This section of the site is our next project.
It will describe what life was like for a typical Conway cadet during
the various phases of the ship's life.
Ensigns & Crests
Cups & Prizes
Petty Officers / Cadet Captains
Top & Cadet Numbering System
Back to top
Ensigns & Crests
There are three quite different emblems associated with Conway:
1. HMS Conway Ensign
have been three formats to the HMS Conway ensign. The first ensign was
simply the 'House Flag' of Conway's owners, the Merseyside MMSA. It is
on the left below. In 1896 the Admiralty sanctioned use of the blue
ensign defaced with a yellow castle. The version in the middle below
was adopted in 1896 the one on the right in 1927. There are strict
rules about its use governed by the Admiralty, not the Conway Club,
these are set out here.
2. HMS Conway Badge
castle with the motto and waves below and the naval crown above below
is the official crest of the HMS Conway school ship. It was carved
above the main entrance to the New Block. There have been many versions
over the years and they can be seen here.
The first from 1859 is on the left below. As Conway's legal successor,
this badge is now the property of the Conway Merchant Navy Trust who
have adapted it slightly for use by current Conway Cadets:
Cups & Prizes
|Athletics Sports Top Cup
||1927. On stand, ht 26.5 cms, no cover 2 handles
||See Julian Holt Cup
||Rowing - Inter watch gig race (ship cadets only - see Goulding Cup)
||Inter-divisional Breeches Buoy
|Boxing Challenge Cup
||Assayed Sheffield 1901, 14.5 ozs. Ht 15 cms, No cover or stand
|Breeches Buoy Cup
||See Bartlett Cup
|British & Commonwealth Prize
||Sextant for Seamanship
|British India Prize
||Sextant for mathematics
||Football Challenge Trophy. Stand, ht 37.5 cms, no handles or cover.
||Sextant presented by SIr Ralph Brocklebank for proficiency in Nautical Astronomy (later for Seamanship)
|Captain Price Prize
||Bibles presented by the Conway Committee in memory of Capt James Price for good conduct and diligence. That's the band out then.
||Best all round boxing performance
aneroid barometer awarded to the 'Most Efficient Working Hand' each
term. The story goes it was awarded to the QB in their final term who
it was reckoned should have been a Cadet Captain but wasn't.
|Chairman of the Conway Committee Prize
||Telescope fro the senior class, books for all others for proficiency in the English language.
|Charles Barton Prize
by J W Hughes fro general proficiency in the RN Class. Two prizes each
for the senior, middle and junior class, usually books and certificates.
|Commander George Massey RNR Prize
||For the cadet considered most deserving.
||For athletics may be the same as the Norbury cup
|Conway Club Prize
||Aneroid barometer for management of boats
|Conway Gig v no 1 co. RNVR Mersey Division Whaler Cup
||Awarded every summer to winning inter-top B gig's crew. Ht 15.5 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand
|Conway Worcester Boat Race Cup
||First awarded 1890. Now displayed at Club dinners. Assayed London 1890, 55ozs. Ht 47 cms, 2 handles and cover, no stand
|Conway Worcester Rugby Cup
||First played for in 1937 at Birmingham University. Conway Won 12 - Nil.
|Cricket Cup (Cups Book says Shield?)
||The October 1970 Cadet magazine says this was awarded to Mizzentop.
||Sextant. Presented annually by The earl of Derby for management of boats.
|Dodd's School Quaiche
||The October 1970 Cadet magazine says this was awarded to Forecastle but does to say what for!
|Dr Hopes Prize
||Book for best 'also ran'
by his mother Mrs Drew of Oswestry, in memory of Cadet Drew lost in
HMS. E14 . Swimming - the "down strait swim", 600 yds along the strait.
In the the October 1970 Cadet magazine it was awarded for the swim
across the strait and back a dead heat between Elston and Shaw!
by William Rathbone Esq fro proficiency in manual seamanship,
sailmaking, splicing wire and rope, stropping blocks, heaving the lead
|Flyweight Boxing Cup
||Awarded to J Mayo 1940. On stand, ht 14 cms.
|Football Challenge Cup
||Assayed Birmingham 1904, 25.5ozs. Ht 25.5 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand.
||Rowing - Inter watch gig race (shore cadets only - see Barnes Cup)
|Gym Challenge Cup
||1961. Ht 21.5 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand.
||Mountaineering - Best divisional team in an annual mountain competition. Presented by the parents of J E Haig (41-43)
|Hall Line Prize
||Aneroid barometer for Science
|Harley Memorial Shield
note in the October 1970 Cadet magazine says the Harley Cup (Mirrors)
was awarded to PS Cotgrove. If anyone knows his whereabouts perhaps he
can provide more information.
|(George) Hobson Cup
annually from 1908 to the smartest top in the ship. Assayed Birmingham
1907, 19.25ozs. On stand ht 32cms, 2 handles no cover. £425.
||Presented by T B Horsfall for proficiency in Scripture history (later for divinity). Book s for each class.
|Inter-top Team (Band & Mizzentop) Race Cup
||Ht 15 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand.
|Inter-Divisional Swimming Cup
|| 2 handles, stand, no cover, ht 20.5cms.
|Julian Holt Cup
||Presented by Julian Holt for badminton.
||Junior swimming but by the October 1970 Cadet magazine it was awarded for the Junior Relay.
|Junior Long Jump Cup
||No details. No handles.
|Junior Cross Country Challenge Cup
||Assayed Sheffield 1896, 21.25ozs. Stand, 2 handles, no stand or cover. Ht 30 cms.
