Jack Chapman's postcard collection


Jack Chapman was a local boy who went to sea at an early age on the Amlwch ship called the Ardri.

His own story is told below.

In later years Jack collected posts card of ships from around the world. He eventually left these postcards to the Amlwch Industrial Heritage Trust. With the hope that many could share and enjoy his collection.

The postcards in the collection can be seen here


The Ardri
Jack Chapman

As a lad I always wanted to go to sea.  I remember while I was still at school that my father did his best to stop me going. In one last attempt to convince me that the sea was not a good choice he arranged for me to take a trip on the Ardri during my school summer holidays in 1929.
He had spoken to the Captain, a family friend called Hughes. Between them it was arranged that myself and Captain Hughes’s son would be taken on board as deck hands and work our passage during the school holiday. The idea I think was to show us how hard the work was and to put us off.
So early one morning myself aged 15 and Owain Hughes were put on the Ardri as it left Amlwch port. No sooner had we got on board ship than we were given the task of scrubbing the decks, a job which never seemed to end.
The Ardri was on her way from Antwerp with phosphate and our first stop was at West Bank in Runcorn to discharge.  Here we were joined by Mrs Hughes who accompanied us on the Journey to North Wall Dublin in ballast.  Mr Hughes caught the ferry boat back to Holyhead while we carried scrap iron from Dublin to Newcastle.
It was on this part of the journey that the stoker Ifan of Pwllhelli was taken “sick” and confined to bed.  Owain and myself were shown the stoke hole and big shovel and spent the next few days shovelling coal and keeping the boilers going.  We were both convinced at the time that Ifan going sick was a ruse to show us how hard life at sea could be.
At Newcastle I can remember seeing the scrap metal being discharged using a large electromagnet, the first I had even seen.  Once the work was done the crew were allowed to go to St James Park to watch Newcastle playing football against Blackburn Rovers.
From Newcastle it was coal to Grangemouth and then back in ballast to Newcastle. It was here that I remember another crew member sighting a ship far off. “ It the Dunleigth “ he exclaimed. As the ship drew closer we could all see the ship which was also Amlwch based at that time.
Once in Newcastle we were reloaded with coal and took a journey around the coast to Ramsgate to deliver it to the gas works in Margate.  We had to wait in the outer harbour for three days for the right tide and during that time I was shown how to row by Tom Bull.
The next trip was across to Antwerp. We arrived at night and I remember the Harbour master using a lighted torch to read the name of the ship and it’s home Port. Are you from Buenos Arias? he asked as he tried to read Beumaris painted onto the back of the ship.
From Antwerp another load of phosphate bound for Northern Ireland.  It was the early hours of the morning in September when the ship rounded the Llyn Peninsular.  We dropped anchor and Owain myself and Tom Bull were let off in a small boat to make for shore.  Once on land and still dark Tom showed us the Abersoch to Caernarvon road and returned to ship. Owain and I walked to Caernarfon and where then able to catch the bus to Bangor and them to Amlwch arriving home with 4d in our pocket.
My fathers’s plan to have me change my mind about the sea had failed and I was still determined. However as I was still only 15 I had to get the permission on Mr S J Evans OBE MA of LLangefni School.  He was a stern man and my father was determined that I should face him alone if I were to ask permission to leave school.
The following morning I went to see the headmaster, to explain my absence without permission for the first few days of the term.  Mr Evans told me how important my education was, “What did you see in Antwerp” he asked, “The Cathedral” I replied.  “You have seen more than I can show you” He said and allowed me to start my working life at sea.