Monday, May 31, 2004

Owners and Shipwrights Possibly

Hi People

Below is some information I got from an Internet site. I reckon we still need more information to correlate with this to confirm that this article does relate to the TR Thompson that we are researching....if that makes sense. I'd hate to be barking up the wrong tree!! Perhaps this information will help others?

There are photos on the website but they would not reproduce here.

Best wishes

Mike Daniels

Steamship Owner, Shipbroker, and Agent
1846 - 1919
Updated: 11 August, 1998

[ Up ] [ SS Drummond Castle Sinking ]


Matthew Thompson, ropemaker and shipowner of Monkwearmouth, Sunderland c. 1860, father of Thomas Roe Thompson

Thomas Roe Thompson was born on 6 February 1846 at 10 Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, on the north shore of the river Wear, the second son and fourth child of Matthew and Celia (née Roe) Thompson, ropemaker and shipowner

Little is known about young Thomas Roe Thompson until he moved with his father, Matthew Thompson, and his uncle, John Thompson, to South Wales in 1858 at the age of 12.

According to the "History of the Barry Railway Company 1921-24", he joined his father in the business of Matthew Thompson and later, in conjunction with Captain John Cory, he embarked into the enterprise of ship owning.

From his earliest acquaintance with Cardiff, he made himself thoroughly conversant with the requirements of the port there. Previous to this, he was placed in the office of a Courtier Maritime at Nantes, where beside learning all there was to know of ship-broking, he also acquired a very thorough knowledge of the French language which was to serve him well in later life.

Family myth says that he spent part of his early life in Bordeaux, Southern France but this may have been confused with his time in Nantes.

Thomas Roe Thompson as High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1899

After his father, Matthew Thompson died in 1864, Thomas traded as T.R. Thompson & Co at 2 Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff and amongst the ships he owned there were:

SS Alacrity (1182 gross tons) built at Milford Haven
SS Alaska (2112 tons) built by Shorts of Sunderland
SS Advance (1391 tons)
SS Alert (1382 tons) built by Palmer & Co of Jarrow
SS Dinas (712 tons) built by Schlezinger & Davis of Newcastle upon Tyne.

He promoted the construction of Barry Docks to provide facilities more suitable for modern larger shipping than had been provided by Lord Bute in Cardiff. His name was in the first list of Promoters and he represented the ship owning side of Cardiff Commerce. He attained fame as a Parliamentary witness during the 1880s both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords during the Parliamentary Procedures needed to pass a law so that the Barry Docks could be constructed. It was said that his knowledge of Pilotage was unrivalled and he was a master of statistics when a Parliamentary witness.

He gave evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee in favour of the building of Barry Dock on 11 and 12 April 1883, and to the House of Lords on 6 June 1883. This first attempt to obtain parliamentary approval failed but he and his colleagues were more successful in a second attempt a year later, so that the construction of the Docks was able to commence on 14 November 1884.

Cutting the First Sod of No.1 Dock by the late Earl of Plymouth Lord Windsor on November 14, 1884

As an aside, the legal costs in promoting the two Bills exceeded £150,000 and the cost of construction of the dock and railway up to the time of opening the undertaking exceeded £2,000,000 (Western Mail Barry and District Directory 1897-8).

Thompson himself put up several thousands of pounds towards the enterprise.

He was on the bridge of the first ship to enter the new Barry dock, the Steam Ship Arno at the opening of the docks in 1889.

Opening Ceremony at Barry Dock - 1889

Thomas Roe Thompson was a County Magistrate for the Division of Dinan Powis and was High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1899. It is said within the family that he was offered a baronetcy by the Government of the time, for a payment. Rightly, he turned this down, saying that if he merited such an honour, it should be given to him without payment. How many would refuse today!

There is a street named after him, Thompson Street, which is not far from the Public Library in the centre of Barry.

Thompson Street, Barry (photographed in 1995)

Thomas Roe Thompson built a public house in Vere Street, Barry, called the Wenvoe Arms, now called The Admiral Inn, in which he placed one David Thompson. The reason behind this is somewhat of a mystery and it is not known whether David Thompson, a native of Forfar in Scotland, was a distant relative.