|Junior 100 Yards Cup
|Lobe Jones Parry of Madyrn Cup
shooting. (to the volunteers of Carnarvonshire 1875). Set on 3 crossed
rifles. Assayed Birmingham 1863, 6.5ozs. Ht 17.5 cms, no cover
|Kings Gold / Queens Gold Medal
|Kings Prize (Binoculars)
||Cadet obtaining highest marks in the RN Entrance exam
||Binoculars, presented by John Laird for proficiency in trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic.
||Aneroid barometers for each of the senior and junior class. Presented by W Langton.
|Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society Medal
||Binoculars presented by Charles McIver for proficiency in Seamanship. Later awarded for Spanish.
||Assayed Birmingham 1937. 14.25 ozs, stand, no cover, ht 25.5 cms.
||Binoculars presented by Captain T Main for knowledge of the laws governing the deviation of the compass in iron ships.
|Marksman of the Year Cup
||Assayed Chester 1910, 7.25 ozs. Ht 13.5 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand.
|Medical Lectures Prize
||Book presented by W H Combs fro proficiency in medical subjedcts
was presented in December 1922 by Mr H Mitchell on behalf of his son
who was a cadet 1920-22. It was a boxing trophy, originally for boxers
under 8 stones. Each winner received a small replica. Later it was
awarded to boxes under 10 stones. Assayed London 1922, 55.5ozs. Stand,
2 handles, cover, no stand. Ht 29 cms.
||From at least 1909 For proficiency in all branches of training and education. Gold and silver medals were awarded.
|MMSA Presidents Prize
||Prayer Books presented by Capt J Trenery for second in each class for good conduct and diligence.
- MSODs raced by Cadets choosing their own crew. NOW Conway Club
Cruising Association Cup for the best Annual Cruising Log submitted by
an Old Conway.
||First awarded in 1912 for dinghy racing
|Navigators & General Insurance Prize
||Binoculars for Signals
||Norbury was a cadet 1915-17. Cross country race. 2 small holes in side of cup. Stand, ht 36 cms, no handles or cover.
||Binoculars for navigation
|P&O & Orient Line Prize
||Sextant for rule of the road
||Gold medallion for proficiency in rowing.
||See Tennis Challenge Cup
annually to winner of a rugby 7 a side tournament open to teams open to
all staff and tops. Assayed London 1909, 37.25ozs. Ht 28 cms, 2
handles, no stand or cover
||Rowing - Inter watch cutter race
||Inter-divisional sports challenge cup. Assayed Birmingham 1923, 8ozs. On stand ht 31cms, no handles or cover.
|Port Dinorwic Cup
||The October 1970 Cadet magazine says this was raced off Plas Newydd in the fifes.
|Powles Cup 1 of 3
||Awarded for "Lifeboat Drill".
|Powles Cup 2 of 3
||Awarded annually to the smartest top ashore. First awarded in 1951 to Mizzentop. From 1955 used as Inter-divisional cricket cup. On stand, ht 31 cms
|Powles Cup 3 of 3
||Sports Challenge Cup. On stand, ht 22 cms, no handles or cover
||Books for history, geography and english.
||Presented by Robert Rankin for proficiency in the use of charts and signals (flags)
|Relay Race Cup
||1932. On stand ht 10.5 cms
||The October 1970 Cadet magazine says this was awarded to Mizzentop but it is not clear whether it is the same as the Rowing Cup
||Cutter race 1934. Awarded to E K Ballard. See Rowing Bowl
|Royal Geographical Society Prizes
||Three, atlas, telescope and book for proficiency in Geography.
|Royal Humane Society Medal
||Proficiency in Swimming with reference to saving life from drowning.
|Royal Indian Marine Prize
by OC serving as Commodores and officers in the RIN for Proficiency in
rule of the road. Later awarded for technical and executive work
||Old Boys v The Ship 1965 - 74
||Instruments presented by Sir B Samuelson MP for proficiency in physical science (later engineering)
to the term's outstanding sportsman. By 1970 it had become the
Sportsman Of The Year Cup. Assayed Birmingham 1913. 7.5 ozs. 2 handles,
no stand or cover. Ht 14.5cms
prizes were awarded, the "First Class", practical navigation (second
and third classes), seamanship (2nd, 3rd and 4th classes),
trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic , history, junior classes - all
|Shell Tankers Prize
||Binoculars for greatest proficiency in all subjects
| Sports Challenge Cup Junior
||Assayed London 1924, 17ozs. Stand, no handles or cover. Ht 35.5 cms
| Sports Challenge Cup Senior1938
||Originally won by W A Johnstone (37-38) on sports day Easter term.
|Sports Top Cup
|Senior Gym Cup 1903
marked Xmas 1903. Now used as the House cup for the Kelly School Water
Polo Club. To date Conway House seems to have won it more than any
||Aneroid barometer, For Proficiency in Meteorology
||The October 1970 Cadet magazine says this was awarded for Swimming Sport. Could it be the same as the Swimming Cup,
|Snowdon Scouting Trophy
annually to the runner up in the Moody Cup sailing competition. Assayed
Sheffield 1902 15.25 ozs. Awarded 1961-74. 2 handles, stand and cover.
|Sportsman of the Year Cup
||See Scorpions Cup
|South African Centenary Shield
||Donated by SA OC Association to celebrate the centenary in 1959
|Special Sextant Prize
||Sextant, awarded by the White Star Line for proficiency in use of the sextant.
|Sports Challenge Cup
||First awarded 1919. Now displayed at Club dinners. Assayed Shefffield 1897, 38.25ozs. Ht 30 cms, 2 handles and cover, no stand.
