THE recent article about resident Mike Tarver revisiting the Passat four-masted barque in Lubeck, Germany, 65 years after it was in Penarth reminded Bruce Wallace of his families connections to the vessel.

Mr Wallace of Carmarthen recounts his families story.

My late father Brian Wallace (from Salop Street) remembered the Passat, together with the Pamir arriving in Penarth Dock in October 1949. They had brought 60,000 sacks of barley from Port Victoria, Spenser Gulf, in Australia. This was the last commercial trip by sailing ships around Cape Horn because the journey was becoming uneconomical. They had taken 128 and 110 days respectively to do the trip.

Dad also remembered them being called ‘the rat ships’ for the following reason. They could not unload at Penarth, so spent some time there while the owner considered other arrangements.

They were eventually taken to the Ranks Mill at Barry Docks because they had better unloading equipment. When they opened the hatches, the holds were full of rats. These had infested the ship during its long wait because the grain was a food source for the local rat population.

The call went out around Barry for terriers. They killed over 5,000 rats. The cargo was then unloaded. The holds were then gassed, which killed another 3,000 rats.

The Pamir and the Passat then came back to Penarth, where they were hauled up while the owner Captain Hagerstrand decided what to do with them. They were there for about 18 months, so they needed a watchman.

Although my fathers’ father, Tom Wallace (also from Salop Street) was in his late 60s and retired, he took the job because he knew his way around such ships. He recalled seeing the sails below decks covered in mildew because they had been stored wet. He became the watchman on the Pamir.

In the spring of 1951, the Pamir and the Passat were eventually bought by Herr Heinz Schliwen and left Penarth for service in the German navy.

My mother Audrey Wallace (then Audrey Macey from Maughan Street, now Queens Road) was courting my father at the time so had her photograph taken on the Pamir as well.

The Penarth Unit of the Girls Nautical Training Corp (based at the Sea Cadets ‘Hut’ at Stanwell Crescent) also visited the ship. They met the second officer of the Passat, who was from Finland. One of the girls, Muriel Hurley climbed up the mast rigging. The Penarth Unit then had their photograph taken on a naval ship in the dock at the time.

Denise Llewellyn (nee Taylor) organised the Penarth Unit. My mother had been in the GNTC, but had left by then.

My families’ final connection with the Passat involves Hansen photographic collection. Lars Peter Hansen and his two sons Leslie and Herman photographed many ships that came to Cardiff between the 1920’s and the 1960’s including the Passat. My great-aunt May Macey married Herman Hansen in the early 1930’s.

I am grateful to local historians Alan Thorne and Tom Clemett for some of the background information above and to David Jenkins for the photograph of the Passat and for information on the Hansen collection.

During my research into the GNTC and into my family history, I found many other people in Penarth who recalled the two sailing ships. Indeed, they seemed to have touched the lives of many Penarth residents during their time in the dock. I would welcome further information on them, and on the Penarth Unit of the GNTC, if you can help please contact Bruce Wallace at Cowin Park, Bancyfelin, Carmarthen, SA33 5NB, or call 01267 211206/07817 583720 or email