This is page SEVENTEEN


This little known painting was created in 1905 exactly 100 years after Nelson's death. It shows a young rating gazing up into Nelson's face, and the year coincides with the opening of HMTE Shotley - later RNTE Shotley and then HMS Ganges, so it could be made to represent a young boy starting out on his naval career. 

It is an oil painting called ‘One Hundred Years Ago, 1805-1905’, painted by Albert William HOLDEN to mark the 1905 Trafalgar centenary. It shows a Royal Naval seaman looking at paintings relating to Nelson from the Greenwich Hospital collection in the former ‘Nelson Room’ off the Upper Hall in the Painted Hall of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. This was the room in the former Hospital complex, then used for storing records, where Nelson’s coffined body was kept in late December 1805 while the Hall was prepared for his lying in state, 4–7 January 1806.

The seaman leans on the iron guardrail looking at the pictures displayed in four rows on the west wall. They include Richard Westall's ‘Nelson and the Bear’; Benjamin West's ‘Death of Nelson’; Westall's ‘Nelson wounded at Tenerife’; ‘Nelson and the Spanish launch’ ; ‘Nelson wounded at the Nile’; Lemuel Abbott’s ‘Nelson’ (in hat); David Roberts’s ‘Greenwich Hospital’; Westall's ‘Nelson receiving the surrender of the San Nicolas’; and ‘Nelson boarding a captured ship’. All except the Roberts view, which came later, were presented to the Hospital in1849 by a group of subscribers headed by Jasper de St Croix, whose mother had known Nelson.

Holden’s image is one of a number from the late-Victorian and Edwardian era in which the contemplation of Nelsonic paintings by young men in naval uniform, alone or with an adult interpreter, is intended to evoke his role as an exemplar of duty and patriotism.

The "Naval Galley" as it was formally known predated the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square London, closed in 1931 when the majority of its exhibits were transferred to the National Gallery and from there, some went  to the National Portrait Gallery.


Page 17 starts the story of Shotley as a naval training area, and just as a pointer, it didn't start in 1905 but in 1900. There is much documentary evidence to support this date, and although the barracks were shared by soldiers in the early years, the navy picked-up the bill for new works and for repairs. This appendix is part of a report on the historical costs of training naval boys from 1900 to 1912. Before you open the file jot down the following few figures. From these figures you will realise that it wasn't exactly monopoly money.   Please note that in some of the files I will be showing you which state costs, you will see entries like for example 5900l.  This means £5900 where the 'l' represents GBP and was used in the old British pre decimalisation money in the expression £sd often written as LSD meaning librae, solidi, denarii - pounds shillings and pence.

1900 £97 £42,329-83
1905 £360 £153,372-59
1910 £1481 £598,496-96


This information comes from Kelly's [Suffolk] 1908, which tells us that the population of Shotley in 1901 was 750 + 17 in the RNH Shotley + 12 in the Shotley Point Battery and + 3 in the Martello Towers on the foreshore. That HMTE Shotley was opened in 1905 for 1600 boys + 295 officers and men instructional staff and ships company. There were 32 dormitories, 12 classrooms, recreation centres and lecture rooms, a small gymnasium and a laundry. However, some of these dormitories [always in the early days known as bungalows]were workshops even as late as 1913.   The officers were:-

c.  Chaplain and Naval Instructor REV WALTER BERNARD KENDALL FRANCIS M.A.
e.   Fleet Paymaster HARRY WALTER BRADDON
f.   Head School Master [Warrant Officer] WILLIAM HENRY McCOY

and that in the Ganges II [10690 tons]

h.   Chaplain and Naval Instructor REV WILSON HIGHMORE MB
j.   Staff Paymaster ARTHUR JOHN DYER
k.   Head School Master [Warrant Officer] SAMUEL JAMES HUTCHINGS.

With more fun aforethought, it also tells us that the keeper of the Shotley Gate Post Office [a village which had grown around the Shotley Barracks development in effect denying necessary ground for the Establishment to grow further] was Frank King; the landlord of the Bristol Arms and the owner of the ferry which crossed from Shotley Gate to Parkstone Quay Harwich was John Sparrow and that the keeper of the Shotley Gate refreshment rooms and local cycle agent was James Miller with premises half way down Bristol Hill.

In many places on my web site I have published old pictures to support the story and before we begin here are a few more.

For some unknown reason the Ganges [1821] was not a very popular ship as far as photography went, and there are very few pictures of the ship in Admiralty files: there are of course many copies which were made from the odd photograph of Falmouth days, and there was a brief inclination by Suffolk/Essex people to photograph her on her arrival at Harwich. It was almost certainly because she was a humble ship, a second rater used as a third rater training ship, and why waste photographic plates on such when there are plenty of first raters to snap ? That said, there is a perfectly adequate picture of her on the Ganges Association website. There is also a picture of a ship claimed to be the Ganges II.  I can confirm without any doubt that the claim is justified and that it is the Ganges II. Whilst most of us enjoy seeing something old {especially if refurbished and in working order - a la, the Victory or the Warrior} we prefer to see something new and modern, like, for example Daring, the first of the Type 45 destroyers.  Ganges II was once called the Minatour, a product of the mid 1860's, indeed one year after Ganges started training at Falmouth, so relatively very new. She was a 'beaut, a real fine lady, known as a BROADSIDE IRONCLAD [1867].  Unlike the dowdy Ganges, she was photographed so ubiquitously, that she and her sisters really did steal the show, and just one visit to the Warrior [1860] at Portsmouth  will give you some idea, although the Minatour was much more handsome than Warrior. 




With no fewer than five masts [and two funnels of course] she must have been a stunner ! Her bow, no longer adorned with a figurehead, was bedecked with fine art work richly painted and gilded, and this idea was passed on to the Dreadnoughts and even ships engaged in 1916 in the Battle of Jutland still proudly wore their heraldry. The picture below does her bow section proud and proves beyond doubt that the "claimed" picture mentioned above, is bona fide.




As the years rolled by, the much loved ship [Minatour is a creature part man and part bull] was used for many purposes and by the time she arrived in Harwich to take up her role as HMS Ganges/Ganges II she had been stripped of some of her beauty.  Gone were two of her great masts and in the following photograph  you see her in the very early 20th century looking somewhat forlorn. Her masts, forward to aft, were known as foremast; mainfore; mainmizen, mizen and jigger or gaffmast, and they had taken away the mainfore and the mizen in 1892.  You will have already read that there were two ways of joining the navy to become a BOY, at least in navy speak terms. One was to join when aged between 15½ and 16½ as a "boy", and the other was to join when 16¾ to 18 as a "youth".  The first group started as second class boys, were advanced to first class boys and then off to sea.  The second group were known as Youths by this time [Ganges at Harwich] but had formerly been called first class boys from shore.  These sometimes 18+ first class boys did a short course only and were at sea proper within a few months of joining. Although both groups came direct from shore [from civilian street] the 18+ group were obviously much more mature than the younger boys and were treated accordingly.  HMS Ganges had its own budget, and HMS Ganges II its own, paying for services like hospital care in RNH Shotley  which HMS Ganges got for free.  It was fitting therefore, that the Youths were victualled and accommodated in HMS Ganges II and the younger boys in HMS Ganges [1821].  As a matter of interest [morbid though it is] you will often read on a WW1 War Memorial  the name of a naval boy who is shown as being 18 at death.  Whilst on the subject, it also makes sense that the younger boys, the most vulnerable and accommodated in an old and uncomfortable ship Ganges [1821], should be the first to move ashore into Shotley Barracks.


Now for several other rare pictures, this time wrapped up inside a pdf file so that you can wander within using the adobe zoom tool to pick out the necessary fine detail particularly the eyes of mad jock!  Click on this file GANGES EARLY PICTURES.pdf.

Although there were other bit players in the story of Harwich/Shotley, there is one other ship we should mention here and that was HMS Cordelia which returned home from a commission in the Far East/Australian waters in late 1899, was destored in 1900 and subsequently put up for sale for breaking.  Whilst her life, her commissions and her sale are well documented and transparent, her masts, specifically the foremast is an enigma.  Legend tells us that her foremast became the Shotley mast although equally, research shows that it could have come from a multiplicity of masts being stored in dockyards one of which could have been the Minatour's.  The fact of the matter is that there is no obvious official written down story about where the Shotley mast came from or when, for it wasn't in 1907 as is believed? One of the best possible ways of doing research after the official visits have been made to the various archives, is to grab hold of the local quality newspaper which frankly, does not miss a trick, and, as any editor will tell you "stories sell papers".  I have read the East Anglian Times for 1907 [fortunately it wasn't a leap year because after 365 issues I couldn't have faced even one more] and in that paper, there are many mentions of Shotley Barracks and its supporting ships, everything naval and everything parochial and I must add trivial.  It covers for example what can only be thought of as a decent and polite SODS Opera, when members of the ships company of the Ganges II invited guests onboard for an evenings jollification, giving renditions of "humours poetry" melodious songs and mimed pleasantries.  It was so popular that it happened twice in that year.  Over 1000 guests [that is those not directly associated with boys training] filled the pleasure gardens at Orwell Park for the Shotley naval sports day, there to cheer on  the boys and the youths in no fewer that 27 events.  Throwing the cricket ball, the sack race, the egg/spoon race and a few others were actually open to the local civilians.  Whilst the navy put on a splendid affair by all accounts, it did it there, in the civilian pleasure grounds because the naval "pleasure grounds" had not at that time, Thursday 27th June 1907, been developed.  It records that the day was dry but exceedingly windy.  It recalls of a quite scary trip [in and on which the newspaper correspondent was embarked] from Harwich to Shotley Pier via the Ganges II in dense fog, when the Ganges steam pinnace hit several other boats whilst trying to navigate that stretch of water and by chance it survived to tell the story - the report was dated Wednesday November 13 1907 and is titled "A bad night at Shotley".  Incidentally, right next to this Ganges pinnace story is one under the heading "Disappearing Pakefield" - the story of a Royal Commission about land erosion on the east coast of England. There is other detail about naval events and happenings in the general Harwich area, and my point is that had the landscape changed by the inclusion of an enormous mast, the papers would have been first on the scene......but they were not, at least not in 1907 !   The year in fact was 1908 that the first mention was made in the public domain, and I am beginning to believe that the mainfore mast removed from the old Minatour, might just have found its way to Shotley. The Kaiser, if he is mentioned once in 1907, he is mentioned a hundred times such was his popularity at that time. And finally, with a brand new mast, don't you think that the commanding officer would have 'pushed the boat out' on October 21st 1907 for Trafalgar Day ? - not one mention although Trafalgar Day celebrations elsewhere in the area are recorded and glorified. It does seem incredible that the mast was an almost surreptitious affair and that it was a Shotley Gate event not mentioned by the Admiralty, Hansards or the local press!  The mast is not marked on the OS map as used by hikers and traveller looking for huge and obvious landmarks to guide them until 1909 nearly a year after it was erected !  As well to include at this point as any other, is the cost of the mast. In real money, roughly £28 {which at today's Average Earnings Index is worth £11512-00} was the cost of digging the hole and preparing the ground work - which was done by the work force of the main site contractor which will be mentioned in a few moments. The cost of the mast itself and the riggers {a team from Chatham/Sheerness yards} were defrayed as part of the Naval Vote 10 and the whole project was an integral part of the 'build cost' for Shotley Barracks agreed in principle between the Admiralty and the Treasury in 1903. Why the delay of nearly three years and the procurement of a suitable mast when there were many masts removed from approximately 1893 onwards, is not clear or documented.

