The Severn Trow Jonadab

Built 1848, Newport, Monmouthshire

By Richard James

The Early years, 1848-1894

Originally built in 1848 by John Johns at Newport, Monmouthshire for John Davies, a builder, she was an open moulded trow of some 59 tons.  First registered at Newport this changed in 1856 to Bristol when she was bought by her then Master, James Facey.

 

According to the Customs Register she was then purchased ‘at twelve noon’ on the 30th August 1894 by Mrs Laura James and rebuilt in 1895 at Saul Junction on the River Severn in Gloucestershire as a flush-decked vessel (also known as ‘boxed’). This raised the freeboard which would enable her to venture further afield from the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel and handle the strong seas off Ireland and the South and South West Coasts of England.  She was also given a trow rig which may suggest that originally she might have been square rigged.


Middle age, 1894-1920

Between 1894 and about 1920 she was worked by Laura James and her husband, Captain W.J. (Billie) James, later joined by their son, Stuart.  She traded mainly between the various Severn Estuary , Bristol Channel and West Coast ports of Devon, Cornwall and South and West Wales, but occasionally sailed around into the English Channel (Falmouth, Looe, Fowey) and across to Southern Ireland (particularly Waterford).  She would have carried general cargoes including coal (from the Forest of Dean), stone bricks, livestock and animal feedstuffs.

 

Third age, 1927-1960s

Records show that she then passed into the hands of ‘Desperate’ Dan Gower of Cardiff just after the First World War, probably about 1920.  Subsequently she received a major re-fit in Carver’s Yard, Bridgwater in October 1927.  Further major repairs were carried out in February 1932 again at Bridgwater following a collision in Cardiff Docks.  In 1934 she lost her mizzen mast in a heavy squall in the Bristol Channel, also the topmast on the main so she then carried a sloop rig until unrigged and motorized in 1949 in dry dock at Saul, with her timbers also being strengthened.   In the interim she had passed into the ownership of Silvey’s of Bristol, a major Coal Merchants in the City and eventually came to be used as a dumb barge, again probably for coal mined in the Forest of Dean.

 

And finally . . .

She remained in work for a further ten years or so until coal production in the Forest gave out in the 1960’s but then Jonadab, like so many of the other Severn Trows, was laid up on the banks of the River Severn, although still in fair repair.  Although still in very good condition in 1973 and with several projects proposed to restore her (including interest from the Maritime Trust) her condition then gradually declined.  At some point she floated off at a spring tide where the current took her to Sharpness where she blocked the docks entrance.  She was towed back close to Lydney and beached high up on the foreshore where she gradually deteriorated.   Several of her timbers were salvaged and were incorporated in the construction of the bar in the Lydney Sailing Club.

Up date 2012  

In October 2011 I submitted some photographs plus historical background regarding the Severn Trow Jonadab, owned between 1894 and about 1920 by my Great Grandparents, Laura and William James of Saul, followed by their son, Stuart (my Grandfather).

The background history confirmed that the Jonadab traded across to Southern Ireland and we have now unearthed some photographs via the Waterford County Museum, copies of which are attached.  Image 1 (about 1910) shows Jonadab in the River Blackwater opposite Ballynatray House, which is just upstream from Youghal at the estuary mouth.  Image 2 shows Jonadab in unknown location and undated, in company with the brig The 1st Nellie Fleming.  However, research confirms that the Nellie Fleming was wrecked in 1913 off the Irish coast, so this helps to date the photograph to probably within a year or two of Image 1.  

I hope that this will provide additional interest to the Jonadab archive material on you Website.

 


Photo:Painting of the Jonadab, oils

Painting of the Jonadab, oils

Donated by Richard James

Photo:The Jonadab, off Battery Point, Portishead

The Jonadab, off Battery Point, Portishead

Donated by Richard James

Photo:Keel of the Jonadab now to be found at Newnham on Severn along side the Old Wharf

Keel of the Jonadab now to be found at Newnham on Severn along side the Old Wharf

Donated by Mike Penny

Photo:(about 1910) shows Jonadab in the River Blackwater opposite Ballynatray House, which is just upstream from Youghal at the estuary mouth

(about 1910) shows Jonadab in the River Blackwater opposite Ballynatray House, which is just upstream from Youghal at the estuary mouth

Donated by Richard James

Photo:Shows Jonadab in unknown location and undated, in company with the brig The 1st Nellie Fleming

Shows Jonadab in unknown location and undated, in company with the brig The 1st Nellie Fleming

Donated by Richard James

This page was added by Iris Capps on 31/10/2011.
Comments about this page

Richard, excellent piece.  Are you aware her stern section is now on the Purton West forsehore where it has lain since 2004 after being washed from a nearby sandbank?  Paul

By Paul Barnett
On 01/11/2011

Very interesting, her keel now sits on the bank at Newnham on Severn along side The Old Wharf.

By Mike Penny
On 21/02/2012

Mike - revisiting the website I have found your fascinating photo of Jonadab's keel at Newnham, adjacent to the Old Wharf. I will be hunting this down to take a few photos of my own and re-touch some Family history. Many thanks.

By Richard James
On 24/02/2012

According to my research on Ancestry, my gt gt gt gt grandfather  James Guy was Master of the Jonadab in 1881 when he was 73 years old

 

 

By carol hicks
On 31/05/2018

My 3xGreat Grandfather James Guy was Master of the Jonadab between 1866 and 1876. It is really good to see a picture of it.

Thanks  Julia

By Julia Greenway
On 31/05/2018

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