers fast, slipping our moorings and a hundred and one other jobs that required some experience.

The vessel that was to buoy our moorings was standing by in the morning, the tugs came along later, first one then the other, the same tugs that had seen us safely into dock on the last occasion, the Langarth and Dongarth.

At 1400 it began to rain, and everything looked very dismal, but nothing could dampen our spirits, for we knew we would soon be underway.

At about 1500 we let go our port bridle. It had been arranged by the pilot aboard that we would slip our other bridle at slack water that evening.

The ship's company comprised, in addition to the regular officers, two pilots, two officers, the seamen already mentioned, four Cadets and two Blue Funnel apprentices. An apprentice and a Cadet were put aboard each tug leaving two Cadets aboard the Conway.

Our tug was already fast forward, and the other tug was soon fast on our stern. At 1821 we slipped our moorings and started on a voyage such as she had not made for 65 years. The bell on the pontoon was rung as a parting farewell and the ensign dipped in acknowledgement.

The tide was slack so our course took us close inshore in order to avoid a number of merchantmen that were lying across the river. How the officers and men of those ships must have wondered at seeing one of the wooden walls threading its way down stream, on and past into the distance. Many of them dipped their ensigns in respect to such a venerable vessel.

The weather was clearing a breeze setting up from the west, conditions were looking very favourable.

Once clear of the more congested areas of the river, the tug hitherto astern of us was slipped and came ahead and for a considerable way we had both tugs ahead, towing us at a steady three or four knots.

The waterboat had been towing alongside the port gangway, but when we got into the channel it was found top be too rough to keep it there any longer. First, one of the tugs was slipped and detailed to take the waterboat in tow when we set it adrift. The tug picked it up after some trouble, but was unable to keep up with us. As the waterboat was shipping a good deal of water it was decided to leave it with one of the balloon barrage ships which were anchored along the channel.

We were making fairly steady progress, hardly ever rolling or pitching, which said a great deal for the workmanship of a bygone century. Later that night, the tug which had dropped behind, after signalling us for our course, caught us up but it was not thought necessary to make it fast again as we were nearing our destination, easing our speed in order to gain full advantage of the rising tide. When we were off Puffin Island, our escort vessel signalled to us a farewell message 'So long and good luck, safe moorings. May you train many more hefty limbed young whelps.'

ship arrives off bangor

One of the tugs, the one standing off, was made fast to our stern once again., for it was going to require some careful piloting to get bus to our moorings; We kept well up to ----- before coming through ----- Channel. We proceeded slowly up the Straits, the pilot boat, as it came past gave us a message and passing ----- pier the ensign was dipped to acknowledge their salute. Coming up the Straits we were greeted by the sight of the sun breaking through the long rolls of strato-cumulus, tipping their edges with a golden light, it was a suitable setting after such a good voyage, for the arrival of such a great ship.

The Trinity House vessel that was on our moorings was abreast (athwart?) the Straits when we came up. As we came up we read her name -----; she was built as a yacht, with diesel electric engines, being used in consequence of the war as on eof the regular Trinity House vessels. All the boats on our port side were lowered so as to come alongside her, the work of transferring the moorings was started and it took some considerable time.

It was quite a long time before we got used to our new surroundings, as the varying directions of the tide puzzled us, until we became accustomed to the intricacies of the various landing places."

Recollections Of Cadet James H Stewart

"Whilst at home I received a recall to the Ship ... On rejoining I found I was one of only four Cadets recalled - the others were R.J.Symon, and (?) J.S.Fairweather and one whose name I cannot recollect. We were informed by Lt.J.Brooke-Smith that the Ship was to be moved to the Menai Straits.

Already arrangements were in hand for the tow. Some two or three days later, at 3 p.m., May 21st 1941 two tugs from Rea Towing came to us in dock - one was the "Dongarth" the other the "Langworth"- the same two tugs that had docked her earlier]. At approx: 1400 the tow started.

I was on the Forward Tug, Symon on the Stern Tug and Fairweather and the other Cadet on the 'Conway'. It was about 1700 when the down River tow started.

We went out in the main channel to the Bar Lightship and, on the way, were hailed by the R.N. Examination Vessel enquiring "What Ship is That"

On reaching the Bar course was set for Menai, the speed of the tow was + / - knots, the Ship's Water Barge, being towed alongside "Conway" became swamped in the Liverpool Bay and had to be abandoned. Apart from that the tow through the bay was uneventful.

We arrived off Puffin Island at approx: 0600 the next day and had to wait two hours for the tide.

We entered the Straits at approx: 0900 and the tow took us to about two cables on the Menai side of the Bangor Pier there the Trinity House Yacht "Beacon" had laid our new moorings and was waiting to pass them to us.

The tugs turned us to face the tide and pushed us alongside "Beacon". It took 2-3 hours to transfer the moorings to us and then suddenly "Conway" was riding to her new moorings in the lovely setting of the Menai Straits where all Cadets boarded her a week later.

I have never forgotten the experience and 58 years later I can still picture what happened from start to finish,"

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