However, no Captain of Shotley [HMS Ganges] would allow a written text which wasn't true or which was speculative {or purposely misleading} and despite there being no record today, it must have been known for certain that the mast did come from the Cordelia.  In the 1950's, boys were given a little booklet entitled "A short Guide to HMS Ganges" and in the following file, I show you the first two pages which could have been written by former Captains back in the 20's-40's: who knows ? On page two, the Captain unequivocally states that the Shotley mast came from the Cordelia and that we must accept.  WHERE DID THE GANGES MAST COME FROM.pdf   Spurred on by this written evidence, albeit, and with great respect, tenuous, I searched through the Admiralty files for an original professional picture of HMS Cordelia.  I was delighted to find several  photographs and three of them are displayed below. Note that foremast - it means so much to the story of Shotley! Accepting all, means that the following pictures are as much about HMS Ganges as is somewhere like Nelsons Hall for example. They are all of HMS Cordelia, a bow, a stern and broadside shot.  Use your scroll bars as necessary. They are published in large size so that you can get a better view. We can learn a lot from a photograph in terms of sizes, just to check out that mast story. Cordelia's statistics {of the Comus Class of vessel} were length 225' beam 44' and draught 19'.  In the bottom open photograph that 225' is represented by a measurement of 9½ inches.  The height of the foremast from upper deck level is 5 inches.  That would make the mast 118 feet tall above this deck. The height of the ship from sea level to upper deck level is 0.5 inches making that measurement 11' 8" and the mast 118 + 11' 8" = 129' 8" above sea level.  Add in the draught of 19' {the mast well and truly secured to the lowest part of the ship} and we have a figure of 148' 8" give or take - very interesting especially when we are looking for 142 feet above ground level with some distance below for the footing! BUT......  WE HAVE POSITIVE EVIDENCE of the actual size, which cast great doubt on the Cordelia story. The doubt becomes more justified when one considers that the Shotley Mast had three yard arms whereas the Cordelia had four yard arms. Could it mean that the Shotley Mast has parts of the Cordelia's Mast built into it, making it into a mongrel mast, a hybrid ? If you study WARSHIP Masts on ships of frigate size and above, you will find that they all have FOUR YARDARMS on their fore and main masts, with mizzens having two or three. HMS Warrior now at Portsmouth, is wrongly rigged with only three yards on her masts and the curator has told me why this is, but it is of no interest to us in this story. If you really need to know, email him or ask when next down visiting the ship.

The thumbnail on the left shows the lovely stern of Cordelia with her name emblazoned in large black letters standing out well on a ship painted white. The thumbnail on the right is a bow on shot showing well her booms, guys, standing topping lifts and lifelines, lizards, boat ropes, Jacobs ladders and her lowered boats.



Full details of the Shotley Mast were recorded in the Barrack Masters Registers, and the following detail comes from the Barrack Boatswains 'little red book' [see this page HMS_GANGES_BARRACK_BOATSWAIN_IN_1936.html with all measurements being taken before assembly i.e., whilst laying on the deck ! 

Height fully assembled 142 feet

Top Mast
Top Gallant


75 feet
47½ feet
45 feet


Gaff weight

49 feet

2 tons


Top Gallant


70¼ feet
56½ feet
42 feet

The MAST measurements total 167½ feet which means that 25½ feet is lost on the connecting points viz the hole in the ground, the penetration of the wooden Top Mast base into the neck of the metal Lower Mast and the bracing together of the Top Gallant to the Top Mast.

Think about it ! Could this mast be Cordelia's ? 


I leave this part of my story accepting, nay, having to accept, the Cordelia story about the Shotley mast, full well knowing that there is strong evidence that the Shotley Mast could have been one of many redundant masts several of which were readily available in both Sheerness and in Chatham.  I ask myself why the Admiralty, as is suggested, would tow a mast from Portsmouth {Cordelia's destoring/decommissioning port} when a tow from say Chatham would have been much easier and much cheaper and much quicker ! Incidentally, whilst talking about Captains of Ganges did you know that before 1957 Ganges Captains were more important than after that year?  The reason for this was that up to and including 1957 Harwich was a Naval Port which came under C-in-C Nore and was administered by Admiral Superintendent [AS] Chatham.  The Captain of Ganges was appointed Commanding Officer HMS Ganges and Captain-in-Charge [CAPIC] Harwich. The Commanding Officer of the resident Harwich ship {the Port Depot Ship}, HMS Mull of Galloway in my time, was junior to the C.O. of Ganges. During WW2, Harwich had its own Flag Officer and his Port Headquarters, commissioned in September 1939 was HMS Badger: it was decommissioned on Trafalgar Day [October 21st] 1946.  HMS Badger was situated where the Harwich International Port Terminal is today. After that date in remained as an emergency HQ ran by the RNXS.  It was finally closed down in 1992.

 But first, we need to ascertain why a mast in a shore establishment ?

Masts were on ships in the same way that football pitches and hardcore parade grounds were on terra firma. 

Well before the building work began at Shotley Point and even before HMS Ganges [1821] arrived at Harwich, the debate had started about masts and sails and why the need to waste time and money training people on them. So here, and not out of context, is the story of why Shotley Barracks got its mast.

The period 1898 through 1902 approximately, were years in which much discussion took place, at all levels, national and international, naval and mercantile, as to the continuing usefulness of sailing masts in ships, and with it, the need to teach sailors masts, sails and rigging. The Times newspaper, a good measure of topical issues then and now, was rarely ever free of an article on this subject: in addition there is a great deal of Admiralty data on the subject.   This letter to the Editor of The Times from an unnamed admiral of 6th January 1900 is typical.


Some argued that seamanship in all its forms, was a necessary feature of all things to do with conning a ship from A to B, whilst others pointed out that steam, which had been an everyday part of a mariners life since the mid 19th century, was totally reliable rendering the days of sail obsolete. These arguments came to a head when in early 1900 a huge conference was organised by the Royal United Service Institute [a learned body with a pedigree without equal] to which all the top admirals, merchant masters and shipping owners were invited, to thrash out the recommended way ahead for all who had cause to go down to the sea in ships. This is how The Times newspaper reported the conference.

conference on masts day one.pdf       conference on masts continued day two.pdf

It is not necessary to read these reports but it is historically interesting.  What is important is what happened behind closed doors in the Admiralty subsequent to this conference which along with many other issues,  led to a major change in the way officers and men {and thus youths and boys} were to be trained, promoted, paid etc from 1903 onwards which became known throughout the navy as "THE CHRISTMAS DAY MEMORANDUM", the Christmas being 1902. It was as a direct result of this Memorandum that Shotley Barracks got its mast.  At the time of the writing of the Memorandum and its issue to the fleet as Admiralty Circular T184 Shotley Barracks had gone past the drawing board stage and costing had been approved to start the site clearance/building processes.  Shotley Barracks would be used to train boys [and some youths] and the Memorandum stated that the subject of Masts, Sails and Rigging should no longer be taught to or used by ratings, but would be retained for boys. This meant that boys had to be trained in an environment where ships masts were available to be climbed, and where they were not, they had to be supplied and erected even if that meant on terra firma, and Shotley was the only terra firma site to have a full size warships mast erected. The Shotley mast was nothing to do with the continuing of a naval tradition, for by abandoning the Mast/Sail training for ratings other than boys, the navy broke with that tradition when the Christmas Day Memorandum was signed. 

Before we look at the Admiralty Circular [or more specifically to the much abbreviated report of the Circular as published in The Times newspaper] let us remind ourselves of the purpose of Mast and Sail training in the last quarter of the 19th century at a time when steam had rendered them more or less obsolete, and ships were beginning to appear built without them.

This is part of a text extolling the virtues of mast training. 

and to this we must add the physical training element. These are the qualities and the requirements the admirals had in mind when deciding that boys should still be taught them/acquire them as a foundation for their chosen career.  However, not all admirals were in favour of the continuance of Mast and Sail training and this file shows one of many such letters mast training.pdf

An in filler! Manning the Mast - now this is what you can call Mast Manning Par Excellence!

The Peruvian Navy training ship 'BAP UNION' seen visiting a Spanish Port.

I went aboard her in July 2017 during her open-days whilst in the West Indian Dock in London. Wonderfull and what an experience, a sheer delight to stand on the deck of the second largest sail training ship in the world. She was brand new first commissioned from build in July 2016.  She has three conventional masts all of the same height 53.50 meters = 175' 6" measured from the surface of the sea [33' 6" taller than the HMS Ganges mast measured from the surface of the parade ground] - fore, main and mizzen - with a smaller Jigger mast further aft.

The file below carries the report on the Circular.  By reading the file you will have a perfect understanding of the watershed which was to affect the whole navy post 1st January 1903. However, the following section of the file [on the right] is all you need to understand why Shotley got its mast. Note in particular the last sentence and the  quaint expression explicit in the last two lines that boys would be taught subjects "NOT SUITED TO THE TRAINING OF A MODERN SEAMAN"

Christmas Day 1902 Memorandum which introduced no fewer than 15 new edicts

new training from 1903.pdf

In simplistic terms, ordinary seamen and above, including officers, will now be subjected to a physical training regime in gymnasia under the control of a brand new branch of Physical Training Instructors based in Portsmouth. These same officers and ratings will be taught other new subjects relevant to the technological navy emerging at the start of the century to replace the abolished subjects aligned to the old sailing navy of Victoria's navy and her predecessors.  Their training therefore, has no need of a climbing [manning] mast. For seaman boys things would be different. They would not be taught physical training in a gymnasium nor would they be taught the 'modern technology module', but instead, they would be taught the Mast and the Sail and through that programme they would be developed physically and mentally to the hazards found aloft leading to the comradeship and personal endeavour which danger always stimulated. They definitely needed a real climbing [manning] mast, but not a gymnasium.

HOWEVER, if we are to accept that the Shotley Barracks mast was erected in 1907/1908 {being first used in 1908} for the reasons stated above, we might be dismayed to learn that before August 1910 it had become an ornament  as by that time ALL mast and sail training had been withdrawn. The need and reason for having it  lasted for less than two years, and had they delayed the Shotley built for that amount of time,  the mast would never have been erected.  At this stage, gymnasia is the norm and the Barracks had woefully poor facilities. This change of training, led to two extra gymnasiums being built.

