Margaret Champernoune Denny Townsend (5A23)

Date of Birth: 31 Jan 1913
Date of Death: 16 Jun 1976
Generation: 9th
Residence: Glandore & Castletownshend (1)
Father: Doctor Thomas Henry Denny (Pa Willy) Townsend [5A10]
Mother: Studdert, Ethel Mary
Spouse:
  1. Bridges, Anthony Gifford
Issue: None
See Also: Table VA ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Margaret Champernoune Denny Townsend

Married 30 September 1940. Anthony Gifford Bridges was the only son of Thomas Charles Bridges of Old Manor, Wavendon, Bucks.

Educated in England, Margaret read French at St Anne's College, Oxford and graduated in 1933 (2). After university, having always been keen on riding, she joined a training yard at Lambourn and later trained horses in Wexford with Eithne Hickey. During her time there she suffered a serious accident, breaking her pelvis, and was forced to give up riding. Following this Margaret turned to the sea, the second passion in her life, and became a dedicated and first class yachtswoman. She bought a six ton gaff cutter named 'Mab' and sailed her with two other girls from Cork to the Clyde in 1935 to take part in a regatta there.

A leading light in the Irish Cruising Club, Margeret spent much time with her younger brother, Richard Townsend [5A22], sailing around the Irish coast during their holidays. However, it was whilst racing with the Royal Ocean Racing Club in 1936 that she met Antony Bridges, who was also a member. Antony had been invalided from the Royal Navy in 1927 with osteomylytis which left him badly crippled and he trained as a barrister instead.

Plans to take 'Mab' to the Baltic in 1939, where Margaret's brother Richard was working in Poland for the British Council, had to be shelved due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Instead that same year, Antony won a contract to ferry dynamite across the violent waters of the Pentland Firth to the Royal Navy's Fleet Base in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. Joined by Margaret, who was then his fiancee, he chartered a sixteen ton pilot cutter called 'Mermaid' which they sailed to the north of Scotland from the south coast in wartime Britain and spent the next three years ferrying dynamite and detonators from Scotland to Scapa Flow. Following the birth of their son Richard and later Meryon it was time to bring 'Mermaid' south and carry on the war in London, where Margaret drove an ambulance during the blitz.

The family moved back to Ireland in 1947, taking up residence in a beautiful Georgian house called Seamark overlooking the harbour in the little village of Glandore, only ten miles from Castletownshend. There Antony ran a business growing tomatoes and black currants in the summer and violets and anenomes in the winter. He also wrote a book about their wartime experiences titled 'Scapa Ferry'. The family moved to Bow Hall in Castletownshend in 1968, having sold Seamark to Peter Du Cane (3). (Bow Hall was formerly called Malmaison and was previously the home of Richard Townsend [221] and then Henry Owen Becher Townsend [223].)

Margaret and Anthony were drowned at sea near Castletownshend when their small boat capsized. They are buried in St Barrahane's Church, Castletownshend and the inscription on their headstone reads “In Loving Memory of ANTHONY BRIDGES born 4. April 1911and of MARGARET BRIDGES born 31 Jan 1912. Lost at Sea on 18 June 1976.”

Of the children:

Richard Anthony Yeoward Bridges was born on 14 November 1942. He was educated at Gordonstoun School, Duffus, Moray and Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Richard retired from the Royal Navy as a Commodore.

Meryon Grenville le Gifford Bridges was born on 11 August 1944. He was educated at Gordonstoun School and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Meryon was commissioned into the Royal Engineers and retired from the Army as a Colonel.

(1) Ordnance survey of Ireland. Discovery Series. 1:50,000. Map sheet 89, grid reference W183314

(2) In an undated letter to Margaret's father, Dorothea, widow of Richard Baxter Townshend [5D15] late Tutor at Wadham College (joint editors of 'An Officer of the Long Parliament), wrote how much she looked forward to meeting Margaret when she came up to the university.

(3) He was a leading light in Vosper Thornycroft during the war and a key developer of high speed craft. He built John Cobb’s record breaking boat Crusader which sank on Loch Ness and was also responsible for the Royal Navy’s Type 21 Frigates which fought with distinction in the Falkland’s War.