Thomas Roe Thompson senior

Thomas Roe Thompson married Mary Elizabeth Davis of Sundridge in Kent on 16 December 1864 at the age of 18.

They lived at Erw'r Delyn on Sully Road near Llandough, and had eight children of which only one child, the seventh, was a son, also called Thomas Roe Thompson (junior) although more commonly called Tom. Within the family, he was known as "Tappa". Erw'r Delyn is now a rather dilapidated building converted into flats.

Thomas Roe Thompson, senior, died on 13 April 1919, in Penarth, the death certificate stating that he had died of "senile decay". He was a widower, his wife having died very much earlier, in 1906. He is buried in the churchyard at Llandough.

There is an inscription on the side of his memorial commemorating the death of his daughter Emily and her husband John Gethin together with their two children, Lorna and Jack, who died in the wreck of the Union Castle liner Drummond Castle on the night of 16 June 1896.

Thomas Roe Thompson's Memorial at the entrance to Llandough churchyard. The Church overlooks Cardiff Bay.

My thanks go to the Local Studies Section of Barry Public Library who were most helpful in providing much of the information above.

My appreciation goes also to my late brother, Brian Gladstone Roe Thompson, who made the initial contact with Barry Public Library on my behalf. He died suddenly on 11 July 1997, one day short of his 64th birthday.

Michael Thompson July 1997

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Research Topics

This is the current list of ideas for research - if you are interested in taking up one of the leads let Chris P know. Some of these seem a liitle cryptic , if you need some more info just ask!

1 Research / Locate : Iron Ore (Cargo on TRT)

2 Research links with Middlesborough (Destination for TRT/Cargo)

3 Research Type of Torpedo ( Volunteer: Simon W)

4 Research Submarine UB57 ( Volunteer: Simon W)

5 Research TRT Deck Gun

6 Locate / Photo Shell cases (on wreck)

7 Research naming of ship (Volunteer: Simon W)

8 Research Literature “History of the Barry Railway Company 1921-24” (Refers to T R

9 Research Ownerhsip of TRT

10 Organise (dive) Trip & Drink at the Pub “The Admiral Inn” (Owned by the Thompsons)

11 Research story of the wreck of the “Drummond Castle” (Thompson relatives on board)

12 Photos of T R Thompson memorial (Wales) IF this is the owner / person the ship is
named after.

13 Research Familiy connections (if any) between TRT Owner & the Captain of the TRT

14 Research George Short (Ship Builder)

15 Research James Westoll, Ship Owner.

16 Research launch – local newspapers?

17 Research Financial records?

18 Research “Claxhueugh” (Ship Yard?)

19 Research Wear Shipbuilders Association

20 Research “Pallion” (Ship Yard? )

21 Research Wear Ship Output 1984

22 Research UB57 Commander Lohs ( Volunteer: Simon W / Mike D)

23 Get Photos of the bell

24 Research Beni Saf, Near Oran, Algeria (Port at which Cargo loaded)

25 Identify TRT Lookout (crew).

26 Research TRT Captain Eggleston (link tp Action 13 above)

27 Identify Survivors /descendants.

28 Identify / Research Patrol Vessel / Crew that came to aid of TRT Crew.

29 Trace & Interview , get copy of original article regarding fist recreational dive on

30 Locate other memorials , grave stones (buried locally?)

31 Research Victim / family/ Memorial – photos.

32 Research Register of Shipping & seamen

33 Identify subjects depicted within dive photos

Thursday, May 27, 2004

2nd TRT Project Meeting ~ 25th May 2004

Although there were only 5 of us at the meeting it was still a very useful one in the end Simon has done loads of research around T.R.Thompson himself and has some interesting facts these have been passed on to Sheila and Ernie who are doing the Welsh Connection research.

Outcomes of the meeting

Simon to research to see if TRT was the original name of the ship
Tad to design project objective sheets for project dives

We need a volunteers for

Project co-ordinator
Archive Co- ordinator
Training Co- ordinator
Press co- ordinator

Lists of research tasks are available from Chris P.

The first project dives of the season will be posted soon and it has been agreed that the teams first dives will be orientation dives with no allocated tasks.

Once again sorry for the moan but it was a little disheartening on Tuesday.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

More UB57 Information to Come!

I've dug up the following: -

* The (probable) type of torpedo
* A possibly divable wreck of one of UB-57's sisters (shame it was built in a different yard, but the plans would be the same... vorsprung durch teknic and all that...)
* a probable location of Obl. Lohs grave.

busy busy busy....

Saturday, May 22, 2004

NAS Entry level course

Just to let you know that I have emailed the NAS to see if we can organize an entry level 1 day course. I am not sure what the cost will be yet or when this can be done.
The NAS will require at least 10-15 people to make this feasible but I do recommend that those who have done no NAS training sign up because it will certainly help with the project.

Due to problems in the past with people saying they want to do trips or courses and then backing out at the last minute the full cost of this course must be paid up front to cover our costs.

Please let me know if you are interested or perhaps we should make mandatory to be involved with the project what do you think?


Friday, May 21, 2004

Stern ribs with steering quadrant in place Posted by Hello

TRT Machinery

Remains of the engine? Posted by Hello

Triple Expansion Engine

Dave and Rob on the triple expansion engine of the TRT Posted by Hello

Porthole Position

Where there once was a porthole! Posted by Hello

Steering Quadrant

Steering quadrant Posted by Hello

Deck Winch

winch Posted by Hello

Spare Propellor Blade

spare prop Posted by Hello

Deck Railing ~ Image

TRT Railing ~ Chris-PPosted by Hello

Deck Feature Image

for those of you who havent seen them these are pics from last years dives on the TRT taken by Chris Posted by Hello

Range Finder Images ~ Markings

Markings on the wheel (which by the way is solid brass and very heavy) indicate which way to turn or raise the gun Posted by Hello

Range Finder Images - Markings

Here are the markings on the range finder Posted by Hello

Range Finder Images

closer inspection the wheel is the range finder Posted by Hello

Ranger Finder Images

The recovered items from the stern gun of the T.R.Thompson as donated to NSC Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Marina Training ~ 20th May

An interesting exploratory session! Alex, Alan, Ernie , Sheila, Rob, Debs & Sara took part in the 'exercise' with Chris D & Chris P. The plan was simple and that's where we parted company with simplicity!

The object of the exercise was to measure a gulley between two points - easy? Apparently not! A line (replicating a shot line) lead to the gulley ('replicating' a wreck!) the task was to measure the distance between the 'shot line' and a marker along the gulley. Three 'teams' tried the exercise, and only ONE team came back with a measurement ay all!! Well done the 'A' Team! Provisional learning points:-

a). Don't break buddy pairs (a basic rule reinforced!!)
b). Treat the measure like you would a line/reel.
c). Don't assume when you reach the bottom of the shot line you will be properly orientated!
d). Don't expect impressive results quickly!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Range Finder Handed In

The Range Finder from the stern gun of the TRT has been handed to Margarett Stally who has advised us that she has contacted the Receiver of Wreck to retain the item.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Marina Training ~ 16th May 2004

The Marina training session for 16/5 was a fairly short affair! Chris-D & Tad brought some tape measures and these were tested underwater with a fair degree of success, ie they worked! Tad mentioned that Marina Training should reflect the reality of the TRT depths and thus sessions would need to take no more than available bottom time on the wreck! As a VERY rough guide a dive last August (not sure of the tide condition!!) :-

The Propeller was 29m (RDP 20 Mins)
Top of the Stern was 21m (RDP 37 Mins)
Top of the Stern 'Ribs' was 19m (RDP 45 Mins)

UB57 Submarine Commander Lohs

I'd like to credit this to the site
Johannes Lohs
Oberleutnant zur See (Crew 4/09)

Born: 24 Jun, 1889
Dead: 14 Aug, 1918 S Ireland


Oberleutnant zur See


Iron Cross 2nd class
Iron Cross 1st Class
24 Apr, 1918 Pour le Mérite

U-boat Commands

UC 75 17 Mar, 1917 - 30 Jan, 1918
UB 57 2 Jan, 1918 - 14 Aug, 1918 (+)

Born on 24 June, 1889 at Einsiedel, Sachsen. Son of plant owner Oswald Lohs. First ran school in his home village and later a grammar school in Chemnitz.
He entered the Kaiserliche Marine on 1 April, 1909. Had several commands as Fahnrich zur See and served from 1st October 1912 on the cruiser Strasburg on which he saw half of the world.

