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The Indefatigable

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In the mid 19th century, Britain's over seas trade was expanding tremendously to the Empire. There was a great shortage of trained seamen, the number of ships coming into use was doubling each year, maybe every couple of years certainly, and there was a great demand for trained seamen, and trained seamen had to be trained to a very high degree. There was also terrible poverty in the industrial cities and Liverpool was no exception. They had large numbers of orphans of sailors lost at sea or developing diseases due to sea going, and to solve both problems a Liverpool ship owner called John Clint formed The Indefatigable training ship. It was to train poor boys of very good families for a life at sea. They entered at 12 years of age and they did a 2 year course until they were 14. now in later years, they entered at 14 and qualified at 16 . . . . . . . Or at least they they were qualified when the school considered they were good enough to to go to sea, an awful lot of them went to sea before the two years was up and quite honestly they were so well trained, that when they joined the ship, they knew more than most of the ABs on the ship All they lacked was experience. And the whole object of the ship was to make you disciplined. and make you ready for sea.They taught you seamanship. At the age of . . . . . 14 'n 15s .14 . . 15 . I was a coxswain of a motor boat which carried 40 people the ship was moored off errr . . Rock Ferry, . . between Rock Ferry and New Ferry. and we used to go into Rock Ferry pier carrying . . by myself and we were cox's of a motor boat and on the river at the age a 15 years of age. and when we went to sea, when you first went to sea at 15 . 15 'n half yer always . . people said can ye do this? you always turned round and say, 'I'll have a try'. but in your mind, you were always taught how to be a seaman. The idea was to train them . . the same John Clint started the Conway which was a training school for officers. Indefatigable was a training school for officers, but who couldn't afford the expenses and being officer cadets. Unfortunately when they qualified and went to sea, they could get paid as . . . deck hands . as deck boys, or have no wages whatsoever as apprentices, to become officers Their families couldn't afford it, so most of them stayed as Able ended up as . Able seamen and Bosun and so forth like that. . . and the discipline was really strict I could go up a mast on my own and everything, in me bare feet. before I ever went to sea, because we never wore boots because we could never get a polish on the shoe or boot . . never wore boots (Deep breath) . . . Went t' school . . . until you were . . fourteen and a half and then when they... when you did your time and they thought your were ready to move you'd go to the office . . they'd find you a job at sea, somewhere and the words out of their mouths, was; "We've made half a man o' you" "You go and make the other half and don't let the name of the ship down". and they give you half-a-crown. By the time the war came about, there was a big hazard, due to floating mines in the river. and they saw floating mines going past. So it was decided they would have to remove the training ships from the river, to North Wales. When they got Indefatigable round there, she was found to be unseaworthy and due to be scrapped . . and was taken up to Glasgow and she was used as a barrack ship . . . . errr . . as a drill ship for the Navy. and the boys were landed, first into an old . . errr . . holiday camp on Denbigh Moor, where they nearly froze to death and when the Marquis of Anglesey saw them . . . . He said; "By God, you gotta get these kids out of here". (Deep breath) and err . . one of his houses in Llanfair which had been used by the Americans for training and planning D-Day. . . .as D-Day had passed, he moved the school boys into there. They merged them with another school, the Lancashire Sea Training school and it became once again, the training ship; Indefatigable. . . and they remained there until 1997, when . . the school closed. In the latter years it closed because there were no demand anymore for British Seamen, they were using cheap labour from the Far East . .errr . . it did have a small renaissance when it was a school for army brats. Senior NCOs being sent overseas on two year periods would . . board their children at the Indefatigable and once again, they got a good education. It was a tough school . . . . . . but they came out men. The thing they taught you, it's a big world outside and if you behave yourself and do what you're told, the oyster's yours. and what's it called . . . and that's what I've been doing. and it's got me to this age now, were I've never wanted and I could put myself anywhere and have respect . . and be given respect. I must admit I have had a great deal of experience with a lot of Indefatigable boys and I've not found any one of them that I wouldn't be proud to call a friend and would not rely on . . . in any conditions. They were good seamen. . . They were good men. Subtitles by Tony

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 26 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Views: 87
Posted by: mrjonesy on Apr 12, 2012

Training Ship Indefatigable was a British training school for boys intending to join the Royal Navy or the Merchant Navy.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century the British Merchant Navy had no recognized training schools for boys entering the service. Education consisted of boys about 15 years old going to sea “to be led, guided, bullied and socialized into the culture of the sea”. There was no distinction between training for AB, and the training of future masters. Through experience it was possible to rise to the position of Master without any formal training. Beginning in the mid- nineteenth century various forms of navigational and seamanship schools were created to remedy the problem.

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