Maritime Monday for October 22nd, 2010: Take Yer Arse to School (Ships).uk

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October 21, 2012


The Old Royal Naval College, plus training ship (3353×2485)

Review of local history book including references to
The Old Royal Naval College on Greenwich Then and Now


Old Royal Naval College London, antique print from 1840


cadets, c.1900


Full resolution ‎(3,867 × 850 pixels)

Referred to as “the finest and most dramatically sited architectural and landscape ensemble in the British Isles”, the Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, and is designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as being of “outstanding universal value”.

The buildings were originally constructed to serve as the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, now generally known as Greenwich Hospital, which was designed by Christopher Wren and built between 1696 and 1712. It was established as a residential home for injured sailors. The hospital closed in 1869. Between 1873 and 1998 it was the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

The founding Greenwich Hospital charity still exists; though no longer based at the site. It is a Royal Charity for the benefit of seafarers and their dependents, with the Secretary of State for Defence acting as the Crown’s sole trustee.


The Painted Hall; 1810

On 5 January 1806, Lord Nelson’s body lay in state in the Painted Hall of the Greenwich Hospital before being taken up the river Thames to St Paul’s Cathedral for a state funeral. In 2005 the room where Nelson’s coffin was held prior to his being laid-in-state was opened as the Nelson Room. The little side room contains a statue of Nelson replicating the one in Trafalgar Square, memorabilia, paintings and information.

The Painted Hall was deemed too magnificent for the pensioned seamen’s refectory, and was never regularly used. It became a tourist destination, (and was) opened for viewing. In 1824 a National Gallery of Naval Art was created in the Painted Hall, where it remained until 1936, when the collection was transferred to (what is now) the National Maritime Museum.

In 1967, Francis Chichester was knighted on the river steps of the College by Queen Elizabeth II for being the first person to single-handedly circumnavigate the world by the old clipper route; it was also the fastest circumnavigation (nine months and one day).

On the closure of the Royal Naval College, the Britannia Royal Naval College became the sole naval college in the United Kingdom.

more on wikipedia


Here are British boys studying in one of the Royal Navy’s
training ships during World War I

The photograph is captioned, “With the British Navy in war time. No time wasted while waiting for the Germans. Boys at school.” –Historical Boys’ Clothing


A peaceful scene at Upnor in 1949. The Arethusa was a 50-gun naval frigate that became a training ship for youngsters for many years. It was replaced by a ketch of the same name in 1975.” —Kent History Forum


The Peking
illustration by Bowsprite

The Peking is a steel-hulled four-masted barque. A so-called Flying P-Liner of the German company F. Laeisz, it was one of the last generation of windjammers used in the nitrate trade and wheat trade around the often treacherous Cape Horn.

In 1932, she was sold for £6,250 to Shaftesbury Homes. She was first towed to Greenhithe, renamed Arethusa II and moored alongside the existing Arethusa I. In July 1933, she was moved to her new permanent mooring off Upnor on the River Medway,where she worked as a children’s home and training school. She was officially “opened” by HRH Prince George on 25 July 1933. During World War II she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Pekin.

The Peking was retired in 1975 and sold to Jack Aron, for the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, where she is still moored.

Arethusa Training Ship, former PEKING
on Kent History Forum


Departure of the Prince of Wales I from Plymouth Sound for Canada
wood engraving from the Illustrated London News; July, 1860


HMS Britannia moored in the River Dart

HMS Prince of Wales was a Royal Navy 121-gun screw-propelled first-rate ship of the line launched on January 25, 1860. The advent of ironclads had made her obsolete before launch, so she was placed in reserve and never fitted for sea.

In 1869 she was renamed Britannia and began service as a cadet training ship at Dartmouth, replacing the previous Britannia in that role.

She was hulked in September 1909, sold in September 1914, and broken up at Blyth in July 1916.

HMS Britannia  (postcard collection)

HMS Prince of Wales (1860) on wikipedia


HMS Buzzard (1887)

HMS Buzzard was a Nymphe-class composite screw sloop and the fourth ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name. Developed and constructed for the Royal Navy on a design by William Henry White, Director of Naval Construction, she was launched at Sheerness Dockyard on 10 May 1887.

