|Worcester training ship. © NMM|
Boys were admitted into the Worcester from the ages of 12 to 15 and into the Warspite from 14 to 16.
The two schools had very different philosophies. The Warspite stipulated that the boys must come from a poor background, but be of good character, and that their parents must be unable to cover the cost of fitting them out for naval life.
The Worcester required an annual fee from the boys’ parents and gave preference to boys whose fathers were officers in the merchant service. However, both schools would only accept those who would go to sea at the end of their training, and both offered a similar education.
|Register of admissions into the Marine Society, 1886-99. © NMM|
The school day
|Marine Society cadets in the classroom on HMS Warspite. © NMM|
The cadets were given a basic education, similar to that in a normal school, but they also received lessons in:
- nautical astronomy
The day onboard the Worcester would begin at 6.30-7.00am with ablutions and inspection. After prayers and breakfast, general lessons would run from 9.00-12.00 and then seamanship lessons from 14.00-16.40.
|Harbour logbook of HMS Worcester, 1864. © NMM|
On some evenings there would be lessons in seamanship, apart from in the summer when the boys would do swimming and games.
As the daily log of the Worcester shows, even Sundays were not rest days. On that day there was drill, divine service, prayer and bible class. The one evening off was Saturday, when lectures, sing-songs and dances, to which friends could be invited, were held.
One cadet would have to be on duty every day, from 7.00-21.00, performing the duties of officer of the watch, including keeping the log.
Sport and excercise
Apart from the twice-weekly PE lessons, there was little emphasis on sport, until the schools had gained shore bases and thus playing fields. The schools played most sports, including cricket, football, rugby, gymnastics, athletics and boxing. All boys had to learn to swim before they left.
|Cricket at the Royal Hospital School. © NMM|
|HMS Worcester moored by playing fields. © NMM|
In addition, the cadets also learnt to row. The Worcester boys once a year, raced the cadets from the Conway, a training ship in Liverpool. This race was first rowed on 5 June 1890, with the winner receiving a shield, the TBF Davis Challenge Cup.
|Challenge Shield for the Worcester vs. Conway boat race. © NMM|
The race would alternate between the Thames and the Mersey, giving the different crews home advantage.
Other training ships would also have competitions, often on their annual prize days, with crews competing between their different classes.