Chester Meetings, Saturday March 15th 2014

Globetrotters in Chester


  • Marion Round: Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands   
  • Chris Holden  The Wreck of the Royal Charter
March Poster 2014
March Poster 2014

Doors open 1pm for 1:30pm Start till 4:30pm Entrance Fee £3.00 includes refreshments and two talks Grosvenor Museum 25-27 Grosvenor Street, CH12DD

Enquiries to Hanna tel:  01244383392 or Angela tel: 01244 629930

2 thoughts on “Chester Meetings, Saturday March 15th 2014


    Marion had booked her trip with Explore ( which is a company for the intrepid traveller, they organise trips for small groups, in this case there were 13 people in the group.
    The flights were Heathrow to Madrid to Quito. The flight from Madrid to Quito was 12.5 hours.
    Ecuador has around 14 million inhabitants, in an area around half the size of France.
    A visit was made to an area run by a family who are paid by the government to keep it in its natural state, there were many exotic plants including varieties of orchids. Then a visit to a butterfly centre that bred butterflies indigenous to Ecuador.
    On arrival at the accommodation for the night Marion went for a walk to see the plants and area in the cloud forest. Early the next morning the group were up and about looking at the birds, in particular the many types of humming birds that visit the feeders. They fly very close to you and are not afraid of people, a wonderful experience.
    The variety of accommodation on the trip is interesting from Bamboo buildings to family run hosteria’s and Hacienda’s.
    Otavalo is famous for the food, cloth and craft markets. Full of colour and a good place to observe local people and their traditions. Close to Otavalo is a bird of prey rescue centre, where a number of species have been rescued and are “flown” daily to encourage normal behaviour.
    A visit was made to the Equator museum and close by an equator monument.
    A family of musicians were visited; 3 generations live in the same house. A demonstration on how to make pan pipes was followed by family members of all ages (including a young toddler) played Ecuadorian music for us using traditional instruments. This was followed by a visit to see traditional weaving methods.
    Quito has some impressive old buildings including the Cathedral and Palace. Lunch was eaten in part of the Archbishops Palace, where half of his Palace is now given over to shops and restaurants; he is still resident in the other half.
    Ecuadorian Roses are famous, 60% of those grown are sent to the U.S.A. for Valentine’s Day! This was learned on a visit to a nursery where they are grown.
    From there the tour followed the “Avenue of Volcano’s”, where views of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, and Chimboranza were enjoyed. A walk was taken in Cotopaxi National park around Laguna Limpiopungo at 3,380 metres above sea level, which is the height of the start for people who wish to climb Cotopaxi. There were birds and interesting flowers and bushes to see on the 2 hour walk.
    Banos is famous for its hydrothermal springs. The Cathedral has beautifully carved doors, paintings inside depicted miracles that had happened and also eruptions of Tungurahua. The local people believe they are blessed as they have never suffered major problems from this volcano.
    Then on to Aloise, to the famous Devils nose railway with its gravity defying gradient, a daredevil feat of engineering with switchbacks and amazing views.
    Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador where there are many buildings of interest. The area along the riverfront has been made into a lovely area to walk and parks. At the time of her visit Marion saw an exhibition of painted hummingbird statues.

    A 1.5 hour flight bought Marion to GALAPAGOS, and its many wonders.
    Her accommodation for the week was a medium sized ship Monserrat with 10 double bedrooms, a lounge, dining room and sundeck.
    Giant Tortoises are the most famous inhabitants and were seen on a few islands. There are breeding programmes in place to preserve these amazing creatures that can weigh up to 270kg (595lbs), and have a life span longer than humans. She was lucky to see Lonesome George just 2 weeks before he sadly died
    Also there were Land Iguanas, Marine Iguanas, Lava lizards Sally Lightfoot crabs Sea lions and a small snake.
    Countless birds were seen including the well-known Blue Footed Boobie, Nazca Boobie, Frigate birds, various finches, doves and hawks. Male Albatross were just arriving and preparing nests ready for the arrival of the females.
    Marion walked through some lava tunnels and observed large craters where some tunnels had collapsed.
    There is a variety of plants and trees to be seen including 2 types of cactus. The diversity of the nature of these islands is stunning, and very special. From small rock outcrops in the ocean to large lush Islands covered in vegetation.
    There were a lot of things to be seen underwater during snorkelling sessions, Sea lions, Turtles and Galapagos Sharks, Rays and numerous species of fish were all observed.
    In 1959 the Government of Ecuador declared all uninhabited areas of Galapagos a national park. In 1978 UNESCO designated it as the first World Heritage site; the Galapagos Marine Reserve received the same status in 1998.
    We would like to thank Marion for her talk and whilst listening to others during the tea break it seems the talk has inspired a few people to make the journey themselves!


    A slightly different talk to the usual format, Chris Holden, a keen diver with Chester Sub Aqua Club, told us the story of the Wreck of the Royal Charter.
    Built in August 1855 and launched on the River Dee, there were initial problems with the launching and the ship had to be towed to Liverpool for repair before its maiden voyage.

    The Royal Charter was an iron-hulled, square-rigged, auxiliary-clipper, 100 metres long, 14 metres wide, 2,785 tons with sails and a steam engine. It completed five voyages between Liverpool and Melbourne, taking two months between the UK and Australia, and owned by the Liverpool and Australia Navigation Company, to take immigrants to Australia seeking to make their fortune in the Australian goldfields around Ballarat and Bendigo. Sadly many of these people returned to the UK not having made their fortunes as they hoped.

    For the sixth and last voyage, the ship set sail from Melbourne on 24th August 1859 to return to Liverpool. 58 days later, she called at Queenstown, Southern Ireland, and a telegram was sent advising that the Royal Charter was expected to arrive back in Liverpool the following day.

    On 25th October 1859 at 6pm the ship was positioned off the Skerries, Anglesey. At 10-30pm it was reported to be off Port Lynas, in strong currents with a South Easterly gale of force 8, which changed to a North Easterly gale of force 12.
    With insufficient power from the engines a signal for a pilot failed, so at 11pm the vessel dropped anchor….. The diary follows on –

    2 AM – Anchor chains parted.
    3 AM – Ran aground off shore on a sandy bed.
    4-45AM – Low water.
    6 AM – Line got ashore and hawser established.
    7-15AM – Passengers trapped and at risk of drowning, – or swim ashore with their gold!
    Unfortunately, the passenger list was incomplete, and many bodies were so disfigured that they could not be identified. The only survivors were 18 crew, 5 riggers, and 18 passengers. No women, children or ships officers survived, and the bodies were buried at Llanallgo, Penrhos Lligwy, Pentraeth and elsewhere on Anglesey.

    Diving operations soon commenced, and only three days after the disaster, a 7 1/2 lb bar of gold bar was recovered, followed by more gold bars and hundreds of coins over the next few months.

    Divers still search the wreck today, though little is visible above the seabed.

    Artefacts recovered include napkin rings, manacles, cutlery, pistols, leg irons, and a comb that still held strands of hair, and even to the present day gold nuggets and coins are still found on the sea bed.

    Chris Holden based his talk on his book, “Life and Death on the Royal Charter” – The true story of a treasure ship wrecked off the coast of Anglesey.

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