 This article comes from 1912.  CESSATION OF SAIL MAST TRAINING.pdf

However, notwithstanding the official line [no more official mast training], the mast was known to be an excellent way to develop the boys physically and mentally and bit by bit, each commanding officer after the cessation found a use for it for "Shotley in-house" training purposes to the point where the Admiralty, conscious that the upkeep costs were minimal and more importantly that is had an excellent safety record, acquiesced, and the mast not only became acceptable, but acclaimed as an icon.  Post cessation, the 'training' use of the mast diminished as the years past, until it reached a point where once only did a boy have to climb the lower section as part of his training, equating to just half an hours effort in a period of up to 15 months at the Establishment. For the rest of the time, still maintaining its excellent safety record, it was used for voluntary recreation activity and for ceremonial reasons.  When, in 1928, MP's were debating the only death on the mast, they had it in mind that the boy fell whilst undergoing training.  In actual fact, he died whilst enjoying a recreational challenge. Look at page 15 to the 1928 entry and of course to the Ganges Compendium which carries the story of the death of Alfred Hickman.

Just one further pointer.  If you only have a passing interest about Ganges and all that she meant, made sweeter by a few pints and a few gullible lamp swinging oppos, then so be it and I understand your decision.  On the other hand, if you are a serious scholar, with a long hard climb ahead, I suggest you start by getting BR 697 Boys' Training Instructions. There were three versions which were relevant right up to 1956. The first was 1911, the second 1937 and the third 1952.  I have both the 1937 and the 1952 editions and both are frail and much thumbed. There is a marked degree in difference reflecting the change in attitudes towards excessive/oppressive discipline as the years went by.  Two more versions were rolled out, one in 1957 and one in 1966 but this time as the  "JUNIORS Training Instructions". The 1957 version, in fairness, didn't differ too much from the 1952 version but the 1966 version did, and reflected the mellowing attitudes towards discipline showing more leniency than the previously mentioned four Instruction Manuals.   I also have the Admiralty Orders-in-Council 1864-1938 in which there are many fascinating edicts from on high.  These eventually became published as BR 773A and run from Volume 1 to Volume 15, although the time when the Ganges [1821] was been prepared for service at Falmouth [1864] is covered by Volume 3 onwards.  In addition BR 1992 [Divisional Officers handbook 1952] and BR 2074 [Naval Prize Manual] all help to understand the processes which moulded us {you and I} into the men we are today ! At no stage in any of the documents is the matter of mast training raised, meaning that the Admiralty did not officially recognise it.  So, knowing that few of you will ever see either versions of BR697, here is a treat for you. I have copied my 1952 book and in it you will be able to recollect EXACTLY and PRECISELY your time at HMS Ganges. Obviously - because of its title - it was also used in HMS St Vincent. BR 697 of 1952 BOYS TRAINING INSTRUCTIONS.pdf Note in this BR there is a mention of the Boys Fund.  The Boys Fund was a fixed amount of money annually - in 1907 it was £2210 - an amount of several grants totalling £700 in all plus a capitation allowance of £12 per boy to provide a sum of money for meeting the miscellaneous expenses of the boys training services, and this example is covered in the Treasury Letter 69/07 of the 8th January 1907. Have a go at working out just how much £2210 from 1907 is worth today by using this calculator, keying in the year 1907, the amount of 2210 zero shillings zero pence and then 2008 [2009 is not yet added as an option] and taking as the answer Average Earning.  You might be amazed. Just close the programme down and continue looking at this my page.

Measuring Worth - Purchasing Power of British Pound

Now sit back and relax as we are about to enter Harwich harbour after a short stop over in Sheerness.

Sending Ganges to Harwich as a panacea for all its problems [which were well known {and documented} to all concerned] was not treated seriously.  Even, if as intended, the recruiting figures would be better in the east when clearly they were poor in the west, the ship was built as a two decker and was rigged out to be a third rate training ship, and no amount of hoping {or tweaking} would increase her capacity to take in many more boys.  Added to that was an environmental change of living in a cold dry area as opposed to the former experience of warm wet weather.

Harwich and the River Stour anchorage [one of five rivers in England called Stour] was much smaller than the very large spaces in the west and the people of Essex made her very welcome. She continued as though there had been no geographical change [i.e., as a 3rd rate training ship, having only 2nd class ordinary boys onboard sending any bright and clever boys to Devonport as this article from 1912 shows].  From beginning to end this was her lot as a boys training ship.  For the first five years of Shotley Barracks, 1905-10 the status quo was maintained until Shotley Barracks started to train its own Advance Class boys. Once selected for the Advanced Class stream, boys had to attend compulsory schooling which was not imposed on ordinary boys [GC boys].

AC Boys.pdf

 As the new century rolled in, there is evidence to confirm that her condition was deteriorating, and that within the foreseeable future much work would be required leading to her being taken out of service for an extended refit and overhaul. Her job didn't change and she resumed the task of training newly recruited boys from shore, or take over spills of boys recruited into second and first rate training ships from shore, and training them to be second class boys. The only first class naval boys borne [there were also band boys onboard] were members of the ships company employed as Pupil Teachers, paid an annual allowance in addition to their pay, which over the last ten years or so, had risen by one penny [1d] to 8d per day.  Although nothing can be gained statistically from the following data, it is an indication that as medicine improved with time and that a new and purpose built hospital was available at Shotley which hadn't been available at Falmouth, and that over the years the numbers borne were larger at Shotley, the death rate for 33 years in Falmouth {1866-1899} was 54 and that at Harwich/Shotley over 40 years {1900-1940} was 161. However much we play with these figures as ratios, percentages, trends etc, research shows that comparable groups of people in civilian occupations had higher death rates than did these naval boys, and that the naval boys were buried with dignity and some ceremony and truly now rest in peace, whereas many Victorians and Edwardians from comparable backgrounds were sifted away into unmarked paupers graves, where the only ceremony and respect given to them was the attendance of a cleric and {often} the Superintendent of the local work house plus the gravedigger. Aligned with the subject of disease and death must come that of radiant health and good physique. This article deals with the subject of whether it is better for health reasons to train boys in a ship or in a shore establishment.  If you are either a Janner or a Jagger or even from locations in the West, you will love this:-


One of the restrictions of her been moored in the west was that of available land to built anything of substance ashore, specifically a proper hospital.  Nearly all the useable land was in private hands, and the only parts which were not were in and around the old Mylor naval dockyard which, as the steam age came in, was built up as a c0aling station, with fresh water on-tap from a reservoir on high ground above the dockyard, so a watering hole also. Mylor's playing fields were known to be precipitous [some say "1 in 3"] with only a few patches on the level where few could play cricket, the rest of the recreational areas being good for grass skiing or hill climbing/mountaineering only!

Boys at every level in the naval organisation understandably came last, if considered at all, and had not the following occurred coincident with the arrival at Harwich of the Ganges, she may have laboured on for many more years, with, if needs be, a temporary replacement whilst undergoing her major refit.

During the latter part of the 19th and the early 20th centuries, a great change occurred costing the Admiralty a massive amount of money.  It benefited  both the officers and the men and involved the building of the Dartmouth naval college, the remodelling of Osborne post Queen Victoria's death to make it in a second officers naval college, and all three main port division barracks at Devonport [Keyham] Portsmouth and Chatham.  On completion of this build, the training ship Britannia would be abolished as would the harbour hulks which for years had accommodated thousands of sailors between sea drafts in a most unacceptable way. It heralded in a great social change and the men showed their appreciation.

In 1903 the Admiralty had a committee looking at ways of shifting all boys out of their hulks and into shore accommodation. This paper from 1912 looks back at those time.  Note that it wasn't until 1905 that the Admiralty started to seek Treasury sanctions for the proposals for erecting a shore establishment at Shotley Point Harwich which must mean that at best, the Barracks began building without permission/funding, for by late 1905 the first important phase was completed and the boys had moved in.  In this file, note that the boys of the St Vincent were earmarked to move into Fort Blockhouse which would upset the plans of the fledgling submarine service !

1903 committee.pdf

What acted as a catalyst for change in Harwich was that on the Shotley peninsular there was a lot of land largely owned by two rich and powerful organisations. On the one hand were the Hervey's, the Barons, the Earls and the Marquess' of Bristol who were the richest land owners in Suffolk if not in East Anglia. Their family home was and is, at ICKWORTH near Bury St Edmunds. The other was the War Office, and the War Office was willing to gift the land to the Admiralty free of charge.

Before I continue, there are a couple of things I need to explain.  Firstly that the army had in place a defensive system which was known as SHOTLEY POINT, [part of the Harwich Defences] and on their land they had built many buildings including martello towers, magazines and many batteries all facing seaward/riverward to protect the town/harbour of Harwich. These buildings were serviced by a small Garrison and the whole area was administrated by the War Office. The army, always much larger than the navy, had an equally larger supporting group, which dealt with the repair and maintenance of the Garrison for all its requirements.  The army work programme was always called "WORK 43" and this was followed by other data representing a venue, a geographical position and an event.  Work 43/438/28 for example, might represent an Army Requirement/the 438th venue where Sandhurst might have been 001 and Woolwich Arsenal 500 and the 28th job at that venue since their records commenced. The navy had exactly the same system only the navy were always "WORK 41".  It also has to be said that the navy were tenderfoots in this game of building shore barracks whereas the army had been doing so for a hundred years or more. WORK 40 and 42 belonged to the Records of the Directorate General of Works, relating to royal, government and public buildings and works in the United Kingdom and overseas from 1852-1952. Just as a pointer, in the Portsmouth area alone, the navy's shore portfolio {Work 41} went up to the high ten's whilst the army shore portfolio was in excess of the mid one hundreds. It should come as no surprise that when the soldiers vacated Shotley Point in favour of the building of the naval Shotley Barracks, the civil servants running the Work 43 programme did not leave, neither did they let go of their portfolio on the Shotley peninsular. The Admiralty had already built RNH Shotley under WORK 41/185-191 in 1900.  Subsequent to that, the only naval presence into what was required to be built ashore for the navy was the secondment of two officers from the ex-build of Keyham Barracks in Devonport and one officer ex the RNB Chatham build, and they joined the Work 43 group, and ran the risk of insulting the army who had built more barracks than the navy could use or occupy in a thousand years. The first job the Work 41 group undertook was the building of the main swimming pool in 1935 {WORK 41/192-3 1935} with which were are all familiar.  Thus, the army's civil servants masterminded the building of Shotley Barracks from the demolition of the Shotley Point Garrison in 1902 [or some of it at least] including THE MAST IN ALL ITS GLORY. It is of course immaterial as to who appoints whom to undertake the actual building work, for the vast majority of the work was done by building companies from the Eastern Suffolk and North Essex areas.

The following article shows the order of responsibility for the provision of buildings etc for the armed forces.

Work on royal castles and fortifications, including some harbours (notably Calais) was undertaken by the Office of the King's Works in the medieval and early modern periods. By the eighteenth century, however, responsibility for naval and military works had passed to the armed services themselves. This remained the case until 1963, when the works departments of the Admiralty {41}, War Office {43} and Air Ministry {44} were merged with the Ministry of Public Building and Works [MPBW].

