2020 marks the 100th year of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group. Over the next couple months, we’re going to bring to you a series of behind the scenes posts, looking back at the people that made the Company what it is today.

In the first 100- year behind the scenes series, we’ve found out about the life of one of the founding directors, F R Ward.

Fred Ward was the first Chairman and unpaid Managing Director. He was succeeded by his son, Rodney Ward, as Chairman of the Company, then later his grandson Barneslie Ward, and great grandsons Terry Ward (Director) and Andrew May (Chairman) have all served the Company.

Fred Ward came to the islands at the end of the nineteenth century to help manage Normandy Farm on St. Mary’s and he eventually became the tenant of the farm himself in 1905. From the very beginning, he was heavily involved in the Scillonian community and elected to the local Council in 1903; he was then made a Justice of the Peace in 1913.  Later, in 1928, he was elected Alderman of the Council and he was also prominent in the local church, being Circuit Steward on the amalgamation of Free Churches, Choirmaster and Sunday School Superintendent. Given his civic mindedness, it is perhaps unsurprising that he was largely responsible for the formation of the Steamship Company in 1919, going on to become the Managing Director in 1924.

Image credit- Gibson Kyne, The Isles of Scilly Museum

The first directors of the Company were:- Mr Fred R Ward (chairman), Mr Francis Watts (managing director), Major AA Dorrien-Smith, Mr EW Banfield, Mr CH Hicks, Mr J Goddard, Mr E McDonald, Mr C Boase, Mr JC Rogers, Mr AJ Trenear, Mr ENV Moyle (secretary).

Fred’s powers of persuasion were legendary – it was said at the time that Fred Ward did the talking, and ENV Moyle did the writing. Mr FR Ward, once referred to the extremely difficult position by which they (the founding directors) were faced when the Ministry of Shipping gave six months’ notice of the withdrawal of the service of a steamer (pre 1919).  At that time, they did not know where to look for a boat or for money and had little knowledge of a shipping business.

Fred oversaw the purchase of the SS Peninnis in 1920 and the commissioning and the launching of the first Scillonian in 1926 and under his direction, the Company went from the strength to strength throughout the twenties and into the thirties.

Image credit- Gibson Kyne, The Isles of Scilly Museum

Flower Exports

In 1931 overseen by Fred Ward, 238,335 boxes of flowers weighing 1064 tons were exported, exceeded that of 1930 by 53,176 boxes equal 224 tons. Between and including November 28th, 1931 and October 31st, 1932, Scillonian did not miss a single trip to or from Scilly and Penzance.


On January 1st , 1935 HM George V included Mr FR Ward in the New Year’s Honours list in recognition of his public works in the Isles of Scilly and in February of the same year at Buckingham Palace, His Majesty completed the honour by investing him with the Membership of the Order of the British Empire.

Fred Ward MBE passed away in 1937.

*All of the wording above has been contributed and checked by The Ward family. 

Keep on eye out for the next instalment in March.