Catherine Zeta Jones and the Zeta.

Catherine Zeta Jones and the ZETA

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Above: Catherine Zeta Jones and below Henry Bath's ship the ZETA.

Swansea born actress Catherine Zeta Jones, the star of The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment carries a little bit of Swansea's history around with her in her unusual middle name. 

Her middle name Zeta has its origins in family connections to the famous nineteenth century Swansea copper ore trading fleet of Henry Bath.

Henry Bath and sons operated a number of ships transporting copper ore from Chile to the many copperworks of the Lower Swansea Valley. Swansea was the centre of the world's copper production by the 1860s and Henry Bath's ships were well known along the trade routes of the Atlantic.

Most of Henry Bath's ships were named after the letters of the Greek alphabet, and the Zeta was the pride of the fleet for a number of years.

The Zeta was built in 1865 in Glasgow by Alexander Stephen. She was famous for being the first ship in the port to be fitted with an auxiliary steam engine and was renowned for her fast passages to the South Atlantic. Although comparatively small, copper ore barques such as these were sturdily built to withstand the severe southern Atlantic weather and the crude dock facilities of Chilean ports. By 1872, she had been sold off from the Bath's fleet and renamed Urmeneta of Valparaiso.

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Another picture of the ZETA.

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SHW Microhistory: 1. SHT 1858

1858 in 1982!

Swansea Harbour Trust's habit of dating the dock bollards with the year of their manufacture has left the port with a fascinating legacy of historical bookmarks. Unfortunately insensitive development by the local authority has meant that some of the best bollards have been destroyed, but enough survive to make any walk around the dock area interesting.

One of my favourites is this 1858 example which originally stood at the starboard approach to Weaver's Basin (the original North Dock Half-tide Basin).

A number of these larger bollards were inserted in the quayside walls to cope with the bigger ships that were using the port in the later 1850s. This one was used extensively to work ships in and out of the North Dock. If you look closely at it you can still see the marks where countless ropes and hawsers have dug into the iron over the years of its service. The picture above shows the original aspect of 1858 with Weaver's Flour Mill in the background. 1858 survived the Sainsbury's redevelopment and can still be seen at the rear of their rather nice restaurant.

More SHW Microhistory

1858 in 2002.

 

 
cover

SHW's Book of the Month:

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

You can obtain a copy of this book by using our association with  In Association with Amazon.co.uk

Just click on the book title or cover picture!

This is not a local history book and Mark Kurlansky is a journalist not a local historian. Nevertheless he has produced a fascinating history of one of the world's basic commodities. I first came across Kurlansky with his book about the history of Cod. I think anyone who wants to know about the history of the Bristol Channel has to be familiar with the fish and how it encouraged Bristol fishermen to discover the Grand Banks. Salt is another offbeat yet fundamental bit of our history. We've had a popular web page on salt for ages and Swansea had a Salthouse Point at the mouth of the River Tawe for centuries. Kurlansky takes you on a journey across space and time to discover the importance of salt for mankind. From Jericho to Gandhi, salt has had an important part to play. This is a lovely book that enhances the quality of history for it adds depth and value to something we use every day. (Nigel Robins)

All content © Swansea History Web 2001, 2002

Citation information: www.swanseahistoryweb.org.uk/[page title].htm

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