Roger Phillips Jones’ father, George Phillips Jones, founded General Engineering & Electric Welding (Swansea) Ltd., known to all as “Georgie Jones’s”, and Roger has kindly provided the following information on his father’s company, together with some interesting photographs.
My father, George Phillips Jones, served his time in the Central Dry Dock, now part of Salisbury’s Car park. In 1926 he started up General Engineering & Electric Welding (Swansea) Ltd. in Burrows Place alongside the Swansea Museum, and in 1935 he relocated the company to the Cambrian Dry Dock.
Harris Brothers had been operating the Cambrian Dry Dock but they became bankrupt in 1934 and the dry dock was closed. In 1935 the plant and machinery was sold, the premises were bought by the Swansea Council, and my father became a tenant on part of the site. The Council operated it as a Public Dry Dock, although General Engineering was by far and away the main user, and the yard was known throughout the docks as “Georgie Jones’s”. When I ceased using the dry dock in 1966 the Council filled it in, and it is now the slipway for the Swansea Yacht and Sub Aqua Club.
At 9.00 a.m. on Saturday 14th April 1945 the dry dock’s lock gates collapsed on a high tide and flooded the surrounding streets. Two TID tugs - TID 40 and TID 41 - were in the dry dock at the time and both were sunk, but fortunately there were no casualties. In the photograph of the incident, tidemarks can be seen on the funnel of TID 40. The dry dock was out of commission until 16th May 1946, during which time the Council fitted new steel lock gates. The Trinity House tender ‘Triton’ was the first ship to enter the dry dock after this incident.
The original dry dock had been built at 90 degrees to the river, but in 1895 it was enlarged and altered to 45 degrees to the river - the new dimensions being 263 ft long and 41.6 ft wide. The original wooden lock gates had been enlarged by scarfing in additional lengths of timber, and it was the rusted fixing bolts on the scarf that gave way that Saturday morning.
My father died in 1961, shortly after I had left the sea. Progressively through the 1960’s shipping was becoming more and more difficult, and in 1964 the Swansea branch of Campbell & Isherwood electrical contractors, to whom we gave all our electrical work, decided to close their Swansea branch. Campbells asked me to take on 5 of their employees to do our own electrical work, which I did, but I kept it separate from the dry dock to avoid the difficult labour troubles that always seemed apparent on the docks.
By 1966 the decline in shipping was such that it was impossible to operate the dry dock so I had to close the yard, and from that time on I only did electrical work. Today my son Steven Phillips Jones runs Phillips Services (Wales) Ltd and we employ some 20 electricians from our premises in Manselton.
Our middle name comes from Captain George Phillips (1784 to 1860) a well known Oyster Skiff owner, quarry owner, and owner of the Ship and Castle public house - all at Mumbles.
Roger Phillips Jones
(Note – the Cambrian Dry Dock referred to in this article has also been known as Harris Dry Dock No.2, Commercial Dry Dock No.1 and the Corporation Dry Dock)
Map showing the position of the Cambrian Dry Dock.
Collapse of the Cambrian Dry Dock Gates in 1945.
TID 40, one of two tugs in the Cambrian Dry Dock when the lock gates collapsed during a high tide on the 14th April 1945