THE relative of a man who was killed in the Newport Docks Disaster says his distant cousin’s name is misspelled on a memorial, and believes it is disrespectful it won’t be corrected.
John Hathway, from Rogerstone, discovered the mistake while researching his family tree.
Around a year ago, he found a memorial in Bassaleg’s St Woolos Cemetery to the 39 men who lost their lives in 1909 when a trench wall holding the sea back collapsed.
Among the names was an F F Hathaway.
Mr Hathway was curious about this, as his own name is frequently mis-spelled as Hathaway when in fact the second ‘a’ should be omitted.
After researching F F Hathaway he discovered the name referred father-of-two Frederick Francis Merthyr Hathway, a 27-year-old crane driver when he was killed.
Although Mr Hathway realised it would be difficult to change the actual wording, he hoped a small additional plaque could be displayed at the foot of the memorial with the correct details.
He contacted the Harbour Commission, which replaced the plaques after the brass originals were targeted by metal thieves in 2012, to ask if this would be possible.
But he said the commission told him that replacing the plaque would “change the history of Newport”.
Mr Hathway said: “As far as I’m concerned, Hathaways (of which there are many) are a completely different family. I have never requested a replacement plaque, just something to commemorate this young man’s death.”
In a letter to Paul Flynn MP from the Harbour Commission, clerk to the commissioners Jill Lloyd wrote: “It is important to note that the error was made in 1912 and not 2012! The replicas are a faithful and accurate copy of the originals.
“The error has been present on the plaques for over 100 years — nobody has ever noticed or reported any errors in all that time.
“We did suggest to Mr Hathway that we would be prepared to fund and display a granite QR code adjacent to the monument, which would link to a historical website. The website would give details of the history but could also include something of Mr Hathway’s history.”
Ms Lloyd added that an additional or replacement plaque would be costly and the new plaques had already been blessed by the Bishop.
But Mr Hathway said he was not seeking a new plaque, just a small additional one to clarify his relative’s name.
He added: “Surely this man, who lost his life for Newport industry, should be recognised.”