Training Ship Exmouth

After the fire on board TSGoliath the Exmouth took over her role. Exmouth was ordered as a 90-gun sailing ship from Plymouth Dockyard in 1841. However technology was changing fast during the Victorian period and even the Royal Navy was obliged to try and keep up so it was decided that she would be converted to operate under steam propulsion. The conversion began on 20 June 1853 and Exmouth was finally launched on 12 July 1854.

In 1876 the Exmouth was given to the Metropolitan Asylums Board and moored off Grays in Essex. It was set up for training boy for service at sea who would have otherwise ended up in the workhouse. The training was free to the boys and paid for by the Poor Rates of all of the metropolitan parishes rather than just the ones that had contributed to the Forest Gate School Board, and therefore took boys from across the whole of London. Up to 500 could be trained on board at a time and by setting it up on board a ship it was calculated as to cost about half of what the equivalent would on land. The running costs where about 11 shillings per week per boy,

Like many training ships Exmouth had a SailingTender. For the Exmouth this was a brigantine called the Steadfast. The original Steadfast condemned in 1894 and replaced by a new vessel of the same name. Onshore at Grays was a playing field, swimming bath, and an infirmary provided in an old manor-house called Sherfield House.

Boys could be sent to the Exmouth when they were aged twelve and up. When they joined each boy was given a hammock to sleep in an clean clothes. For a new boy joining Exmouth first task was to learn how to mend and patch their own clothes. This would have been good training for Royal Navy of the time where sailors were not given uniforms; they were given cloth which they were expected to make their own uniforms from. They had ordinary school work as well as learning the skills needed at sea such as swimming, sailing, rowing, sail and rope-making, gunnery, and signalling. The ship had its own band and bugle-band, another common feature of most training ships as the military was always looking for bandsmen. In 1896 137 boys entered the Royal Navy from the Exmouth which was more than the combined total from all other training ships in the country, however it should be noted that Exmouth was also by far the largest training ship in the country.

In 1892, admission to the ship was extended for up to 50 boys from parishes and unions outside the metropolitan Poor Law Area.

In 1903, the ship's hull was found to be in an unsafe condition. The ship was replaced, but not by another wooden wall or similar ex-Royal Navy ship. This time the vessel was commissioned specifically for the task from the Vickers company in Barrow-in-Furness. She looked like the old Exmouth but was built of iron and steel rather than wood. The new Exmouth was towed round the coast to Grays where she was inaugurated in August 1905. On the outbreak of the Second World War the Exmouth was evacuated to Bumham-on-Crouch, partly for their protection and partly so that the ship could be put to other use. To begin with she was used as the headquarters of the river fire floats, and then in 1942 she was towed to Scapa Flow to be used as a minesweeper depot ship.

In 1945 she was moved back to London were she was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College to became the new TSWorcester.

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TSExmouth (last edited 2012-06-19 22:25:54 by chrisbunker)