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By Frank Cooke ©
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26/04/2002

Russell-Cotes Nautical School
Parkstone,
Dorset.


Parkstone Sea Training School

The sea schools Association Web site: www.parkstone-sts.org.uk

The boys of WNTS had served with such distinction in the 1914 - 1918 war, winning praise for the school and Dr Barnardo's from the Admiralty itself. Building on this success in 1919 Dr. Barnardo's council opened the Russell-Cotes School for Nautical Seamen, in Dorset, which was about half the size of WNTS, its aim was to train boys for Merchant Navy. The funds needed for such a venture had been offered by Sir Merton and Lady Russell-Cotes who were involved with charity work, they providing land, money and overseeing development of property for Dr Barnardo's.

Admission was open to orphan and destitute boys who were between 11 and 14 years of age. The training school continued until October 1949 when it was amalgamated with WNTS at this location.


Photo sent in by Richard Eastwood Broughton House No 58.

From Night and Day December 1918

After the tasks of war, the toils of peace. The sea power of our Navy paves the way for the sea power of our Merchant Fleet.

Hitherto England's merchantmen have been manned by chance-medley. A boy thinks he would like the sea. He is shipped on a tramp and picks up his exacting trade or calling anyhow - here a little and there a little. Not so are boys trained for the Navy. Our Watts School takes them through a steady routine, and not otherwise could our youngsters pass the tests set them by the Naval authorities. The age of anyhow and rule-of-thumb for the Merchant Fleet is coming to an end as it has already come to an end for our mighty Navy. Over three thousand Barnardo Boys are keeping the trade flag unfurled in our Mercantile Marine, And they have had to learn their profession in the good old easy, careless, anyhow fashion. They have done well. But they were handicap­ped when they went to sea. They did not know the ABC of their craft, and it was only through much tribulation that they learned it. Furthermore, not merely are boys wanted for this purpose, but Admiral Lord Jellicoe declares that the British Mercantile Marine is ‘the most valuable, indeed, the only reserve that the Royal Navy has. The Navy could not have gone on without its aid’.

Why should not lads be trained for the life of the Mer­chantman, just as they are trained for the life of the Navy? That is what Britain is asking. Yet there are today less than two thousand boys under training for the Mercantile Marine! Eight thousand would be all too few! British trade has to meet after the war a keener competi­tion on the sea than ever in its history. Yet to us, an island power, sea trade is our industrial lifeblood. Our homes propose to answer that urgent question. The idea is not of yesterday; but we have only just begun to see the lines of our answer.

Out of the hundreds of lads that pass through our hands (we always have about 3,600 boys under our charge) we propose to select some of the best and healthiest and put under training for the Merchant Service. In our June issue we launched this scheme. We told how we wanted an estate near the coast and a tender. We can supply the boys, and we hope to make as great a success of this enterprise as we admittedly have done of the Watts Naval School. The latter feeds the Navy; the former will feed the Merchant Fleet that feeds the Navy! And even if there is not to be a need for an after-the-war Navy, we shall never lose the need for a Merchant Fleet.

Already we have chronicled one munificent gift for Ł5,000 in aid. More such gifts are wanted, and the desirability of the scheme grows with every week. Our scheme for helping our boys and for helping the Mercantile Marine of our country came before Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, of Bournemouth. This generous friend has offered us an estate of 34 acres, situated 3˝ miles west of Bournemouth, and one-mile north-east of Poole. He proposes to place this estate at our disposal for development as a nautical school for the Merchant Service. It is a large scheme, and we shall need all the help we can get to carry it through. But it has huge possibilities.

Its main scope will imply 'all appliances and means to boot' for the training of 300 boys. We propose the erec­tion of five houses, each to shelter 60 boys. The plan would involve the erection also of workshops, dining hall and kitchen, isolation block, dormitories, outdoor swimming bath, staff and superintendent's house, and other buildings. The estate is charmingly and health fully situated, with delightful views over Poole Harbour and the sea. It lends itself to easy development. Within 1˝ miles there is ample convenience for the anchorage of a sea-going tender. We can hardly hope to obtain a gift of this training boat while shipping is in its present condi­tion, but perhaps some friend of the Homes may be moved to note this great gap in our project and earmark that tender, with the intention in due season of presenting it as a name gift to the rising youth of the nation. There is a good water supply; the main drainage is within easy distance, and electricity and gas are both readily available. Churches and chapels and schools are within easy reach. The open country lies behind it. It has a gravel soil.

Nor is the gift of this estate all that Sir Merton proposes. He is ready to devote a generous cheque for the erection of the central building. It will be called the Lady Russell-Cotes House, and will be in perpetual remem­brance of her ladyship, who is equally interested in the scheme.

