wild rose

RICHARD HUGHES AND CO. (LIVERPOOL) LTD.
HUGHES HOLDEN SHIPPING LTD.
Liverpool

Richard Hughes was the largest coastal ship owner that Liverpool, or indeed Wales, produced: not for nothing was his fleet sometimes called the ‘Welsh Navy’. His was the only company which established for itself a truly national reputation Indeed, his ships outgrew the local trades, and many could be found adequate employment only carrying East Coastal coal.

The life of Richard Hughes Company spanned the period from the earliest bulk-carrying steamers on the West Coast to the era of the motor ship. Tragically, however, his luck or his judgment deserted him in later life —when many men would have retired — and the fleet he built up was lost to him.

Richard Hughes interest in the sea was a purely commercial one, and had his circumstances been different he might equally well have made his way in the world as an innkeeper or even a grocer. He was born at Gronant, Flintshire in 1858 to Jane and Joseph Hughes, who kept the Gronant Inn. Jane Hughes, although illiterate, had a good head for business and encouraged her husband to diversify into shop keeping, general carrying, and hiring out machinery to local farmers. Richard inherited his mother’s business instincts, and had the unusual advantage for the time of being educated until he was fourteen. As his parents had eight other children to feed, clothe and school this suggests that their businesses were doing well.

Richard’s sister Dorothy had married a local man who then moved to Liverpool to work as a clerk in the shipping office of R. and D. Jones. Richard Hughes obtained a position in the same office when he left school: no doubt his brother in law had recommended him as a smart lad.

Hughes was certainly smart enough to see that the way to financial advancement was not to work for others. In 1884 he set up in business for himself with some financial help from his parents and fifty pounds borrowed from friends and associates. From offices in Water Street, Liverpool Hughes went ahead and ordered an iron steamer from H. McIntyre and Co. of Paisley. On the day in 1885 when this ship was launched her name, PRIMROSE, was adopted as the telegraphic code for Richard Hughes and Co.

Shortly afterwards, in March 1885, the first of Hughes single — ship companies, the Primrose Steamship Co. Ltd., was set up to take over PRIMROSE. Its £4,750 capital was divided into £50 shares of which Hughes initially took just three, later expanding his holding to thirty.

The Primrose Steamship Co. Ltd. was clearly a success, as other single-ship companies followed with increasing frequency. The table below shows the capital, founding and winding-up dates of Richard Hughes six companies.

 

 

Title

Capital

Founded

Dissolved

Primrose Steamship company Ltd

£4,7500

14/3/1885

29/1/1907

Wild Rose Steamship company Ltd

£5,000

18/6/1888

13/2/1906

Moss Rose Steamship company Ltd

£7,500

16/6/1890

9/8/1915

White Rose Steamship company Ltd

£4,500

21/1/1891

10/1/1911

Red Rose Steamship company Ltd

£8,000

25/6/1891

9/8/1915

Brier rose Steamship company Ltd

£9,000

8/7/1892

12/6/1918

 

As manager of each company, Richard Hughes received a fee of £75 per year, took 7.5% of the net earnings. The capital of all except the Primrose Steamship Co. Ltd. was divided into £25 shares. There are striking similarities in the pattern of distribution of shareholdings in six companies, which probably reflect the way the shares were marketed and the respect, which Hughes quickly built up.

 

Each company had fifty or so investors, mainly from Liverpool, North Wales and from North of Ireland, although Glasgow and the South of England were well represented. A number of names recur in the list of shareholders of each company: the Belfast ship owner James M Barkley, the Rea family (Described as colliery proprietors’. But to become better known as collier and tug owners) and the Hutson family of the Kelvinhaugh Engine Works in Glasgow, who pursued a policy of actively buying up shares in Hughes companies until, as related later, they shared control with the founder.

 

Richard Abel, ship and flat owner of Runcorn, was an initial subscriber to the Primrose Steamship Co. Ltd., but did not repeat his investment. Hughes family were small but faithful investors, including farmers John and Thomas Hughes, grocer Joseph, joiner Samuel — all of Gronant — and Richard’s wife, Mary Jane.

Hughes initial holding in the companies was modest, representing only five to ten per cent of the capital, but tended to increase over the years (with the exception of the Hutson period), as he became more prosperous and had the chance to acquire any shares which became available.