In 1970, these areas of responsibility passed to the newly-created Department of the Environment [DOE], and in 1972 to the Property Services Agency [PSA]. In 1988, responsibility for the defence estate was handed over to the Ministry of Defence. There is a website called wherein there is a statement that the original drawing of the Ganges mast was made at the PSA in Colchester and stamped PSA Drawing Number G24/59. Bearing in mind that the PSA didn't come on the scene until 1972, 65 years after the mast was erected, it comes as no surprise that there is no trace of this drawing!

This parcel of land {71 acres} was considered adequate, and the planners set to with their measuring tools to build a shore barracks for boys training. As it turned out, there was a short fall in the area needed and the Marquess of Bristol agreed to sell a further needed 14 acres for £4000-00 which became the site developed into the Annexe and its surrounding recreation areas. The Treasury gave their approval for this spend under letter 20899/06 of the 30th November 1906.  It also included a tract of land, the Stour foreshore, which the Hervey's [the family name of the Marquess of Bristol] claimed was theirs, and which the Crown Properties always called the "Marquess of Bristol's adverse claim".  The Crown Properties were relieved of their anxiety when the disputed foreshore area became part of HMTE Shotley.   Thus the cost of the site land overall, [being so ridiculously cheap] was enough to settle the minds of Their Lordships in the Admiralty, and approval was given to get "WORKS 43" to bring in the builders. This equated to a total land mass of just under 100 acres. Later on you will see a list of appendices.  In appendix 10 we are told that the Shotley RNH took up 5 acres and in 'appendix further report', that the actual build-area was 32 acres. This means that in 1912 nearly two thirds of the Shotley site was not developed or was given over to nominated open spaces.   I have the original drawing of the completed barracks hanging on my wall of my Museum.  It is a very large framed picture showing every possible detail, and naturally I am very proud of it: it is a wonderful architectural drawing dated August 1905 the mast being added in a 1909 "touch-up". It is clearly indicative of the time of year the drawing was made, or that the draughtsman was a cricket buff, or that they didn't play football at Shotley, because a cavernous open space of some 50 acres is divided into two cricket grounds with no mention of any other sport except for the showing of the swimming baths and Shotley's most famous game at which there were few rivals namely Fives - see below the second photograph from the left and the text beneath it. Shotley adopted the Eton Laws of the game {calling the game 'Shotley Fives'} and was privileged to have the Courts which in civil life were for the rich and famous only and were built at all the best public schools in the land.  Shotley took on all comers and beat the lot of them.  Have a look here to learn a little bit about the game which was rather complicated Fives - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  In 1911/12 some of the right hand cricket ground was made into the Parade Ground we all loved {known then as a Drill Ground} at a estimated cost of £800 {on the Average Earnings Index, £318,178-00 in today's money} see the file "Shotley 1911 Shopping List" below.  Regrettably you can only see the HMTE Shotley drawing if I invite you to my home because it is much too large to digitise for any reason let along that of publishing it on a web site. However, here are a few snapshots of the drawing taken at close up range. Enjoy them.

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Note: All the officers are grouped together, commissioned, warrant, CPO and QARNNS Sisters. No school but school lane is there. The "Giants Stride" to the gate side of the mast - do YOU know what that was ? Look below to** .  Cricket ground and not a parade ground beyond the mast.  The line you see from pavilion to main gate is a wire fence separating two cricket grounds. Look at non naval marking of the messes - no port or starboard, just sequentially marked as built so the numbering is irregular. Note the covered way stops being covered after messes 5 and 10. What about the prominence and significance of the mortuary!  Can you see the long obstacle course in the top right hand corner ? Note how the messes are 'through builds' i.e., without accommodation for the instructor. See how the wire fence extends to the northern boundary with a gap between the pavilion and the field gun shed for access to either cricket pitch. Note, PO's mess, ships company seaman's mess and ships company marines mess. Drill shed 2 is prominent - drill shed 1 is nearby with the gymnasium which was very small. What a lovely  privilege to have a 'fives courts' facility. See how the covered way continues after messes 11 and 16 [just off picture]. Note the generous outdoor latrines around the establishment. A better picture of the Morris Tube Range - see my Ganges Compendium - and note the huge septic tank to stop sewage going direct into the Stour or Orwell. Note also the canteen alongside the obstacle course. Don't miss the Cooling Pond but it wasn't used by the boys - it was for the adjacent Electric Generating Station. Check out the outdoor small parade ground adjacent to No2 Drill Shed and the Vestry, use to robe and de-robe by the Chaplain before/after Church Service in the Gymnasium. Have you any idea of what F.S. stands for ? Look at ** below for answer. The Captains house at Erwarton showing what was leased [at that time and purchased in the 20's] and what parts didn't belong to him or the Admiralty. Can you see faith hope and charity [yes built from day one], a martello tower, a smithy and a gun battery left over from the Shotley Point Garrison times. No signal school but there is a wardroom croquet lawn. There are no houses on Bristol Hill but the Bristol Arms is open for business as usual. Don't miss the toll gate owned and controlled by the Marquess of Bristol who pocketed the money. Shotley Lodge is just outside the Barracks boundary fence. Bottom half of what was to become the long covered way. Note the laundry, swimming pool and the odd way of marking the messes. At this point starting with mess 11 and 16 it is covered. Note messes 21,22,23 and 24 top right [what was to become Benbow Lane] making a total of 32 messes, or dormitories or bungalows in all. Don't miss the salt water reservoir and pumping station which supplied water for latrine flushing, swimming pool, laundry etc. Do you remember the Laundry Drying Grounds ? If  I had joined in 1906 I would have been in 16 mess, but by 1953, 16 mess had become Rodney 12 mess. Note the last three messes viz 30, 31 and 32, which became Anson Division messes 24, 26 and 28. Under 30 they built a RWT [Rain Water Tank] and under 31 and 32 workshops. The main road to the Harwich ferry was owned by the Marquess of Bristol. Note the dog-leg by the cottages which became MQ's and the Barrack perimeter line was straightened to include them inside the establishment envelope. They were once the MQ's for a senior rate instructor who had many children. Good view of the two cricket grounds and note, no Annexe or grounds. Look at the middle of  both halves of what was to become the long covered way. All that is missing after the bottom Provisions Store [in the middle] is a very large classroom. Note, no short covered way.

** For the answers for Giants Stride and FS look at this file GIANTS STRIDE


This drawing above amplifies the middle of what became the Long Covered Way


In 1905 the above mentioned Admiralty Architectural Drawing [which hangs on my wall] tells us that the Barracks proper covered 80 acres 1 square rood and 6 square poles and the Hospital 5 acres zero square roods and 9 square poles where:-

12 inches = 1 foot
3 feet = 1 yard
5¼ yards = 1 pole, rod or perch
4 poles = 1 chain
10 chains = 1 furlong
8 furlongs = 1 mile [1760 yards]
3 miles = 1 league
144 square inches = 1 square foot
9 square feet = 1 square yard
30¼ square yards = 1 square pole
40 square poles = 1 rood
4 roods = 1 acre
640 acres = 1 square mile

It also lists the accommodation available at that time which was:-

Commanding Officer [Accommodated in Erwarton Hall, an Admiralty rented property] remote from the Establishment      1
Wardroom Officers     12
Wardroom Officers servants       4
Warrant Officers     16
Warrant Officers servants       3
Seamen CPO's and Schoolmaster CPO's     16
Petty Officers     88
Seamen     56
Marines [including two Sergeants]     56
Boys 1600
Nursing Sisters       2
Nursing Sisters servants       1
Surgeons       1
Ward Master       1
Sick Berth Staff       5
Infectious Staff       4
General Pavilions [the name used for Wards]     60
Infectious Pavilions     30

The following picture {which is an animated GIF} is of great interest and dates from the period of 1911-912. Using the picture in conjunction with a Barrack Boatswain instruction book [this was the Barrack Master's organisation consisting of a Barrack Gunner, a Barrack Carpenter and a Barrack Boatswain {all Warrant Officers} working with the Barrack Master a commissioned officer] we can identify and give height parameters of each mast at the Shotley site. From the series of 'snapshots' taken from the original Shotley building map of 1905 shown above, you will have seen that the grounds to the north of the establishment were divided into two very large cricket grounds separated by a wire fence running from Marsh Lane in the extreme north to the main gate in what was to become Caledonia Road.  Now, in this picture, you can see that the area immediately to the north of the main Shotley mast has changed colour [Cricket Ground No1] and this was the first attempt at providing a parade ground area for the boys. Originally it was gravel on grass which was often waterlogged. However, back to mast's. At this stage, Shotley had 10 [ten] mast's with five of them not shown in the picture. These were the short mast [2 yards in height] on top of the signal tower and nearby, four W/T masts used for wireless communications with units of the Fleet in Harwich. In the picture we see the small mast on the Quarterdeck and of course, the mast proper beyond. The following GIF is displayed inside an INLINE FRAME.

The Messes right up to and including the early 1930's were grouped into Divisions, and the score started with Divisions 1-5. In 1910 a sixth Division was added namely the Signal Division.  From 1912 to 1925 it was Signal Division plus Divisions 1-6 and from 1925 until 1933 {with one extra Division added} just eight Divisions with the Signal Division now disbanded and integrated into other Divisions.  In the mid 30's those eight Divisions were renamed after eight famous admirals and they were changed to conventional naval port and starboard marking, with even mess numbers to port [left, looking upwards towards the quarterdeck assuming it to be the bow of the ship] and odd numbers to the right. Benbow Lane and the Short Covered Way messes plus those built on the periphery of the main parade ground continued the numbering after the last mess in the Long Covered Way.  The admirals were in order of date of birth:-

Francis DRAKE 16th century b. 1540
Richard GRENVILLE 16th century b. 1542
Robert BLAKE {known as The Father of the Navy} 16/17th centuries b. 1599
John BENBOW 17th century b. 1651
George ANSON 17/18th centuries b. 1697
Edward HAWKE 18th century b. 1705
George RODNEY 18th century b. 1719
Cuthbert COLLINGWOOD 18/19th centuries b. 1748

The Annexe messes, used for boys training after WW1, were simply called mess 1, 2 etc, but after the rebuild of the Annexe site they were named after famous contemporary admirals of WW1. Incidentally, whilst talking about the Annexe, Mick Matthews {a regular at the Ganges Museum with his wife Nicky and the current archivists there} and I recently met up with a man over here on holiday from Cyprus.  Before becoming an ex-pat he had worked for an Ipswich architect who designed the HMS Ganges hobbies room in more recent times. He told us that after the Annexe was pulled down, the deck boards of the messes [those messes didn't have parquet or solid wood block floor as did the "Main" messes] were sold off and were used in the Woodbridge Rugby Club at Bromeswell Suffolk.  I am the owner of one parquet/solid wood block from a 'Ganges' deck, but mine comes from the ground floor of the Signal School.

The Shotley Barracks were originally designed for 1600 boys, but it was decided that for hygiene reasons, that not more than 1200 would be received. On this basis, the cost of the barracks was £166 per boy.

There was however, enough room to sleep 1500 boys and if the covered accommodation for day use, recreation etc, could be increased in size to admit of this number to be received, the average cost per boy excluding the hospital [RNH Shotley] would be considerably less, probably not more than £140 per boy.