Sir Merton's munificence lays the foundation of a scheme of national importance. It will help to maintain Great Britain's sea supremacy in the strenuous years to come. And it will offer to the rising lads of the coming years careers such as would have been impossible of attainment only a year ago. We are convinced that we can supply the personnel, and thus fulfil Admiral Lord Jellicoe's ideal of an effective Mercantile Marine acting as a nursery, if need be, for the Navy.

We lay the enterprise at this early stage before our readers. We ask them if those lads are not worthy for whom we should do this - if it is not a great, a hopeful and an urgent national task? And, finally, we beg their co-operation.

Our Honorary Director will be very glad to receive and answer letters of enquiry upon the new enterprise. We hope that the foundation stone of the first house may be ready for laying in the spring of next year.


From Night and Day June 1919

Never, in the history of the Homes, has there been a day more instinct with hope and the buoyant spirit of youth than the day on which HRH Prince Albert laid the foundation stone of our new Russell-Cotes Nautical School. It was a spring day, and the blossoms and tender green of springing life on the hillsides and hedgerows seemed trying to vie with the bunting with which joyous hands had decked the town. And amongst the spring joy and the laughter of little children came the young Prince to dedicate the gift of Sir Merton Russell-Cotes of Bournemouth.

Many of the well-known people of the county were there on the crimson coloured platform on 8th May. There was also the Right Rev the Lord Bishop of Salisbury and the Rev the Hon R. E. Adderley; the Earl of Shaftesbury, whose name has for so many years been a household word to poor children; the Duke of Somerset (our president); Brigadier-General Page Croft, MP; Howard Williams, Esq; William McCall, Esq; Sir John Kirk; Captain Stebbing; Major Greig; and W. W. Hind Smith, Esq. Close to the young Prince were the Girl Guides - his guard of honour - and all around were the children, big and little, rich and poor, all smiling.

After the hush of prayer, the Prince made his first public speech in laying the stone. What finer debut could the scion of any Royal House have to look back upon than this appearance of his at Parkstone to inaugurate our Nautical School?

His Royal Highness said: 'I am very glad to have the privilege of being here this afternoon to take part in the beginning of a scheme which I know will be of very great benefit to the Mercantile Marine and the country in general. We have learnt through bitter experience during the war how much we owe to the Mercantile Marine. We know by the result of the war how the fate of the country depended on them, how splendidly they came to our help - men of the merchant ships, minesweepers, drifters, and other fleet auxiliaries and how we won through at the cost of 15,000 of their lives. As we depended on the Merchant Service in war, so in peace we depend on them for the reconstruction of our world trade, and to this end we must have a first-class merchant fleet with well-trained, well-equipped British crews. I am sure that the Russell­Cotes Nautical School will be of the greatest help in attaining this end. With the example of the Watts Naval School in Norfolk, in connection with Dr Barnardo's Homes, before it, we can go forward in confidence with our project. The Watts School turned out hundreds of young sailors for the Navy. Every battleship which took part in the war had a Watts boy among the crew. When volunteers were called for the attack at Zeebrugge five Watts boys were among them. Two others went down on the Hampshire with Lord Kitchener. So that the Watts School already has noble traditions in the 16 years of its life. What the Watts School is to the Navy, so I am sure the Russell-Cotes School will be to the Mer­chant Service. You will, I know, join me in wishing this new school will turn out a great and fruitful enterprise, which will carry the names of the generous donors and Dr Barnardo's Homes into a long and brilliant future.

And there upon the foundation stone was 'well and truly laid' amid general cheers. The Earl of Shaftesbury, our Chairman for the day, reminded us all of a thing we are never likely to forget ­the debt we owe to the Navy, England's 'sure shield', which saved us from the fate of Belgium. He went on to express his admiration of the Merchantile Marine and his firm conviction that in the future a thing so vitally a National concern should be run systematically, so that never again could slackness be laid at our British doors. This School, he said, would keep in constant training 300 sailor boys. A small drop in the ocean of the British Empire, but a splendid beginning!

The Duke of Somerset, after expressing the pleasure it gave him to see one of the younger members of the Royal Family enlisted in the cause of child rescue, spoke enthusiastically of the Watts Naval School and its splen­did record of devotion and service, and pointed out the extreme significance of the fact that, in their most im­pressionable years the boys were and would be brought up in the traditions of the Navy and the Merchant Service, trained in the habits of precision and swift obedience, and able to devote their splendid vitality and spirits to something constructive, instead of coming into the career late in life and finding that they had everything to learn.


From Night and Day 1936

A GREAT SAILOR'S LAST MESSAGE

'I wish you all the happiest of lives and great success in your future. The best of luck to you all!'