 

The significance of the winding up dates quoted above varies considerably. The Primrose Steamship Co. Ltd. was dissolved soon after the PRIMROSE herself was lost, but the White Rose Steamship Co. Ltd. was allowed to linger on for ten years after the WHITE ROSE had been wrecked, presumably because shareholders had been well satisfied by payments made from her insurance money. For other companies, liquidation followed the sale or the acquisition of the ship by Richard Hughes in person. In the case of the BRIER ROSE in June 1918. Although this was thirty per cent higher than her building cost a quarter of a century earlier, war had inflated prices considerably, and she was worth even more. But Hughes holding over half of the shares made the company accepted his offer.

 

The return to 1892, Richard Hughes was by now sufficiently well established to begin owning ships under his own name, financing them with help of mortgages from associates such as Guybon Hutson. Apart from the PINK ROSE, bought new, such acquisitions were considerably older than the rest of the fleet: in 1894 he bought the 22 year old FOYLE and the 29 year old AVON, the latter being registered under a single ship company. The FOYLE was to be the fleet first casualty when abandoned off Bardsey in August 1897.

 

Hughes had an eye for a bargain: in 1897 he bought the EMERALD, which had been wrecked off Burnt island under a previous owner. Several other ships were acquired under similar circumstances, including the LILY in 1899. At this time new and old ships were joining the fleet almost simultaneously. In 1898 came the new PANSY and the 20-year-old NORTHCOTE, which, larger than anything bought so far, was intended for trading further a field. Unfortunately, after being renamed VIOLET, she was wrecked in the Baltic in 1901. The trade in which Richard Hughes and Co. prospered was carrying china clay from Fowey, Par and Charlestown to ports in the North West, including Preston, Fleetwood, Ellesmere Port and — most importantly — Runcorn.

 

At the two Mersey ports the clay was unloaded into narrow boats for delivery to the Potteries. One of the attractions of this trade was that coal from Garston made a useful return cargo, although in 1893 Hughes was advertising a regular service for general cargo from the Mersey for Devon and Cornwall.

 

The china clay trade became so important to the company that over the years offices were opened at Par (telegraph code ‘RAP’) and Fowey (more prosaically coded ‘HUGHES’), as well as Runcorn (code ‘CLAYROSE’) and Garston. The company also owned a number of rail wagons to transport clay from the mines to the Cornish ports, as well as a wagon repair works at Par. Hughes never devoted his fleet entirely to the china clay trade, however, and his larger ships in particular traded more widely. For instance, the large LILY worked out of Blyth, Hull and Swansea with coal, and even managed to visit Aberystwyth, presumably for ore. Even the regular ships in the china clay trade would carry coal on the East Coast, frequently to Shoreham.

 

By the turn of the century, the fleet consisted of twelve ships, but with a particularly deep depression affecting trade a whole decade was to go by without further acquisitions.

 

By then numbers had been reduced to seven by sales and losses, including that of the pioneer PRIMROSE which was wrecked in Mounts bay in August 1906.

 

Over the period from December 1904 to February 1906, four of his ships were sold outright to Alexander Hutson, who moved from Kelvinside, Glasgow to share Richard Hughes office in James Street, Liverpool. In recognition of this partnership, Lloyds Register began referring to the company as Hughes and Hutson. At this time, Richard Hughes also sold many of the shares in his single- ship companies; the Hutson family’s holding’s increasing concurrently. The Hutson had been closely associated with Hughes for many years. Until his death in December 1902, the engineer Guybon Hutson had been the mortgage for several of Hughes ships and a shareholder in his companies since at least 1891; the EMERALD had been purchased from Hutson and Son who had presumably repaired her; and Hughes earliest ships had been engined by Hutson and Corbett — the earlier title of this engineering business based at Kelvinhaugh in Glasgow. But the partnership was short — lived, and in July 1909 Hughes reacquired the four ships sold to Hutson.

 

Although, as events in 1920 will show, Hughes was quite open to offers for his ships, he continued to run his fleet himself, so perhaps the Hutson partnership had convinced him he was better off managing ship’s himself. Indeed, once the trade depression over, Hughes started expanding his fleet again, a process that was to continue virtually unchecked for twenty years. Again new and old ships were to join the fleet simultaneously a brand new PRIMROSE in 1910 and the 18-year-old MERSEY in 1910, the latter destined not to receive its ‘Rose’ name for another twenty years. In 1911 came his shortest — lived vessel, the second WHITE ROSE, which disappeared eight months later.

