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David James

A Cloud of Voices participant

Published onJun 14, 2023
David James

David James, photo by Gareth Davies

David James grew up in Pembroke Dock, a small town in south Wales, and still lives in a village nearby. On leaving school he became an apprentice plumber and on completion of his apprenticeship was conscripted for compulsory National Service in the British army. He served in the Welch Regiment initially in Benghazi, Libya, later moving with his regiment to Berlin. He was on duty and saw the infamous Berlin wall being built. When demobbed, he resumed his career as a plumber but rose to become a senior officer in local government.

His interests have always been maritime oriented, fishing & sailing (he is a qualified dinghy sailing instructor) as well as a local historian. On retiring he wrote several books on maritime history, these are Down the Slipway (Ships of Pembrokeshire's Secret Waterway), Of Monks and Seawolves, A History of Nash and Upton Parishes, Ye Mary Fortune 1490 and Hancock's Shipbuilding Company in Pembroke Dock.

He restored a 1904 vintage Itchen Ferry gaff cutter Two Sisters to sailing condition and sailed her for many years. David sold her when he realised that he was no longer as nimble as he used to be.

He was a prolific model shipwright, building scale model ships. Many of these are on display in local museums and in private collections. Four of his models have been displayed briefly in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

He also lectures on Pembrokeshire's maritime heritage, and has done so locally, as well as all over Wales and has represented The West Wales Maritime Heritage Society in Brittany and Ireland. This organisation restores historic boats and sails them on the waters of the Milford Haven estuary. David uses his local knowledge to organise maritime events, is often given command of large fleets of small sailing boats and takes them to parts of the estuary that can only be reached when piloted by a local man.

He is a Founder member of the Friends of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. He works with the Milford Haven Port Authority on a voluntary basis.

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