HOARE'S BANK and the ship called  T.S. MERCURY run with the iron hand of a female!

 with connotations of HMS Ganges in name only - HMS Mercury, she of antiquity fame [first submarine depot ship moored in Haslar Creek serving Fort Blockhouse in the early 1900's - and HMS President of the Port of London fame! However, I was once present in earshot distance during a visit to HMS Mercury [Leydene] of Lord Louis Mountbatten [I was a Kelly Squadron WO] when he said that one of his Mercury's had gone and he didn't want to see another go: as we know it did [Leydene] in 1993 but long after his death in 1979. The one that had gone [in 1968]  was the T.S. Mercury in the River Hamble, of which Lord Louis was their President.

Training Ship Mercury

This was T.S. Mercury's proud badge or ships crest. However and assuming that we are looking at a contorted 'tubby' figure of Mercury Roman messenger of the Gods, we have to accept that the predominant  arm reaching for the sky is the left arm meaning that his caduceus is carried in his right hand which is classically incorrect. Mercury is always depicted as using his left hand and never in his right hand. Somebody got that part wrong!! See this page Mercury v Hermes (commsmuseum.co.uk) . That there are images of Mercury using his right arm as indicated here are so rare as not to be trusted and are considered as out of kilter by ancient history professors and scholars.  Certainly all pieces of classical effigies and  statues show the left hand in use for Mercury.  On the other hand Hermes is always shown using his right hand  as in one of several depictions whilst sometimes through ignorance the same image is called Hermes and Mercury hermes statue of - Google Search.  All couched in mythology and academic to boot! 

However when touring Italy visiting all the Museums in Rome, Florence, Venice etc all accord with what I have published on my Mercury v  Hermes page above,  text and picture repeated here  for your convenience. 

MERCURY (can I call a wandering spirit 'him'?) is depicted in statue form from antiquity right up to the most famous of all statues which is called "Flying Mercury". Some the statues are tall and some very small, and I have had the privilege of seeing the original Flying Mercury full on, sculptured by that brilliant man Giambologna. There are many types and sadly variations (not wishing to stifle art and it's creative powers) of the image, many trying to guild-the-lily in an endeavour to beautify the image. Basically, Giambologna got it right (and as such his masterpiece is universally considered to be the defining moment, the default image) for he added in an additional and fully relevant feature of antiquity which helps to see MERCURY for all he was (in myth anyway) with the ability to wander throughout the universe helped by other God's on his many and tiresome journeys. The universe then and now had no barriers (in myth) and was boundless. In this image, note two things of specific interest. Firstly, as always, the caduceus is in MERCURY's left hand, and secondly, note that MERCURY is being assisted into the universe by a large puff of wind coming from the mouth of a God of the Winds (essentially there were two such God's, one of the north/south wind and one for the east/west wind) but they had helpers to cope with swirling winds. This head, on which MERCURY stands on the exhalation of wind coming from its mouth with his left foot, is thought to be Zephyr one of the God's of winds, helping him with his take off.

He is a close up of that puff of air

 Hoare's Bank established in London in 1672 by Sir Richard Hoare was a highly successful bank the third largest bank in Europe and the 5th largest bank in the world. It catered for 'posh'  and moneyed clients. Sir Richard and the Board had many friends including those who supported the death of Oliver Cromwell and championed the return of a new Stuart King Charles the Second who became our monarch in 1660 at the Restoration.

One hundred and seventy two years later [1844] saw a new Hoare in charge of the bank and in those early Victorian days it was the custom that the senior partner renamed the bank. His name was Charles Hoare so the bank was called C.Hoare but was just as successful with the same clients and the same royal patronage and active friendships.

That's all you need to know about the Bank except that it grew and took on a new partner called Govett and so the company was renamed Hoare Govett and they were successful city bankers offering corporate finance, over draft with seven noughts, financial support and lots of other things for the rich and privileged, still with influential pals: mention that posh sounding title and ears and eyebrows pricked up;  just like mentioning the London based bank of Coutts today which is where HM The Queen does her banking. However remember that  name, Charles Hoare, for he is pivotal to the  story which follows.  Hoare Govett became the RBS [Royal Bank of Scotland's] specialist brokers in top notch banking and later in M and A work [Mergers and Acquisitions] where companies grew every larger as world players by gobbling up their smaller rivals.

