Professor Moseley was succeeded by Dr. Woolley, who became
Inspector of Dockyard Schools in 1853 and Director of Studies in 1864 when
higher education was re-introduced at South Kensington.
schools are unique in certain respects, and it is worth white considering these
in some detail.
1. They are compulsory. Apprentices of all trades in
the Yard have to attend, but this is normally considered a privilege and by no
means an irksome duty. No fees are paid, and text books and stationery are
2. Entry is by open examination. No boy is excluded by lack
of means; he is taught habits of self- reliance and realizes from the beginning
that his career will depend only on his ability.
3. There is a yearly
examination, on the results of which it is decided which of the candidates
shall be permitted to continue their studies in the school for another year, or
years; the remainder are excluded or at least relegated to the Lower School,
the more clever apprentices being in the Upper School. This process of
"weeding-out" ensures that only the best of the apprentices take the full
four-year course, and is itself a strong inducement to study and hard work.
4. Their professional training is safeguarded, each apprentice being
placed under the charge of a workman of good character, who supervises his
conduct and gives him such instruction as may be necessary to enable him to
learn his trade.
5. They are allowed time off their ordinary yard
duties to attend the classes; to-day the Upper School apprentices spend two
afternoons as well as three evenings per week in the school-a total of twelve
6. Apprentices who reach the fourth year receive such
instruction; in the drawing office as will enable them to prepare the drawings
appropriate to their trade and (later) to qualify as draughtsmen.
small number of the candidates who are highest on the examination list at the
end of the fourth year are offered cadetships, which enable them to continue
their studies at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and, if successful, to
enter the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors.
With reference to this
last point, it should be mentioned that after the closing of the First School
of Naval Architecture there was for a few years no school of higher education
for the best apprentices. It was soon realized, however, that such a provision
was needed, and in 1848 a second school for this purpose was opened, at Ports
mouth. This, school was closed, as the first had been, in 1853 by Sir James
Graham, who had then returned to the Admiralty as First Lord. As before,
however, the necessity for higher education was again realized a few years
later, and was strongly advocated by this Institution, which had been founded
in 1860. In consequence the Admiralty opened at South Kensington in 1864 the
Royal School of Naval Architecture and Engineering, which was situated at South
Kensington; in 1873 this school was transferred to the R.N. College, Greenwich,
and has there remained.
To return to the dockyard schools, which had
fortunately escaped the attention of Sir James Graham, the curriculum has
changed considerably since their foundation, having been revised from time to
time and kept up to date. The schools were reorganized in 1905 b3 Sir Alfred
Ewing, Director of Naval Education, They are divided into Upper and Lower
Schools, the full course in the former being four years and in the latter where
the courses are on simpler lines, three years. In the Upper School attendance
is for 12 hours and in the Lower School 7 hours, weekly. The full Upper School
Course comprises, in addition to professional instruction in lecture room and
drawing office, Practical Mathematics (including 3-dimensional co-ordinal
geometry and differential equations), Applied Mechanics and Strength of
Materials, Heat and Heat Engines, Metallurgy, Mechanical Drawing and
Descriptive Geometry, Electricity. Laboratory work accompanies class work.
English, designed to cultivate the power of clear expression, is taught during
the first two years. The course is thus a happy blending of theory and
practice-in effect, the "sandwich system" as applied to apprentices; and the
work performed by the best of the four-year students is equal to that required
for a pass degree in Engineering in any of our Universities. There is no doubt
that these schools provide the most efficient system of technical instruction
in the country.
The dockyard schools are by no means costly to run.
They arc staffed on a modest scale. At Portsmouth, for instance, there are at
present 220 apprentices in the Upper School and 280 in the Lower School. The
full-time staff consists of headmaster, 2 senior masters and 4 assistant
masters. Part-time evening teachers, drawn from the dockyard departments,
assist with part of the Lower School work. To the headmasters is due much of
the credit for the excellent work performed under their direction, and it is
satisfactory to record that the services of many of them have been recognized
in the Honours lists. Though working under the genera] control of the Admiralty
they enjoy a large measure of freedom, which gives them scope to apply their
energies and skill to their work in the Schools with the happiest results.
It would not be practicable to include in this brief article a list of
the many distinguished men who have passed through these schools; it must
suffice to mention the names of certain gentlemen who have held high office in
this Institution., viz. Sir Edward Reed, Sir Nathaniel Barnaby, Mr. F. K.
Barnes, Mr. F. Elgar, Sir William White, Sir John Durston, Sir Philip Watts,
Sir John Biles, Mr. B. Martell, Sir William Smith, Sir Henry Oram, Sir George
Goodwin, Sir William Berry, Professor J. J. Welch and Sir Arthur Johns.
An even greater tribute to the value of the dockyard schools is to be
found in the number of men who form the greater part of the Royal Corps of
Naval Constructors, in the larger number who fill the minor but important posts
in the dockyards and as Admiralty Overseers, in the superior class of workmen
who have benefited by the education, and in the long list of men who have left
the Service and left their mark on Shipbuilding, Marine Engineering, Electrical
Engineering and other professions in the outside world. The standard of
education in the dockyard towns also has been raised, and the will to work in
them fostered by Their Lordships' decision a hundred years ago to found the
typically British and democratic schools of the Royal Dockyards.
writer acknowledges his indebtedness to articles by Sir A. W. Johns on the
dockyard schools (Engineering, January to March 1929) and on the First School
of Naval Architecture (Engineering, March and April 1926). These articles
contain much information on the historical aspects of the subject. The
Constructive Managers and the Headmasters of Portsmouth and Devonport Schools
have also supplied useful information. Reference may also be made to an article
by Sir W. E Smith (Engineering, 27th July, 1923) on the South Kensington
School, and papers by Mr. Scott Russell and Dr. Woolley in these Transactions,
Vols. IV. V. respectively.