|Staff v Cadets Tennis Cup
||Assayed London 1912, 9 ozs. Ht 11 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand.
||1931. No handles. £30. Could it be the same as the Sims Cup?
||Barometer, awarded annually to the runner up for the Kings Gold Medal
|Tennis Challenge Cup
||Stbd vs Port. Assayed Birmingham 1921, 9 ozs. Ht 16 cms, 2 handles, no cover or stand.
||Fitzroy barometer presented by John Torr for proficiency in History.
||Gold and silver medals awarded for proficiency in all branches of training and education.
|Trinity House Prize
||Sextant, awarded annually to the winner of the Kings Gold Medal
|Tug of War Cup
||Stbd vs port 1909. 2 handles, stand, no cover, ht 28.5 cms.
||Swimming - Cross strait swimming race - presented by Sir Michael Duff (OC) in 1951 and first won by David Nutman
||Free style cross strait swim. Assayed London 1903. 36 ozs. Large bowl, 2 handles, stand, no cover, ht 20cms.
|(Captain) Webb Memorial Shield
||Swimming - senior relay
||For boxing, over 10 stones.
|Wilson Reid Challenge Cup
||1959, for best cadet of the year in first aid. Assayed Birmingham 1912. 20.25 ozs, 2 handles, stand, no cover, ht 26 cms.
1953 in preparation for the planned refit., drauhmsten from Alfred Holt
& Co produced incredibly detailed plans of every deck of the Ship.
The originals are held by the Friends Of HMS Conway but copies are
Conway Lower Deck
Conway Orlop Deck
Conway Main Deck
Conway Upper Deck
Conway Cross Section
Back to top
The ship's motto was "Quit Ye Like
Men Be Strong". This was taken from 1 Corinthians Chapter 16 verse
13 in the King James's Bible. The newer version of the bible translates
it somewhat differently: "be men of courage; be strong".
Back to top
1945 QBs were allowed to use hammock
stretchers which apparently made them much more comfortable!
1948. The order 'Lash
up and stow' prompted a headlong helter-skelter down the hatch ladders
in a race to reach your hammock into which you hastily stowed your bedding
and lashed it up with (as I recall) seven equally spaced half-hitches
which you laid back on with all your weight before rushing it off to
fall in line with the rest of your Top to present your handiwork for
inspection. The last one in the line immediately got three over the
backside (somebody had to be last!). The inspecting CC then bent your
hammock double to loosen the lashings, and then vigorously tugged at
the canvas in the six spaces between the lashings to see if he could
expose any bedding. You got one over the 'Butt' for each space where
bedding could be exposed, and it follows that if bedding could be exposed
in one space the canvass could be pulled through to expose it in the
other five! And that was just the start of yet another day for your
long-suffering 'Butt'! Happy Days!...
1949. The general opinion was that
they were comfortable to sleep in, but I slept in one for 2.5 years
and I disagree. I adjusted to nettles, and even brought a small pillow
from home and smuggled it onboard, but I could never get as comfortable
as a half decent bed. Furthermore some miscreant could let you down
in the night just for fun, and then there was the awful moment in the
Summer when you had to put the whole kit and kaboodle on your shoulders
and carry it ashore for scrubbing. At 13 years of age an about 130lbs
ringing wet to carry it complete with contents down or up steep ladders
and into a cutter jammed in with as many as possible and then up the
pier to the scrubbing area was not a happy time. If memory serves the
half hitches were actually supposed to be marline hitches and there
was a difference in that to make the hitch the rope went over the standing
part not under. The punishment for such infractions was you had to take
your hammock ashore and double around the parade ground with it. Some
of the tough kids would keep going for several hours but eventually
collapse face down in the dirt and not moving, and the Seamanship Officer
and Ex Heavy Weight Champion of the Navy would just stand there in the
rain staring into the middle distance.
1952. Another shipboard
memory concerns sleeping in a hammock. Some New Chums, myself included,
had difficulty in lashing-up and stowing properly in the mornings. The
ideal was to fold bedding and pyjamas into the canvas such a way the
hammock could be tightly lashed in a series of looped rope, and end
up by being relatively firm. It could then be hoisted onto one's shoulder
and carried down to the hold where hammocks were stowed in the daytime.
As you can imagine, a floppy hammock was not only difficult to wield,
but could easily become undone to the acute embarrassment of the cadet
On my first night aboard, I wondered whether
it would be possible to sleep on my right side, as I habitually did.
Some apparently helpful seniors would
"assist" New Chums to attach their hammocks, but use a slip-knot,
so that the hapless cadet would crash to the deck when he got into his
hammock. Of course, this was potentially very dangerous, as serious
injury could have resulted had a New Chum landed sharply on his head.
Once hammocks we were safely slung, and
we were comfortably settled for the night, a bugler would sound the
Last Post. If this was expertly played, it could be a very moving moment.
Sleep, like death, should ideally involve a trusting surrender, and
there was something strangely humbling and comforting in this knowledge,
underlined as it was by the evocative notes of bugler.
1968. Whilst sleeping in hammocks
ended with the loss of the ship, even in 1968 cadets were still sleeping
on hammocks as they were by then used as a liner between bed mattresses
and bed springs.
Back to top
Life onboard was very strict with many
rules and regulations. When new cadets arrived they were called New
Chums and given a period of grace to learn the ship's customs and patterns.
After that all too short period, punishment - usually with a ropes end
called a 'teaser' and delivered by one of the senior cadets, was sure
to follow any breach. These arrangements were still in place over 100
years after the ship first opened.
