Tuesday, 12 March 2013
The S.S. Leeway was launched on 03/03/1897 originally named SS Sahara built by Alexander Stephen & Sons Glasgow; Ship Type: Cargo Vessel, Tonnage: 4089 grt, Length: 370.1 feet (BP), Breadth: 48 feet. Propulsion: Steam, triple expansion, single screw. The ship was renamed several times; 1920 Marshal French, 1922 Leeway, 1925 Charterhurst and finally Bianca Bianchi in 1927. The ship had several owners: Glasgow Nav. Co. (Maclay & McIntyre), Glasgow, 1915 Houlder, Middleton & Co., London, 1919 Saint David's SN Co., Cardiff, 1922 St. Mary SS Co., Cardiff, 1925 Charter Shipping Co., Cardiff 1927 G.R.Bianchi, Genoa. The ship was scrapped on 17/07/1928.
Lowry refers to the ship in his novel Ultramarine; "One of those bloody St Mary Axe Boats; the Leeway is knocking around here. Only its wings aren't clipped." (Pg. 33), "Then we were standing on the wharf, looking up at the soaring stern of the S.S. Leeway from Swansea which had docked forward of the Martensen." (Pg. 101); "He spat; the spittle landed on the "Y" of Leeway and dribbled down slowly into the harbour." (Pg. 102).
Lowry's reference to the ship is probably due to members of the crew of Pyrrhus, on which Lowry sailed to the Far East, being familiar with South Wales where the Leeway had been based and the fact that the former owners St. Mary SS Co. were being investigated by the authorities for the loss of one of their ships the SS Eastway co-owned with Mr. Watkin James Williams. (See St Mary Axe Boats).