That's where I came in!  Oh no, don't get me wrong!  I hadn't won the pools or anything like that and I certainly wasn't [nor were the pools]  about in those far off days, but I was and very much so a London small business man and established by 1986 having left the navy in 1983, and Hoare Govett was one of our  many City clients. I provided a service to PROTECT COMPANIES against eavesdropping over communication circuits and in the ether in an analogue time when capturing information was very easy - ask Prince Philip whose early analogue mobile 'phone was targeted much to Scotland Yards C7 division consternation:  C7 looked after the Royal Families personal and other VIP's communications. Today, in a digital environment that is virtually impossible to any lucrative scale to achieve, so spamming has become the norm where information is gained by careless naive and stupid people volunteering their private user details and passwords etc. to entire strangers.  Only today I received a proverbial 'phone call  from Amazon telling me that my order for £330.50 had been approved but if  I hadn't approved that, I had to press button 1 to speak to Amazon. Foolish and wet behind the ear people doing that, got connected to a rogue spam dealers desk who answered in Amazon's name,  took all the details of one's account and method of payment and its full details, and then rips people off by purchasing something very very expensive on YOUR ACCOUNT to be delivered to an address different to yours: you get the bill and the spammers gets the gift!  Rarely are sizeable companies attacked electronically today for they employ teams of experts in electronic protection and so can go about their transaction with every confidence.  The few companies attacked because of weaknesses in their security lose only peripheral information readily obtainable in print form in financial journals etc, and never sensitive corporate data. 

Whilst in Hoare Govett's premises doing our company searches, I happened one day to read about a founder member called Charles Hoare and his association with privately training boys [aged 12 to 15 - 12 being the final year of compulsory state education and 15 being the legal age for rating entry into the Royal Navy, age 11 for officers cadets] for service in mercantile and naval service. Naturally I took note and all these many many years later I have found this in my files. Now since I am decanting my whole web site content to the RN COMMS MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, I either tell the story or ditch it? Both options are at the click of a button!

So, since I collected this data I'll use it tell the story, although in fairness, elaborate on a story already told by the "Mercury Boys" the Association of ex T.S. Mercury pupils on their web site at this URLTraining Ship Mercury – Mercury Old Boys (tsmercury.com) The lead article tells of the disbandment of the Mercury Old Boys Association chiefly because of aging, ill health and deaths which in common with many associations sadly, is becoming a regular occurrence, so in a small way, I have scored this page to advertise their URL web presence so their time and experiences should not be forgotten. Please remember that some of this story carries images copied from their site so please remember copyright rules if you intend to use them for other than  personal use. There are countless men living today who experienced naval training from as young as 15 onwards [and no doubt in other training establishment whose pupils joined either the navy or the mercantile navy and such well known establishments include the Arethusa, RHS Holbrook, Conway inter alia.  I say below that I can never recall an ex T.S. Mercury boy in Ganges and that is fully understandable when we remember our bloody hard times at Ganges and St Vincent [again, in other places too] and no wonder that a boy of  such a tender age but hardy disposition of 12 to 15, some undergoing the full three years I am sure, couldn't contemplate stomaching a further twelve months [seamen boys] or fifteen months [communicator boys] at Ganges even though boys at  Ganges were largely better accommodated in messing terms and DIDN'T have to take a boat ride in all weathers to get to their  hammocks.  In fairness and given their ages, I believe that T.S. Mercury boys had it harder than Ganges Boys. In all those long years T.S. Mercury provided training for just 5000 boys who were sometimes poor, often destitute, but always of good character. However not all were poor or destitute and some trained in T.S. Mercury paid for by parents, guardians or local council grants, whilst Belson Ganges was free!!

The picture below [copyright Training Ship Mercury – Mercury Old Boys (tsmercury.com)] is a good start for understanding the lay of the land and of the sea concerning T.S. Mercury.

