Book Review – ‘I Hope to Have a Good Passage: The business letters of Captain Daniel Jenkins, 1902–11’ by J. D. Davies

By J. D. Davies, published December 2020


David Jenkins, the former principal curator of the transport collections at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, has done a splendid job of editing this remarkable collection of documents, and placing them before a wider audience. Daniel Jenkins (1871–1922; apparently no relation of the editor) was born in the village of Aberporth on Cardigan Bay, and initially worked in the coastal trades of south Wales. But these were already in steep decline following the coming of the railways, and Jenkins, like so many others from the area, switched instead to deep-sea tramp steamers. The letters that he wrote in the early years of the twentieth century, bound into a 500-page copy letterbook which was loaned to the National Waterfront Museum in the 1980s by the writer’s son, constitute what the editor considers to be a unique record: ‘it seems likely that they are the sole remaining first-hand record by a master of British tramp steamers of the trades plied by those vessels in the early twentieth century’ (p. ix).

David Jenkins provides an excellent 23-page introduction, using a detailed survey of his namesake’s career as a hook for succinct analyses of the state of the west Wales coastal trades, the shipping and trade of the port of Cardiff, and the responsibilities of a ship master at the turn of the twentieth century …

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Filed under: Atlantic | English Channel | Irish Sea | Mediterranean | Other (Twentieth C) | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Biography | Harbours & Dockyards | Manpower & Life at Sea | Merchant Marines

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