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|The Thames Nautical Training
College H.M.S. 'Worcester'. Visitors on a Summer Sunday
Oil on canvas (1000 x 750)mm
Price: $4,200 NZ
150 Limited Edition prints $110 NZ each
An unashamedly nostalgic and idyllic memory of my training ship. We did have visitors, but not many and it was the task of the Second Gig crew to ferry them out and back to the ship. There was a launch but this was only used to take us out and back at the beginning and end of term, to stand by when the dinghies were out sailing and at abandon ship drill. At other times all boatwork was under oar. Naturally we got very good as the tide at Greenhithe could be fierce. Boatwork in winter could be pretty miserable. I was in charge of the gig and as a 2nd.Class Cadet Captain in charge of all the boats; including the 'Cutty Sark' (the topmasts of her can be seen beyond the 'Worcester') and the yawl 'Katrine' on the right. All this at the tender age of sixteen! Of course, it was rarely idyllic:the ship was spartan, the food adequate but plain, and the discipline, administered mainly by the senior cadets, would have the child abuse authorities aboard today. I must say though, the regime was fair and it worked. I found very little hazing or bullying. We were surrounded by industry and the Thames was filthy at that time. The college was closed in 1968.
Two years at the college gained you one year off the four year apprenticeship for Merchant Service deck officers. The ship 'Pacific Fortune', in which I spent most of my three years' seatime is beyond 'Katrine', steaming upriver to Surrey Commercial docks where she will discharge her deck cargo of timber loaded on the West Coast of America and Canada. For details of the history of the college see http://www.hms-worcester.org.uk