Prince of Wales Sea Training School Dover
Princess Street Dover Kent CT17 9AZ Telephone: 1207
1953 to 1975
Dover Welcomes Our Boys
It was in 1940 that the Society removed the Sea Training School from Limehouse to Ingham in Norfolk, a move made necessary, first because greater security for the boys and also because the Admiralty expressed its wish to acquire the Limehouse building as a training depot for Merchant Navy gunners. For twelve years the training of sturdy British boys has continued on the pleasant Norfolk Broads and the support and interest of the Norfolk and Suffolk public and its kindness to the boys is something that will always live both in the memories of the boys who were trained there and in the esteem and appreciation of the Directors who are fully conscious of the debt the Society owes to these friends. Our gracious Patron Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent was also fully ware of this when on her visits to the school she met the many local visitors to Ingham who were conscious of the honour Her Royal Highness was conferring upon the school.
The Board has to recognise, however, that we are living in changing times and that its responsibility is a dual one, first to the boys and the parents of the boys to see that they get the fullest advantages in training that can be obtained, and secondly to the public which bears the heavy cost of subsidising the school and which in the days of financial stringency is no small burden; the decision therefore arising from these considerations was to bring the school nearer to London from which all the boys are shipped and to bring them to a port which contained every facet of seafaring knowledge combined with such pleasant surroundings as would relive the monotony of training from which the younger mind can all too easily suffer, no wonder then that the choice fell on Dover!
In every sense the new Prince of Wales Sea Training School in Princess Street, Dover, can be described as a charming home. Gone are the days when an institutional gloom is part of the instructional atmosphere. The new school is designed to encourage the boys to develop their personality and not to suppose that they are simply a cog in an educational wheel. The rooms are painted in bright pastel colours, classrooms are of a moderate size, a class of not more than thirty boys being considered essential if the Instructor is to do justice to the personal approach. Indeed in subjects requiring intensive application five or six boys are dealt with at a time so that they may feel the interest of the Instructor is concerned upon themselves.
The curriculum of pre-sea training required by the Ministry of Transport to-day is of a standard that puts a responsibility upon the Instructor to watch his pupil during the four months intensive training with such care that at the end he is keen and anxious to commence his sea career as he was when it first seized upon his imagination. Compass instruction, knotting and splicing, the rule of the road, lifeboat drill, steering, signalling, the construction of ships, all these serious and hitherto quite unknown subjects have to be clearly imparted to young minds not yet in the seventeenth year. In addition to these purely sea subjects the boys are taught to do their clothes washing, mending and darning and to take a personal pride in their appearance as a result of their own endeavours rather than depending upon others to care for them; this it must be recognised is a great change for boys who hitherto may have had doting parents who relieved then of all personal responsibility.
But what a thrill it is for the healthy and normal boy to find himself in constant contact with boys of his own age and with his new enthusiasm to become a sailor! They break away from the classrooms and troop on to the mess deck full of high-spirited fun and with such hearty appetites that even the cooks are inspired and feel that the humdrum business of preparing meals is something worth while. Orderlies drawn from the ranks of the boys take turns both in the kitchen and on the mess deck so that the spirit of mutual help in inculcated and shared by all; her is the mainspring of the oft-repeated tribute ‘a sailor can turn a hand to anything’
No effort is spared to ensure that every boy shall receive such training as will make him physically happy for indeed this is the word that expresses a sound bodily condition. Not only does the curriculum provide for regular P.T drills and, of course, lifeboat drill which besides being an essential requirement of training, is also a first class exercise, but every boy who is a non swimmer is taught to swim before he leaves the school. Football and cricket, sports of all kinds and also the opportunity for rambles and walking, make up a programme, which includes every known and recognised avenue to complete bodily health.
No part of the day is left unaccounted for and when just before three bells (9.30pm) the boys are ‘piped to bunks’ it is with a sense of a day well spent in work and play that they are able to say ‘and so to bed’
A long empty gap in the needs of the Prince of Wales Training School was filled on Thursday afternoon September 24th, when their compact new recreation and parade ground was officially opened by Mrs Philip Green, Chairman of the Portsmouth and Southsea Branch of British Sailors Society Guild, which was instrumental in raising the £2,300 needed for the scheme.
The land immediately behind and above the school has a fine view of the castle. It was purchased from the Corporation in 1957 when it was in a very rough state and on three different levels. Not until this year was the work of levelling, turfing and fencing completed and had it not been for valuable help volunteered by Dover Harbour Board the work might still be incomplete.
A 35 strong guard of honour was inspected by Captain The Rt Hon Lord Teynham , DSO, DSC, RN (rtd). Chairman of the Sea Training Committee and Lady Teynham, and among those who witnessed the opening were the Mayor and Mayoress (Alderman and Mrs RL Eckhoff), the Earl and Countess of Guildford and the School Chaplain, the Rev SJ Archer, Vicar of the Christ Church.