Back to top
Numbers (of cadets)
rising to 50 (104 in total for the first year)
Feb 1860 102
Jun 1860 79
Jun 1862 107
Dec 1862 120
(dropped to 89 later in the year)
rising to 123
dropping to 115
rising to 123
rising to 163
2000th cadet joined
(on 17 th April )
3000th cadet joined in April
age of cadets joining was 14 and a half but boys as young as 12 were
4000th cadet joined in September
5000th cadet joined in April
over 100 joined the Royal Navy
6000th cadet joined
7 cadets joined
Cadet Numbering System
Conway cadet had a unique number although few understood how
these were allocated. It was all down to your first entry in the
The registers are very large tomes (about 4 inches thick) and
numbered pages and as each individual joined up his details
were entered on the next free double page spread and that page number
became a boy's cadet number. For instance,
Volume 13/36 (MMM numbering) showed - Webber page 225 -
page 226 - Bissell page 227 - Hayter page 228 - and
229. This volume went up to page 300
- then the next volume (MMM 13/37) went from 301 to 599. Over
the years numbers were reused many times.
The left hand page was for personal/family contact details and itemised
fees paid (or not in some cases) The right-hand page generally had
course performance details including physical measurements,
exam results, sports colours, promotions etc., as well as shipping
company joined. the registers are in the archives of the Merseyside
Back to top
Petty Officers / Cadet Captains & Punishments
outset in 1859, a small number of senior boys were promoted as
Petty Officers responsible for the good and orderly day to day operation
of the ship. Each PO was given a specific area of responsibility,
either for part of the ship e.g. Library, Armoury or Canteen, or
for a body of cadets e.g. Port Fore and Stbd Main. The head boy was
called the Chief Petty Officer (CPO). POs had very considerable power
including laying on casual corporal punishment with a rope's end called
a Teaser. In the RN they were called Starters - because a quick stoke
would get slower sailors promptly started on an order. Later a formal
Gun Room system was instigated whereby POs had to charge a miscreant
with a misdemeanor which was then examined in public by senior POs and
punishments awarded. Punishment Books recorded all reports and
outcomes. The majority are now in the Conway Archive at the
Meseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool. The punishments still included
corporal punishment but also (in the eyes of many cadets) far worse
things like an early heave out.
the end of the Christmas term Captain Broadbent announced that the
system of Petty Officers was to stop forthwith and be replaced by a new
title of Cadet Captain (Junior and Senior), with the head boy called
the Chief Cadet Captain (CCC but more commonly still called the CPO)
a small number of senior cadets were made Cadet Captains and made
responsible for the operation of part of a Top, There was one Senior
Cadet Captain for each Top an he had a number of Junior Cadets Captains
(JCC) to help him. The Chief Cadet Captain presided over them all.
Promotions were awarded at the end of each term. 'Ranks' were indicated
by gold braid on No 1 dress uniforms and by small collar badges for
normal working kit. Punishment evolved to include early heave outs
with additional morning exercises, stone picking (with a marlin spike
on hands and knees in the playing fields), extra duties and loss of
shore leave. As before many cadets preferred the Teaser - it was
over an done with quickly - no one wanted to get up early and do
exercises or stand watches during the minuscule amount of free time
allowed. The Teaser stopped in 1968 on the change from the MMSA with a Captain
Superintendent to normal school with a Headmaster in command.
Click images to enlarge
Back to top
In the 1850s, in order to qualify as a
merchant navy officer a four year apprenticeship had to be served at
sea. The Liverpool shipping company of Jones, Palmer & Co and others
had, at the opening of the school, announced that two or three years
on the Conway would be accepted by them as the equivalent of one year
at sea, reducing their apprenticeship time. In 1861 the Board Of Trade
decided that two years spent training at Conway would count as one year
served as a cadet at sea. Thus Conway cadets only had to complete three
years training at sea instead of the four required for anyone going
straight to sea. For this reason Cadets in their last term were called
Quarter Boys or QBs. This practice continued for over 100 years until
closure in 1974. Cadets received a Conway Passing Out Certificate of
Exemption when they left Conway.
Back to top
||James Knott (for boys from Tyneside)
||Captain Bruce Thompson
||Captain F J Walker
||Indo China Steam Navigation Co (in memory of Lt
Thomas Wilkinson VC RNR)
|| P & O
||Merchant Navy Fund South
||Old Boys Naval Prize Fund
Conways developed a whole language of their
own in addition to normal naval terminology.
of the band and/or 'free thinker'
||Out of date
or old fashioned
the New Block each cadet had a chest of drawers for their belongings so
the old sea chests were superfluous. Rather than throw them away, they
were cut down in size, placed at the foot of each bunk and used to
store dirty laundry until wash day. The term Boris meant an unclean
cadet so the boxes were soon nicknamed Boris Boxes.
||Anything shiny or polished.
threadbare bedcovers that cadets would slide around on to improve
the shine of their section of deck and to avoid damage to it.
milk. Obviously a delicacy that spanned the years as I remember,
like Masefield, using a spike to punch two holes in the lid and
then sucking the sweet sticky stuff out.
the Lord for what we've had,
It wasn't good,it wasn't bad,
The sodduk was stale, the skilly was green
But thank the Lord the plates were clean"
over the backside with the Teaser.
"I received 26 cuts in my first term,
someone later told me it was a record, but not one I relished!
I always wondered why the gap between each "cut" was always timed
to perfection to cause maximum pain, until I became a JCC and
was told to recite to myself "May the Lord strengthen my arm and
harden my heart as I administer justice to this culprit" between
suet pudding with sultanas.
out the Gash
for any uneaten food
word for Yak
of the Woods
powerful QB, later the QB most other cadets thought should have
been a cadet captain.
a baked potato
as in 'You nervy bastard'
just joined the ship
|Nix A Buff
- someone has broken wind!!.
in his last term
tub was emptied over the side. Anything blown back onto the ship
was called out as...
hot drink in earlier years)
a cadet bent into his cap. The more independantly minded the individual
- the greater the shag in his cap.
