This film is part of Free

Grounded on the Platters: HMS Conway

A sorry end to any ship: timings, tide and wind played their part in pushing HMS Conway onto the Platters rocks in the Menai Strait on 14/4/1953.

Home movie 1953 7 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Nelson, carved in teak and weighing 3.5 tons, served as HMS Conway’s figurehead and thus presided over the ship’s wrecking in the Menai Strait 14/4/1953, a stretch of water he was known to regard as one of the most treacherous a sailor could encounter. Artist Charles F Tunnicliffe records the ship grounded on the Platters, never to reach Birkenhead for its refit, and returns with his camera in 1956 when the vessel was being broken up and a heat torch spark had set it alight.

It was evident from a young age that Tunnicliffe (1901-79) had a gift for drawing, his particular interest being birds and other wildlife. From a farm in Cheshire he won scholarships to Macclesfield School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. He worked as an etcher and engraver, a teacher and an illustrator for Ladybird books, Brooke Bond tea cards and for books by e.g. Alison Uttley and Henry Williamson. He married Winifred Wonnacott (1902-69), a fellow RCA scholarship student from Holywood, Belfast, and they moved to ‘Shorelands’, a bungalow/bird hide by the Cefni estuary, Malltraeth, in 1947. Their friends included T G ‘Wack’ Walker, Norman ‘Nomad’ Ellison, Ted Breeze Jones and Kyffin Williams.