In the earliest of days [1885] T.S. Mercury was a three masted barque [a barque can have three or four masts] called the ILLOVO [renamed in that year to Mercury], built in Aberdeen Scotland  and of light tonnage viz 358 long tons, using 2240 lbs as opposed to a U.S., ton having 2000 lbs and called a short ton, and just to confuse matters there is a metric ton of 2204.6 lbs: a relatively small vessel catering for a small number of staff and boys under training. It having three tall masts suggests that these very young boys were subjected to mast training which would have involved climbing to some modest height no doubt?   It would have been claustrophobic under the lee side of the Isle of Wight and would have been very similar to HMS Ganges being moored in Falmouth Harbour except I have no doubt that the Ganges discipline would have been proper naval and very strict and of course unpleasant, and its moorings, albeit sheltered from the weather prevailing in the English Channel was still in open waters unlike Falmouth Harbour. The following picture shows her very first mooring area off the village of Binstead [Isle of Wight] SSW of Stokes Bay Gosport a distance of 3.79 miles. In 1892 the T.S. Mercury organisation was shifted NNW to the main land by 10.5 miles into the River Hamble in the Hamble-le-Rice area, Hampshire towed there by a large battleship called HMS Queen. Funnily enough we never had a ship called HMS King!

This is the likely view of the Mercury people in Binstead and the  Hamble-le-Rice areas in Hampshire saw in those embryonic years.

Moored off  Binstead 1885-1892 then into the River Hamble until 1914 which afforded great protection from our trade winds which are south westerly's. So by the time the 1st WW was upon us the T.S. Mercury had been floating around the waters of southern England for twenty nine years.   It is recorded that the founder - remember him? - Charles Hoare - had a lover called Beatrice Sumner  who according to Wikipedia was "

T. S. Mercury

In 1883, Sumner’s younger brother Berkeley Holme Sumner (1872–1942) had joined the Royal Navy, and he eventually rose to the rank of Captain.


In 1885, Hoare founded the Training Ship Mercury, at Binstead on the Isle of Wight, as an educational charity aimed at training poor boys of good character for naval service, and Sumner and Hoare moved together to be near the ship. The establishment was effectively under the control of Beatrice Sumner from 1885 until her death in 1946 [a whole and non interrupted 61years] and the boys were “hounded from morn to night”. She subjected them to many hardships, including violent ceremonial floggings and forced boxing matches used as punishments. Three years later in 1888 the newly named T.S. Mercury set sail on its only post naval service voyage when in spent the winter in the south of France before returning to Binstead in the spring of 1889.

Hoare was dismissed as Senior Partner of his Bank in 1888, and on 26 September 1890 Sumner gave birth to Hoare’s son, Robin Hoare.. In 1892 Mercury, with Hoare as Captain Superintendent, moved to Hamble-le-Rice.

Hoare invited well-known sportsmen [and academics] to visit the school, including the England cricketer C. B. Fry. Beatrice noted in her diary for that day "Charles Fry came to play cricket today. I like Fry". In June 1898, following Sumner's marriage to Fry, Hoare retired to West Meon where he was born, leaving Sumner again in sole charge of  T.S.Mercury.


For the rest of sordid details I refer you to Wikepeia's site on this matter which can be found here Beatrice Holme Sumner - Wikipedia . but don't forget to come back here to finish the story.  This is from the website www.Person Page (thepeerage.com) scroll down to Charles Arthur Richard - again come back here to continue the  story.


I often thought that a little "motherly" female tenderness might have lessened the severity of the Ganges experience for all we got were RNSQ sisters who were very much part of the establishment and as such divorced from us boys as totally authoritarian, and local women working in the canteen oblivious to our home sickness at least at the start of our training! However, we Ganges boy's were spared the female touch of this sadist and well known perverted female who thoroughly enjoyed humiliating young males with nobody to stop her indulgences. In my time at Ganges we had no tormentors or perverts, staff or otherwise, and the Ganges buzz machine would have soon jungle drummed the message had there been.


Now enters HMS Gannet into the story of T.S. Mercury.


Gannet was a steam sloop and had a short and largely uninteresting naval life but interesting for other reasons serving the country at sea on other matters. She was launched in 1878  and decommissioned in 1895 eighteen years later. In 1903 Gannet was earmarked to relieve the original HMS President which had served in London in the West India dock area since 1829 as the RNVR Drill Ship and was taken in hand for a major conversion into a drill ship.  Basically they took the three masts away completely, levelled everything off at deck level one [the upper deck] - in the navy we count decks moving to the keel numerically from 1,2,3 etc and decks above the upper deck by placing a zero in front on them so 01,02,03.  The Admiralty had a large box built onto deck 1 running forard to aft  inside which naval trainees could learn the art of small arms and cutlass drills. If you like, she was a swan as a warship but with the looks of a container ship in its retirement from commissioned service as a drill ship.

