Poet Laureate from 1930 until his death in 1967, John Masefield attributed his love of books and poetry to his time in New Ferry as a young man. At the age of 13, he was sent to a naval training ship moored off New Ferry Pier. The future poet spent several years aboard HMS Conway, listening to tales about the sea and so felt compelled to become a writer and storyteller himself, with his poems about the sea being well known. Sea Fever famously opens with the lines ‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky; And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by’.
A photograph and text about The John Masefield.
The text reads: Born in 1878, John Masefield was Poet Laureate from 1930 until his death in 1967, and attributed his love of books and poetry to the time he spent in New Ferry as a young man. At the age of 13, Masefield was sent to a naval training ship moored off New Ferry Pier. The future poet spent several years aboard HMS Conway, where he listened to tales about the sea and felt compelled to become a writer and story teller himself. Masefield’s poems about the sea are well known. Sea Fever famously opens with the lines…
I must down to the seas again,
To the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I asked is a tall ship,
And a start to steer hey by.
Prints and text about HMS Conway.
The text reads: In the 1850s new laws in merchant shipping increased the need for educated seamen. In 1857 a school ship – the HMS Conway – was established on the Mersey, off New ferry. Many different ships have been used as the Conway, but the longest serving was the 1839 built HMS Nile.
HMS Conway was relocated to the Menai Straits in 1941 to keep her clear of the air raids on Liverpool. 8 years later an onshore site was found at Plas Newydd to accommodate extra cadets. On 14 April 1949 the Conway was moved to Plas Newydd 4 years later in 1953, whilst being moved for a refit at Birkenhead, HMS Conway ran aground and was wrecked. In 1958 the boat caught fire was burnt down to water level. Its remains can still be seen off Caernarfon at low tide. The school finally closed in 1974 when funding was withdrawn. Whilst the Conway’s most famous cadet remains John Masefield, during its final time in Plas Newydd both Ian Duncan Smith and sir Clive Woodward were students.
External photograph of the building – main entrance.
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