To compare this with maintaining boys in a stationary ship taking into account:-

1.  pay, allowances, victualling, medicines, retired pay and pensions liabilities for all the naval and marine ranks and ratings included in the complement of the establishment, irrespective of whether available for mobilisation or not,

2.  wages, victualling and medicines of the boys under training,

3.  wages of civilians,

4.  repair and maintenance.

5. expenses incurred at medical establishments ashore in connection with patients from the establishment,

6.  Boys Fund,

7.  miscellaneous.

No account being taken of the following:-

8.  cost of machinery provided by contractors,

9.  capital expenditure in respect of works,

10.  repair and maintenance charges for Shotley Sick Quarters.

A sum of £300 is included in the Navy Estimates on account of item 10 above, but as the Sick Quarters are used by Youths as well as by Boys and occasionally by Men from the fleet in Harwich, it is not possible to allocate the proportion of expense due to training boys only.

On the basis of 1200 boys at Shotley and 1500 in the Impregnable Establishment at any one time, and allowing for periods of training boys {see table above} it is estimated that the average ANNUAL COST PER BOY would be about £69 at Shotley and £66-10-0d at the Impregnable Establishment {mainly stationary ships and a small shore barracks]. It was therefore decided that the gain was not monetary {as had first been thought and is mentioned in the large file on Hansard reports on page 15} but environmental leading to advantages to the health, development and comfort of the boys.

To give you some idea of what 100 acres looks like, imagine the roof of Wembley stadium being lifted off and placed on the ground. That roof covers an incredible area of 11 acres {of which, 4 acres opens and shuts when necessary}. Nine roofs would be required to fill the Shotley Barracks footprint.  The barracks themselves cost £170,000 and the hospital cost was £26,000, a total cost of £200,000.00.  This at present day prices equals an outlay of £16,008,054 if using the RPI and £85,207,000 if using earning related comparisons. Have a look at this web site to do your own calculations Measuring Worth - Purchasing Power of British Pound

See this file for details of cost COST OF BUILDING SHOTLEY.pdf



The book above [end view and spline view] is one of thousands of Treasury Books containing letters of a specific nature in any one year.  When there are lots of letters, there are several volumes to the book. This book contains letters from the Treasury to the Admiralty {one way, with other books and their volumes for letters coming the other way on the same subject[s]}.  Below


    is a typical file within the book[s], this one of the 1915 Singapore Mutiny where the Treasury is agreeing that the killed and wounded men should be compensated from the Army Fund.

I have shown you these for a purpose. After reading many of the letters from the Treasury to the Admiralty [all of course on money matters] and then consulting the relevant minutes on loose leaf pages, you will readily observe that the Treasury considered the Admiralty to be clowns, and specifically here, on matters to do with Boys Training Establishment [ship and shore]. In a 'polite' letter to the Cabinet, The Chancellor hints that "the story of the Admiralty's policy on replacing training ships with shore establishments in not encouraging". The Treasury mentions several of the Admiralty's letters as follows.

Letter 3867/06 The scheme at Shotley was carried out on enlarged lines and the establishment was built to take 1600 boys instead of 1000 at a cost of £150000 instead of  £100000.  It was however found impossible for disciplinary reasons to get more than 1200 into the accommodation thus provided and in 1911 the expenditure of £5500 was authorised to provide for 150 boys more, making £155500 the total. But apparently only 1200 could be accommodated in 1914 !
Letter 12460/12 It was again found inadequate in 1912 - whether because numbers had increased or that we were not told - and the Ganges II was drafted to Harwich to help out.  A further increase costing £12551 plus £750 is now being made in the shore accommodation in connection with the concentration there of signalling and wireless telegraphy ratings.  The total cost is now £168801 and the accommodation is apparently only sufficient for 1400 boys.
Letters 21699 and 25075 both of 1914 Also relevant to the bemusement of the Treasury caused by the Admiralty's continuously altering requirement for boys training ashore and in Shotley.
 Letter 6647/06 New subject but still on boys training, this time in Devonport, with proposals to move boys from the Impregnable ashore to Trevol at Torpoint. For this subject, the Treasury gets more upset and more angry with the dithering and incompetent Admiralty. The move is estimated to cost £211000* and this is thought to be for building only. The land at Trevol which is proposed to utilise has also an unfortunate history. It was bought for £50965 for a gunnery school. The water supply was inadequate and the local authority was induced to promote a Bill in the House of Commons to obtain powers for its improvement. Then the idea of a gunnery school was dropped but the Admiralty nevertheless went on with the scheme for supplying water to the site. The abandonment of the gunnery school  eventually caused the failure of the Bill and the Admiralty had to pay £5500 incurred in its promotion.  If it had passed the House, the Exchequer would have been saddled with a payment of £1400 per year to the local authority towards the cost of a new supply. As it is, the £5500 was wasted, and so far as we know a proper supply of water [for the ex Impregnable boys] has still to be provided. * Admiralty letter TO The Treasury DW 1631/15 of 1st March 1915 stated that the build at Trevol was to be on Admiralty land for 1000 boys easily extendable for a further 800 boys if needed at a cost of £211000.  They mentioned in passing that in the May-June period of 1914, the Impregnable had had five cases of the most severe type of disease Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis, almost certainly brought to the ship by a new recruits, but 'grown' by the conditions of over crowding, atmospheric pollution, unsanitary construction or condition of latrines etc., and that the Trevol move should be effected forthwith without delay.

Here I show you a mixed-bag of letters and responses between the Admiralty [on behalf of Shotley Barracks] and the Treasury Department both of whom had "Their Lordships". There are of course many such letters each of which fits another piece to completing the jigsaw of the Shotley story. I have completed my jigsaw except for one piece [which I am still researching] which concern the killing {stated as "blasting"} of a Lieutenant Commander by his wife using his shotgun for his crime of infidelity.

T. Letter 12437 13th August 1902.
A. Letter D.W. 7401/6334 30th July 1902
Water supply.  Treasury tell Admiralty that they must agree with the Local Authority  to pay a nominal rent of 1 shilling a year for permission to lay a 5" water main between Shotley Barracks and the Spring in Erwarton Hall grounds {the Captains residence} and to pay the owner of the Spring £50 per annum for a quantity not exceeding 10,000 gallons for 40 years; the Admiralty to pay for a direct connection to Erwarton Hall and the Court costs for the 40 year lease.  Total cost is £2700 with an allowance for an over-spend of £1500.
T. Letter 11228 of 4th July 1910
A. Letter D.W. 5750/4871 of 13th July 1910
Extra Accommodation.  Admiralty asks for money to fund extra accommodation at Shotley. The Admiralty had raised a similar request in 1906. The Treasury had written back {22885 9th January 1907}to approve the spend asking the Admiralty whether it intended to ask for more money for extra accommodation in the future. The Admiralty didn't bother to answer the letter.  So, in this request, the Treasury say "and to enquire whether the Board of the Admiralty are now in a position to FAVOUR THEM with a reply - note, that that was 4 years late! Until that question was answered, the Treasury would NOT APPROVE of this 1910 request.  They concluded their letter by saying:-

"I am also to observe that, whereas the authorised scheme was expected to provide 1600 boys at Shotley, there will only be sufficient accommodation under present arrangements even with the additional expenditure now proposed for 1350, and I am to enquire whether this is due to the adoption of a more extravagant standard of construction or fittings."

The answer was yes. When the 1905 build took place, the dormitories were just shells, i,e, there were no fire places or instructors sleeping cabins etc.  All such additions were add-ons in later years. However, calling a fire in the bleak climate of East Suffolk extravagant,  is a little harsh.

T. Letter 15234 18th August 1910 Allowance allocated to the OIC of Signal Training.   Authorisation is hereby given to allow 2 shillings and 6 pence per day to the Lieutenant of the Signal Instructions.
T. Letter 15270 20th August 1910
A. Letter D.W. 9018/6693 11th August 1910.
Additional accommodation and a covered way. The Admiralty asks for three new dormitories and a new covered way [the beginnings of the Short Covered Way].  The cost would be £5500.  Permission was granted but it came with a stern warning that the Admiralty must make some cost cuts to meet their ever demanding requirements for Government money.
T. Letter 5054 21st March 1903
A. Letter NS 1119/2958 17th March 1903
A little bit of pleasure for the sick!  The Chaplain of HMS Ganges [1821] had a HARMONIUM for sale.  The Admiralty sought permission and paid the 'sky pilot' £3 for the device which was to be used for the benefit of the sick in RNSQ Shotley
T. Letter 10953 26th June 1903
A. Letter D.W. 6172/5133 19th June 1903
Purchase of land at Shotley Point.  [The lower track]. The Treasury gave permission to the Admiralty to start negotiations for the purchase of 21½ acres of land at Shotley Point.
T. Letter 5194 16th March 1905
A. Letter D.W. 3678/2312 15th February 1905.
Sewage.  The Treasury gave permission to the Admiralty to employ Doctor Gilbert F FOWLER and Mr J.P. WILINSON {MICR} as experts on sewage at the Shotley site. They are to get a commission of 5% of the cost of the works plus 1 guinea each per day for their hotel costs plus all travel at first class rates.
T. Letter 5022 21st March 1905
A. Letter CN2 2500/3357 13th March 1905
Telephonic Communications [Telephones].  The Treasury authorises the Post Master General to place the Shotley Barracks in telephonic communications with the Shotley Post Office. The cost [when money was available] was to be £200 [or less].  It would connect the following areas to one another and to the outside world: Regulating Office, Guard House, The Electric Light shop,  Ships Company blocks, Hospital,  OIC Works and the Admiralty Pier. Absolutely no mention of the Wardroom or the Warrant Officers Mess and we must assume that they came under the title of 'Ships Company blocks'.

The building of Shotley Barracks went to tender in late 1903 and the lowest estimate was accepted which was originally for £96799.  It was accepted and the Prime Contractor was Messrs Bennett and Snare Limited who are listed in Kelly's of that period. Some of the labouring and some of the skilled work was supplemented by WORK 41/43 Departmental operatives [MOD employees today], although the vast majority or the work was undertaken by the prime and their sub-contractors. Once started the contractor fulfilled his obligations thoroughly, but the Admiralty once again dithered, and this led to them once again upsetting the Treasury, the ultimate payer of all State Bills.  In mid 1906 with the site not yet released by the contractor and their operatives still on site, the Admiralty decided that it might be a good idea to add a swimming pool to the barracks - boys, wanting and enjoying a swim - who would have ever thought of that ? They had the audacity to write to the Treasury asking for a further £90250 for the build of this brilliant thought.  The Treasury, by all accounts, were at this time none too pleased with Work 41/43 Departments and the Admiralty, and wrote back in their letter 21073/06 of the 15th December 1906 to say:-

that since the builders were still on site it could be done much cheaper, and that they [the Admiralty] should negotiate the job as an on-going event leading to further work for the contractor without the need to submit estimates and run the risk of being out bided. This they must have done, and equally [for there is no written correspondence] they must have communicated the contractors answer back to London. On the 5th January 1907 in Treasury Letter 75/07, the Admiralty were told in no uncertain terms that they had turned down the project except that they were willing to pay an extra £5300 which was for the pool proper, and that the building enclosing it was the Admiralty's problem. The swimming pool was built and I doubt if the admirals took a pay cut, but there is no further mention of the over sight by the Admiralty.