 

The next new buildings represented something of a departure, for three out of the next five ship’s came from a yard at Hardinxveld in Holland. Since the 1890’s Dutch yards had built a few small coasters for British owners, but this was one of the first times an established company had placed a substantial order in Holland — a taste of things to come.

 

As part of his expansion, Hughes had begun services from South Wales to French ports, almost invariably carrying coal outward but often loading general cargo homewards. Offices were opened at Cardiff (telegraph code ‘ROSES’) and at Newport for this trade.

 

The outbreak of the Great War did not stem the flow of new ships for the fleet, but did bring a departure from the purely ‘flower’ nomenclature with names honoring Allied Generals — FRENCH ROSE and JOFFRE ROSE; a series that was eventually to include a couple of Admirals. Mined in November 1917, FRENCH ROSE was the company’s only confirmed loss due to enemy action, although the RED ROSE disappeared in May 1918 and the PINK ROSE was wrecked off the east of Scotland carrying coal northwards for the Grand Fleet.

 

Hughes owned a total of 14 ships during the war, and almost all were at some time taken over for Government service. One of the few exceptions was the little DUNMORE, acquired from her repairers after severe damage. Indeed, had it not been for the war she would probably have been scrapped: certainly the Admiralty though she was worth little and had held her from November 1914 to April 1915 as a possible block ship. The most frequent use made of the ‘ROSE BOATS’ by the Government was to carry the enormous variety and quantity of stores required by the British Expeditionary Force in France. The major ports used were Dover, Little Hampton and Newhaven but stores were also loaded on the Thames. Most of the cargoes of stores are not detailed on official lists, but occasional mentions of road — making materials in the MOSS ROSE and timber in PANSY and RED ROSE are reminders of the enormous and appallingly wasteful construction work that went into sustaining trench warfare for over four years. Employment on Government service was rarely continuous: MERSEY probably held the record, being hired from September 1914 until the end of 1917. Even after the Armistice the ships were still required, often to bring back materials they had earlier taken to France. For instance, PANSY remained on hire until September 1919. Just before the Armistice WHITE ROSE brought back an ominous sounding cargo: rags from Le Havre to Goole. Could these once have been military uniforms?????

 

The outbreak of peace late in 1918 saw most ship owners expanding a continuing period of prosperity aided by continuing Government use their ships, even though if must have become apparent that the flow of new ships coming from British and Dutch yards would soon exceed demand. Hughes seems to have hedged his bets in an extraordinary way. He first ordered three very large coasters from Fullerton’s but, three months before the first of these was delivered, he actually sold his entire existing fleet. In all ten ships passed on the 11th March 1920 to Robert Leeson of the Liverpool — based John Edwards and Co. and Owen Donnelly, a Dublin coal Merchant.

 

Just two months after their expensive acquisitions, the freight rate bubble burst, and Donnelly and Leeson found themselves trading in a spectacularly depressed market. To add to their troubles partition of Ireland and the ensuing civil war left the banking community — many of whom were hostile to the Irish Free State — with no stomach for propping up an ailing shipping company. The National Bank in London foreclosed on the ship’s mortgages and Donnelly was declared bankrupt. Hughes bought the nine survivors back from the bank in September 1921 — the WHITE ROSE (never a fortunate name in the fleet) having been lost just nine days after her sale.

 

It would seem most likely that Hughes sold on a rising market because he believed strongly that bigger ships and larger cargoes would be the norm in the post — war world, and took the opportunity to dispose of his existing craft at a good price. Hughes was without ships for just three months, and in June 1920 the first of the big new coasters from Paisley, the JELLICOE ROSE, arrived to be followed at three.monthly intervals by the BEATTY ROSE and HAIG ROSE. One would have thought that, with freight rates depressed after 1921, the re-adsorption of the nine Donnelly and Leeson ship into the fleet would have given Richard Hughes enough to think about, but no, he immediately embarked on an expansion scheme, taking delivery of three new ships (including FOCH ROSE) and one secondhand in 1922, buying the 30 year old HAYLE in 1923, two more large new coasters in 1924 and yet another in 1925.

 

With 20 ships, the fleet was now larger than it had ever been, and in the LOUIE ROSE and FULLERTON ROSE it had its biggest ships ever.

 

The latter was named as a tribute to her Paisley builder: a nice touch as Fullerton’s yard had now completed a total of 14 ships for the fleet. But sadly the FULLERTON ROSE was to be the last, for this old and well-respected steam coaster building yard delivered its final ship in 1927.