This was the farewell message of the late Earl Jellicoe to the boys of our RusseIl-Cotes Nautical School, Bournemouth, when, with Lady JeIlicoe, he visited the school on 29th October.

The great sailor was present in Bournemouth to perform the opening ceremony of the Annual Exhibition of the Disabled Soldiers' and Sailors' Workshops, and it was we believe, characteristic of his interest in constructive social work that he made time, also, to visit the Barnardo school, and give a personal message to the future sailors training there.

He commended the boys for their smartness and efficiency. He told them that he remembered the start of the school, and said that he felt the improvements that had been made since that time, reflected great credit on staff and boys alike.

They were training for the Merchant Navy, that great organisation whose work it was to bring the nation's food from the far places overseas, and to establish sea communications between this country and other parts of the world.

Earl Jellicoe recalled the fine service rendered by men of the Merchant Navy during the great war. He knew, personally, men whose ships had been torpedoed five or six times, but who still came back to serve again.

Writing afterwards to a personal friend, keenly interested in our Bournemouth branch, the Admiral made special mention of his visit.

'My wife and I,' he wrote, 'were very much impressed by our visit to the Nautical School.'

We believe this visit was the last inspection carried out by Earl Jellicoe.

The Captain-Superintendent, the staff and boys combined to send a wreath to the funeral of a friend whose kindness was still very fresh in their memory, and later a letter was received from Lady Jellicoe, expressing her 'heartfelt thanks' for their 'kindness and sympathy'.


From THE GUILD MESSENGER - January 1950 PARKSTONE SEA TRAINING SCHOOL (Formerly Russell-Cotes Nautical School and Watts Naval Training School)

For some time past there have not been sufficient suitable candidates for nautical training to fill both RCNS and WNTS, and the Council of the Homes decided therefore to amalgamate the two schools. RCNS was chosen for this purpose as being the more modern and suitably situated school. It has been renamed the Parkstone Sea Training School.

The amalgamation took place in October 1949, when the WNTS nautical instructors and some others were transferred to Parkstone in order to augment the staff. Altogether 107 boys were moved south from Elmham, and 24 who did not want to continue nautical training were sent from Parkstone to Watts School. 'Danecourt' has been taken over as one of the school houses, and at present we have 160 boys altogether. There is a waiting list of lads who want to continue nautical training and these will be transferred from Elmham as vacancies occur.

The boys from WNTS had a friendly reception when they arrived and soon settled down. In order to standardise the uniform it has been decided that all boys shall wear full sailor suits as their 'No 1s,' with jerseys, or flannels, and shorts as working rig.

The school has been doing very well at football, and three of our boys are playing for Poole in the English Schoolboys' Trophy.

In 1949 The Russell Cotes Nautical Training School and Watts Naval Training School from Derham combined and two years later in 1951 the school was renamed Parkstone Sea Training School.
 


What was The Russell Cotes Nautical Training School like. John Martin who was at Russell Cotes 1940 to 1942 sent an article to The Guild messenger 1998.

Tough times Not even the Second World War could disrupt life for boys at Russell Cotes Nautical School, Dorset.. .. despite the summer camp taking place right under the path of enemy action. only 13 at the time, John remembers the drama of it all. Lucky John didn't go to Goldings, we didn't have a matron to tuck us-up in bed!

SUNDAY 3rd September 1939, 11am. War is declared and at Stepney Causeway there was panic as children were evacuated to the safety of the countryside. We were moved to Bromborough, Cheshire, a lovely mansion type home with woods, but the air raid sirens were sounding even as we arrived as enemy aircraft made for nearby Liverpool. The home was fantastic, so free and easy; I thought it was too good to be true. And indeed, soon I was off on my travels again Russell Cotes, Parkstone, was my next stop.

Whatch out bombs gone, The boys in Pool HarbourIt was summer 1940 and we saw plenty of action down at Poole. The Battle of Britain was raging, we saw dog fights, aircraft shot down and, believe it or nor, we still had to go on Poole Harbour and row a big cutter. I was nearly 13, but the oars were so long and heavy that two of us had to man each oar. Poole Harbour was a base for the civilian Sunderland flying boats and the Germans used to follow them in and machine-gun them when they landed. I thought it was crazy that they had us there.

Then we went to summer camp just outside Poole for a week. We had large white tents which would have been very visible. The night we went back to Poole, the Germans dropped a stick of nine bombs where our tents had been. It left six big craters, which staff took us back to see the next day. There were raids day and night for a long period. When we were in the shelter matron used to tell us to be quiet. She said "the Germans will hear you."