Before I continue I will touch upon a point which most of us misunderstand.

Whilst the chronology of the Shotley story is fact, namely that the Shotley Barracks were opened for business from 1905/6 onwards, one has to ask oneself what was opened {?}, and it is quite natural to think of HMS Ganges as we knew it in the mid 1930's to the mid 1970's discounting the odd building which popped up now and again during that period. Nothing can be further from the truth, and in fact what did open in 1905/6 was an almost continuous building site.  Even in 1929, twenty five years later, many of the original temporary buildings  were still being used prompting the First Lord of the Admiralty to tell the House of Commons.  Here is a typical annual cost seeking capital to build from next years naval budget. Each and every year has a maintenance, a new build requirement and a begging letter.

SHOTLEY 1911 SHOPPING LIST.pdf and whilst we are talking about money this is the cost of Shotley for the year of 1911 GANGES RUNNING COSTS IN 1911.pdf  Use your adobe zooming tool and the scroll bars to view the rather poor quality text.

In a speech made by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr Bridgeman, in 1929, he states the improvements made in Shotley and other places.

There are one or two other points, to which I would like to draw the attention of the House, which denote satisfactory progress. By a careful scrutiny it has been possible to reduce Vote A by 2,000 men, and we are concentrating upon the training of boys of the seamen class at Shotley and Forton, instead of in the "Impregnable." Although, as I say, we are reducing the numbers, and although we are spending less under a good many other heads, we are not unmindful of the comfort and health of those who are being trained for the service, and we have been able to start in one or two directions what, I believe, are very useful  reforms. I mentioned the "Impregnable," the boys trained there are going to be trained at Shotley and Forton. That, in itself, will be a considerable saving, because the upkeep of the "Impregnable" is a very heavy item, and the upkeep of shore establishments will be considerably less. Shotley is being improved by the substitution of permanent buildings for the temporary ones which were there before. We are also making a little further progress with an improvement to which I attach considerable importance, and that is we are changing from the "Fisgard," the hulk in which the boys were trained for engineer artificers, to a shore establishment at Chatham. There, again, there will be a very considerable saving in the upkeep, and I am quite sure a very great improvement in health, convenience and accommodation of the boys who have done admirable work in "Fisgard" under rather adverse conditions. There are two other things in which, I am glad to say, we are making progress in improved accommodation. One is at Fort Blockhouse, Portsmouth, and the other is in the accommodation of the anti-submarine experimental personnel at Portland who, up to now, have been housed in very uncomfortable temporary buildings. UNQUOTE.

Another question raised by the hon. Member for Camberwell North was how we had effected a reduction of Vote A, that is, of our numbers. It has been brought about by a closer scrutiny of the numbers that we require. We have modified the practice of calculating numbers on the basis of the Fleet two years ahead; we have also economised in personnel by the withdrawal of ships from foreign stations to be recommissioned whenever possible. The scheme which the First Lord mentioned in his speech has enable us to concentrate the training of boys (seamen class) at Shotley and Forton and has enabled us to reduce the numbers to a certain extent. We have also reduced the margins allowed in our calculations for crossing reliefs, sickness, etc. In these ways and by basing the numbers of the Navy on the requirements of the actual year, we have been able to bring about this reduction in Vote A without, I believe, in any way jeopardising the efficiency of the Service. UNQUOTE.

By 1910 HMTE Shotley had started training its own AC Boys which hitherto, after testing and selecting, they had sent to HMS Impregnable for training - of interest HMS St Vincent boys who expressed a wish to be communicators and had proven aptitude, were given a short course in seamanship and then sent to Impregnable and ultimately to Ganges for their branch training. Coincident with this, the Impregnable sent its signal boys to Shotley and a special building was set aside which, fortunately for the Admiralty, didn't incur a large expense. This facility is said to be one temporary classroom and Mess 25 in the bottom covered way.

This state of flux had not been resolved by the year 1938, meaning that it took thirty six years to develop the barracks which started in 1903/4. This protraction was due, and understandably so, to boys being at the bottom of the list for all aspects of naval life: after all, whilst in training they were the 'blunt end of the ship' and the Admiralty rightly spent its money on the 'sharp end'......and after that, on the officers!  Over the years, there was much prevarication which caused more than one commanding officer of the establishment  to complain to his flag officer, and at least one Flag Officer NORE to complain to the Admiralty.  The reference to Forton in the above speech means HMS St Vincent at Gosport which trained boy seamen only.

In 1913, the Admiralty decided to send all its wireless telegraphy boys from Impregnable to Shotley, but this did cause further discomfort to the boys already there causing over crowding, and almost overnight, the new building set aside for training of signal boys, which was to be shared by W/T boys, was rendered impractical for realistic communications training. So, the Admiralty once again got out its typewriter and wrote a begging letter to the Treasury for new accommodation [for an extra 200 boys] and a purpose built Signal School. In the meantime, the Admiralty asked if the ship HMS Spartiate could be used at Shotley to accommodate all the communications boys and all the Signal School non commissioned training staff.

HMS Spartiate was a ship of the Diadem-class of protected cruiser. She was built at Pembroke Dock and launched on October 27 1898.  She was a stokers' training ship in 1914 and was renamed Fisgard in June 1915. She survived the War and was sold in July 1932.
She returned to Pembroke to be broken up.

The Treasury wrote back asking why the need for the change and of course the insatiable appetite the Admiralty had for money.

The Admiralty did that in their letter DW 9487/14 dated 9th October 1914 saying that the fitting out of the Spartiate for use of the Signal School was separate from the move of W/T boys to Shotley which was covered under their letters DW 10755/12261 of 1913 requiring more shore accommodation and the new shore built Signal School. In letter DW 6946/14 of 24th July 1914 the cost to convert Spartiate was quoted as £13460 and the build to accommodate the 200 extra boys, and the Signal School wardroom, warrant officers and chief petty officers a further £12551. The Treasury, not surprisingly told the Admiralty to rework its figures and resubmit its request. The results were gobsmacking ! To adapt the Spartiate, to berth her at Shotley [the move] and to provide a means of access to the pier at Shotley was estimated in 1914 to be respectively £28937, £30062 and £25717 but with credits accruing from returns of dockyard materials estimated to offset the cost by £8400. The pier was wholly owned by the Marquess of Bristol and these costs did not take account of any repairs to the pier caused by naval use {or misuse]. There was further leverage in that the move ashore would save the Treasury an estimated £9500 annually indicating how costly it was to maintain the Impregnable Establishment, a group of three ship connected together by bridges and walkways. The Admiralty, this time playing the 'ace' card, stressing the urgency that no delay could be accepted given the "troubled times ahead- the German problem!". The Admiralty had also acquired knowledge [obviously erroneously from the little piece above about the Spartiate life's history] that the Spartiate had a commercial selling price of £36000 once it had been released post Shotley duties.

The Treasury, {I think} rightly suspicious of the Admiralty's motives asked why the need for such a major training alteration and the Admiralty wrote back saying in their letter DW 10755 of the 6th November 1913:-

We have decided to make certain changes in the system of instructing boys in visual signalling and wireless telegraphy.  At present these duties are taught separately and are performed at sea by different ratings.  In future, the training school for the two services will be amalgamated and the boys then drafted to ships will be employed in rotation on both signal and telegraphist duties until they have attained to the rating of signalman, when they will specialise for W/T or for Visual Signalling.  The development of W/T necessitates a considerable increase of the numbers of W/T ratings and about 4 to 5 years of training is required before a man can be considered reliable.  These ratings are absolutely necessary for the efficiency of the Fleet and it is consequently of great importance that the new system of training should be instituted with as little delay as possible.

The Treasury, known for its shrewdness [and ducking and diving] agreed in principle and under their letter 25075/14 of the 13th November 1914 allowed the latitude the Admiralty sought. The Admiralty won the day and by their letter DW 10569/14 had secured a principle of money, first shown on Navy Vote 10 of 1914. This led to a Tender Document and the building companies response. The lead contractor in the building of the barracks, namely Messrs Bennett and Snare Limited, was not slow to bid, neither were others, chief of which was Messrs G.E. Wallis and Sons Limited.  The bid of Messrs Bennett and Snare Limited, the lowest tender of £4763 was accepted on the 28th July 1914. The foundations, drains, water supply and the sewage outlet were pre-prepared by Departmental Labour at a cost of £300. On the 14th August 1914 the chosen contactor withdrew from contact on account of the war saying that higher prices and costs would have to be paid for materials.  They stated that their suppliers had withdrawn their quotes for materials.   The contract could have been enforced by law but it was considered that any Court of Law would consider the case of the Contractors reasonable. The next lowest tender viz Messrs G E Wallis and Sons Limited on being approached, withdrew their offer also and for the same reason.  The two firms were then asked if they would carry out the work for an increased sum, and the remaining contractors were asked whether they would adhere to their tenders or, failing that, to submit fresh tenders.  The lowest offer received as a result of these enquiries was that of Mr S.A. Kenny [originally the very lowest tender] which amounted to £5238.13.6 an increase of £64.13.6 on his first price. In view of the necessity of completing this work as soon as possible, the tender was accepted. The excess of the total estimate of £5500 is now expected to reach £750 and I am therefore to request you to move Their Lordships of the Treasury to sanction the increase of the estimate to £6250.  The excess expenditure of £750 in 1914-15 will be met from the aggregate of naval funds.  The Treasury gave their blessing to all the works on the 31st December 1914 in their letter 25075/14. That, Gentlemen, is how we got the HMS Ganges Signal School from which many of us are graduates.

Just a few short years after the opening of the Shotley Barracks it was obvious to all that the Admiralty had got things wrong and badly so.  They had miscalculated the number of boys required - by a large margin - leading to a crisis on accommodation and suitable training depots. The crisis necessitated the setting up in 1912 of a committee tasked with some pretty difficult questions to ask. 

The long and the short of it was that Shotley Barracks was too small!

Click to enlarge

Above is the front cover of the Committee Report. 

It set itself many tasks to resolve, but the chief tasks were promoted by the need to replace the ageing ships at Devonport which collectively formed the Impregnable Establishment. It was now old and not fit for its purpose and moreover it was moored in the wrong place anyway.

Click to enlarge

The Impregnable Establishment comprised of three ships connected together by bridges just inside the fairway leading to the Hamoaze and almost impeding the Plymouth to Cremyll ferry.

Click to enlarge

It was desirous to move the Establishment to the north of Saltash Bridge at the top of the harbour.

If the three Impregnable ships were to go then additional accommodation for a further 2800 to 3200 boys ashore would be required. This would assume that Shotley Barracks would be limited to 1200 boys only: a maximum number of 3200 + 1200 = 4400 boys. They had three choices.

a. To extend Shotley Barracks to accommodate 2800 to 3000 boys and the provision of a new barracks for the remainder i.e. 1400 boys
b. Provide one large Barracks for all boys
c. Provide two small  Establishments on shore in addition to Shotley Barracks.

