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The tramp ship was the taxi of the seas. With no regular schedules, it voyaged anywhere and everywhere, picking up and dropping off cargoes, mainly bulk cargoes such as coal, grain, timber, china clay and oil. It was the older and slower vessels that tended to find their way into this trade, hence the tag 'tramp', though new tramps were built, often with the owner's eye on chartering to the liner companies. In this new book by the well-known author Roy Fenton, their evolution is described over the course of more than 100 years, from the 1860s, when the steam tramp developed from the screw collier, until it was largely replaced by the specialist bulk carrier in the 1980s. ??An introduction looks at the design and building of tramps before going on to describe the machinery, from simple triple-expansion turbines to diesel engines. Their operation and management and the life of the officers and crews is also covered. The meat of the book is to be found in the 300 wonderfully evocative photographs of individual ships which illustrate the development of the tramp and its trades through the last years of the 19th century, the two world wars, and the postwar years. Each caption gives the dimensions, the owners and the builder, and outlines the career, with notes on trades and how they changed over a ship's lifetime. Design features are highlighted and notes on machinery included. This will become a classic work, to inspire all merchant ship enthusiasts and historians.
Sir William Reardon Smith (1856-1935) was one of the foremost figures in south Wales in the early twentieth century. His was a classic story of ‘rags to riches’ - starting life as a deck-hand and ship’s cook sailing from his native Appledore in 1870, he was a master mariner at the age of twenty-two and subsequently commanded many of the fine sailing ships owned by Hugh Hogarth & Sons of Glasgow. A long-cherished ambition to become a shipowner was eventually realised in 1906 when he acquired his first steamship, City of Cardiff. The venture prospered and nine vessels were owned on the eve of the First World War. He subsequently showed great entrepreneurial initiative during the depression, acquiring motor vessels and establishing new trade routes. He is also remembered as a great philanthropist, particularly through his association with the National Museum of Wales – during his term as treasurer (1925-28) and president (1928-32), he restored the museum’s faltering finances and enabled the construction of the it’s east wing which is now so integral a part of Cardiff’s dignified civic centre. His establishment of the Reardon Smith Nautical School in Cardiff in 1921 was another notable achievement; this school provided an opportunity for aspiring deck officers to learn the essential skills appropriate to their chosen careers. He also funded hospital developments in Cardiff and Bideford, and endowed the chair of geography at Exeter University. At the time of his death in December 1935, fulsome tributes were paid to him both by his fellow shipowners and by the principals of those organisations which had benefitted from his generosity; many of those who live in south Wales and the West country today still enjoy that legacy

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