The News, Portsmouth 22 July 2010
In 1955, they were the top of their class, graduating after four
tough years at the prestigious Royal Dockyard School with the world at their
feet. Fifty-five years later, the class of 1955 were reunited in Portsmouth to
reminisce about those glorious days that stood them in good stead for the rest
of their careers. Eighteen of the 39 school leavers and their wives travelled
from across the country to meet up at Royal Naval Club & Royal Albert Yacht
Club on Pembroke Road, Southsea.
Among them was Bob Dowdell, of Court
Mead, Drayton, who was a shipwright apprentice at the school. He said: "It was
fantastic to see the guys again, we were reminiscing and chatting about times
gone by, wondering where the last 55 years have gone." The 75-year-old added:
"It was very strange meeting everybody; it feels almost as if it was yesterday
when we graduated. It's interesting to see how everyone went in different ways.
Some went in to industry, some went in to the services and some remained with
the MOD. To get through four years at the Royal Dockyard School was quite an
achievement." Mr. Dowdell said: "Every year we had to sit examinations and they
would choose the people who came at the top to carry on in to the next year. It
was quite tough. If you completed four years, it was considered quite a high
level of education. When you started the apprenticeship aged 16 you had to go
to school two days a week that was compulsory. There were three main trades:
electricians, engine fitters and shipwrights."
The reunion was
organised by Keith Hart who now lives in Plymouth. He organised a similar
meeting last year just for the shipwright apprentices. He said: "In 1952 the
government changed the name to the Royal Dockyard Technical College. Hence our
year was the last to pass out under the old scheme. The latest reunion was the
first time in five years all the class of '55 had met up."
said: "It's great that it has become a regular thing. It was marvelous to see
everyone and catch up. It's nice to see how everyone looks, we're all in our
70s so it appears life hasn't been too bad for most of us. We had our last
reunion five years ago. Then, because it had been so long, Keith made everyone
names badges because otherwise no-one would have recognized each other. This
time, though, we didn't need any name badges- we're all firm friends."