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

Other Relics and Artifacts

We welcome suggestions, submissions and links to relevant information, please contact us with details.

Army Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia,

They have a photo and plaque commemorating Lt Col Bent VC DSO.

Bangor Pier, Bangor

The Conway Memorial Window is in a seating kiosk at the end of the pier. Several benches donated by Conways line the pier. There used to be a small Conway museum at the entrance to the pier but that has gone.

Birkenhead Priory and Conway Chapel, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK

The ruins of Birkenhead Priory may be accessed at any time. However the Conway Chapel, which is one of the two chapels at the Priory, may only be accessed when the Warden is on site or by prior arrangement. The Warden  is there every day except Monday from 12 noon  to 5 summer and 4 p.m in winter. To be absolutely certain of access, visitors should telephone John Southwood (0151 342 5978) or Derek Parfect (0151 653 5665)  who will be happy to show visitors the Chapel which contains many items of Conway memorabilia including the honours boards from the original Conway Chapel at Plas Newyyd. There are also three magnificent stained glass windows in the Chapel commemorating "Conway" and two recently deceased Old Conways. For further details see the Friends of the Conway section.

Carnarfon Harbour Board Papers

These are stored in the Gwynedd Archives. They include all the papers relating to the ship and her disposal from the date of the wreck onwards. (They were the Authority left with the liability for the wreck's removal.)

Caernarfon Maritime Museum, Caernarfon, UK

This had a small but very interesting display including a panel from the last ship, possibly the section that allowed a light to shine through into the Magazine. It closed in 2015 and the contents were transfered to Bangor Museum( part of Gwynedd Museums Service). The intention was to includse the dispaly in the new, bigger bangor Museum building. That has now opened but the Conway items are not on display.

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Captain's Cabin Doors

Thurnham Hall, Near Lancaster

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 between 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.

The 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.

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Cigarette Card

'HMS Conway RUFC' was recorded on Ardath Tobacco Company's card no 73 1936.

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Coal Hole Donkey Winch

Spotted by a diver lying on the bottom of the Strait with the rest of the wreck

Conway House, Mount Kelly College

They hold a number of artifacts including a Conway sword and the brass ship's nameplate.

Conway Song

Sheet music is still available from the publisher (well he is an Old Conway) by whose kind permission we reproduce the music. Notes words are by Cecil Roberts, not John Masefield.  Order from here

An Audio Tape of the Conway Song played by the Band of H.M.Royal Marines and sung by the Liverpool Welsh Male Voice Choir is available from 'Friends of HMS Conway' Price GBP5 + GBP1 P&P UK GBP2 Overseas. Orders to:

Gwynedd Archives Service, Victoria Dock, Caernarfon, UK. (+44 (0) 1286) 679095

They hold many photographs, records and artifacts. Well worth a visit. Rather than wading through the normal index cards ask to see the special booklet that lists all their Conway items. Most of the material housed there is part of the Seiont Maritime Trust collection. The Trust also runs the Caernarfon Maritime Museum

Halifax Museum, Nova Scotia

Negative 14902 is a photo of HMS Nile in Halifax Harbour 1862.

Imperial War Museum, London

Display of George Cross, medals and other items belonging to Cdr Francis Brooke-Smith GC, RD RNR (34-36). Awarded for dealing with an unexploded bomb on the Manchester Ship Canal. Citation in London Gazette 27 June 1941.

Log Book

HMS Nile„s log book for the years 1860 to 1864 is held by the National Archives of Canada, Reference : MG24, F49

Log Book (kept by Cadet David Norris)

This cadet kept a log book for the years 1891-93. It is held by the Royal Naval Museum Reference : 1984/294(1)

Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool, UK

One of the Ship's anchors stands outside the entrance. The museum holds the Moody Cup as part of their Titanic exhibition, and they have a display cabinet dedicated to the Conway. They also hold a significant part of the Conway archive material, including all the original hand written records of every cadet, listed by cadet number, with details of school reports, executive reports etc. A useful source of information for anyone wishing to organise a reunion of their term or research a Cadet. The archive material includes Annual Reports 1859-1894; Monthly Reports 1881-1908; album of miscellaneous printed papers re: fund raising, fitting out of cadets 1858-1883; Muster Rolls 1875-1959; Wages books 1882-1960; Visitor books 1934-1975; Captain Superintendent's standing orders 1949-1964; Indexes to registers of cadets 1859-1972; registers of Cadets 1859-1971; Insurance stamp record books 1953-1968; bound and loose volumes of the Cadet Magazine 1889-1974 (1889-1966 are also on microfilm) photographs of cadets, sporting events etc. 1891-1968; miscellaneous pamphlets and papers 1897-1984.