Russell Cotes was really tough. The food was terrible, and even if you were lucky enough to have a relative to write to you, the letter you received would be censored with lumps cut out of it with a razor blade. There were four different houses. Before breakfast in the morning we had to polish the long dormitory floors on our hands and knees, with a pad of blanket material. You were three in a row and you had to polish in step with your hands just like you march in step. A petty officer's fist would smack into your ear if you got out of step. Great big blobs of the old Ronuk polish would be spattered on the floor.

Then we marched off for breakfast. We used to call the porridge, "Rock of Gibraltar"; made with water, it was a solid, revolting mass; to this day I will not eat porridge. If one did a bad misdeed one would be flogged in front of the whole school. There was a big playing field, it was bitter cold in winter, but one had to stay there until tea-time. I was in this home for two years, it seemed an eternity.

I left Russell Cotes to start work then joined the regular army serving in Italy, Palestine, Egypt and Kenya and the Korean War. Despite the rigours of army life, he admits he found it 'rather easy' after the Russell Cotes regime.

John Martin
Boarded out Bromborough, 1939
Russell Cotes, 1940 - 1942


One other memory that I have recorded is of Arnold Hargreaves whose brother had phoned me regarding a top secret mission that his brother had taken part in. This information had really come to light because on the 21st April 2000, Universal Pictures released a mega-budget war-time movie "U-571". A thrilling story about an American crew on a top-secret mission to capture an Enigma Cipher Machine from the German U-Boat

With the information I had already collated I put it together with Arnold Hargreaves story, but as Arnold did go to Goldings I called it:--------- Goldings and the Enigma decoder: a true story  with the sinking of the whaler, the last victim of U110.


Censorship rules

I KEEP on thinking about John Martin's article 'Tough times' (winter '98 Guild Messenger) - John Martin's account of learning, at the age of 12, to row a cutter  a type of boat on Poole Harbour, Dorset, in the midst of enemy action during the Battle of Britain. Memory is deceptive and incidents strike persons with different force. My memory recalls the cutter being crewed by over 14s. Generally I believe that it was enjoyable and I was no more afraid of German aircraft there than anywhere. The idea was to have a boatwork lesson, not hard work. Poole Harbour was virtually the Heathrow of the day with Empire and Sunderland flying boats. Also a military flying boat base with Catalinas and the wonderful Walrus. What great people moved through Poole that we were not to know about: Mr Churchill, Gracie Fields and all of whom were important enough to fly in those days.

John Martin wrote also about censorship of letters which I believe to have been a Barnardo regulation, possibly handed down from the good Doctor himself The letters were censored in the office and the envelopes re-sealed with a narrow strip of gummed paper across the open top. Stamped addressed envelopes and postal orders removed were noted on the envelope. I was resentful on receiving my first letter in Aranmore House to find it being re-censored by the house matron Miss Drake described as a kindly lady in a recent issue. I am sure that she was that. Out of earshot she was known as 'Gussy Duck'. She told me it was a very nice letter. I knew that! A similar censorship was in vogue at Kingston and I am sure at Bromborough. I distinctly recall Mr Marshall (Marlow) who dealt with mail at Kingston, a very quiet reserved man, I believe an Old Boy. He said he had been let down by some boy or boys. He was indulging them

in trust with un-censored mail and obviously something had been written causing questions to come back Perhaps that explains censorship.

David Griffin
Russell Cotes Nautical School 1940-42


Regarding the censorship of letters the Barnardo rule book stated:

The letters children write, as well as the letters they receive, should be read by the Superintendent or an official deputed by him before despatch or delivery. Any letters likely to have an unsettling effect upon a child should be referred to Headquarters before being handed to the child. Children may receive any number of letters and should be encouraged to write in reply. We cannot undertake to make children write more than once a month, but stamps will be provided for one letter a week. Gifts should always be acknowledged promptly. Children with brothers and sisters in the Homes are to be encouraged to write to them, particularly on birthdays. Correspondence about children dealing with the policy of the organization or the management of a Home must invariably be sent to Headquarters. It is only in this way that it is possible to avoid inconsistent statements of policy being given to the public.

No child should be allowed to have in his possession a sum equivalent to more than two weeks' pocket money. Small money gifts which are in excess of that amount should be placed to the child's credit and a proper statement kept. Should this credit amount to more than ten shillings in the case of a particular child; arrangements should be made for the money to be deposited under the child's name in the Post Office Savings Bank. Gifts of clothing for individual children may occasionally be obviously unsuitable for the children for whom they were intended. In such cases the donor should be notified and permission sought to use them for other children in the Home. While it is appreciated that it gives children much pleasure to give to Superintendents and other members of staff small presents such as models they have made or samples of needlework where the monetary value is negligible, the Council do not approve of organized presentation of gifts to Superintendents or staff on any occasion which necessitates contributions from the children's pocket money.

The sea schools Association Web site: www.parkstone-sts.org.uk

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