'CARDIFF TRAMPS, CARDI CREWS': Cardiganshire Shipowners and Seamen in Cardiff, c. 1870-1950* During the latter half of the nineteenth century, Cardiff was transformed from a modest borough town on the banks of the river Taff to one of the foremost coal-exporting ports in the world. At its commercial peak in 1913, some 10 Y2 million tons of coal were exported from the port to destinations all over the globe. The provision of ships to handle these vast quantities of coal attracted seamen and shipowners from all over the British Isles and further afield to Cardiff: many of them were Welshmen, and a significant proportion of them came from Cardiganshire. From the 1870s until the 1950s, the 'Cardis' made a significant contribution to Cardiff's seafaring traditions, with some tramp steamers sailing from the port at the turn of the century manned to a considerable degree by men who lived within a few miles of each other in villages such as New Quay or Llangrannog. It is, moreover, a remarkable fact that no fewer than four shipping companies established in Cardiff between 1881 and 1903 were founded by master mariners from the village of Aber-porth; few other villages in Wales could boast such a concentration of entrepre- neurialism at that time. It is the aim of this paper to examine this fascinat- ing episode in the maritime history of Wales, but it is first necessary to examine briefly the background of the story, both of Cardiff and along the coastline of Ceredigion. As a port of national and international significance, Cardiff cannot boast the same long-established commercial heritage of ports such as London, Liverpool or Bristol. Until the late eighteenth century, its dock facilities consisted of little more than a quay on the river Taff in the vicinity of the present-day National Stadium, a quay that dealt almost exclusively with the export of agricultural produce from the Vale of Glamorgan to Bristol. It was the development of the iron industry along the Heads of the Valleys and the construction of the Glamorganshire Canal from Merthyr Tudful to Cardiff in the 1790s that provided the initial stimulus for the improvement of dock facilities at Cardiff. In 1798 Whilst this paper was being prepared for publication, the author was saddened to hear of the death of Captain Daniel Owen Jenkins of Swansea on 24 July 1987. A native of Tresaith, Captain Jenkins spent many years serving aboard Cardiff tramp steamers, including those of Evan Thomas, Radcliffe & Co. His death has left a large gap amongst the ranks of those few surviving mariners who can recall the hey-day of Cardiganshire men serving aboard Cardiff tramps, and this paper is respectfully dedicated to his memory.
This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.
The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for all purposes while respecting the moral rights of the creators.