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A hundred years ago today, on 7 May 1915, the British ocean liner the Lusitania was struck by a German torpedo off the Irish coast, on her homeward voyage across the Atlantic from New York to Liverpool. She sank within twenty minutes. 1,198 of the 1,959 passengers aboard, including children and crew, perished. This was seen as a ‘German crime against humanity’, and a verdict of ‘wilful and wholesale murder’ was pronounced against Kaiser Wilhelm II and his government. In Germany, a medal was struck to commemorate the event, a copy of which we have in the collection.

Among those lost was a Welshman named Owen Ladd. He was born in 1882, the son of William and Phoebe Ladd, of Eglwyswrw in north Pembrokeshire. Owen had been educated at Llantood Board School and later became an apprentice watchmaker in Cardigan. He had also managed a shop in Pentre, Rhondda, for nine years.

In 1911, he left Wales to join his older brother, David, who was an accountant in Winnipeg, Canada. Owen quickly became a prominent figure within the Welsh community there, serving as secretary of the St David’s Society as well as being a leading member of the Nassau Street Baptist Church. He also occasionally acted as adjudicator at local eisteddfodau.

In 1915, Owen decided to return to Wales to visit his ageing parents and possibly enlist in the military. However, tragically, he lost his life on that fateful voyage aboard the Lusitania.

On 12 May 1915, The Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph reported on ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’ and mentioned Owen Ladd as missing. An eyewitness account of Owen’s final harrowing moments appeared in the north Pembrokeshire’s weekly –  The County Echo on 20 May 1915.

In 1977 the Museum acquired some diaries and papers from Owen’s relatives, including two letters written by Owen from Winnipeg, dated 8 March 1915 and 15 April 1915.

“The reason of my delay in replying to your enquiry was that I've been contemplating paying a visit to the old land when I would call & see you & settle all matters. Now I've definitly [sic] decided & shall be sailing by the Lusitania from New York May 1st. therefore I hope to call & see about the end of May. of course if we encounter any German torpedoes you'll have to claim on the German Emperor.”

(Extract from letter sent by Owen Ladd to Mr Francis, 15 April 1915)

The collection also includes a telegram, which was despatched by his brother David in Winnipeg on 8 May 1915 enquiring as to Owen’s safety; a non-committal reply was received from Cunard’s in Liverpool later the same day. And a letter received by another of Owen’s brothers, Hugh Ladd of Eglwyswrw, from ‘The Cunard Steam Ship Company Limited, Queenstown’ dated 14 May 1915.

The Owen Ladd collection is available to view online on the First World War Collections catalogue.

Our expedition has now drawn to a successful close. Our collections of several thousand specimens have (mostly) been successfully exported from Ecuador and initial analysis of them has started. Entomological expeditions to remote areas are great fun of course. However the less glamorous but harder work comes later, involving months or years of detailed study during which new species are described, evolutionary trees constructed, and ecological or biogeographic conclusions etc. are developed.

In the field there may be great excitement about finding a particular insect but to a scientist, the level of excitement can only grow as the real significance of the finding is revealed subsequently through painstaking study and reference to our already extensive collections. Already we have glimpses of results that might tell us more about how the insect fauna of the upper Amazon Basin came about. For example the unexpected presence of Cladodromia (a classic ‘Gondwanan’ genus) suggests there has been immigration from Patagonia whereas the high diversity of Neoplasta (which is essentially North American) hints at a south-bound migration along the Andes. On the other hand, an almost complete absence of Hemerodromia puzzles us as it is widespread in the lower Amazon so why didn’t we find it higher up? We suspect that the answer may be that it has only recently arrived in South America and is still spreading to Ecuador. Then again the unseasonal rains (due to a strong El Niño this year) may be a factor. Investigations continue.

In the field, our successes were often hard-won; difficult slogging through trying terrain, inclement weather, frustrating officialdom and many other factors sometimes worked against us it seemed, and intermittent access to the internet made writing these blogs challenging at times. We have been very fortunate in that our expedition was entirely and well-funded by the Brazilian Government as a part of their noble and ambitious efforts to understand the biodiversity of the Amazon. Our own exertions will plug one significant hole in knowledge and contribute to greater appreciation of Amazon biodiversity.

To read all of Adrian's entries, go to our Natural History Blog

One hundred schools across the UK are to be awarded Super Scientist Certificates on behalf of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in recognition for their contribution to the Spring Bulbs - Climate Change Investigation.

Huge Congratulations to all these schools!

A big ‘thank you’ to every one of the 5,539 pupils who helped this year! Thank you for working so hard planting, observing, measuring and recording - you really are Super Scientists! Each one of you will receive a certificate and Super Scientist pencil, these will be sent to your school by mid-May.

 Many thanks to the Edina Trust for funding this project.

 

Super Scientist Winners 2015

Well done to our three winners for their consistent weather data entries! Each will receive a class trip of fun-packed nature activities.