Saw action for the very first time on 28 August, 1914 and was promoted Lt.z.S. in the autumn of 1915. Moved to the U-Bootschule and got his first U-Boat command on UC 75 of the Flandern Flottille on the 17th March 1917, on which he did 9 patrols off the British coast. On 2 January 1918 he became CO of the UB 57, taking over the command of this boat from another legendary U-Boat commander, Otto Steinbrinck. Lohs had also some very good ideas on U-boat warfare and new tactics and in April 1918 he received the Pour le Mérite.

On 3 August he sailed from Zeebrugge for the last time. The last contact he made with the base was on the evening of the 14th, as UB 57 was homeward bound roughly in the area of the Sandiette Bank, east of the Straits of Dover. Nothing more was heard. UB 57 is believed to have run onto a mine. Ships sunk on this last patrol were the Clan Max Vey (5815 BRT), Glenlee (4915 BRT) and City of Brisbane (7094 BRT).

In total, Lohs sank approximately 165.000 tons of shippin. Lohs' body washed up on shore a week later; he is buried in the military cemetary at Vlissingen.

On 4 October 1937 the III Unterseebootflottille was named after him at Kiel.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Recovered Range Finder

Well the project is finally up and running I think we have a real opportunity to do something really special here so good luck to all.

We have been contacted by a guy called Dave who dived the TRT in 1990 and removed the range finder from the gun. Dave has delivered this to NSC after reading in Diver magazine that we have adopted the wreck. Thanks Dave.

Adopt a wreck Aims of the project

The T.R.Thompson project will be a 2 year piece of work conducted by volunteers. The aim will be to find out and record historical and factual information through land based research and underwater survey techniques. The team will then put together a complete record of the wrecks history, marine life colonisation and present day condition.
The project will take around 2 years culminating in a final report using written and multimedia formats which will then be entered into the NAS adopt a wreck award scheme.

Friday, May 14, 2004

NAS & Side Scan Sonar ~ On hold!

The following message has been received from the NAS regards accessing their Side Scan Sonar equipment:-

"I would suggest that you need to crack on and get some data from your site
before we put it forward as a worthy project that needs some side scan.

Simply it would look unfair to other groups who have already started
collecting measurements, photos and video, etc, and who would also be
worthy candidates for a side scan image of their wreck. However with that
said I will see what I can arrange."

Locating the Wreck

Nautical Archaeological Society have helpfully pointed out the wreck site

She's no. 52 in the 100 Best Wrecks rated by DIVERNET (from Diver Magazine)

100 Best Wrecks 51-60 - DIVERNET from Diver Magazine: "52 T R THOMPSON
3538-ton cargo steamer, built 1897. 360ft x 47ft. Armed with 4.7in gun on stern. 301hp triple expansion engines. Cargo: 5600 tons iron ore, Algeria to Middlesbrough. Position: 50 40.17N; 00 05.63E. Depth: 30m.
Sunk: 29 March, 1918, by single torpedo from UB-57. Three saved from crew of 36.
Diving: Superstructure collapsed. Highest point stern, stands upright and 14m proud. Big break amidships. Gun fallen into wreckage. Shellcases nearby. Sand encroaching. Bell recovered by Bromley BSAC in 1989.
Launch: Newhaven."

T R Thompson ~ DIVER Magazine May 2004

Page 101 of the May 2004 announces the T R Thompson project under the NAS 'Adopt a Wreck' scheme. Since the publication of the DIVER mag item a diver has contacted us to say that he has possession of the "Range Finder" from the TRT. The diver has said he will deliver the items to Newhaven Scuba Centre, who will report it to the Receiver of Wreck.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Kick-Off Post

The first meeting of the Adopt-a-wreck group happened last night. Tad & Chris showed us the road ahead, and it's a watery one indeed.

Anyway, this blog is intended as a collaborative online journal. We will report progress here, adventures and mishaps as well as forthcoming events. And as soon as I figure it out we can put links to some pics, too.