The Nymphe-class sloops were ideal for service in the far distant outposts of the British Empire, and Buzzard was employed on the North America and West Indies Station. In 1904 she was converted to a drill ship for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at Blackfriars, London, and in 1911 Buzzard relieved HMS President as Headquarters ship, renamed 1 April 1911. Sold 6 September 1921.

The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve training ship Buzzard
on Port Cities London


Majestic in dock for conversion into HMS Caledonia

HMS Caledonia was a cadet training ship, formerly the liner RMS Majestic. She was transferred to the navy in 1936 and commissioned in 1937. The conversion of Majestic was undertaken at Southampton and comprised the shortening of her masts and funnels so that she could pass beneath the Forth Railway Bridge.

On 8 April 1937, Caledonia departed Southampton for her new base in Rosyth and was commissioned on 23 April 1937, with a capacity of 1,500 cadets. The conversion of the liner meant that 100 Officers, 180 Chief Petty officers and petty officers, 300 ship’s company, 1500 Seamen Boys and 500 Artificer Apprentices could be accommodated on board. By the end of 1937 there were 800 Seamen Boys and 230 apprentices on the ships books. At the peak of her training career during 1938 – 1939, her books were full

After the outbreak of World War II, the cadets were removed to accommodation ashore, and she was temporarily anchored in the Firth of Forth. She was burnt by accident in 1939, sinking at her moorings. The wreck was raised and towed to the scrapyard in 1943.

more on wikipedia


HMS Calypso 1883
(1000 x 632)

HMS Calypso was a corvette (redesignated as a third-class cruiser from 1888) of the Royal Navy and the name ship of her class. Built for distant cruising in the heyday of the British Empire, she served as a warship and training vessel until 1922, when she was sold.

As originally classified as a screw corvette, Calypso was one of the Royal Navy’s last sailing corvettes. She supplemented her extensive sail rig with powerful engines. Among the first of the smaller cruisers to be given all-metal hulls, she nevertheless was cased with timber and coppered below the water line, as were wooden ships.

Unlike her more famous sister Calliope, Calypso had a quiet career, consisting mainly of training cruises in the Atlantic Ocean.  In 1922 she was declared surplus and sold, then used as a storage hulk. Her hull still exists, awash in a coastal bay off Newfoundland.  more


Training Ship Clio

The Clio was an Industrial Training ship like the TSMountEdgcumbe. This meant that she was not a reformatory ship like the TSAkbar, but she was certainly not a prestigious school like TSWorcester.

The ship HMS Clio had been a 22-gun Pearl-class corvette, built at Sheerness Dockyard and launched on 28 August 1858. She became the flagship of the Australia Station from 3 September 1870 to 16 October 1873 before returning the Britain and then into the hands of the Society of the Industrial Training Ship Clio for Homeless, Destitute and Poor Respectable Boys in 1877.

She accepted boys aged between 12 and 15, they had to be physically able and of good character. A boy could be sent there for many reasons either by their parents, or by a magistrate if it was thought that, (by the standards of Victorian Britain,) it would be better for them than their homes. A complete list of the rules that could get you sent to an Industrial Training Ship can be found on my page on TS Mount Edgcumbe.



HMS Conway: The loss of a ship


The ill-fated HMS Conway stuck in the Menai Straits

HMS Conway was a naval training school/ school ship founded in 1859, based for most of its life aboard a 19th-century wooden battleship. The ship was originally stationed on the Mersey near Liverpool, then moved to the Menai Strait during World War II.

While being towed back to Birkenhead for a refit in 1953, she ran aground and was wrecked, and later burned. The school moved to purpose-built premises on Anglesey where it continued for another twenty years.



Last Voyage of HMS Conway signed by the Artist Tom Harland (more images)


(Reformatory) Training Ship Cornwall

Sir George Henry Chambers wanted to help poor and destitute children who had fallen foul of the law. After seeing the success of the TS Akbar on the Mersey he had the idea of creating a training ship for this purpose. The navy offered to lease him HMS Cornwall, a 3rd rate 74 gun ship launched at Deptford in 1812, on the condition that he could raise £2000. At the time this was a considerable sum of money, but he managed it so on 5th May 1859 the ship was certified for 260 boys under the auspices of the School Ship Society.