Describing the event as a ‘milestone in the schools curriculum’, Lord Teynham said all of them who had served in the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy appreciated the great brotherhood which existed between the two services.
Tuesday 16th May 1967 at Mansion House, London 149th Anniversary Meeting
Thursday 15th June 1967 Sports and Open Day
Report for 1968
108 boys entered the school as against 105 in 1967.
Out of the total number trained 56 were deck boys and 44 were engine room boys.
BP Tanker Company have expressed satisfaction with the engine room training scheme and have advised us that they will be advertising nationally for candidates, this should help our recruiting.
On hundred boys were put to sea in the following Shipping Companies during 1968:-
BP Tanker Company - 50
Out of the 50 boys sent to BP Tanker Company 44 were trained for engine room duties. 115 applications were received during 1968. 2 boys failed their medical examinations, and 5 boys who failed the eyesight test opted for catering.
Missionary Work - Confirmation Classes continue to be held by Canon Roberts. It has been encouraging to see a fairly large increase in the number of boys offered themselves for Conformation. A total of 25 boys were Confirmed during the year, against 18 in 1967.
Medical - Before proceeding on Christmas leave Dr Hall made arrangements for all the boys to be vaccinated against flu. The health of the boys has remained very satisfactory.
Old Boys Association – Membership continues to grow at a satisfactory rate. 58 boys became Life Members in 1968 as against 65 in 1967.
Instructional - During the year under review the syllabus has held had to be fully revised in the light of the recommendations of the Merchant Navy Training Board. This has entailed making arrangements for Deck Boys to receive some engineering familiarisation training as a step towards eventual GP manning.
Publicity – With the strong challenge from the new Gravesend Sea School publicity is of prime importance in the recruitment of boys. Some Shipping Companies help us by sending boys they have recruited. If other Companies would follow suit, it would be to their advantage because for every boy they send us they nearly always get another one or two as friends always like sailing together.
Functions Attended – Being the 150th Anniversary Year the boys have assisted at many Guild functions.
Royal Certificates and Prizes – The three Royal Certificates this year were won by:
PB Duffner, AJ May and JF Millar and the Royal
Society of Arts Thomas Gray Memorial Prize was shared between:
The staff have worked loyally and conscientiously to train the boys to high standard expected of them.
We are grateful to the Sea Training Committee for the help and guidance extended to us throughout the year; the combined knowledge that they bring of maritime affairs is invaluable to the running of the school.
20th March 1969 the boys assisted in the Hover Lloyd Hovercraft Sea trails.
23rd April 1969 The Captain and Guard of Honour attended the Zeebrugge and St George's Day service at St Jame's Cemetery.
I have just returned from Dover after my last visit to speak to the leaving class of the Prince of Wales Sea Training School. This time it was the only class there, for the school has now closed. It is sad to think that a school which has done such tremendous work in preparing men for life at sea in the Deck and Engine Room Departments of the Merchant Navy is to close. The boys trained at the school have always been their own advertisement and the Merchant Navy will be worse off now that this source of supply has ceased.
The Prince of Wales Sea Training School has always been a comparatively small school – and here in so many ways has lain its strength. Each instructor has assigned a Class - his Class of boys to look after and take care for. A very strong thread of discipline has been woven in to the fabric of school life, smartness, alertness and keenness being the qualities most aimed at in order to develop strength of character and fitness for sea service. Most boys who arrived straight from home had never been away from those homes for very long prior to this training. Those early days are always the worst, but at a small school the staff who understood the situation could ease a boy along and make the homesickness disappear in the new enthusiasms of acquiring seafaring knowledge, without ever pampering a boy or making his treatment lighter than others. I feel that the Society and the boys privileged to be trained at the school should be most grateful to the Officers there, who in past days have given to countless boys a priceless, disciplined first-start in a career at sea. Even out of some unpromising material much has been gathered together and has been the concerted ‘shove’ which has pushed a boy along the right path.
Statistics could be quoted giving the number of boys trained at the school who have gone on to secure navigating or engineering certificates to enable them to serve as officers at sea. These are impressive for a school of its size, but I think that the glory of the school has been the ability to transform ordinary boys into extraordinary good seaman. For this, successive captains and staff must take credit. They indeed made it a ‘great’ little school, which is going to be sadly missed in the Shipping Industry and at British Sailors Society functions, but its memory will live on in the lives of a great many people for a very long time.
In April 1975 The Directors of the Society decided to close the School at the end of 1975. The last intake to be the 1st September 1975.
The colours were finally laid up at St Peter-Upon-Cornhill Church, London 27th October 1975. The Mayor and Mayoress of Dover attended.
On the 18th December 1975 the School closed. Total number of boys trained in its history 4911.
Royal Visits and inspections from:
Other photos of interest :