On A Raft
or liver on toast.
cadets performing a punishment detail
for a spread
heard right after the bread load came aboard the old ship with the
usual inventory shrinkage!!
was the equivalent of modern brown-nosing. When anybody obtained
an unusual favour it was always put down to suction, often accompanied
by horrible sucking noises, rather like a pump running dry
of the ship that a cadet was responsible for cleaning and maintaining.
Every cadet had one.
used for corporal punishment of cadets (by senior cadets). See Cuts
stodgy pud with "bits" in.
tomatoes on toast.
people you would eyeball your plate in the hope you left something
bits of old barrel ends, fitted with rope handles on either side,
and used as rubbish containers. In those non-environmentally friendly
days I seem to recall they were simply emptied over the side for
the gash to be taken away on the tide
in tomato sauce
Back to top
The 'Teaser' probably derived its name
from the rope ‘Starters’ used historically in the RN; short
lengths of rope used to strike, encourage or "start" any crewman
who did not respond promptly to an order. The Teaser was a vicious little
weapon made from 3/8" tarred hemp maybe 18" overall with an
eye-splice at one end, and a 6" back splice at the business end.
The back splice thickened and strengthened the rope. The back splice
was also "whipped" using a very thin twin to give it further
strength and make it less flexible. It was stored in a bottle of salt
water which gave it the consistency of a metal bar. Sometimes there
was metalwork in the whipping. This rope was then used to beat cadets
as a punishment. In the early years it was wielded liberally by anybody
with the slightest pretence to petty authority. Over time it was used
far less and in more controlled circumstances. It was an extremely painful
punishment which very few Conway cadets avoided.
1943-45. Concerning the teaser in
my time it was not used all that much. I think the first 2 or 3 weeks
as new chums we were let off but as soon as it was over we were liable
and I got 3 on the first day. It was from my Chief Cadet Captain he
gave me an order and I asked "Why" I never questioned an order
again but I did not get it much after that save under the bell, when
according to Bossy I was in a disgusting condition at Sunday divisions.
The Skipper Wah said he had seen a spot on my collar.
There was once a semi public flogging.
Wah went into a pub near the Bangor pier and found 2 Cadets drinking.
At Divisions the nest day before marching off the lower deck, the 2
Cadets were fallen in front of the Skipper and told that on account
of their offence they would be flogged. "Mr Phelps please take
these Cadets to the Orlop deck." Bossy turned up with a cane under
his arm. "The Cadets under punishment follow me to the Orlop Deck"
They did and we heard the thrashing taking place , 4 or 6. When finished
they were marched back before the Skipper and Bossy reported "The
Punishment carried out Sir" The Cadets were then told to fall in
with their divisions and we marched away.
Another Cadet got 3 under the Bell on one
occasion and when they had finished he did not get up and was told that
he should turn in. "But I thought I was going to be thrashed Sir"
The thought of the teaser kept me from
being caught out - I seem to remember was it not called being bummed?
1945/46 was a period when the teaser
was used unmercifully. I well recall the lashing up of hammocks, and
anything more than two minutes after your first day on the ship incurred
the immediate wrath of a teaser wielding JCC. The lining up and bending
the hammocks was done all the time, and one over the bum for every bit
of bedding in sight. Also one if it was considered that you did not
employ enough energy in bending the hammock over. Never really enjoyed
the hammock, except as a QB when we had the seniority to use hammock
stretchers. The last term was the only time that this little luxury
was permitted. The teaser was used indiscriminately on anyone for any
dreamt up excuse. Failure to ask to ask for "top" when moving
around the deck was a cardinal sin. I went to the Conway a wimp, but
when I eventually left and went to sea, it was a life of luxury in comparison
and the hard knocks were easy to take. A great pity that we are unable
to knock the young blokes into shape today. In the long run they will
be the losers.
1947-49. Any CC or JCC could legitimately
carry a teaser to administer "justice" for any breach of rules,
spoken or unspoken, any breach of cadet etiquette, or any other reason
that offended the sensibilities of a CC. Official Justice was done under
the ship's bell at lights-out, usually by a CC under the watchful eye
of an officer, and usually limited to "six of the best"!!
As JCC and cox'n of the pinnace, I had the "honour" of carrying
a teaser, which I am pleased now to say that was used VERY infrequently
and only for genuine transgressions.
1949 saw a very dramatic reduction
in teaser use on the appointment of Captain Hewitt. Prior to that year
teaser punishment was not an after-lights-out-washroom job for genuine
misconduct, but was the on the spot immediate consequence mostly for
minor infringements of Conway rites and practices; failure to ask permission
before crossing the deck or going up a ladder for example, being the
last to fall-in to a bugle call, you could get six for a poorly lashed-up
hammock, and so on. As a result teaser were much in evidence everywhere
and it seemed to me that more than just CC's carried teasers. The widespread
daily teaser wielding which needed little excuse was a constant fact
of shipboard life. I doubt if any from those days can remember how many
'cuts' they had and certainly not tell you any of the petty reasons
why. From 1949 its use was severely limited and infinitely more regulated.
Certainly the ever present threat of the teaser as we had known it was
no longer there after 1949. Misconduct was an entirely different matter.