In 1868 the original Cornwall was moved to South Shields to become TS Wellesley. Broken up at Sheerness in 1875.

more on


 HMS Wellesley training ship – (1024 x 685)

HMS Boscawen (1844) – was a 70-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 3 April 1844 at Woolwich Dockyard.

In 1874, Boscawen was converted into a training ship and renamed Wellesley, and was broken up in 1914.



The Wellesley on fire at North Shields, March 1914

The Wellesley Training Ship Institution was established in 1868 by a group of philanthropic Tyneside businessmen, led by James Hall, ‘to provide shelter for Tyneside waifs and train young men for service in both Royal and Merchant Navies.’

Stationed on the Tyne at North Shields, it provided accommodation for 300 boys, with room for an additional 60 shore-side. Here, boys were received as early as 7 years of age, then transferred to the ship on reaching the age of 12.

The Wellesley was destroyed by fire in 1914 and the school moved ashore becoming the Wellesley Nautical School.


HMS Wellesley – vintage photographs of naval and sea cadets


Life in a Training Ship – Sketches on Board HMS BOSCAWEN (1883) – Original colour. Montage of scenes and amusing incidents. HMS Boscawen was a training establishment in a number of locations, in service from 1862 to 1922, and again from 1932 to 1947. A number of ships were renamed HMS Boscawen whilst serving as homes for the base. (876 × 560) Julie’s Antique Prints


school band; Empress

Empress, a wooden battleship originally known as HMS Revenge. The 3318-ton Revenge, built in in 1859, was 245 feet long and had a complement of 860 men. Her previous roles had included Flagship of the Channel Fleet in 1863, Second Flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1865, and Flagship at Queenston (1873), as well as coastguard duty at Pembroke and Devonport. Under the name of Empress she served as a training vessel until being sold off in 1923.


naval reserve training ship HMS Flying Fox at Hotwells Bristol

Bristol Division was one of the five divisions of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve formed in 1903. After the First World War the division was reformed and a new drill ship, the 24-class sloop HMS Flying Fox, was berthed at Bristol in 1924. Renamed Severn Division after the Second World War, Flying Fox moved ashore to its present HQ in 1972. The ship itself was towed down the River Avon and across the Bristol Channel to a ship breaker’s yard in Cardiff in 1973. more


Nautical Training Ship HMS Formidable at Portishead

BTS Formidable National Nautical SchoolAbout The Ship

Formidable Nautical School, Portishead aka Fedden Village

imageThe Formidable was leased from the Admiralty in 1869 for use as a training ship in a scheme financed by several Bristol businessmen, led by Mr Henry Fedden, who were concerned about the high numbers of urchins wandering the city’s streets.

At the end of its service life, the old ship was scraped and replaced by a new purpose built school known as the The National Nautical School.

This magnificent building opened in 1906, and became a local landmark. The the school ceased operation in 1982

HMS Formidable (1825) on wikipedia –
– Fedden Village: a contemporary report


“BTS Formidable and the National Nautical School”


Photograph showing the view from Shotley across the River Stour to Harwich with Shotley Pier and the training ships of “HMS Ganges”.

Left: HMS Minotaur (1863); centre foreground: HMS Caroline (1906) National Maritime Museum – see 1280 × 916 pixels


HMS Ganges


crew of HMS Ganges with the ship’s cat

HMS Ganges was a training ship and later stone frigate of the Royal Navy. She was established as a boys’ training establishment in 1865, and was based aboard a number of hulks before moving ashore. She was based alternately in Falmouth, Harwich (from 1899) and Shotley (from 1905). She remained in service at RNTE Shotley until October 1976.

The Admiralty decided to set aside five old laid up hulks in different ports around the country, and use them as bases at which volunteers aged between 15 and 17 could spend a year being educated for future service in the navy.

The plan called for an annual intake of 3,500 boys. They were to be trained in seamanship and gunnery, as well as traditional aspects of sea life. One of the hulks chosen to be converted into a school was the old 84-gun second rate ship of the line HMS Ganges (1821).

She put into Devonport on 5 May 1865 and underwent a refit. She took her first intake of 180 boys on 1 January 1866.

