Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

Home

The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea’s current exhibition “Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” features a fantastic selection of all types of postcards from the industry & transport, and social & cultural history collections. One case tells the amazing, but tragic, story of Captain Anthony Starkey of the S.S. Torrington.  

Captain Anthony Starkey was master of the S.S. Torrington. The ship was built in 1905 by William Doxford & Sons of Sunderland and was owned by the Tatem Steam Navigation Company of Cardiff.

Ship model of the S.S. Torrington.

On the 8 April 1917 the ship was sailing from Italy to Cardiff to load coal for the Italian railways. Shortly after 11.30am she was torpedoed by a German submarine, 150 miles off the Isles of Scilly. The torpedo hit forward of the bridge. A submarine then surfaced and opened fire on the ship. Capt. Starkey ordered his men into the lifeboats, but the submarine came alongside. Capt. Starkey was ordered below deck of the U-boat, which he did thinking he could save his men. Some of the crew went on the deck of the U-boat, whilst others remained in a lifeboat. The captain of the U-boat then ordered the vessel to dive remarking that “the others could swim”. Through the submerging of the U-boat about 20 member of the Torrington’s crew were washed off and killed. The remaining crew in the lifeboat were never heard of again. In total thirty four members of the crew were killed and Capt. Starkey was the only survivor.

S.S. Torrington with inset portrait of Capt. Starkey.

Capt. Starkey was held prisoner aboard the submarine for fifteen days. He was then held in four different prisoner of war camps in Germany, including Brandenburg, Holminden, and Strohenmoor. Prisoners were poorly treated in these camps, and Capt. Starkey commented that “We would have starved if it had not been for the food we received from home. We were there for two months and a half on German rations and looked like shadows when the time was up. Then food began to arrive from home and we certainly enjoyed that. The food in the camps was always potato soup, not always good potatoes, cabbage soup and some bread.”

Photograph from the scrap album showing meal time at one of the POW camps. Probably serving the potato or cabbage soup Capt. Starkey mentions.

During his time in the various prisoner of war camps Capt. Starkey put together a ‘scrap album’. This album contains over 55 postcards and photographs, along with German bank notes, and documents such as ration cards, camp theatre tickets, letters and telegrammes.  Some of these photographs show everyday life in the camps, such as meal times and entertainment. This album in on display in the current exhibition, along with other photographs, and two newspaper cuttings pasted onto the back board of another scrap book. These describe the whole story in detail.

Photograph sent home to Mrs Starkey of Cardiff. Capt. Starkey is standing at left, and is at the POW camp of Brandenburg, near Berlin.

Page from scrap album showing German bank notes, and a photograph of some of the entertainment.

Page from the scrap album showing stamps and some theatre tickets for entertainment in the POW camps.

Newspaper cuttings describing the events of 8th April 1917.

“Forget me not: Postcards from the First World War” runs until the 19th June 2016 at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

To discover more about the First World War collections at Amgueddfa Cymru view this online catalogue.

 

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

 

One hundred and forty 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 4,907 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 2016

Each will receive a class trip of fun-packed nature activities.

Ysgol Pentrefoelas - Wales

Biggar Primary - Scotland

Carnforth Primary - England

Runner's up:

Ysgol Nant y Coed - Wales

Severn Primary - Wales

Abbey Primary School - Scotland

St. John the Baptist Primary School – Scotland

St. Nicholas' Primary School - England

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School - England

Highly commended schools:

Alexander Peden Primary School

Allensbank Primary School

Arkholme C of E Primary School

Asmall Primary School

Bacup Thorn Primary School

Barsail Primary School

Bent Primary School

Betws Primary

Bickerstaffe CE Primary School

Blackwood Primary School

Braidwood Primary School

Breckon Hill Primary School

Broad Haven Primary School

Burnside Primary School

Calderwood Primary School

Castlepark Primary School

Chapelton Primary School

Coedpenmaen Primary School

Coppull Parish CE Primary School

Darran Park primary

Drumpark Primary ASN School

Dykesmains Primary School

East Fulton Primary School

Glebe Primary School

Glengowan Primary School

Grange Primary School

Hay on Wye Primary School

Henllys Church in Wales Primary School

High Mill Primary School

Hudson Road Primary School

John Cross CE Primary School

Kelly Street Children's Centre

Lanark Primary School

Law Primary School

Llangors Primary School

Llanharan Primary School

Loch Primary School

Lynnfield Primary School

Maesycoed Primary School

Mellor Saint Mary CE Primary School

Milton of Balgonie Primary School

Murray Primary School

Nantymoel Primary

Netherburn Primary School

Newmains Primary School

Newport Primary School

Our Lady of Peace Primary School

Pirnmill Primary School

Rougemont Junior School

Silverdale St. John's CE Primary School

St. Charles Primary School

St. Cuthberts RC Primary School

St. Joseph's Primary School

St. Paul's CIW Primary School

St. Peter's Catholic Primary School

St. Robert's Catholic Primary

Staining C of E Voluntary Controlled Primary School

Stanford-in-the-Vale Primary School

Stonehouse Primary School

Trellech Primary

Underbank Primary School

Ward Jackson Church of England Primary School

Wormit Primary School

Ysbyty Ifan

Ysgol Bro Tawe

Ysgol Deganwy

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llantrisant

Ysgol Gynradd Llandwrog

Ysgol Rhys Prichard

Ysgol San Sior

Schools with special recognition:

Arkleston Primary School

Beckford Primary School

Brisbane Primary School

Carnbroe Primary School

Castlepark Learning Centre

Dasfen Primary School

Glencairn Primary School

Hakin Community Primary School

Kirkfieldbank Primary School

Lamlash Primary School

Mossend Primary School

Orchard Meadow Primary School

Penygawsi Primary School

Shakespeare Primary School

St Athan Primary School

St David's RC Primary School

St Michael's RC Primary

St. Aidan's Primary School

St. Bernadette's Primary School

St. Columbkille's Primary School

St. Michael's CE Aided Primary School

St. Oswalds V A School

Wellpark Children's Centre

Willow Lane Catholic Primary School

Woodlands Nursery Centre

Ysgol Esgob Morgan

Ysgol Hiraddug

Schools to be awarded certificates:

Colinsburgh Primary School

Bryn Celyn Primary

Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor

Condorrat Primary School

Corsehill Primary School & Nursery Class

Craigbank Primary School

Holytown Primary School

Howwood Primary School

Inchinnan Primary School

Ladywell Primary School

NPTC Group Newtown Campus

Our Lady & St. Francis Primary School

Pontrhondda Primary School

Rashielea Primary School

Rhos Helyg

Rigside Nursery

Rogerstone Primary School

Saint Anthony's Primary School

St. Aidan's Primary School

St. Bridget's Primary School

St. Brigid's Primary School

St. Mark's Primary School

St. Mary's Primary School

St. Paul's Primary School

St.Brigid's

SWISS VALLEY C.P. SCHOOL

Tongwynlais Primary School

Whitelees Primary School

Ysgol Coed y Gof

Ysgol Ffridd y Llyn

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn

Ysgol Mair

Ysgol Pencae

Thank you for all your hard work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

The Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology exhibition not only highlights the objects recovered from excavations but the process and adventure that many archaeologists went on while making these discoveries.  These archaeological adventures also coincide with the Visit Wales Year of Adventure.  In looking at the wider world of adventure, there are few things more adventurous than climbing Mount Everest.  And while it might seem that Mount Everest is a world away from Wales, the connections between the two reach lofty heights.

The first of those connections begins with the name.  Mount Everest was named after George Everest.  Born in Crickhowell, Powys in 1790 he trained as an engineer and spent most of his career working in India on a detailed survey of the entire subcontinent.  He served as Surveyor General of India and it was his successor, in 1857, who suggested the mountain be named after him.  Everest disagreed with this honour, he believed when naming geographical sites it was best to use local names.  However, since there were several local names for the mountain, the name Everest remained.  

George Everest (19th century photo)

    

There is another name connection between Mount Everest and Wales.  After the Great Trigonometrical Survey gave an official height to the mountain for the first time in 1856, it became something to conquer.  In 1921, Britain organised their first reconnaissance team whose job it was to map the various features and possible routes for future climbers.  George Mallory was a member of this team and while surveying, he came across a glacial valley and named it the Western Cwm.  For anyone who knows their Welsh, cwm means valley.  It is said that Mallory visited Snowdonia many times to climb and the name may reflect that.    

Mount Everest

     

Training is key to any expedition, especially something is extreme as climbing Mount Everest.  The 1953 British Mount Everest Expedition began their training in 1952 and chose Snowdonia as their base.  While it might pale in comparison in height, Snowdon offered the climbers many opportunities to train on treacherous rock face and unstable scree.  Their headquarters was based at the Pen-y-Gwryd Inn, between Llanberis and Capel Curig.  You can still stay there and the walls are lined with mementos from the team’s time in residence.   

There were also two Welsh members of the 1953 Expedition.  In fact, it was almost a Welshman who reached the summit first.  Charles Evans was a teacher from North Wales and was the deputy expedition leader.  Evans and Tom Bourdillon were the first team to make an attempt on the summit on 26 of May.  They were a mere 100 meters from making history when they decided to turn back to camp because they were running low on oxygen.  While it is possible to climb Mount Everest without oxygen it undoubtably makes it more difficult and dangerous.  The 1953 Expedition knew the value of using oxygen properly and part of that was thanks to Griffith Pugh.  As a qualified doctor, Pugh was able to combine his medical knowledge and interest in Alpine sports by studying the effects of altitude on the body.  He was the physiologist of the expedition and his main duty was ensuring there was enough oxygen and that the other members acclimated to the altitude safely.  

2004 photo mosaic the Himalayas with Makalu and Mount Everest from the International Space Station, Expedition 8.