For offences of this nature there was either the much preferred immediate
Gun-room job, or more serious offenders were dealt with by the Duty
Warrant Officer under the bell after lights-out. (Presumably so sighted
at the through decks hatch so that just like the bell, the whacks could
be heard the length of the ship by us all as we lay (thoughtfully!)
in our hammocks.)
1954. The funny thing is that I
can't remember this beastly rope's end being called a teaser. Although
I do definitely remember cuts. Cuts weren't too bad really although
they couldn't half raise a welt if the administering CC put his mind
to the job at hand. I think I must have been the only cadet ever to
have been caned by the Murph, the six-gun toting Shurff of Beaumaris.
I've no recollection of how I aroused his ire, but I remember going
round to the camp staff room (not far from the Hold huts) and finding
Murph reading Sea Breezes. He asked me why I had come and I reminded
him he wanted to cane me. He looked at me rather doubtfully and told
me to bend down, which I duly did. Seemingly with great effort and a
considerable amount of panting he applied the cane to my backside with
four of the gentlest taps you can imagine. That was it. So we shook
hands and I sloped off.
1954-56. The teaser was still fully
employed and as Deputy Chief my allowance officially was up to 3 cuts,
Senior Cadet Captains 2, and Juniors was one cut. This was matched by
an equal number of Extra Watches or for a delightful variation Slack
1955-58. I can remember many a visit
to the washroom for cuts. You were expected to shake hands afterwards
too, I usually did but not to xxxxxxx!
1958-60. I can definitely and personally
verify the existence of teasers and subsequent "cuts" in 58-60.
I managed to qualify to experience them both in the first term at the
House and later at the Camp. As I recall, firstly for hiding in my locker
to avoid the early morning pre-breakfast run which qualified for a couple
of cuts. Too many of us chose to hide on the same day and the large
absence must have been rather noticeable as we were all exposed in a
snap locker inspection. To receive the cuts, the drill was to appear
in pyjamas in the bathroom just before lights out for the rounds to
report to the JCC administering them. It was then obligatory to return
to the dormitory and display them to all and sundry to see how good
(accurate) the JCC was. There was some admiration, not from the recipient,
when consecutive cuts had been administered all in one place. I managed
at least one set of six cuts from an officer for suspicion of smoking
when at the camp. Apparently when returning from shore leave the nicotine
fingers and somewhat smoky uniform were a bit of a giveaway.
My QB book has a centre double page for
the 'Gun-Room' signatures. Varoious JCCs are listed surrounded by my
own scribed border of well known phrases or sayings of the time. "I'll
turn you in" "Did you get a substitute?", "That's
no excuse", "Do you agree with the punishment?" (that
really was a good one), " Three cuts", "Days Slack",
"Early Heave Out", "Shake hands" (no hard feelings
afterwards!!), "Extra watch". I think I experienced all of
them more than once. They were after all my formative years. But no
grudges held, I know I deserved all I got. It was just that once bent-over
there was a pre-strike tightening and smoothing of the seat of ones
trousers by the CC which I rather resented, a bit of slack might have
eased the pain a bit.
1959. Cuts came in groups of one
to 12! Down at the house I remember having six because a parcel of food
from home had £1 included.
1961. It is amazing to think how
many cuts were given for smoking. It never seemed to deter most people.
Most of the Officers smoked - in fact I believe Hewitt smoked - and
never thought for a minuite about the double standard. As someone who
has had to motivate people to excellence in my live after Conway, I
look back on the use of the Teaser (which was, as noted, used all through
my time) and wonder what on earth the people in charge were thinking!
My lasting memory of the teaser was having to get an extra cut because
I refused to say Thank You and shake hands with the cadet captain who
delivered the cuts!
1964. I recall falling out bigtime
in my first term with the DCPO House my Divison JCC. Think I ended up
with 24 "cuts" that term, the last 3 on the last day of term
for coming second in a fight! My mother saw the damage a few days later
and was more concerned at the bruises on my buttocks than the stitches
in my mouth!
1967. "Teaser" salt water
soaking was definitely still on in '67 and I can remember being told
that saying the phrase "May the Lord harden my heart and strengthen
my arm to administer justice to this culprit!" was just long enough
to let the sting of the first cut really take home! Still I always preferred
the instant justice of cuts to being forced to run up and down the dock
road holding stones in outstretched arms until you lost all feeling,
had involuntary tears rolling down your cheeks and still had some sadistic
b...d screaming at you at the top of his lungs, threatening you with
another early heave out!
1968. The Teaser was still in use
although in a very limited and controlled way. It’s appearance
was little changed although it no longer had an eye splice at one end.
It was kept in a milk bottle full of salt water which had the effect
of stiffening it so it was more like a solid metal rod than a length
of rope. Any offence or misdemeanour was liable to result in the cadet
being put on a charge by the JCC or Senior Cadet Captain. JCCs could
also be put on a charge by an SCC. Offenders would have to line up outside
the Gun Room – generally with some trepidation as cuts were very
painful. They always caused bruising and often drew blood, recipients
sometimes went straight from the Gun Room to sick bay! Not all cadets
could stand the pain and had to return for their allocated number of
cuts to be completed. Offenders were marched into the Gun Room, accompanied
by their accuser. The CCC or his deputy (standing behind a desk with
the SCCs standing around him) would read out the charge, give the offender
an opportunity to explain himself before some (if any) punishment was
awarded. More often than not this was a Slack Party or extra watches
(both of which deprived the person of what little free time they had),
an early heave out (and we got up early enough as it was) or a number
of cuts from the teaser. The CCC could deliver 6, other cadet captains
lesser numbers depending on rank. Any cadet who was promoted to Cadet
Captain and who had never received any cuts would have to receive some
before they were allowed to deliver them as punishement to other cadets.
