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Topics - Mutant Dock Rat

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I used to go there and remember . . . / Pie Eating Contests
« on: December 03, 2017, 05:24:17 pm »
A message sent in February 2017 from a fellow Penarth Dock apprentice:

Hi David,

Do you remember the pie eating competition on Fridays in the Cogan Inn! Harry Winterbottom was the landlord and he collected all the pies left from the week and the record for the most pies eaten was Billy Mure.
There aught to be some kind of apprentice reunion held at the Cogan Inn I think that it would be a fabulous idea to try and arrange it but wouldn't now where to start.

I think that I missed a lot during my apprenticeship having being moved to Hodges in Barry Docks.

Every time I stand on the Waterfront in Barry I think back to the days working on the Dock and all the good times we had there.
Definitely a good time to remember. The area is now full of Flats!  Did we ever think that would be So!

Tony Evans

Along the stormy Cornish Coast,
A Cardiff Pilot ran
To a little harbour near Trevose
To shelter from the storm.
All seemed quiet and peace within
That ancient harbour wall,
Until they laid themselves to rest,
When the Pilot heard a call.

See read the full the story (a poem) at

Website Update Log / See website for updates - July 2015 onwards
« on: July 21, 2015, 08:28:21 pm »
I added a section for update notifications on the website from July 2015 onwards. See the link in the menu column at the left hand side of the page.   :)

Website Update Log / 2015 - June - Website Updates
« on: June 17, 2015, 12:35:07 pm »
01/06/2015 - Adding to 'moments in time' -
07/06/2015 - Misc. updates using GWR plans to verify existing data
07/06/2015 - 'To dredge the River Ely - 1860's' -
24/06/2015 - Sentinel of the Sands -

Website Update Log / 2015 - May - Website Updates
« on: May 04, 2015, 07:18:11 pm »
29/05/2015 - Taff Vale Railway Act, 1908 -
27/05/2015 - 1300 pages on website and still more to go!
27/05/2015 - Colour image of docks added -

27/05/2015 - Gridiron & slipways -
24/05/2015 - Cooper family shipwrights -
19/05/2015 - 1913 image of dock added -

18/05/2015 - The White Funnel Fleet in Wartime -

17/05/2015 - Cardiff Waterways Map Project -
09/05/2015 - Boyhood days -
09/05/2015 - 1275 pages on website.
07/05/2015 - Where did the lightships go? -
06/05/2015 - Hodges Engineering, Barry -
04/05/2015 - Taff Wagon Co. lease with GWR -
04/05/2015 - Continuation of RN Reserve Fleet at Penarth Dock -

Anyone associated with Penarth and /or the dock etc. / Mr Rees Rees
« on: April 20, 2015, 10:35:23 am »
I have been contacted by a lecturer at the School of Welsh at Cardiff University asking about a gentleman who apparently worked at the Penarth Pontoon and Slipway Company around WWI. He asks:-

'I've recently been looking into the life of Rees Rees (1870–1948), a Welsh-language poet who lived in Grangetown in the early 20c and published several volumes of poetry . One of the most intersting, Rhosynnau Maes y Gad (Battlefield Roses) was published exactly a century ago and is probably the first volume of poetry in Welsh about the First World War.

Rees was employed by the Penarth Pontoon and Ship Repair Co. - I have references to him as a casheer and as commercial manager. He was a Fellow of the Corporation of Registered Accountants.'

Does anyone have a family connection to him or can add to the research please?

Please email or post a reply here - Thank you - Ratty

Website Update Log / 2015 - April - website Updates
« on: April 07, 2015, 07:17:23 pm »
28/04/2015 - Sea Breezes Article 1983 - 'Penarth Dock of 35 years ago' -
15/04/2015 - Started chapter - some views of Penarth etc -
14/04/2015 - Completed chapter - Trinity House lightvessels -
10/04/2015 - Completed chapter - End of the Line TVR - 1921 -
07/04/2015 - Completed chapter - Pamir and Passat -
05/04/2015 - Added Highlights list to search -
03/04/2015 - Ordered more info and records from National Archives

Website Update Log / 2015 - March - Website Updates
« on: March 02, 2015, 07:38:08 pm »
01/03/2015 - TVR 1921 Accounts - *
01/03/2015 - RN Reserve Fleet -  *
18/3/2015 - Lightvessel history -  *
21/3/2015 - Pamir and Passat tall-ships -
* = under construction

Website Update Log / 2015 - February - Website Updates
« on: February 04, 2015, 01:29:47 pm »
04/02/2015 - poem by Geoff -
05/02/2015 - New boilers for pumping - *
06/02/2015 - Analysis of Subway -
17/02/2015 - Colour photo late 1950's -
19/02/2015 - Ferry at Penarth beach -
19/02/2015 - panoramic view of dock 1960's -
22/02/2015 - Ray Buck -
25/02/2015 - Capt. Pengelly dockmaster -
27/02/2015 - Capt. Llanglois deputy dockmaster -
28/02/2015 - Links page -
* - under construction

British Library Website Archive / Website Archived by British Library
« on: January 27, 2015, 08:40:44 am »
Penarth Dock Website has been nominated to be archived by the British Library - UK Web Archive - the first copy was taken on the 16th January 2015 - they say that:
Thousands of UK websites have been collected since 2004 and the Archive is growing fast.