 

The expanded Hughes fleet needed new trades, and the ‘ROSE BOATS’ were seen regularly in harbours where they had rarely ventured before, such as Shoreham, Poole and Torquay where they brought East Coast coal for the local gas works or coal merchants. BRIER ROSE visited Penmaenmawr and the LIyn for stone, whilst the big LOUIE ROSE had a regular contract to carry steel between Ghent, the Bristol Channel and Birkenhead.

 

LOUIE ROSE was named in memory of Hughes wife, who had died in 1923.Christened Mary Jane Lewis, Hughes always called her Louie.

 

Like other shipping companies, Hughes was hit by the 1926 coal strike, and the FULLERTON ROSE was laid up on the Tyne from April to August 1926, the BRIER ROSE Languishing at Runcorn from May to November. At the height of the strike some Hughes ships brought coal from Ostend to bunker other members of the fleet, which were, anchored fuel-less off Fowey.

 

Surviving the slump called for strict economies and the Hughes ships gained or perhaps just strengthened — their reputation for frugality during this period. Those who served in the ships frequently speak of them being ‘run on a shoe string’. About this time the old custom of letting a coasters crew buy and cook their own food ended in the Larger ships and a full time cook was employed. Hughes, however, deducted the cost of the food from the crew’s wages, which earned him the title ‘HUNGRY DICK’.

 

The year 1927 saw some ships depart: the DUNMORE sold after a long lay — up; and the BEATTY ROSE and MOSS ROSE lost whilst on the company’s customary service’s, Mersey to Cornwall and South Wales and France, respectively. These losses were soon made up by the acquisition of three relatively modern steamers, a number of which were coming on to the market at knock-down prices as companies such as Cornish Traders Ltd. — Owners of CORNISH MERCHANT and CORNISH TRADER — who had optimistically bought ships in the heady years soon after the war gave up the struggle and cut their losses.

 

In the late 1920’s Richard Hughes excellent commercial judgment deserted him. The sudden death of his wife from a heart attack in 1923 affected him deeply, and he was never quite the same again. It should also be borne in mind that he was now an old man, well past today’s retiring age. With a modest upturn in trade in the late 1920’s he perhaps expected the 1930’s to bring renewed prosperity to coastal shipping, and embarked on an ambitious but ultimately ruinous new building programme. Between December 1929 and July 1931 no fewer than eleven new ships were delivered from two yards — the old friends at hardinxveld plus a Clyde yard not normally associated with coaster-building but driven to it by the recession, D. and W. Henderson and Co. Ltd.

 

The new ships brought fresh names into the fleet, including names of family members such as WALLACE ROSE and DUDLEY ROSE and place names including GRONANT ROSE, PRESTATYN ROSE, ANGLESEA ROSE and AMLWCH ROSE. Even the old MERSEY was finally renamed MERSEY ROSE, only to be lost soon afterwards.

 

The Anglesey place names were particularly appropriate as many Hughes crew’s were recruited from the towns and villages on the Island, from whence also came the Marine Superintendent Captain Griffith. Crew members also came from the Llyn, and the ships would often pass within sight of their homes. Richard Roberts, who was an engineer on the PANSY, came from Uwchmynydd — on the tip of the peninsula - and would write from Haverford west to tell his family when he would be passing so that they could climb nearby Pen-y-Foel and wave a home.made flag at the PANSY.

 

Such was the preponderance of Anglesey and Llyn men in the crew’s that Dr. David Jenkins of the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum recalls that his great-uncle Captain Samuel Jenkins of Aberporth near cardigan claimed that, whilst in command of the GUELDER ROSE and WALLACE ROSE, he was the only non-North Walian master in the fleet.

 

No boom in the 1930’s came and Hughes ambitious expansion programme overtaxed even his considerable financial resources, such that the Official Receiver was called in by two of his principal creditors, Martin’s Bank and Henderson’s the shipbuilders. Hughes was now 76 and in such poor health that he had to leave his home at Bryn Coch Hall, Mold for his daughter’s holiday home at Abersoch on the Llyn. It was here that he died on 23rd April 1936. He left just over £3,300 — not a great fortune almost fifty years in control of one of Britain’s foremost coaster companies.