St. Brigid's School - Wales

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School - England

Winton Primary School - Scotland

 

Runner's up:

Betws Primary School

Carnforth North Road Primary School

Corsehill Primary School

St. Laurence Primary School

St. Michael's Primary School

St. Paul's Primary School

Wormit Primary School

 

Highly commended schools:

Balcurvie Primary School

Carnegie Nursery

Coleg Meirion Dwyfor

Coleg Powys

Eastfield Primary School

Fairlie Primary School

Freuchie Nursery

Gibshill Children's Centre

Greenburn School

Howwood Primary School

Keir Hardie Memorial Primary School

Kilmory Primary School

Maes-y-Coed Primary

SS Philip and James CE Primary School

St. Ignatius Primary School

St. Peter's CE Primary School

Wildmill Youth Club

Ysgol Bro Eirwg

 

Schools with special recognition:

Bancyfelin

Bickerstaffe CE Primary School

Binnie Street Children's Centre

Brodick Primary School

Carstairs Primary School

Coppull Parish Primary School

Dallas Road Primary School

Dyffryn Banw

Euxton Church of England Primary School

Garstang St. Thomas' CE Primary School

Guardbridge Primary School

Henllys CIW Primary

Kirkton Primary School

Llanharan Primary School

Morningside Primary School

Newport Primary School

Orchard Meadow Primary School

Pittenweem Primary School

Rhws Primary School

Rivington Foundation Primary School

Sacred Heart Primary and Nurseries

Skelmorlie Primary School

Stanford-in-the-Vale CE Primary School              

St Athan Primary

St Mellons Church in Wales Primary School

Trellech Primary School

Woodlands Primary School

Ynysddu Primary School

Ysgol Bryn Garth

Ysgol Deganwy

Ysgol Hiraddug

Ysgol Syr John Rhys

Ysgol Clocaenog

 

Schools to be awarded certificates:

Abbey Primary School

Albert Primary School

Arkholme CE Primary School

Baird Memorial Primary School

Balshaw Lane Community Primary School

Chapelgreen Primary School

Christ Church CP School

Chryston Primary School

Colinsburgh Primary School

Darran Park Primary

Fintry Primary School

Glencoats Primary School

Hafodwenog

Kilmacolm Primary School

Kings Oak Primary School

Llanishen Fach C.P School

Mossend Primary School

Our Lady of Peace Primary School

Preston Grange Primary School

Saint Anthony's Primary School

Silverdale St. John's CE School

St. Nicholas CE Primary School

St. Philip Evans RC Primary School

Swiss Valley CP School

Thorn Primary School

Tongwynlais Primary School

Torbain Nursery School

Townhill Primary School

Ysgol Bryn Coch

Ysgol Glan Conwy

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn

Ysgol Nant Y Coed

Ysgol Pencae

Ysgol Rhys Prichard

Ysgol Tal y Bont

Ysgol Treferthyr

Ysgol Y Plas

Glyncollen Primary School

Rougemont Junior School

 

 

Thank you for all your hard work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

Back to civilization again - the regional capital of Loja, a small town nestled under forested Andean slopes and home to the regional Ministry of Environment where we must go once again, to obtain permission to move the samples we have collected back to Quito.

Unlike our previous brush with officialdom in Tena (our samples from there still have not been released!... but we have some local support to ensure that they eventually will be), the officials in Loja were helpful, polite and efficient! We had allowed 2 days to process the permissions in Loja, but in the event, we received our permits within 30 minutes, leaving us the best part of 2 days to explore the town and sample the local culture and cuisine.

Meanwhile, here are some more photos from our time in the field.

To read more about Adrian's travels, go to our Natural History blog page

Again this month, a number of interesting objects have been added to the industry & transport collections. The photograph below was taken on 22nd July 1926, and shows a group of 29 slate quarrymen. The location is unknown, but it was probably taken at either Dinorwig or Penrhyn slate quarry. If you are able to help identify where the photograph was taken, or recognise any of the men we would love to hear from you.

These three ceramic pieces were designed and made by the artist George Thompson, a potter resident in Amlwch, Angelsey. They are inspired by the Parys Mountain copper mines.

Ceramic plaque with red ocre slip and copper glaze.

Ceramic pot with stand made from pink crank clay with graphite and copper glaze.

 

Ceramic dish with graphite, red ochre and orange ochre slip.


The photograph below shows the remains of a Cornish beam-engine house and chimney stack at Parys copper mine, Anglesey, 1964.

 

This is a diorama of Parys mountain copper mine from the museum’s collections. It was made about 1967 for display in the industry galleries at Cathays Park.

 

This medal commemorates the cutting of the first sod of the King’s Dock, Swansea. On the 20th July 1904 the Royal Yacht Victoria & Albert arrived in Swansea Bay. The yacht arrived at the Prince of Wales Dock where King Edward VII and Queen Alexandre disembarked. The dock was named ‘Kings Dock’ in his honour. After the ceremony the King and Queen rode through the streets of Swansea in an open top carriage. The Dock was official opened on the 20th November 1909. It covers 72 acres (29 ha), and is still in use today, being the main dock of the Port of Swansea.

 

Photograph showing congested shipping (both sail and steam) at King's Dock about 1910. Not long after the dock was opened. 

 

The view below shows the King’s Dock. It was taken by the photographer John Eurof Martin and dates to the mid-20th century.

Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW