Published: April 2022
A detailed insight into the reality of daily life onboard the second training ship to bear the "Warspite" name in the 1900s, and the first charity in the world to introduce the concept.
The Marine Society is recognised globally as the first charity in the world to introduce a concept that was revolutionary – to train boys for a life at sea in a most original way, on a static wooden hulk that would live in the river Thames.
This method gave the young boys on-board a taste of the reality of their future direction, be it in either the Royal Navy or Merchant Fleet.
Jonas Hanway was the originator of this concept and has long been recognised as the founding father of the Society. Many works have been written on his philanthropic endeavours and business dealings, and this book does not follow that well recorded path. Instead, it looks at the reality on board for those young boys that served on one of his training ships, the second vessel to carry the name - TS “Warspite”.
It therefore tells the story of the boy’s lives on-board from a very different perspective, not the official version so often given by such institutions, but the personal words of a boy himself who was indoctrinated into the society in the early 1900s. We therefore learn a great deal more about the selection process the boys faced, the first encounters with their ship mates, the journey to their new home on the Thames, and the reality of daily routines and challenges - and the humour that made such young spirits survive.
Many aspects of life on the ship are covered for the first time, the dietary considerations, the training given, staffing levels, and life amongst the rigging with the dangers that posed. An in depth look at the disciplinary procedure is recorded for the first time, and the discovery of the most precious ‘bartering’ resource the boys possessed on board!
The book also covers Hanway’s desire to find a permanent location for the Society itself, with the headquarters at Bishopsgate being his chosen site, and the eventual fate of the “Warspite” in 1918.
Many young lives have passed through the hands of the Marine Society since 1756, and for the first time this personal experience is recorded, which is relatable, fascinating, and touchingly human – life on board TS “Warspite”.
Read the Nautilus Telegraph's review