As regards [a] above which is of the greatest interest to us, it was ruled as being too small and impracticable. Here is what was said about it.


Here in this section, I show you all the reports on the sites proposed for boys training shore barracks plus their general conclusions. Note the irony of including Falmouth in the list of options !


This intriguing file  GENERAL REQUIREMENT OF A SHORE ESTABLISHMENT FOR BOYS.pdf suggests what is needed in a brand new establishment [post 1912] and compares its shopping list with the lessons learned in Shotley [post 1905].  From it, some of Shotley's secrets are revealed, and I for one would prefer their 1912 suggestions, for 41 years later, in 1953, I joined HMS GANGES [note for the first time in many lines of script the mention of these words] into an archaic, as built, environment.  Remembering what I have said about the woefully inadequate gymnasium at Shotley because boys didn't need one - they needed only their mast - note the adverse comment in this file.  Note the dig at covered ways [long or short] in the last sentence of  paragraph 116.  Paragraph 117 is an insult to all those who lived in the short and long covered ways - what is wrong with a bungalow especially a detached bungalow....and don't we all aspire to owning a five bedroom six acre [with swimming pool] modern bungalow [without stairs] now that we are grumpy old men ?  In view of paragraph 119, I am thinking about suing the navy for my chilblains which grew with goose pimples on top. 121 is dodgy, as I recall drinking "drinking taps" dry regularly. 122 + 118 is a joke, then and now !  123 is all telling and obviously a point of disease - eventually ! Para 125 brings back HORRIBLE memories of Nobby Clark, an ex bootneck [a squaddie] who was engage as a dhoby instructor in the Annexe of my time.  I can never work out whether he was a pervert or a closeted gay but he used to delight in watching [and that is mainly what he did do] young boys in the nude in various anatomical  positions, dhobying, rinsing, and hanging out to dry their pathetic personal possessions.  God forbid that I would sink so low as to accept such a paid position.  For paragraph 126, I would like to know where these classroom were.

Youths at Ganges were adolescents, neither men nor boys, and it was desirable that they should be separated from both. This was possible after the emigration of all boys from Ganges [1821] and Ganges II into Shotley Barracks leaving Ganges II free for their boy-free, man-free youth accommodation. This file tells a little bit about that transition.


We next observe a detailed account of the duration of the course to train boys

DURATION OF COURSE OF TRAINING OF BOYS.pdf  Para 132 tells us of the 1903-4 training programme which with leaves was 12 months for ordinary boys [GC BOYS] the only type of boy the Ganges [1821] had. Para 133 reflects a reduction in course of 4 months due entirely to the abandonment of the mast/sail training module, but only as an experiment starting with ordinary boys in the St Vincent at Portsmouth. The experiment was that instead of boys training in harbour ships for 12 months, they would spend only 8 months in the Ganges [1821] completing the overall course by spending the last four months at sea in a training ship/squadron.  By 1905, the course reduction for Ganges [1821] boys was confirmed [the experiment being a success], and what boys didn't learn in the Ganges [1821] they learned with OJT [on job training] at sea. Their annual leave allowance whilst in training was 5 weeks virtually half of what was given in the early 1950's.  Paragraph 135 [last sentence] states that this period of training for an ordinary boy [GC boy] had remained unaltered by 1912, and although made up of different training modules without sea time, GC boys in the 1950's also did a 12 months course at HMS Ganges.

Para 136 suggests a problem with finding enough sea going training spaces in ships of the training squadron and the Home Fleet causing accommodation congestion back in the Ganges [1821] and the Ganges II. Para 137 builds on this by telling us that although the Ganges [1821] course was 8 months long, the delay caused in find a sea space plus sickness actually meant that the average ordinary boy spent 10 months in the Ganges [1821] two of them 'twiddling their thumbs' ! 

Para 138 is an important statement. Paras 136 and 137 above are historical and tell us of the period from 1905 [at the start of the 8 months harbour and 4 months sea training] up until the 1911 period.  By the time of the Committee report [1912] the situation of drafting boys to sea had swung the other way.  This meant that a boy began his harbour training, but quite often his course of 8 months was stopped and off he would go to sea.  This resulted in boys staying in the Ganges [1821] for only six months on average, staying at sea for six months to complete their training. The Committee are none too pleased about this situation and state, in paras 139, 140 and 141, that syllabuses should be rearranged in the interim but in any event, such course reductions should not be considered as permanent: 8 months is desirable and receiving only 6 months training [often missing out crucially important modules] is detrimental to the boys future as clearly documented in para 142.

This file is typical of so many letters concerning the fluctuations in length of training time, many from WW1 times, but this, from 1912, is in keeping with the story  ganges reduction in training.pdf

Although not applicable to the Ganges [1821] at any stage and only to Shotley Barracks after 1910, the subject of Advanced Class boys, boy signalmen and boy telegraphists was of the utmost importance to the Committee, and shouldn't at any point or stage be tampered with - in 1909 Instructor Officers {schoolies} were appointed to Shotley for the first time to prepare for the AC regime.  Paras 144 to 147 cover this issue. Have a look at para 145.  In 1910, the Admiralty introduced the MATE scheme [which became the sub lieutenant] whereby young bright and intelligent ratings were encouraged to study for fast track promotions. AC boys could rapidly achieve the rate of petty officer [second class then more or less automatically to first class], by-pass the chief petty officer rate completely to become young warrant officers and from there, to be a MATE...........a mate to a lieutenant just as a chief bosun's mate [a CPO] was a mate to a boatswain, a warrant officer. Once he had acquired the skills of the lieutenancy he was elevated to wardroom status with a foot on the promotion ladder to the very top. In my article about the history of the naval warrant officer I mentioned one of my heroes.  This text piece comes from Part Three of that story.

.............................. I mentioned the captain of HMS Dorsetshire and that he was a 'ranker'. Do you remember?  Dorsetshire torpedoed the Bismarck on the port side and then on the starboard side from close range. Captain Benjamin C.S. Martin was one of the mates I have described above. A bright young petty officer, {an ex HMS Ganges boy [1904] who was selected to be an Advanced Class [AC] boy and first went to sea from the training ship HMS Impregnable} who became an acting warrant officer [a gunner] 28th May 1915 - a mate [sub lieutenant stripe] 13th October 1916 - a lieutenant 13th May 1919 - a lieutenant commander 13th October 1926 - a commander 30th June 1935 and a captain 31st July 1939. Benjamin Martin achieved Flag Rank and eventually the KBE.

Para 146 is of interest.  From page 5 of the report, paragraph 4, we see this table

If we were to take the year 1910-11 for example, the total number of recruits is 3977. According to para 146, the navy could choose up to 20% of the boys and up to 5% of the youths to become Advanced Class boys.  Were that achievable  then the number would have been 571 + 56 = 627 AC candidates. However, the para says that not more than 12% of the boys were chosen, bringing down that figure to 342 + 56 = 398.  398 as a percentage of 3977 is a mere 10% of that years recruitment considered academically suitable for training in a 1st rate training ship. Incidentally, throughout the 1950's and 1960's every man-jack was accounted for on a monthly basis. This involved every ship, establishment, and organisation which had RN/RM/WRNS/QARNNS employed within, rendering a monthly return for the numbers borne which was processed by the Naval Drafting Authority at Haslemere Surrey. In the 1980's these monthly returns were released by the Admiralty into the national archives.  I have purchased many of these, each monthly return costing approximately £152.00 and each comprising of some 280 pages the majority printed on A3 with a handful on A2, so considerable packages. Thus, they are readily available if one has the money!  However, and of far greater importance are the Ganges pay sheets of the same period.  These show the name and ships book number of boys who were paid on a weekly basis [with miss-muster payments and reasons for].  The sheets were kept for one month and then ditched ?  I have been extremely fortunate to source and purchase {privately} this one-off  unique lot containing  some of these documents which now form part of my Ganges records.  I also own a comprehensive file of Ganges Gazettes.  Those who research properly and those who through research acquire UNIQUE DOCUMENTS, in this case not available to the Ganges Association Museum, know the market cost of such documents.  Put simply, the Ganges Museum would have to spend large amounts of its available money to purchase these 'precious' documents.

Next comes the need for sea training, the last quarter of a boys training plus of course the youths.

sea training.pdf

The document which was compiled for the Committee looking into the accommodation at boys training establishment, which despite its date of 1912 has much of the details of Shotley Barracks from the earliest days with costings, is much too large and cumbersome to reproduce here. So in a moment I will show you the Committees answer to that compilation.  Before I do that, just a little further introduction, followed by the appendices attached to the exploratory document. .

The Committees task was to seek a resolution to the  problem of the over crowding rife in the recruiting and training of boys and youths.  In 1912, seven years after Shotley Barracks had been opened, there were two basic boys training establishments, one at Shotley Barracks and one in the west country at HMS Impregnable, know as the Impregnable Establishment, formed of stationary training ships and a small barrack ashore at Bull Point in St Budeaux.  Pressure on the harbour training establishments for boys [Shotley and Impregnable Establishment] was limited to 2700 only [1500 in the Impregnable Establishment and 1200 at Shotley] regulated by Admiralty Order.  At this point Ganges II is only for YOUTHS   and not boys, and there is accommodation for 450 of them and when in excess of this number, the Youths are to be accommodated in Shotley Barracks.  The Impregnable Establishment or the old training ship Britannia could act like Ganges II and take the overspill into St Budeaux Barracks. Thus, accommodation could be found for 3850 boys as follows:- Impregnable Establishment [stationary ship to be retained and used as at present] 1500 - Britannia old or Powerful old 700, Shotley Barracks 1200: Ganges II 450 - Total = 3850.

This would allow between 3200 and 3300 to be passed through the Establishments in the year. Entries since 1900:-

YEAR BOYS - 15½ to 16½ joining as 2nd class boys YOUTHS - 16¾ to 18 joining as 1st class boys
1901-2 4721 1376
1903-3 4265 1165
1903-4 3155 1251
1904-5 1908 1165
1905-6 1584 974
1906-7 1499 830
1907-8 1843 827
1908-9 2128 851
1909-10 2308 1275
1910-11 2855 1122
1911-12 3512 1313

Take note that in virtually all the calculations above and below, BOYS and YOUTHS, although training together at Harwich/Shotley straight from civilian life, are funded from different purses.{If you look at this page GANGES AND SHOTLEY NAVAL BURIAL GROUND and to the lists of deceased ratings, you will see that five YOUTHS were buried between 1900 and 1910}.   Of great interest here is the following article, Appendix [G] which shows the complements of various naval shore stations as a comparison between 1914/15 and 1922/23.  The appendix comes from a most interesting article, published separately on this site STRIKING NAVAL REDUCTIONS, which tasked the Admiralty to reduce its post WW1 budget to a more realistic spend given that the country was bankrupted by five years of continuous warfare. Now since Harwich never had a shore establishment [other than an inadequate naval hospital which was supplanted by the build of RNH Shotley in 1900] the shore station associated with that name can only be HMTE/RNTE Shotley. The figures given for officers and ratings are for the ships company and training staff of the Shotley Barracks, and whilst the table above pre-dates Appendix [G], it gives one a good idea of ships company: boy trainee ratio. Notice how the officers had increased whilst the ratings had decreased.  Had it not been for WW1 the completion time for Shotley Barracks could have been reduced by half [by 18 years] to complete in approximately 1920. Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge

 1903-4 SHIPS:-

St Vincent at Portsmouth
Impregnable/Lion at Devonport
Boscawen at Portland
Ganges at Harwich
Caledonia at Queensferry
Black Prince renamed Emerald at Queenstown [Cork]
Champion [sister ship of the Cordelia] at Chatham.  She trained STOKERS and this is a picture of their Manual which was first published in 1901 and which was shared by boys stokers and seamen as stated.


