Hello.

I have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Training Ship Arethusa.

However, I do remember many boys at Ganges with me who had come direct from the ship joining as 'young boys' to join us 'middle aged boys' to train for the Royal Navy.

Looking at the internet, I am rather surprised that in the first thirty pages in the Google Search, there is no site which tells of the ships history in the 20th century in a meaningful way. So, here on this page, I thought I would fill in some of the blanks. 

The Peking  [which was to become the Arethusa] was a German merchant ship.  She was working between Chile and Germany using the southern route around  Cape Horn to Europe.  She was a Windjammer sailing vessel. 

Before WW1, Chile had ordered two destroyer leaders from Britain which by early 1915 were ready for delivery. At the outbreak of world war one, Britain 'policed' the world with her navy or Commonwealth navies or her allied agents arresting or sinking {if necessary} any German merchant vessel found. The Peking was found immediately and arrested in Valparaiso harbour. Shortly afterwards, the two Chilean destroyers were taken into the Royal Navy for its own use mainly because Chile was neutral and couldn't [or shouldn't] be implicated.  They were re-named as the Broke and the Faulknor  {after WW1, the Faulknor was refitted and then given back to the Chileans where she served until 1933 under the name Almirante Simpson}.  However, Chile and especially Valparaiso, had many German shipping/commercial Agents, and like the rest of South America, the sub continent suffered badly when their European trade dried-up.  Their neutrality values were to say the least suspect, so much so, that Chile, though not hostile, was pro German

In Volume Two of a series of books called "The history of the great European war" by W. Stanley Macbean Knight, Book III Chapter I 'Britain commands the sea' tells us:-

"At once [meaning as soon as war was declared] the whole of the  Mercantile Marine of Germany then on the ocean or in foreign ports was held up.  From practically the first day of the war,  it was impossible for any German merchant ships to traverse the highways of the sea.  Great fleets of German mercantile shipping were detained, and yet remained in foreign ports, as, for instance, in New York. Neutral countries [USA as well as Chile et al] could not allow hostile forces shipping to sail and these were interned. The moment war was declared the entrances to these harbours were watched by British ships, waiting to capture any German vessel that dared to venture out. Needless to say, such was the command of the sea by our navy that none dared do so.  It is estimated that the value of the German ships of commerce thus held up amounted to very many millions of pounds".

The Peking spent the whole of WW1 in Valparaiso harbour.  When in 1917 the USA entered the war, the South American states with the exception of Brazil, stayed neutral with Mexico paying a heavy price for doing so, it considered by the Allies to be in the pay of the German's.

Very soon after the start of the war, Italy joined the Allies as a minor partner  [from May 23rd 1915] and when the war was over, the Peking was given to Italy as a war reparation.

This is the time table of the salient events post WW1 for the Peking:-
1920 left Caleta Coloso a tiny village seaport 1050 kM {656 miles} north of Valparaiso and took 3 months to get to London.
January 1921 to May 1921 in London docks.
May 1921 handed over to the Italians and sailed to Genoa.
January 1923 sold back to the Germans {original owners} for 8.5K and sailed to Hamburg.
From 1925 until 1930 used on the run from Hamburg to Talcahuano Chile {433 kM or 271 miles south of Valparaiso}.
1931-1932 returned to the Hamburg - Valparaiso run.  All runs from 1925 onwards used the Panama Canal route achieving a greater economy.

In 1932, the Germans sold the ship to the British  for 6.5K specifically to the Shaftesbury Homes. She was first towed to Greenhithe where she was rebuilt for 40K and renamed Arethusa.  In July 1933, she was moved to her new permanent mooring off Upnor on the River Medway directly opposite Chatham Dockyard {see here for a good view of Upnor vis-a-vis the Nore Dockyard http://www.godfreydykes.info/CHATHAM%20DOCKYARD.htm} , where she worked as a children's home and training school. She was officially "opened" by HRH Prince George on 25 July 1933. In 1940 she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and moved to Salcombe  Devon. For the duration of the war she was temporarily renamed HMS Peking as there already was a HMS Arethusa in the Royal Navy. In 1945 she was returned to her owners at the end of the war and given back her old name. Stopped being a training ship in 1973.

On the 31st October 1974 she was sold at auction for 70K to J. Aron Charitable Foundation, New York for the South Street Seaport Museum which is in downtown Manhattan on the East River. In early July 1975 she commenced a 17 day tow from Blackwall on the Thames to New York harbour by the Dutch tug Utrecht. On arrival she was renamed Peking.
 

This picture is of the Peking floodlight in the East River not too far from where the twin towers where.

You will find a good picture of the Peking on this web site Peking, previously TS Arethusa. photo - John Cooper photos at pbase.com. After seeing the main picture, click on 'NEXT' for many others.