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View of St Tudno at the pier in Llandudno
The black & white easel announced that the Liverpool & North Wales Steamship Company was operating two pleasure steamers that week. One was the little St Trillo, all of 150 feet long and 314 gross tons, while the other was the St Tudno, pride of the fleet at 2,326 gross tons and 329 feet long. They were both quite old ships by this time, however; St Trillo had begun life in 1936 as the St Silio, while St Tudno dated from 1926 and was already 35 years old. There were a number of different trips on different days and I think the one my parents were interested in was the excursion out to Puffin Island and the Isle of Anglesey. However, this was not to be. All excursions were cancelled because of the bad weather.

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Little St Trillo ( 1936 - 314 gross tons )
We came back the next day, only to discover that things were just as bad. On the third day, the weather had eased a little but not enough; all excursions were still cancelled. However, they announced that they were going to run the St Tudno to Douglas in the Isle of Man, as it had been a week since her last mail-delivery trip. This was not quite what my parents had originally had in mind but it was the last opportunity we were going to get to take a steamer trip before our holiday was over and since I had set my heart on going on a "big boat" for the first time, I did not want to be cheated out of it by something as insignificant as lousy weather! I was rather a sickly child at this time and my Mum & Dad thought that the sea air would do me good. And I suspect that they figured that the rough weather would soon put a stop to my tantrums - somewhat in evidence by this time.

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St Tudno III ( 1926 - 2,326 gross tons )
The trip from Llandudno to Douglas, Isle of Man, was 54 miles and was supposed to take about three and a half hours but it is a measure of the weather that my first sea voyage took four and a half hours. This was much to the dismay of my parents who, while not actually sea-sick themselves, were obliged to huddle on deck in the biting wind and spray because they could not bear the awful smell of warm air, wet clothes and vomit which greeted you at the top of the stairs leading to the comfortable saloon below.

Neither could I actually, but I was thrilled and raced back and forth, thoroughly excited by the power of the waves crashing over the bows as the steadfast St Tudno ploughed on through the grey and heaving sea. To me, this was the first "real ship" I had been on and I had never previously "been to sea". The huge buff funnel belching grey smoke and the big round ventilators seemed to dwarf a little boy. I was captivated. Every few minutes, I would return to my parents to find out what else there was to eat from the little picnic my Mum had packed for us. There was plenty for me, of course, because it was as much as either of them could do to even contemplate eating under such conditions. But I was in my element, my red curly hair covered in spray and even more tousled than ever, my cheeks rosy for the first time in two years and not a care in the world.

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St Tudno in rough seas off the Great Orme
I did venture below decks to explore but even I had to steer clear of the main lounges because of the stench. At one point, I found myself down some illicit passageway, completely lost. Well what nine year-old boy is going to take notice of a little "Crew Only" sign? I was befriended by a member of the crew, who must have taken a shine to me because he took my hand and showed me inside the engine room before pointing me back in the right direction again. Such innocence; you could hardly think of such things today but then, this was "The Good Old Days".

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The Last Season of 1962
By the time we arrived at Douglas, Mum & Dad were so relieved at last to be on dry land. Unbeknown to me, they were both actually dreading the return journey. All I was interested in was when we could get to sea again. In fact, we were so late by this time that we were allowed little more than an hour ashore before we had to go back aboard, so I don't really remember much about the Isle of Man. I do recall that the return trip was much calmer and not as eventful as the outward journey, for which Mum & Dad were truly thankful. I remember too the wonderful sight of the twinkling lights of Llandudno and the silhouette of the Great Orme against the evening summer sky as we approached the pier at the end of our day. I was hooked!

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Sadly, the Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Company went into liquidation at the end of the following season in 1962. The little St Trillo survived for seven years, chartered for excursions but the St Tudno was too old and too expensive to run and was sold for scrap at the hands of a breaker's yard in Holland.


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