All punishments were recorded in the Punishment Book and reviewed by
Captain Hewitt. (Ed: Punishment Books are all held by the Club and are
not in the Conway Archive).
Back to top
organised into Port And Starboard Watches. During the day one watch
would be below at school, the other on deck for nautical training.
part of ship allotted to each top differed over the years. In Masefield's
time the Foretops had the Orlop Deck and the Focslemen the Lower
Deck. In our time the decks were as follows: Foretops - Upper Deck,
Maintops -Main Deck, Mizentops - Lower Deck,
Focsles - Orlop Deck.
System was revised so that new entries were together in one top.
New Chums joined as Fo'c's'lemen and then moved to Maintop (the
biggest boys), the smallest to Mizentop and the rest to Foretop.
chums at the end of first term went either to Port or Starboard
mizzen (if small or skinny) until their final term, whilst the jocks
went in succession through the other tops from Port main to Port
Fore, to Starboard Fore and finally Starboard Main as QB's unless
they became CC's or Band.
time new entries were placed in either Port or Starboard Focsle
for their 1st term on board. In their 2nd term they were moved to
either Starboard Foretop, Mizzentop, Quarterdeck (Band) or Hold.
In their 3rd term they moved to Port Maintop and in their 4th term
they moved to Port Foretop. In their 5th and 6th terms they moved
to Starboard Maintop apart from those who had been made Senior or
Junior Cadet Captains.
to the existing Top arrangements, a systems of 'Ships' was introduced
(by the Cadet Captains) to encourage sporting competition:
Cossack wore black
Howe wore gray
Nestor wore blue
Ohio wore yellow
Rawlpindi wore red
Sea lion wore green.
Many of these ships were re-incarnated
as dormitories when shore based accommodation was introduced.
were in Fo'c's'le
2nd term: starboard maintop
3rd term: starboard foretop
4th term: port maintop
5th term: port foretop
6th term: Hold
our time, joining September 1948, the organization was as follows:
New chums went into the focsles. In their second term (minus the
smaller cadets who went into the Mizentops, and a few who
went into the Hold Division) they went en bloc into what
had been the Senior Top of the previous term. Thus in the Easter
term of 1949 we (who had been Port and Starboard Focsles) went
en bloc into Starboard Fore (less those who went to the Mizentops
or Hold). Our part of ship was the starboard upper deck.The scheme
was that we would then have stayed together for the rest of our
time in the ship, being depleted by promotions to CCs.
of having a Top composed of all one seniority did not lend itself
to internal competitive sport, so there were six "Ships"
(Howe, Cossack, Sealion, Rawalpindi, Nestor, Ohio) - akin
to Houses - composed of a cross section of all seniorities. which
competed in various sports for the Pledger Cup.
new chums always went into the two focsles. Exceptionally, when
there was a large entry, the occasional overflow probably went
into the Mizzentops.In the Easter term of 1949 the Quarterdeck
division was formed of surplus new chums - Mike Llewellyn
was SCC. His new chums won the Hobson Cup, not a very frequent
occurrence. The Quarterdeck Division sometimes housed the Band.
In the days
when sail drill was still regularly exercised (right into the
1890s) it seems likely that, after a term in one of the focsles,
a cadet would proceed to a Top in accordance with his size - and
in accordance with the size of the gear on the mast belonging
to the Top. When and if he grew he would proceed into other Tops.
The Maintopmen seem to have always had the reputation of being
hefty laddies, which accords with this supposition. Tops would
then consist of different members of Terms, which seems to accord
with what Masefield writes. At some time (probably after the demise
of sail drill) the practice became that the Focslemen (minus the
small ones destined for the Mizentops) after their first term
term moved into a Top, but in their third and subsequent terms
moved progressively into other Tops, still remaining together
as a Term (with the exception of those who had gone to make up
numbers in the Hold Division or had become CCs of other Tops or
Supernumerary CCs). This method would ring the changes as to working
on different decks/parts of ship. The Hold Division was composed
of a mixture of different terms. Each Focsle and each Top had
a Senior and a Junior Cadet Captain. (e.g. there was a Senior
and a Junior for Starboard Fore and a Senior and a Junior for
Port Fore). The exception being the Hold Division (and when it
existed the Quarterdeck Division) which had one SCC and one JCC.
Supernumerary CCs (Boat CCs, Mailmaster, Rec Room CC, Bathroom
CC, Pulling & Sailing Boats CC, etc) were not attached to
a Top. They were spread among the messes for meals.
seems to have prevailed into the 1940s, but sometime in that decade
there was then another change.
the end of the Summer term 1949 the Ship moved from Bangor to
Plas Newydd. The Christmas term 1949 saw the opening of the Shore
Base and for the first time new chums did not join the Ship, but
spent their first term in the Nelson Block at Plas Newydd. Some
spent their second term ashore also. Each Top (or strictly speaking
Division) on board now had one SCC and two Junior CCs. Ashore
there was a SCC (Deputy CCC) in overall charge and five JCCs,
one for each Division. The unwieldy system of "Ships"
for sport was now unnecessary and was abolished.
By the mid 60s (certainly from 64)
New Chums were placed directly into one of the Tops/ Divisions
(Focsle, Fore, Main and Mizzen) where they remained for the duration.