On the 23rd of May 1995, Caradog Jones, from Tregaron, Ceredigion, became the first Welshman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.  Twelve years and one day later, Tori James, from Pembrokeshire, became the first Welsh woman to accomplish the feat. 

Don't worry no violence was involved.  It was the turn of Llainfadyn this week, our quarrymen’s cottage from Gwynedd, to receive a clean and make over from our Historic Interior and Conservation Volunteer team.  It was a big task so thanks to everyone involved. This included stripping the beds and giving everything including the feather mattresses a good airing and beating to remove a winters worth of dust and dirt.  As long as the textiles are strong enough this is still a very effective method of removing grime without the aid of modern appliances.

We also held a competition between a modern broom and a traditional one made from hazel twigs (that all important witches’ accessory at Halloween).  To help protect the collections on display it's important we try and reduce the amount of dust and dirt being brought into the houses by our thousands of visitors each year.  Our first line of defence to achieve this is the cobbles outside, these help dislodge the grit and dirt from peoples' shoes before they even enter the building, but for these to work the cobbles need to be clean and not clogged up with dirt. So one of our first important tasks was to clean the stones outside.

So which broom won?  The traditional of course, with its long twiggy brush it was the best at dislodging the dirt from between the cobbles.   This job would certainly have been an everyday task for most households in the past.

Our second line of defence to keep the dust down is the rag rug, often found in cottages of this period.  These were made from scraps of material or worn out clothes and blankets, so as well as providing much needed comfort and colour they were great at trapping dirt.  They could then be picked up, taken outside and beaten with a carpet beater to remove the grime.  We are currently making one for Llainfadyn, unfortunately the odd hail storm meant that Jane and Emma had to find seats by the open fire to carry on their work. 

As usual in this monthly blog post I’d like to share with you some of the objects that have been recently added to the industry and transport collections.

The first object this month is this rugby shirt with a ‘Tower Colliery’ badge. It was worn in the 1992 British Coal Cup Final. The donor was working in Taff Merthyr Colliery at the time, and took part in the 1992 Final in which Tower Colliery won. At the end of the match he swapped his Taff Merthyr Colliery RFC shirt for this Tower Colliery one.

Tower Colliery rugby shirt.

Also, this month the museum was donated two paintings of Pontardawe Steel, Tinplate & Sheet Works. These were painted in 1955 by local amateur artist David Humphreys (born 1882), who had been employed in the works.

“Bar Mill” depicts the roughing stand of the steelworks bar mill, whilst “Hot Mill’s” depicts part of the sheet mills. In both paintings the artist has carefully recorded the working positions of the rollermen and the tools and features of the mill environments, such as the racked bar-turning tongs and cabin on the left of “Bar Mill”, and the tea cans (‘sten’) and jackets in the right foreground of “Hot Mill's”. Such attention to detail to the plant and environment is a distinctive hallmark of an industry ‘insider’ recording scenes he was intimately familiar with.

"Bar Mill"

   

"Hot Mill's"

This electric cap lamp was manufactured by Oldham & Son Ltd. in about 1995. It is a standard coal-mining specification cap lamp, but is distinguished by being specifically inscribed “H.M.I” (Her Majesty’s Inspector (of Mines)) on the metal battery lid. It was owned and used by one of the South Wales Inspectors of Mines between 1996 and c.2004 during the course of his work.

Oldham electric cap lamp.

Amgueddfa Cymru holds by far the largest and wide-ranging Welsh-interest share certificate collection held by any public museum. The collection ranges across railway and maritime transport, coal mining, the mining and smelting of metals, general industry, and service industries (finance, leisure, consumer products, etc.).

The museum is actively collecting in this field, and this month we have added two further examples to the collections.

The first is for the The Gwendraeith [sic] Valleys Lime Coal & Railway Co Ltd. This company was formed in February 1868 to develop the limestone and coal deposits in the lower Gwendraeth Valley. The company wanted to develop limestone quarrying and lime burning, and to acquire the existing railway which it intended to extend into the coalfield on the south side of the valley. However only 185 shares were subscribed to and with insufficient capital the company was wound up in December 1869, having achieved nothing on the ground. This certificate is a good example of a number of companies that tried unsuccessfully to develop the anthracite area of the south Wales coalfield.

The second certificate is for the Llynvi & Ogmore Railway Company. This company was formed in 1866 to amalgamate the broad gauge Llynvi Railway Company of 1846 and the standard gauge Ogmore Valley Railway of 1863. Both companies’ railways were focussed on Porthcawl Harbour and both were dominated by the Brogden family, Lancashire industrialists who developed the Maesteg iron and coal industry and who expanded dock facilities at Porthcawl. The company was managed by the Great Western Railway from 1873, and eventually absorbed by the G.W.R. in 1883.

This object is a cast iron artillery round made in Blaenavon steelworks in the mid 19th century. Surplus ones were re-forged for bridle chains on colliery headgears. The chains can be seen in the last photograph of the three below showing blacksmiths at Big Pit in about 1950.

Artillery round made in Blaenavon steelworks.

 

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