WILLIAM ROBERT BROWN : 1905 – 1991
Gwyneth is the little girl on the right in the picture
My father William Robert Brown was born in Holyhead, Anglesey, one of 10 children. His father was a coppersmith working on riveting the hulls of ships. At a young age, “Will Brown” worked on ships in Holyhead and consequently went “to sea”. His “Continuous Certificate of Discharge” issued by the Anglesey Board of Trade; his Medical Card issued by the Anglesey Insurance Committee- Llangefni, Anglesey, and the British Mercantile Marine Identification Certificate outlining various voyages to the River Plate Argentina, South Georgia and the Antarctic. Sailing from Liverpool his Argentine Immigration Certificate outlines 8.5 years of service and he had obtained the A.B. Able Seaman Status (of which he was very proud) as well as his Certificate of Efficiency as a Lifeboatman in 1932.
In 1934 Will Brown entered the service of the Corporation of Trinity House and retired in 1970. During World War II he served on their vessels “Beacon”, “Patricia” and “Argus”. They followed the minesweepers making shipping routes safe and marking them with buoys---red for port ,green for starboard etc. They even helped with the evacuation at Dunkirk.
At the end of World War II, married to Gladys (nee Jones) he was the father of 5 children and “came ashore” working as a relief Lighthouse Keeper from Trinity House Depot in Holyhead. He worked at South Stack, North Stack, Holyhead Breakwater, Skerries and Bardsey Island lighthouses in North Wales. He would be away for a period of 1 month. As a family we really appreciated what he brought home particularly from Bardsey as food rationing was still on. We particularly enjoyed his stories of playing football with the resident children!
He had an old big biscuit tin into which he put a lining of brown seaweed to protect:- seagulls eggs, live crabs, live lobsters---with string around their big pincer claws and particularly “Menyn wlad”. This was “country butter” made from milk on the Island. It was salty and quite different from the margarine we were used to eating. The mould the butter was put into to set had its own design—it seemed to be 3 stalks of wheat interlocked when turned over from the mould. What a treat, “bechdan” ( a slice of bread) with “menyn wlad” on it.
Cooking live lobsters was frightening to me (aged 10+). They were put live into a saucepan of hot water and they squeaked….turning from dark navy colour to a brilliant red. Mam and Dad ate the big pincer claws and we young children had the legs...extracting the meat with a darning needle while seated at the table in front of the coal fire---a real treat. Nowadays I purchase cooked lobsters from Iceland when available. But the memories of Bardsey and Dad live on. William Robert Brown retired as Boatswain(“Bosun”), Trinity House Depot, Holyhead 8th July 1970 aged 65.
GWYNETH PETERS nee Brown