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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Porth Eirias Watersports Centre provides venue for 6th annual MOROL conference

The Royal Commission stand in the foyer of Porth Eirias Watersports Centre, where visitors had opportunities to pick up information leaflets and booklets such as Cadw’s ‘Caring for Coastal Heritage’.

On Saturday 1 November, the Royal Commission and Welsh Archaeological Trusts joined Welsh maritime history enthusiasts for the annual MOROL (Institute of Welsh Maritime Historical Studies) conference.  The foyer of the centre provided exhibition space for local organisations, such as the proposed new Ship’s Timbers Maritime Museum for Llandudno; the publisher of many books on Welsh maritime themes, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch; along with the Royal Commission’s own stand.

Speakers for the morning session included Dr Gary Robinson from Bangor University, describing the earliest boats that may have been used along the north Wales coast; John Coppack presenting fascinating aspects of Connah’s Quay’s maritime history (including his own family’s distinguished ship owning past); Judith Samuel providing new insights into the history of Foryd Harbour’s famous shipwreck, the CITY OF OTTAWA; and Ifor Williams introducing the Welsh Placename Society’s Coastal Placenames Project,  which is beginning to explore the origin of names such as ‘Coffee Bay’ on the Menai Straits.

Exposed by the winter storms of 2013-14 - the wreck of the Wexford registered schooner ROVER, lost 8 December 1886, being recorded by Nautical Archaeology Society Volunteers Rhys Pockett and Matt Cass (image courtesy of  Malvern Archaeological Diving Unit).

In the afternoon, I joined Paul Huckfield, (GGAT), James Meeks, (DAT) and Andrew Davidson, (GAT) at the table to provide a short overview of the shipwrecks and other archaeological sites, which had been exposed by coastal erosion last winter. These include the walkway discovered at Borth and shipwreck sites recorded by Nautical Archaeology Society volunteers. 

The round table sharing of ongoing maritime projects provided also an opportunity to touch on the learning resource created for the Great Storm of 1859 (Royal Charter Gale), by a partnership project between the Royal Commission and Cadw.

It was a really interesting day. There is a great deal of maritime research going on all around the coast.  Dr Gary Robinson reminded me of the many aspects of human history that have come together to form the seascapes we know and love today…. The CITY OF OTTAWA is the subject of a new book by Judith Samuels and there were parts of the ship’s history that I heard for the first time…. I particularly loved hearing about Connah’s Quay’s maritime history from a descendant of one of the River Dee’s great ship-owning families, J. Coppack & Son…. also hearing about the development at local maritime museums such as the reopening of the Llyn Maritime Museum, Nefyn….

The exhibitions are continuing at the Watersports Centre until the new year, so many more people will be able to discover aspects of their local maritime past.

Follow this link to the ‘Great Storm of 1859’ collection on the People’s Collection Wales www site:


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