 

What sort of a man had Richard Hughes been? There is no denying that he ran a successful company, in a business where sentiment meant next to nothing, hard economics almost all. The company he built up almost single-handed was certainly well found: it survived the storms of the twenties and only foundered when its ageing owner over-reached himself. To survive in shipping as long as he did had to be tough when times were hard. It is said, for instance, that no night watchmen were employed on the Hughes ships when in port, the crews being expected to do the job themselves. And, as was common in the coasting trade, captains were encouraged to obtain pilot—age certificates for ports to which they frequently traded so save the company the cost of a pilot. One odd aspect of Richard Hughes character was the rigid enforcement of rule-forbidding women on board his ships. The DUNMORE was laid up at Runcorn for two years in the twenties with an Amlwch man left in charge. When his wife made the long journey from Anglesey to visit him, she was not allowed onboard. But as if to balance this hardness, Hughes showed considerable loyalty and even generosity to those who served him well, and both Hughes and his successor kept their crew’s year in, year out. An outstanding example was Richard Vaughan who joined the FOCH ROSE as a seaman when she was new in 1922. He was still with her as a bosun when she was sold to the breakers in 1956. When times were good, crew’s were often paid more than the basic wage rate.

 

This crude profit sharing, with wages reflecting the company’s fortunes, made Hughes and other who practiced in unpopular with seamen’s unions, so perhaps the sobriquet ‘HUNGRY DICK’ was somewhat unfairly applied to him.

Outside shipping, his philanthropic work was considerable. During the First World War he presented ambulances to the French and British Red Cross, supplied boots for the entire child population of a French Village in the War zone and gave two wards to the Liverpool Merchants Mobile Hospital. It was at this Hospital at Etaples, incidentally, that his daughter Dorothy met her future husband, Dr. Henry Wallace-Jones. In 1924, remembering his own childhood when there were no leisure facilities for young men, Hughes presented his native of Gronant with a splendidly equipped village hall and endowed it with sufficient railway share’s to meet its future running cost.

He was also a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and this is reflected in his use of his wife’s, daughter’s, son — in — law’s and grandson’s names for ships in the fleet.

Although probably considered to be a little eccentric at times, Hughes made decisions rapidly both in and out of business. For example, on one occasion, having heard that the old Flint County jail — which was situated opposite his home in Mold — might be re-open as a prison, he promptly bought the entire building. Its only use for years afterwards was as a playground for his grandchildren.

After Hughes’ enforced retirement, his ships were not sold off piecemeal, perhaps receiver found someone willing and able to take on the whole fleet, a Cardiff shipbroker who handled Hughes’ business in that port, Thomas J. Tierney. Tierney became chairman and managing director, but the Hughes name was valued highly enough to be retained, the new company registered on 10 th April 1934 being entitled Richard Hughes and Co. (Liverpool) Ltd. Nor was the Hughes family’s interest completely extinguished, as Richard Hughes son-in-law Henry Wallace — Jones became director. Dr. Wallace — Jones was a practicing heart specialist: the rough and tumble of ship owning must have made an interesting contrast to cardiology.

Tierney continued the frugal management style, which Hughes had practiced, but there were to be no grandiose plans for expansion. In fact, after the arrival of the MOELFRE ROSE in 1931, no new ships joined the fleet for over twenty years. Instead, ship were disposed of as circumstances permitted, the two big Fullerton sisters leaving the fleet in 1936 and 1937, the LOUIE ROSE to begin what was for a coal carrier a rather exotic second carrier as a wine tanker in the Mediterranean. The recently built PINK ROSE reduced the fleet further by sinking after a collision in March 1936, whilst the HAYLE of 1893 was sold to ship breakers in 1937 after spending her last years as a coal hulk in Cornwall. Remarkably, she was the first Hughes ship ever to be broken up.

Twenty-five ships remained on the company’s books on the outbreak of the Second World War, but the fleet was not to escape as lightly in this conflict as it did in the First World War. Apart from marine losses, which were heavy enough, and a number of disappearances, the overwhelming cause of the loss was air attack. Hughes ships were often larger than the average coaster, and must have presented tempting targets to the Luftwaffe on its offensive patrols of British waters.

 

February 1940 saw the stranding of the JELLICQE ROSE in the Wear. In peacetime the damage she sustained would probably have meant a voyage to the breakers, but it was wartime and she was of great value, so she was duly repaired. November saw the traffic disappearance of her sister HAIG ROSE and in December the AMLWCH ROSE also went missing. German propaganda made the surprising claim that a U-boat had sunk her in November 1944. During 1940 the company managed its only ship, the captured Deutsche Levante Linie steamer MOREA, which soon passed to South Wales managers and sank later that year, just escaping being expanded as a block ship.

