Royal Dockyard School History

Centenary Prize Giving 1943

Source: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v151/n3831/abs/151388a0.html

At Portsmouth on March 28 the Royal Dockyard School celebrated its centenary when Mr. A. V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, distributed the prizes. In his speech to the apprentices Mr. Alexander said that from the dockyard schools have come many leaders in naval construction and engineering and some had been elected Fellows of the Royal Society. In founding the schools and making attendance compulsory the Admiralty anticipated by twenty-seven years the adoption of compulsory education by the State and anticipated day continuation schools by scores of years.

The list of eminent naval constructors, shipbuilders and marine engineers who began their scientific training in the dockyards is indeed a long and distinguished one and the country owes a debt to the pioneering work done by the Admiralty in technical education. There had been a School of Naval Architecture at Portsmouth from 1811 until 1832, but that had been closed in a foolish fit of economy by Sir James Graham, the First Lord. It had left its influence, however, and by 1841 another scheme was afoot for training apprentices. This led finally to an Order in Council of February 1, 1843, for approving the establishment of schools in the dockyards, each of which had had a committee preparing plans. In 1843 Chatham, Portsmouth and Pembroke Schools were opened, and the schools at Sheerness, Devonport, Deptford and Woolwich were opened between 1844 and 1848.

A notable event in the history of the schools was the appointment in 1846 of the Rev. Henry (afterwards Canon) Moseley as the inspector of schools, and it was largely due to his experience, criticism and proposals that the schools were placed on a really sound footing. At the present time no fewer than eleven ex-Portsmouth dockyard apprentices are studying at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, which was opened in 1873 on the closing of the famous Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at South Kensington.