During Ganges’s time in Cornwall allegations of harsh and brutal treatment were reported to the Admiralty. One wardroom steward shot himself over the matter, and the reports aroused indignation in the local community. Captain Tremlett, the Senior Officer of training ships, was ordered to investigate the situation and reported that Commander Stevens ‘had given punishments which were not laid down in the Training Regulations and had also prevented his ship’s company from taking due leave.’


Corporal punishment in the Royal Navy

Training Ships Goliath and Exmouth

From 1870-75, the Forest Gate School District operated a ship called the HMS Goliath (1842) moored on the Thames.

imageIt provided boys from all London’s Poor Law authorities with training to help equip them to enter the Royal or Merchant Navy. The scheme proved highly successful, but the ship was destroyed by fire on 22nd December 1875 with the loss of twenty-three lives.

In 1877, a replacement vessel, The HMS Exmouth (1854) took over the role, now moored off Grays in Essex and managed by the Metropolitan Asylums Board. The Exmouth was an old wooden two-decker line-of-battleship built in 1854.

Boys were able to join the ship from the age of twelve. Their first task was to learn how to mend and patch their own clothes. They also had to learn how to wash their clothes, and keep their lockers and contents in good order.

Each boy had his own hammock which was stowed during the day, leaving the decks clear of bedding. As well as learning the skills of sailing, rowing, sail and rope-making, gunnery, and signalling, they continued ordinary school work, and other physical activities such as swimming and gymnastics. The ship had its own band and bugle-band.

In 1903, the ship’s hull was found to be in an unsafe condition and was condemned. A replacement of similar appearance, but built of iron and steel, was commissioned from the Vickers company in Barrow-in-Furness. The new Exmouth was towed round the coast to Grays where she was inaugurated in August 1905.

more on

images: Training Ship Goliath on Fire, 1875 /
Hulk of H.M.S. Goliath after the Fire by Thomas Bush Hardy

HMS Exmouth III was a training ship launched in 1905. She was requisitioned as a depot ship between 1939 and 1945, before returning to being a training ship named Worcester. She was broken up in 1978.


HMS IMPLACABLE; Picture taken 1908 in Portsmouth

The earliest training ships were run by the The Marine Society, founded in 1756 by Jonas Hanway. (promoter of the 1766 Act to remove young children from London workhouses.)

imageThe Marine Society started life recruiting boys and young men for the Royal Navy at the beginning of the Seven Years War against France but, in an effort to reduce desertions, began training its boys before they were sent to sea. In 1876, the Society acquired the training-ship Warspite and by 1911 had sent 65,667 men and boys to sea, of whom 28,538 had gone into the Royal Navy.


IMPLACABLE, 1949 Last day in port

The Royal Navy’s own first training ship was HMS Implacable (1805) at Plymouth in 1855 followed by HMS Illustrious at Portsmouth. (image source)

imageShe was originally the French Navy’s Téméraire-class ship of the line Duguay-Trouin, launched in 1800. She survived the Battle of Trafalgar only for the British to capture her at the subsequent Battle of Cape Ortegal.

In later years, Implacable became a training ship. In 1908 King Edward VII intervened to save her, and in 1912 she was handed over to philanthropist Geoffrey Wheatley Cobb (died 1931) for preservation and use as a boys’ training ship.

She went on to become the second oldest ship in the Royal Navy after HMS Victory. When the Royal Navy finally scuttled Implacable by explosive charge on 2 December 1949, she flew both the French and British flags side-by-side as she sank.

Her figurehead and stern galleries were saved and are on display in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. Public reaction to the “criminal action against the maritime history of Britain” forced the government to support the preservation of Cutty Sark.

more on

more on wikipedia

source: photos, sinking of HMS Implacable, December 1949


image source

HMS Caledonia was a training ship launched in 1810 as the 98-gun second rate HMS Impregnable. She became a training ship in 1862, was renamed HMS Kent in 1888, HMS Caledonia in 1891, and was sold for breaking up in 1906.

HMS Impregnable (1810) was a 98-gun second rate three-decker ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 1 August 1810 at Chatham.

Impregnable was rated as a training ship in 1862 and removed from the reserve fleet to begin service at Devonport training boy seamen for the Royal Navy. On 22 September 1891, she was once again re-named, this time HMS Caledonia, and became a Scottish boys training / school ship moored at Queensferry in the Firth of Forth, where she would spend the next 15 years at anchor.