The system of allocation is not absolutely clear but it seems
to have been in blocks of 3-5 cadet numbers. The Christmas 64
Watch Bill shows e.g. 41- 43 in Fxl (Andes dorm), 55-59 in Fxl
(Nestor), 110-112 in Foretop (Rawlpindi) and 66-70 in Mizzen (Jervis
Hold by then was not a division but an "overflow" dorm
(Mauretania) in the Nelson Block. Cadets there were allocated
either individually or in pairs of cadet numbers. It held cadets
from all 4 tops. For some reason there are odd gaps in the numbering
sequence eg no 73, 101 or 113. Oddly my number was 72 but when
I was still in the house with most of my term, 73-76 were also
my term and Fxl but in the New Block.
Back to top
was of fine blue cloth with gilt anchor buttons The jacket had an
upright collar with gold braid on the front of the collar. Caps
bore the badge of the Liverpool Mercantile Marine Association.
jumpers and round hats on board and for going ashore at Rock Ferry.
On Sundays and for going ashore in Liverpool uniform with half boots
were worn (the later were reported very useful for secreting tobacco.
a "...neat sailor like uniform of blue jacket and waistcoat with
white trousers..." (Illustrated London News 30 June).
Miller decide that from henceforth all uniforms were to be purchased
from the Liverpool Sailors' Home in Paradise Road, overlooking the
Victoria Dock. It is long since demolished and is now waste ground.
This arrangement was to continue until closure.
||1880 A Glengarry
was the working cap worn on board on weekdays by all who were not
Petty Officers. It was never worn off the ship. It was rather like
the hat still worn today by French seamen. It was dark blue with
a mottling of white at the edge. There was a dark blue pom pom on
top and long black silk ribbons. It was common for the older cadets
to tear these off New Chums' Glengarries. Reportedly it had two
merits: it never blew off and it was excellent for polishing brass!
'Crimean' blue flannel shirts were
worn. The colour came out until they had been washed many many times.
A coarse blue serge shirt was worn on seamanship days
Uniform caps had a square flat peak
and not turned down. It was bright green underneath. The cloth
body was considered to be too tall at the crown. Cadets would
remove the lining and reduce the height of the crown.
Officers were re-titled Cadet Captains a tile that remained until
closure nearly 100 years later. At this time their status was denoted
by gold lace sleeve stripes. A broad one for Junior Cadet Captains,
a narrow one for the Seniors.
||A new cap
was introduced with a rounded peak. This as a result of much open
dissent by cadets about the 'Cheese Cutter' cap. It was disliked
by the POs because it caused less pain when used to swipe laggardly
uniform was worn. It was considered very smart.
The cap badge was the based on Royal
Navy one except with a red shield and no crown. On weekdays on-board
a plain peaked cap was worn with a pennant bearing the word Conway
instead of the badge. The cadets attempted to wear the smallest
possible cap, and to perch it on the back of the head. Once a
reasonable distance form the ship it wa the vogue to wear the
black strap and gold chin stays over the crown of the cap.
An eight button reefer jacket was
worn. The buttons had anchor and the word Conway on them. On Sundays
the 'short' jacket was worn.
Canvas deck shoes were worn.
QBs in their last term would convert
their trousers into bell bottoms by sewing a V shaped piece of
cloth into the bottom of the leg.
granted permission to enroll as Cadets RNR and wear regulation Naval
uniform. The same privilege was accorded to Worcester and Pangbourne
cadets. The traditional uniform was given up with some regret.
of removing the grommet from the otherwise very stiff and flat cap,
soaking it in salt water until it became a shapeless mass was discouraged
by the Captain.
were still worn with uniform jackets.
winter term Cadets wore SB's (navy blue single breasted jackets
similar to battle dress tops) and dark blue trousers with no pockets
(!), blue collarless shirts with white soft collars, black tie and
white lanyard. The senior cadets wore their top buttons undone as
sign of their superiority. In summer the dress was navy blue shorts,
blue knee length socks and blue shirts without ties. Sleeves are
rolled up very neatly and precisely. Reefers were worn on Sundays,
holidays ands other special occasions.Caps had the RN cap badge.
For morning divisions double breasted jackets were worn with blue
cord on each lapel (Cadet RNR). During the summer term blue shorts
or long navy blue trousers were worn. Cricket teams wore double
breasted jackets or blazers, with white trousers.
Captains and QBs were allowed pockets in their trousers.
had detachable white covers as in winter it was "Blue"rig. The covers
were a pain as the had to be washed. As for the hat badge I seem to
remember that the ones from the Sailors Home were a smaller version of
the RN issue, so an "east of suez" version was purchased for your QB
term. We also had the blue twist on the lapels, I believe the white one
came in about 53 with buttons that had RNR on them.
RN uniform was worn. Cadets held the rank Cadet RNR. A white cord
was embroidered on each lapel (the same as Midshipmen wear today
but without the white backing . For Sunday Divisions and for wearing
with reefers black shoes were worn. These were spit and polished
until the to caps resembled mirrors.
A white lanyard was worn around the
neck. The knot of this was supposed to reswt just below the lapel
cross over so the lanyard formed a neat V shape (see above). As
cadets became more senior the knot tended to creep higher and higher.
QBs were ruthless in ensuring that they and only they wore their
knot so high the lanyard no longer formed a V but rather was a horizontal
band from collar to collar. A running game of cat and mouse developed
with officers demanding that the regulation V shape be adopted by
QBs, the knot was always adjusted as soon as the officer moved on!
Cadet Captains now wore a gold device
on the sleeve. Juniors a small one, Seniors one large one and
the Chief Cadet Captain wore one on each sleeve. For everyday
working rig collar barges were worn. Interestingly the prefects
of the Prince Of Wales School, Nairobi, Kenya wore the same distinctive
flash on their blazers.
by cadets they were allowed to go ashore in civilian clothes providing
these passed muster.
allowed to wear civilian clothes rather than uniform. The end was
Back to top