In 1907, on completion of Shotley Barracks, it was found that all the boys in the Impregnable Establishment and in the Shotley Barracks, would fit into Shotley Barracks and that the hulks would not be needed nor would the building of further boys shore barracks be necessary.

The Emerald was to be retained at Queenstown [Cork - SW Ireland] as a receiving ship. 

Up to 1910, accommodation into the two boys training Establishments was:-

Shotley, 1200; Impregnable Establishment 1400- Total 2600.

In 1907-8 there was a gradual increase in boys into the service, and Shotley's numbers increased to 1350 and Impregnable numbers to 1700 which equalled 3050.

Towards the end of 1911 these numbers had dropped to 2700.

When Shotley was conceived [on the planning and drawing board] it was planned to take 4000 boys, but as the numbers of boys diminished so did the necessity to have more than one boys training barracks.  Quote The requirement of seaman classes for 1912-13 is provisionally fixed as follows:- Seamen [including signalmen and telegraphists] 43102.  Boys in Service 2647.  Boys in Training 3674.  Total = 6321 and grand total = 49425 Unquote.

Estimate for accommodation required in boys training establishments or on entry of 2250 is:-

Rate Months
Signal Boy 10½
Boy Telegraphist 12
Advanced Class [AC] Boy 13
General Class [GC] Boy 10

Numbers required for the Fleet 1912-13, seaman class = 137,000.  To sustain that number 500 'Special Service Seamen' "a much hated lot" who join between the ages of 18 and 25 and served for five years with the option of becoming 'continuous service' {CS ratings}: 1500 Youths and 2900 Boys need to be recruited annually to replace those lost [in whatever way].

Some of the appendices are of interest and I have omitted those which are not. Note the sections underlined within the files which include the word Shotley.

Annual entries required Accommodation required for boys Diseases and deaths of boys TB in the navy Hygiene and sanitation Costs of the Impregnable Establishment Training Establishment at Trevol Training Establishment at Plymouth Training Establishment at Beaulieu Training Establishment at Rosyth List of witnesses called to give evidence Further report on some of the appendices

Now the the best laid plans of mice and men ! This is the Committees report to the Admiralty solving {?} the problems inherent in boys training in the navy.  The hapless men, seeking an honest solution, couldn't have know of what was in store two short years later, when the events of WW1 would utterly destroy their plans for the future. COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE ADMIRALTY.pdf.

There are further interesting items in this report which do help us to understand how the Ganges [1821], the Ganges II and Shotley Barracks administration worked. However, to get a fuller understanding of how "boys" in the navy were handled, read the whole report.    

YOUTHS - PDF PAGE NUMBER 5, PARA 8 Cost of training a youth is considerably less than for that of a boy and the youth goes to sea after just 4 months training. Limitation on recruiting youths is due to the limitations of the Ganges II. Note that 'ordinary boys' [GC Class] are referred to as "rank and file of the seamen personnel of the Fleet".
YOUTHS - PDF PAGES NUMBER 6 to 8, PARAS 9 to 14 Youths should leave the Ganges II and be trained in Chatham Barracks [HMS Pembroke].  Note para 10 and that Chatham is unsuitable because of the low moral surroundings. Para 11 refers to HMS Champion, the Stokers Training Ship.
BOYS - PDF PAGE 8 and 9, PARAS 15 and 16 Once the youths have gone [to Chatham Barracks ?] Shotley Barracks overspill of boys [up to 450] should be accommodated in Ganges II. Para 15 spells out the three groups who are required for the Seaman classes of the Fleet. Throughout, they were always treated and considered as youngsters, even though the Special Service Seamen who joined as ordinary seamen were up to the aged of 25; the Youths who were 16¾ to 18 and joined as 1st class boys and the Boys proper up to 16¾ joining as 2nd class boys. Para 16 suggests that even with the Ganges II being used for boys instead of youths, there is still a requirement for a further 300 places.
BOYS/GANGES 11 - PDF PAGE 13 - PARA 24 If boys are to use Ganges II, a ships company will have to be created!
APPENDIX I to III - PDF PAGES 17 to 22 I do recommend that your read the appendices.

World War One saw boys in the Fleet at sea and none is more famous than Boy Cornwell VC. It also saw boys at sea  in the Training Squadron and by all accounts they didn't do anywhere near as well ! Admiralty record ADM116/1680 [for another day perhaps] covers Admiral HOOD'S Committee, set up by the Admiralty to look into boys training. The reason for convening the Committee was as follows.  Captain Hopwood in his letter to the Senior Officer of the Training Squadron embarked in HMS Endymion, from his ship HMS Gibraltar at Queenstown, Cork, SW Ireland dated 28.4.1918 points out the poor training of boys in the Training Squadron.  He suggests a complete re-think that boys are not taught general naval subjects [a bit of each of gunnery, torpedo, stoke hole and seamanship] but are trained in the subject which will become the source information of their career. The boys would acquire the general bits and pieces as they go about their career studies. He suggests boys are trained in branch and therefore that training classes at sea should be abolished as time wasters and ships routine destructors.  The Commodore of the Training Services embarked in HMS Powerful at Devonport wrote to the Secretary of the Navy [2.6.1918] submitting Captain Hopwood's letter for discussion, but saying that he did not agree with specialising so soon.  What resulted was the biggest change in boys training since it began as the outcome of the 1859 Royal Commission on Manning the Royal Navy.

After WW1 money was tight, very tight, and many cuts and make-does had to be accepted by the Fleet Commanders including boys training at Shotley. I found this most unusual document, unusual in that it was issued separately to the £sd [money] side of the Navy Estimates and not as an integral part of them as was the norm. It tells us much about the navy at that time including the status of boys training.  Here are some of the points to watch out for. 

1 That the provision for boys training is still not sorted out in 1925 twenty years after Shotley Barracks were opened.
2 That recruiting is down to just 1400 boys a year.
3 That the Marines [Blues and Reds -RMLI & RMA] have been combined and halved in their numbers emerging now as The Royal Marines, and vacating their Gosport Barracks.
4 That personnel are required for A POSSIBLE Fleet Air Arm SERVICE.
5 Pay cuts are to be made.
6 Portsmouth Command is overbearing and many need to leave to strengthen the Chatham and Plymouth Commands.
7 Two Dreadnought [1911] battleships have been sent to Devonport to assist the Impregnable Establishment with it accommodation problem for boys entering the navy.  The rush is on to convert the ex Marine barracks at Forton Road Gosport into HMS St Vincent to alleviate this problem.
8 Naval Hospitals are to be closed.
9 Civilian 'blackspots' for unemployment are to be given a "military handout" and the worst one in the land is Barrow-in-Furness.
10 Just about the only people who will get a pay rise are the Schoolmaster [warrant officers and chief petty officers] and Instructor officers known by us as schoolies.
11 Note Vote 10 [wORK 41] on page 11 - this meant a reduction of work at Shotley Barracks.

navy estimates 1924-25.pdf

Eventually, the Impregnable Establishment left Devon [Devonport] and moved across the Hamoaze into Cornwall to a place called Trevol the original intended permanent site of the Devonport Gunnery School [which was subsequently located at the Cambridge Gunnery School on the southeast side of Plymouth at Wembury] the Trevol site becoming  HMS Raleigh. From the beginning the Impregnable was a five star class act and although now with a different name her spirit continues and lives on on the playing fields of the premier and only Part 1 training establishment left. The mechanical engineering branches had their own training ships, and every branch had its own alma mater, but they too have all gone, gone to Fareham to HMS Collingwood or to Torpoint, and the rest is history.  I say goodbye accepting the inevitable, but with a cry from the heart that what we have lost we will never get back but we can make sure that our history is recorded correctly.  On page 9 I told you that the data shown and used here would represent roughly 2% of the information available about this fascinating subject, and you may be wondering what will happen to the other 98%? It will be well guarded and used for a good purpose - a book, and THE ONLY BOOK {no copies will be made] for my sons !

Just a final mention of Ganges training which the vast majority of ratings would disagree with but the wardroom would endorse fully [and that is good enough for me as a high profile communicator], namely the training of the creme de la creme of ratings, viz, communicators. When Ganges was "cleared out" at the start of WW2 it trained 'HO's' - for basic Part I [Adult] training only.  Communicator HO's [communicator boys still went to the Isle of Man to St George] received their Part II [Adult] training in Scotland at HMS Scotia, in Devonport at St Budeaux  and at Chatham at RNSS Cookham Camp, and the following file tells you of that training story. WW2 COMMUNICATIONS TRAINING.pdf  Here is a bit more, but in reading this file ignore the titillation of sunny Cleethorpes in deepest darkest Lincolnshire. COMMS TRAINING.pdf During the war years the Signal School at Ganges was used for gunnery training.  After the war and the resumption of boys training at Shotley in 1946, all the Instructors came from the Nore Command, and parts of the then Gunnery School were given over to the Signal School to make way for extra equipment classrooms/training areas.


Just a few pictures of  HMS Ganges when a training base for HO's called up in 1940/41 to fight WW2.

HO's is unsuitable rig [boots and gaiters I ask you?] haphazardly climbing the Ganges mast!

Ganges HO's being taught the layout of a British battleship [or battlecruisers?].

Ganges, long covered way, HO's being shown how to lash-up one's hammock ready to stow in the netting.

WRNS personnel, all 250 of them from various naval establishments, took part in a marching competition at HMS  Ganges in 1943, just to show the fella's  that they too could turn a smart heel when in ceremonial mood! Note that the mast safety net has been disengaged from the stanchion supporting wires and lowered to the deck below for maintenance. Mast out of bounds!

The smartest of all WRNS platoons was led by this lovely leading wren [Miss D Oerton], seen here being awarded the 'champions Cup' from Rear Admiral H.H. Rogers.

Ganges also trained personnel from Commonwealth countries and here we see the New Zealand High Commissioner surrounded by the captain, the commander and the New Zealand HO brigade.

HMS Ganges 1941. A special gantry has been built from which HO's can practice the art of "swinging the lead" to take soundings in known shallow waters. The exercise is better and more correctly known as "heaving the lead"!


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Thank you for reading my page. By the way let's not forget our true alma mater namely Harwich Harbour which added a real sense of realism to our stone-wall frigate, namely HMS Ganges firmed-footed on Suffolk terra firma - see here HARWICH HARBOUR

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