In 1914 the Admiralty loaned the ex sloop HMS Gannet [launched 1878] to the T.S. Mercury organisation but no longer a beautiful swan-like vessel, indeed a manifestly ugly looking vessel now renamed as HMS President, and in 1916 the old barque Illovo was sold off and removed from Hamble-le-Rice and President was called T.S. Mercury though not officially renamed in the navy list.  In 1950 the cricketing world famous player C.B Fry relinquished his post as Captain Superintendent of the T.S. Mercury and handed it over to a retired ex R.N., commander. Ten short years later in 1960 the last commanding officer  [known as a Captain Superintendent] an RN reserve officer took control for the training ships last eight years.  In 1968 the ship was returned to whence it came [now known as the MOD [Navy] after the Admiralty became defunct in 1964.  For many years this ugly duckling abandoned, unloved and ignored wallowed around the lonely parts of Portsmouth Harbour looking for a new home.  Eventually it found its way to Chatham to the erstwhile naval dockyard, there  to be returned to a restored HMS Gannet, a vessel of great beauty and now open to the public as an historic ship preservation. It sits alongside the dock home to the submarine HMS Ocelot, and a must do attraction to anybody remotely claiming a love of ships - it's a romatic throw back to the 19th century.

The picture below is of HMS Gannet labouring under the added top weight of HMS President as a drill ship and from 1914 onwards the dormitory for boys training in the T.S. Mercury complex.

 The next picture is of HMS Gannet restored sitting proud in her dry dock at an equally proud former Royal Naval dockyard the birth place of HMS Victory. Arguably she had an uninspiring career as warship, but overall what tales she could tell?  I note [I think] that she is wearing a red ensign flying from the gaff on the mizzen mast [the after mast, the first being the foremast and the middle the main mast]. In 1864 the multi coloured ensigns were discontinued leaving only the white ensign for the navy, so  this red ensign signified a now commercial mercantile vessel as part of the historical collection.  See this file The Red, White and Blue Ensigns (commsmuseum.co.uk)


There remains but two points to make, the first to reiterate and then forget being that I can never remember the mention of T.S. Mercury boy's training at HMS Ganges and I have probably guessed why and explained above as to why no boy would put himself through Ganges/St Vincent after the T.S. Mercury experience.


Finally, and in common with many, I have always thought of T.S. Mercury as a ship floating in open water, rather like HMS Ganges when at Falmouth, but not to be confused with HMS Ganges at Shotley from 1905 onwards when boys [15 to 16½]  moved ashore into a purpose built shore barracks, and youths [16½ to 17½] stayed afloat in HMS Ganges II in less than satisfactory conditions.


I was quite surprised to discover that from early on land was purchased adjacent to the Hamble where a T.S. Mercury shore barracks was built in which the Mercury boys dined and were schooled in the the three R's and naval culture, traditions and customs, and the floating ship T.S. Mercury was for accommodation sleeping quarters and some ablutions.  It was hardly ideal and these hardy little chaps tolerated zero temperatures in the floating hulk in the winter with damp conditions and plagues of water borne flying insects in the summer months.


The following picture, again copyright to the T.S. Mercury Boys Association, shows the shore barracks which after 1968 were bulldozed to build a housing estate.  The cricket square on which C B Fry played is clearly see centre stage.


An idyllic setting of a busy tidal marina at Hamble-le-Rice and a civlian built up area, which was passed twice a day by some of the world largest liners [cruise ships hadn't been invented then]  enroute to and from Southampton, sympathetic to the ebb and flood of the daily tides at approximately inbound from sea around the 0530 hour and outbound to sea  at around the 1700-1730 time.

Note the walkway/jetty out to catching a boat out to coincide with the bosun's whistle piping lights out and down and hands to sleep.  We can but think some of these outlying building are staff married quarters.  The area cleared for sports pitches are obvious and generous given the irregular terrain not to mention the possibility of flooding.  Do I espy a flag pole between the large and the small round shaped trees?  Enough of speculation!


Today, and for virtually many year past, we poor fellows do not have a vessels called Mercury whatever the prefix! We had two in the 19th century, one pre WW1, one WW1, two WW2 and one betwixt the WW's. 

Now you know!

Good sailing.