The ship was divided up for training by decks: The Upper Deck was used exclusively for sail drill, gunnery and recreation. The Main and Middle decks were used for seamanship classes and instruction. The Lower and Orlop decks were devoted to living and sleeping spaces. The training ship accommodated 190 Officers and men as well as 800 boys. Instruction covered boat pulling, sailing & gunnery.

It was hoped that this form of training would instill in the boys the qualities of resourcefulness, courage and self-reliance. Theoretical instruction was undertaken in the ‘Schoolroom’. This room could accommodate 200 boys at once and often did. The 200 boys were broken down into classes of 15 – 20.

Beginning with HMS Bulwark in 1886 until Impregnable moved ashore in 1936 and becoming a stone frigate in the process, every subsequent vessel that served in this ship’s stead as a school ship at Devonport had been renamed Impregnable in her honour. The training school eventually closed in 1948.

service record and more on wikipedia

HMS Impregnable training ship officers and boys c1900


1888 Training Ship Mercury; The Making of a Bluejacket

see also: Boy’s Manual of Seamanship & Gunnery


Crossing The Line Certificate150th Anniversary Meeting 16th May 1968


Signal Party 1948

Prince of Wales Sea Training School, Dover
The worlds finest Merchant Navy Sea Training Establishment
1920 – 1975


Cutlass Drill; Britain, 1896 on the Training Ship St. Vincent

see also: Cutlass Drill; Great Britain, 1900 (stereoview)


Overlooking the Helford River and the Training Ship Sunbeam; 1944


They Learn to be Sailors: Sea Cadet Training one the Training Ship HMS UNDINE,
Bowness-on-Windermere, England, UK, 1943


Clipper Thermopylae, chromolithograph by M. Reilly (19th century)

Thermopylae was an extreme composite clipper ship built in 1868 by Walter Hood & Co of Aberdeen, to the design of Bernard Weymouth of London. She measured 212’0″ × 36’0″ × 20’9″, with tonnage 991 GRT, 948 NRT and 927 tons under deck.

Thermopylae was designed for the China tea trade, and set speed records on her maiden voyage to Melbourne — 63 days, still the fastest trip under sail. In 1872, Thermopylae raced the clipper Cutty Sark from Shanghai back to London. Thermopylae won by seven days after Cutty Sark lost her rudder.

In 1897 she was sold to Portugal for use as a naval training ship and renamed the Pedro Nunes. On 13 October 1907, the Portuguese Navy towed her down the Tagus river using two warships, and before Amelia de Orleans, Queen of Portugal, she was torpedoed with full naval honours off Cascais.



TS Vindicatrix

TS Vindicatrix, ex-Arranmore, built in 1898. Became Gravesend Sea School in 1926. Towed from Thames to Sharpness on the river Severn in 1939 to avoid the bombing, and ending it’s days in ship canal alongside the River Severn at Sharpness in 1967.

Prior to her use as a training ship she was a war prize from WW1, when she was a submarine depot ship called the Waltraute. She was also used as a strike-breaking hulk, being towed around the UK coast as needed.


Short History of the VindiClose-up view on Flickr

73,000 boys for the British Merchant Navy were trained there. There is an active world-wide Association of “Vindi Boys” who meet regularly.  see also


Training-ship Warspite (aka Waterloo) She was destroyed by fire in 1918, with 250 boys embarked at the time. Three teenage boys later claimed to have started the fire deliberately. They were charged for the alleged act and ordered to three years’ detention at a reformatory. –Coasters & Other Ships Revived


This is the second training vessel known as Worcester, serving from 1877 to 1939. She had originally been the ‘Royal Sovereign’ when work began on her in 1833, but she was not launched until 1860, after further name changes to ‘Royal Frederick’ and then ‘Frederick William’. By this time, with the launch of the ‘Warrior’, warship technology had moved on, and the ‘Frederick William’ was not fit for service in battle, so the Admiralty were happy to loan her when the Board of the Thames Nautical College asked for a replacement for their original training vessel. –Coasters & Other Ships Revived

Special Thanks to Captain Colin Smith M.Sc.

more ships on The Workhouse

Royal Navy Training Ships — Ships by Name

Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History: Royal Navy Training Ships

Books: Boyhood and the Sea

Adventures of the Blackgang on tumblr — (twitter)

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