THE RICHARDS MARINERS
Captain William Richards 1845-1912, gained his masters certificate in 1872 and commanded the sailing vessels Cecil Brindley in1873, Martha from 1874 to 1879and the steamers Glenalvon 1879 to 1882, Eira 1882 to 1883 and the Lady Mostyn from 1883 to 1888. He had begun his career as ships boy at twelve years of age, and at sixteen, he was a seaman on the sixty-ton Aberystwyth registered schooner Maid of Merion. He then went on to serve on the Forest Princess, Punch, Forest Queen, Annie Brocklebank and the Mary Elizabeth; all sailing vessels. He was one of eight children. His brothers David b.1841, John b.1848, Thomas b.1852 and Evan b.1855, all became mariners. Of the three sisters, Megan b.1853, Jane b.1850 and Ann b.1858, only Jane married a mariner; Evan Jenkins. The captain’s father John b.1819 was a mariner, but on some documents he was noted as a farm labourer.
CAPTAIN RICHARDS CAPTAIN GRIFFITHS
S.S. LADY MOSTYN S.S. EIRA
Anne had a sister who also married a mariner; Captain Griffiths. He had been born in Dolau of farming stock. He left home at the age of fourteen to work with the vicar of Pennal. The young man’s intelligence aligned with a keen interest in seafaring so impressed his employer that he sent him to study navigation with Cranogwen. This talented lady lived at Llangranog, and one of her many achievements was gaining her master mariners certificate. Young Griffiths gained his master mariner certificate in Dublin and went on to command the Mexican and the Roebuck of Wisbech. On one of his voyages, after a two year absence, it was presumed that the ship and the crew were lost. No sooner had the insurance been paid out, and other matters concluded, than the long overdue ship returned causing great consternation. Not least of all to his wife, and apparently after this event she persuaded Captain Griffiths to give up seafaring and to concentrate on agricultural matters at Dolclettwr Farm Treddol.
JOHN THOMAS RICHARDS MARY DAVIES (nee Richards)
The captain’s son David had two sons, one of whom went to sea. Edward “Ted” Albert Richards 1904-1981 was in the R.N.V.R. during World War 2. He attended Towyn Grammar School where he excelled academically. Despite this he was not happy there, as he frequently recalled walking out onto Towyn beach to look south to Borth, often ending up crying. Ted went on to take a degree in chemistry at the U.C.W. Aberystwyth, but decided that he would prefer to be in the arts than the sciences. By 1928, he was in London in a book retailing partnership. Times were quite lean in the 1930’s, and he took on bit part acting jobs and began writing plays. Many of these were abstractions of Borth’s historical associations with the sea, such as, Master Mariner, Who’ll Buy My Fresh Herrings and Herring Harvest. Overall, he wrote twenty-four plays and a few short stories, some of which were later re-drafted and presented on radio.
A.E. RICHARDS (far left)
At the end of 1941, with the war reaching a crucial state, he decided to do his bit and joined up. It was natural that he would join the navy, but his age dictated that it would be in the R.N.V.R. He was soon promoted and found himself involved with training exercises on minesweepers. Ted often remarked about the comical mix of the crew on these vessels. Most of the skippers were trawler men in peacetime, who knew the coastal waters in and around the English Channel like the back of their hand. These rough and ready men, now uncomfortably uniformed, were trying to organize hapless officer recruits from public schools and the professions, who had no sea going experience. Other than his sea going duties, Ted, because of his background, became involved in liaison duties, looking after the welfare of new recruits and organizing sporting events and theatrical entertainments. He was on repatriation vessels for a time, and on one of them, the Stratheden, he met up with Billy Williams Penbont.
Captain William Richards’ great-grandson Thomas Davies b.1937, descended from his suffragette daughter Mary Elizabeth Davies, decided to go to sea when he was about five years old. He got up in the attic at Maelwgyn Pengarn for the first time alone and found rolled-up in a basket, a watercolour of the Lady Mostyn, his great grandfathers last command. Tom joined his first ship the tanker British Diligence in Swansea. He served on a dozen ships and travelled as he says “most of the seas; some benign, some ferocious“. Tankers laden were the least affected by bad weather, but in ballast were much higher out of the water making it difficult. On one trip to Australia, fully loaded, Tom’s ship was caught in a typhoon, but all he can remember was being excited, but quite a few on board donned lifejackets. Tom served on five other tankers; British Councillor, British Diplomat, British Ranger, British Harmony and British Skill.
Tom then joined the Royal Mail Line, as he was attracted to the idea of voyaging to South America. At this point his father presented him with his grandfather’s sextant, it was an old Vernier type and very different from new sextants at the time. Tom took it with him and used it despite the funny looks the first time he took a noon sight…..it was a just as accurate as anyone else’s. Tom’s first ship with Royal Mail was the Highland Monarch, a cargo passenger ship on the Brazil River Plate run carrying outward passengers in three classes. It had the mail contract for the South America run and delivered and collected mail from all the ports it stopped at; La Coruna, Vigo, Lisbon, Las Palmas (Canaries) Recife, Bahia, Rio De Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Tom was mail officer and hardly got ashore as the ship would arrive early in the morning and sail late in the afternoon.
Tom made four trips on the Highland Monarch and then joined the Parima, and later the Alcantara. Unfortunately it was on this ship that he contracted polio as it was approaching Brazil. He was hospitalised ashore at Rio De Janeiro for several months. When he got home, Tom had to convalesce at the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital in Greenwich for a couple of weeks, on half pay. For a time, post hospitalisation, he became a ship keeper. When a ship arrived home and the officers were due leave, ship-keepers would “keep ship”; keeping the log, overseeing cargo and so forth. Most ship-keepers were retired officers. Tom soon declared himself fit and went back to sea, first on the Albany, then the Durango, part refrigerated and part dry cargo. Tom did five trips on the Durango, and on the last trip met his wife to be, who was amongst the passengers. After getting married, Tom resigned and went to work with the Lotus Car Company. His polio had something to do with him leaving the sea but it was mainly meeting his wife and getting married. Tom has done many things including sailing the Atlantic and serving on the Winston Churchill as a watch Officer. He lived for over a decade at Ardwyn House.