 

The crew of the DORRIEN ROSE was amongst the many heroes’ of the Dunkirk evacuation, making two trips and rescuing sixteen hundred men. Of these, six hundred came from the stricken passenger ship QUEEN OF THE CHANNEL, without even one man getting his feet wet, in spite of continual bombing Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded to the Master, Mate, and Chief Engineer of the DORRIEN ROSE, whilst her bosun and gunner also received medals.

 

Although in less hazardous circumstances, the WALLACE ROSE won fame by repatriating allied airmen interned by neutral Eire. Her master also won the D.S.C. and a bar during numerous encounters with the Luftwaffe.

In terms of losses, 1941 had far worse in store than 1940. In January the PRIMROSE capsized and sank off Ireland. In March the BRIER ROSE disappeared in the Irish Sea; she had been built for Richard Hughes almost half a century before, and had the ignominious experience of being taken over by the Admiralty in July 1940 as a possible block ship.

Then began a grim catalogue of Luftwaffe attacks and sinking. On 2nd April the WILD ROSE had to run ashore after she had been attacked off the Tusker Rock. Just seven days later the DUDLEY ROSE was bombed and sunk in the English Channel and in another seven days the ANGLESEA ROSE suffered the same fate off st. Ives. Early in May the PINK ROSE caught fire and sank following a collision.

 

Before dawn on the 16 th May, the JOFFRE ROSE was bombed and then repeatedly strafed by a Focke Wolf Fw200 Condor off St. Anne’s Head in the Irish Sea. A near miss astern disabled the Engines, started a leak and injured two engineers. Soon after daylight the OBSIDIAN belonging to William Robertson of Glasgow came alongside, took off the injured and began towing the JOFFRE ROSE toward MILFORD HAVEN. She was eventually beached at Dale, just inside the Haven. By an uncomfortable coincidence her Master was attacked in the exactly the same place whilst in command of the BLUSH ROSE in February 1942. Again a near miss caused leaks and disabled her engines, but this time it was the WILD ROSE — repaired after her misadventure in 1941 — that assisted her into MILFORD HAVEN so that she could be beached at Dale, a spot becoming all too familiar to Captain Alcorn.

 

In July 1941 the FOWEY ROSE was attacked and sunk off the Pembroke Coast, and in September the GUELDER ROSE suffered damage in the North Sea.

These casualties plus the sale of two ships reduced the fleet to fifteen, but mercifully there were to be no more war losses. The coming of peace, however, did little to abate the danger from marine hazards. In August 1945 the BLUSH ROSE went after colliding with Alfred Holt’s steamer GLAUCUS off Holyhead and in November the STURDEE ROSE capsized and sank off Trevose Head. It seems remarkable that in an age of radio and sophisticated air-sea rescue techniques her eight survivors could spend over a week adrift just off the English Coast.

The war was not entirely unkind to Thomas Tierney, however, as by 1944 he had paid off the company’s creditors and had bought out the Wallace-Jones interest so that he now owned all eleven thousand shares. His long-term view of the coastal shipping was a gloomy one but — as it turned out — realistic, and he took every opportunity to sell his ships. In 1947 for instance the DENNIS ROSE, DOROTHY ROSE and MAURCE ROSE were sold to companies in the coastlines group for a total of £180,000 — a very satisfactory price for tramp steamers almost twenty years old. Soon after the war he moved the company’s head Office to Frenchurch Street, London, although an office was maintained in Castle Street, Liverpool. Tierney’s son, John, joined the company but was discouraged from taking over on his father’s retirement. Instead the concern was sold in 1952 to a Swansea man, Philip E. Holden.

A new company was now formed; Hughes Holden Shipping Ltd., and operations moved again, this time to Swansea. To mark this new beginning came the delivery of the first new ship for over twenty years, the BRIER ROSE — The fleet’s first motor ship. It is said that Holden was not particularly pleased with his purchase of six ageing and worn out steamers. Certainly he did not lose much time in disposing of them, PRESTATYN ROSE going 1953, even the new BRIER ROSE being sold in 1954, the year in which the WALLACE ROSE was terminally damaged in a collision on the Thames. Also in 1954 came the last ship to join the fleet, the RAMBLER ROSE — virtually a repeat of the BRIER ROSE. Strangely, Hughes had never used this name, perhaps because it was an obvious one for a tramp. Between 1956 and 1958 the remaining steamers were sold, leaving the solitary motor ship to ramble on until 1961.