Here you can see how sites have changed over time, locate information no longer available on the live Web and observe the unfolding history of a spectrum of UK activities represented online. Sites that no longer exist elsewhere are found here and those yet to be archived can be saved for the future by nominating them.

The Archive contains sites that reflect the rich diversity of lives and interests throughout the UK. Search is by Title of Website, Full Text or URL, or browse by Subject, Special Collection or Alphabetical List.

Excellent!  So just search for Penarth Dock please.

Website Update Log / 2015 - January - Website updates
« on: January 17, 2015, 05:39:01 pm »
A Very Happy and Prosperous (150th Anniversary) New Year to all!
05/01/2015 - completed newspaper reports 1870's -
07/01/2015 - info crane makers Cowans -
10/01/2015 - new section on trades commenced -
15/01/2015 - 1896 description commenced -
16/01/2015 - Website archived by British Library (1056 pages) -
20/01/2015 - image of ss William Cory added -
21/01/2015 - Taff Wagon Works pics added -
22/01/2015 - 4 mast barque - Oceana -
24/01/2015 - Hydraulic Accumulators - 1913 -

The Ely River Subway / A contribution from the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
« on: December 07, 2014, 05:44:35 pm »
Jane Hall, the Commodore of the Cardiff Bay Yacht Club, kindly forwarded an article which was published some time ago in the CBYC club magazine, Bear Essentials, and was written by the learned historian Alan Thorne.

Most of the historical facts are already included upon the website in the section at but the article includes some new items - see

She did, however, spill the beans about the antics of her ex husband, "he told me years ago that he used to ride through the subway with his “gang” on their bikes and smash the lights in the ceiling, which may explain why it was always dark!" 

Thanks to Jane, for her contribution - thanks to her ex for giving me wet feet on one occasion!

On another note, Martin, my son, has been looking at the finite element analysis which was partially completed on the subway structure some time ago by a young gentleman who is now into his last year at Bristol University studying Aeronautical Engineering at Masters Degree Level. We gave him a headache during his work experience with us in July/August this year! At or company, Rota Design, we work in polymers for our designs and then undertake long term structural verification of the design so when given a material such as cast iron, as the subway was made from,  it is normally a relatively predictable and reliable outcome. We'll have to wait for the stress and deformation under load plots to see how well the structure is designed. Also there is the complication of a cyclical loading i.e. the hydrostatic load from the tide (prior to the barrage) cyclical and variable and that load case over a period of 100 years or so may provide a failure mode related to fatigue at some future date.

Regards  . . . . Ratty

Help with Research / Help with Research
« on: December 04, 2014, 08:53:17 pm »
Hi all,

As I'm am unable through ill health to spend time at Penarth at present, could it be that anyone has the time and interest to visit the Glamorgan Archives in Cardiff and perhaps the Cardiff and Penarth Libraries to undertake research on my behave and in the interests of this project.

I would welcome assistance and I would happily guide, prioritise and assist with the work as much as I am able from my home here in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Julie and I have lived for the past 30 years or so 1,000 feet up on a hill with a wind farm on the hillside close by the (now closed) Withins Hotel which used to be the highest pub in Yorkshire until they messed up the boundaries and made the Yorkshire Ridings redundant - come the revolution! We are a few miles from Bronte country at Haworth and this is the home of one of the TVR engines rescued from Barry which used to work at Penarth. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is famous for its part in the Railway Children film.

I could also do with a few days at the National Archive in Kew and other pertinent records are held at a number of other archives. If you feel you would like to contribute and have a few hours to spare please contact me by email at   or post a message on this forum. Please don't publish personal details - we have a unhelpful personage somewhere out there who feels it fun to post spam on the boards. Many thanks and regards  . . . Ratty . . . AKA  . . . David


The work would entail requesting the records and photographing the documents would be the best. There is usually a small fee for photography which I would be very happy to refund.

Website Update Log / 2014 - December - Website Updates
« on: December 04, 2014, 08:33:22 pm »
22/12/2014 - newspaper reports 1870's* -
20/12/2014 - milestone! - 1,000 pages on website.
20/12/2014 - info Vernon-Harcourt -
19/12/2014 - 1953 Penarth Pontoon Co. pay cheque -
14/12/2014 - East Ferry Road Engineering Works info -
11/12/2014 - The demise of Tannett-Walker Co. -
10/12/2014 - Glossary added -
08/12/2014 - Subway article by Alan Thorne -
04/12/2014 - 1936 dock closure - page added -
* Under Construction

Website Update Log / 2014 - November - Website Updates
« on: November 04, 2014, 09:51:43 pm »
18/11/2014 - 1900's newspaper reports -
14/11/2014 - Westfield falling on Cranford - 1902  -
11/11/2014 - Pontoon - A Million Tons Dry-Docked -
09/11/2004 - Reconstruction of Three Tips - 1912 - - under construction
06/11/2014 - Quay Wall  - 1909 -
05/11/2014 - Ely Harbour 1860's image -
04/11/2014 - Penarth Heating Engineers -
01/11/2014 - Adding newspaper articles throughout but especially 1880's and 1890's - see Chapter One

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