Saturday, 1 December 2012

Naval Training Ships, an alternative to migration

Today I have a special reason for highlighting the post from the Together Trust on Training ships because it takes me a little closer to my grandfather. 

This weeks post focuses on Training Ships which the  “Committee of the Manchester Refuges [used] to give a trade to some of the sturdier boys who came under their care.”*

My own grandfather was sent from Derby by the Guardians to the Training Ship Exmouth in the May of 1913 aged just 14 because his mother “was unfit to have control.” He and his siblings had been pretty much in care since great grandmother returned to Derby to have her last child in the Derby Workhouse in 1902.

In that May my great aunt who was just 11 was packed off to the North East as a domestic servant.  The elder brother was not picked up till December when aged 15 he too was sent to TS Exmouth, although in his case he seems to have opted instead to go to Canada as a British Home Child.

Now the extent of the documents for both boys in relation to the ship comes down to just one entry in the ledger for my grandfather which records his admission and his departure a year later to a ship.

The ships were designed to give boys a mix of sound discipline and training to fit them for the sea and perhaps unfairly I have always regarded them as akin to a naval boot camp.  Now with the help of this post I can see there was more.

And having no documents of his life for this period and only a handful of photographs of training ships here is a little of the missing detail which might throw a light on the life of my grandfather.

It also reveals another aspect to the care of our young people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and suggests that other strategies were being employed alongside that of shipping them off to Canada as British Home Children.


Pictures; courtesy of the Together Trust,

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