The museum has been awarded a Heritage Lottery fund grant of £28,600 which together with contributions from the Conway Club, and the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, will be used for a project to conserve and repair the Conway archive which is now held by the museum. This will take place over the next 2 years in a phased programme which will mean that some records will be unavailable at certain times. In order to preserve the most important records from handling, and to ensure that the information they contain will still be available whilst they are being repaired, they have been microfilmed and are available in the museum's search room. These are the Annual Reports, the indexes to the Cadet Registers, and the Cadet Registers. Although not essential the museum recommends that visitors ring to book a microfilm reader in advance of their visit as they can all be in use at busy periods.

Under the Data Protection Act (1998) protective measures have been introduced to restrict access to potentially sensitive information about living individuals. The Cadet Registers after 1898 are subject to these measures, and can only be accessed by anyone after completion of a Restricted Access Application form. This applies to cadets themselves, their relatives or researchers working on their behalf. Before access is granted the museum may ask for proof of identity from former cadets, or in the case of researchers evidence of prior permission from the cadets themselves. Copies of the microfilm entry can be printed off for a small charge.

  • Maritime Archive and Library
    Merseyside Maritime Museum
    Albert Dock
    Liverpool L3 4AQ
  • Phone inside UK :- 0151 207 0001 (central switchboard)
  • Phone inside UK 0151 478 4424 (Archives Section) May be an answering machine. The archive is open 10.30 to 16.30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thusdays
  • Fax inside UK 0151 478 4590
  • Phone from outside UK +44 151 207 0001 (central switchboard)
  • Phone from outside UK +44 151 478 4424 (Archives Section) May be an answering machine. The archive is open 10.30 to 16.30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thusdays
  • Fax from outside UK +44 151 478 4590
  • Email:
  • Website:

Models Of The Ship

There are ten known models of Conway, nine are actually models of Nile There are additional photos of the models and some plans here.

1. The Baden Powell Model

Warrington Baden Powel made this model of the ship. It is held by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich but has now been loaned to the National Trust for display at Plas Newydd.

2.  The Douglas Model

This model was created in 1991and is in private hands. There are photos of the model and plans here.

3. The Friends Model

This small model – approximately 18inches in length is held by the Friends Of The Conway and is on display in the Conway Chapel at Birkenhead.

4. The Gee Model

This 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!

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This is the only model with one side left unplanked so that you can see inside.

5. The Hopkinson Model

A half hull model of the ship. Privately owned by Ian.

6. The King's Model

On 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.

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7. The New Zealand Model

No details are known other than that it exists! If you have more info please email me

8. 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?

9. The Vietnamese Model

This large model is commercially available and made to ordei in Vietnam but only in batches of 10 or more. The Club is considering selling it through their shop. Therev are more photos and full specifications for the model on the manufacturer's web site - click here 

10. 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 private ownership.

MSODs (Menai Strait One Design) (1954 to 1974)

The MSODs (Menai Strait One-Design), were 20 feet long, built out of mahogany 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

“They 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 learn what happened to them all and add your reminiscences.

Nestor Bell

Originally stood outside the part of Plas Newydd - the Nelson Block used as dormitories. It is now on display in the Conway Museum at Birkenhead.

Outward Bound Museum, Aberdovey

Some photos of Conway cadets in Aberdovey. (Between 1941 and 1947 Cadets also spent time at OB Aberdovey. Conway cadets attended Class No 1 and later returned to teach). The link perhaps existed because of the involvement of the Holt family in both establishments, as well as Gordonstoune School

Plans Of HMS Nile

Available from the Maritime Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Size 4' by 2'


Plaque, Mostyn House School, Parkgate, Cheshire, UK

This plaque, mounted on the school wall, records the thanks of Cadets who sheltered in the school for several days during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941. It was this event that prompted the move to the Menai Straits (the bombing that is not staying at the school!).

Ship's Timber

I'm 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.

Western 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

Timbers 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 enterprising 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..

Lectern 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


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Ship's Window

A window from the ship is in a display case of the Liverpool Arms, Beaumaris.


Watercraft Philately Volume 29, page 56 refers to stamp of HMS Conway.

In 1980 St Kitts N.L. issued a 55c multi coloured stamp showing HMS Winchester.

Does anyone have a copy we could use?


"The 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.

Oak, 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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HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu Page Last Modified (D/M/Y): 11/1/10 HMS Conway - Click here to return to the menu