Site of ‘Kathleen & May’ shipyard, Connah’s Quay

Site of ‘Kathleen & May’ shipyard, Connah’s Quay

The schooner Kathleen & May was built in this vicinity, near the Old Quay House. Today it’s the sole survivor of the hundreds of sailing ships which were built at many places around the Welsh coast. It’s also Britain’s last three-masted topsail schooner which can still sail the seas.

The vessel was built for Chester shipowners Coppack Brothers & Co, and named Lizzie May after Captain John Coppack’s daughters. It was the 51st ship to be launched here by shipbuilders Ferguson & Baird.

On 30 April 1900, spectators flocked here by rail and road. Miss Coppack smashed a bottle of wine, hanging on a pale blue ribbon, against the bow. Then the Lizzie May, festooned with bunting and with a crowd of people on deck, slid into the water. The ship needed little fitting out after the launch and within days was at the dockside for its first cargo – bricks for Rochester in Kent.

Under the Coppacks’ ownership it sailed almost 65,000km (40,000 miles) on voyages around the British Isles. In 1908 the vessel was sold to an Irish shipowner who renamed it after his own daughters, one of whom also happened to be a May.

The Kathleen & May survived two world wars – including voyages as a gunpowder carrier in the Second World War! Steam power, which had supplanted sail on the seas, had largely given way to diesel by the time the Kathleen & May retired from commercial service in 1961.

The Maritime Trust was established in 1969 to save the ship, along with a Thames barge, for posterity. The schooner is based in Liverpool and looked after by the Kathleen & May Heritage Trust.

Another famous Deeside ship was the Royal Charter, which voyaged between Britain and Australia until it was wrecked off Anglesey with the loss of more than 400 lives.

You can discover more about the maritime heritage of Connah’s Quay at the Kathleen & May Heritage Centre. The centre is run by the Quay Watermen’s Association, which also provides boat trips along the river – follow the link below for details.

Postcode: CH5 4DS    View Location Map

Website of the Quay Watermen’s Association

Website of Kathleen & May Heritage Trust 

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