THE FIRST R.N.A.

Today we associate the initials of RNA with the Royal Naval Association, which commenced its worthwhile core business in 1950, but many years before that mid-20th century start-up, the Admiralty, ergo the fleets and all men dressed in navy-blue, had an embryonic RNA centred on the towns of Lyme Regis in Dorset and Scarborough in East Yorkshire which were unofficially called Royal Naval Accommodation towns, the two heading-up an experiment. The experiment start date is believed to be 1911 but that is not a date set-in-stone so be circumspect when quoting this web page. However, we do know for certain that the start of WW1 put this experiment on hold, and that 1920 was a re-launch of the pre-war trial and official start of the first RNA -Royal Naval Accommodation - but now with many more coastal towns.

There is precious little in TNA at Kew, dumped there firstly by the Admiralty and then the MOD [Navy] when the Admiralty was disbanded in 1964. What is there is piecemeal and lacking in detail.

The Admiralty plan was simply to make available to RN personnel  landed as libertymen from HM Ships in non-naval ports, shore accommodation with or without food; restaurants and canteens; washing and bathroom facilities, all payable by the sailors themselves at the going rate of one shilling [12d in the pre-decimal currency used at that time] per night per guest, which is 5p post-decimalisation.

In the absence of a coherent Admiralty story, I have sourced and chosen The Times newspaper to tell the story, and as always, they do it well. Subsequent to the broadsheet story, there are few records of when the trial became the norm in these non-naval coastal towns, but I think we can safely say that as WW1 interfered in the set-up of the RNA then so too did WW2 disrupt the smooth running of the RNA. Come post-May 1945 [VE Day] with a massive reduction in HO naval personnel now back home as civilians, the demand was very low and even non-existent, and for five years the initials RNA became redundant.

The Times 25th May 1920