In 1867 the Board of Admiralty leased a plot of land at Glanteifi from Alderman Thomas Davies of Cardigan for the erection of a drill hall and battery for the newly-formed Royal Naval Reserve. Thomas Davies became the Commanding Officer with the rank of Lieutenant. Building work commenced the same year. In 1872 it was proposed to remove the battery to Milford, but Thomas Davies had the plan rescinded.
On 4th April 1876 Vice-Admiral Sir J. W. Tarleton visited the Battery. A tea and entertainment was held on 12th January 1877. On 2nd February 1878 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…THE NAVAL RESERVE.—The members of the Naval Reserve, now training at the St. Dogmells battery, paraded this town, and from thence to Llechryd, on Wednesday last, under the command of Capt. Herod, Lieutenant Gillespie, and the drill-instructor. At the Carpenters’ Arms, Llechryd, the men were supplied with a glass of beer each, at the expense of Lieutenant Gillespie, from whence they returned early in the afternoon…”
On 13th April 1878 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…THE ST. DOGMELLS BATTERY. A rumour having gained currency that the Battery was to be removed, Mr. James Williams, Mayor of Cardigan, communicated with the Admiralty on the subject, and received the following reply:— Admiralty, 5th April, 1878. SIR,—With reference to your letter of the 29th ult., asking whether their Lordships intended to remove the Royal Naval Reserve Battery at present at Saint Dogmells, to Tenby- and stating that a memorial against such a step would be presented from Cardigan, I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you that there is no intention of removing the Battery, as stated. I am, Sir, Your obedient servant, R ROBERT HALL. J. Williams, Esq., Mayor of Cardigan…”
On 19th April 1878 the decision was taken to enlarge the battery. On 11th May 1878 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…ACCIDENT AT THE BATTERY.—On Wednesday last, an accident occurred at the St. Dogmells Battery to Evan Jenkins, mariner, Catherine-row, in this town, who had his foot severely fractured by the wheel of a cannon passing over it…”
On 9th July 1880 a 6.5 ton gun was to be added to the Battery, making it “…the finest on the coast…” On 11th November 1881 the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Battery. On 24th March 1888 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…THE ROYAL NAVAL RESERVE ENTERTAINMENT. On Wednesday last, a very successful and well- patronised musical and dramatic entertainment was given at the Drill Hall, St. Dogmells Battery, for the benefit of destitute widows and children of seamen of the neighbourhood. The hall was profusely decorated with flags and ever- greens, and great credit is due to Mr. Buckham, the chief officer of the Coastguards, and Mr. Blackford, naval instructor, for their unceasing efforts on behalf of such a charitable cause. The chair was taken by Dr. Phillips, Cardigan, who discharged the duties in his usual happy manner. Mr. Ross, master of the National School, Cardigan, accompanied throughout, in an admirable way. The first part of the entertainment was musical comprising the following items :—Song, Every bullet has its billet,” Mr. Buckham; glee “Launch the Barque,” St. Dogmells Church Choir; Welsh song, Mr. Evans, schoolmaster song, “Twickenham Ferry,” Miss Buckham’; glee, Call John,” Bethsaida Party (encored) comic song, Good Evening,” Mr. J. Thomas, Coastguard (encored) song, Maggie’s Secret,” Mrs. Buckham; song, Gwroniaid Gwlad y Gan,” Mr. E. Ceredig Evans glee, The lost shoe/’ Bethsaida Party (encored); glee, Winds gently whisper,” St. Dogmells Church Choir; song, Tit for tat,” Miss Buckham song, Breuddwyd y Bardd,” Capt. Evan James, St. Dogmells (encored) comic song, “‘Rwyf am fyned adref at mam,” Mr. Williams, Fanian-fawr; song, “Her bright smile haunts me still,” Mrs Buckham; song, “The Old Brigade,” Mr. E. Ceredig Evans; comic song, The Squire went a courting,” Mr. J. Thomas. The first part of the programme concluded with “Hen Wlad fy Nhadau,” by Mr. Lewis Davies, the audience joining in the chorus. The chairman having to leave, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded him, with musical honours, which was duly acknowledged. After an interval of ten minutes, the second part was proceeded with, which consisted of the amusing farce, in one act, entitled “Bamboozling,” in which the following was the cast: Sir Marmaduke Meadows,” Mr.Blackford; Capt. Frank Bamboozle,” Mr. Roberts; Frank Tiverton Mr. Buckham; Humphry,” Master Jones Lady Meadows,” Miss Jones; Emily,” Miss Buckham; Sophy Weston,” Miss Harris. The whole of the characters were sustained with considerable ability, and the piece was very well staged under the management of Mr. Buckham. The singing of “God save the Queen” brought to a conclusion one of the best entertainments ever given in St. Dogmells…”
On February 9th 1889 Mr. Blackford, an Instructor here, and John Newton and Edward Evans, battery-men, joined the crew of the local lifeboat in rescuing the crew of the ‘Harvest Home’. On 6th June 1890 two four-barrelled guns arrived. On March 23rd 1895 James Crook, instructor, joined the lifeboat-men in rescuing the crew of the ‘Mary Anne’ of Milford. On 9th June 1898 an inspection of the battery was conducted by Rear-Admiral Compton Donville. A contingent of 30 men was based here at that time under the instruction of Chief Gunner Gill. On 20th December 1901 Instructor T. F. Baldwin married Miss Lizzie Hannah Francis of Pendre, Cardigan. On 23rd April 1902 Admiral Sir Gerald Noel inspected the Battery. In 1903 James Norrish became the Commanding Officer – he lived at Nantypele.
On 8th December 1905 it was announced that the Battery would close in April of the following year. The last shot was fired on 31st March 1906 and the Battery was abolished the following day. On 6th July 1906 Captain R. W. Picton Evans and the Cardigan Rifle Volunteers acquired the old drill hall, which was re-erected at Finch’s Square, Cardigan, for use by the Territorials. James J. Norris was the last Chief Officer. At the end of August 1906 the guns were dismantled and removed. On 24th May 1940 Major Cunningham, late of the Battery here, donated an inscribed silver ink stand to the Cardigan Borough Council.
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1867; 1873; 1876; 1878; 1880-81; 1890; 1898; 1901-02; 1905-06;
Poster – Musical & Dramatical Entertainment, Royal Naval Reserve Drill Hall & Battery c1890
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1906
The History of the Cardigan Lifeboats, Donald Davies 1990
Those Were The Days Vol. II, Donald Davies 1992.
© Glen K Johnson 23/07/2013.