Memories of RCNS.(FB Collection).

Author: 
Jimmy Green.
school: 
RCNS
Year: 
1946-1950

 

I joined Russell Coates Nautical School on the 3rd May 1946. My number on entry was 146, a number I carried for the next  4 and1/2 years.

The school was a large complex with its own school, admin offices, church, master garden, woods, 2 playing fields, galley, dining hall, gym, clothing stores, sick bay and other buildings for maintenance etc. The boys were divided into four houses, Arranmore, Howard, Johnston and Broughton. Each was run by a Matron and an assistant, except Broughton House which housed the older boys and was run by a Master and wife team.

Most of the older boys were destined for the merchant navy, joining various ships at nearby Southampton.

Life for the first couple of years was harsh, as most of the staff were elderly men left on during the war years, whilst the younger men served King and Country. My worst memories were of the dining hall which was run by a miserable old man whose name I can't remember, but he walked with the aid of a stick, that is when he wasn't hitting someone with it! Meals were taken in strict silence and you soon found out that the stick wasn't just for walking with.

Food was served on aluminium plates and bowls, I can still remember the stench which came from them as you picked up your plate and bowl to collect your meal before going to your allocated table.

Schooling was conducted on the complex and Mr Bailey was Headmaster during my time there. My teacher was Mr Pionchen, another old man who had served in India in the dim and distant past. Schooling was as normal as any I suppose except that we were never given the chance of taking examinations for grammar school, so our routine was never changing, year in year out, which stood us in good  stead when we started work. 

Nautical training was for the older boys only, except for Sunday parade when we all wore sailors caps. Saturday held the highlight of the week - sweet ration -which must have lasted all of ten minutes (if you hung it out)!! 

Sunday, bloody Sunday - Sunday parade followed by Church, a whole 1and 1/2 hours of it, followed by Sunday dinner - no play as you had your clean clothes on - and then the dreaded walk two by two in crocodile style around the outside of the school - Oh how I hated people gawking at us, and to round off the day, evening service.

 

Winter uniform, worn from the 1st October to 30th April, consisted of serge short trousers, flannelette shirts, jumper, boots and stockings. Summer uniform was cotton shorts, cotton shirts and no shoes - bare feet all day.

In 1949 Watts Naval School amalgamated with us at Parkstone and the school was renamed Parkstone Sea Training School, as Watts had been directed more towards boys who would go on to join the Royal Navy.

Things changed quite a lot in the last couple of years, with the older staff men going into retirement younger  men came in to teach.

I moved out of Howard House and into Johnston House under the direction of Bert Busby, he and his wife had moved from Watts. There were changes in routine and one thing I do remember is that instead of taking a bath once a week - 2 to a bath - we showered daily, no wonder the RC boys had colds.

During the summer holidays we went camping in the Ware Valley. We caught the train up to our destination and on arrival hand carts were loaded with all the luggage which we then pulled to the camp site. Tents had been erected for us and it was 8 to a tent, meals being taken in a marquee. As the camp was run by volunteers it was one big holiday for us, even though we were sent out spud and hop picking. Some of us went into jam factories and did general work, but whatever you did the money earned was put into the running of the camp. However some of the older boys did get extra pocket money. I liked summer camp, we made friends with other local children from the village and it seems, looking back, that people were told of our coming and went out of their way to be nice to us all. The 6 weeks at camp was always over too soon, and off we would go back to Parkstone (brown as berries), except for 1947 when it rained every day!

As I said life got a lot better in the last two years, but the day soon came when you had to leave the nest and go out into the big wide world. 

I joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Entrant and spent the first year, 1950-51, at St Vincent. I was lost! No one had ever had the sense or thought it necessary to take any of the children to one side before leaving Barnardo's to tell us where we came from or to even show us our birth certificates. When filling in forms questions like next of kin, home address etc., left you feeling completely lost! All we were ever told was to 'be a good boy, work hard and cheerio'. Just a simple piece of advice and a friendly chat would have helped an awful lot of us. 

 

I spent the next twelve years in the Royal Navy before I entered civilian life, but that's another story.

I have put down my fading memories of our daily routine which I hope is of interest to you.

DAILY ROUTINE

6.30 a.m.                    Rise and shine - make beds
Wash and dress for breakfast

7-7.30 a.m.                Breakfast in the Mess Hall

7.30-8.30 a.m.       Cleaning - one job - changed every two weeks.

Dormitories, stairs, landings, play rooms, toilets, bathrooms, etc.

8.30 a.m.                   Wash and get ready for school.

8.50 a.m.                   Morning assembly in the Mess Hall.

9.00 a.m.                   School

12 noon                     Dinner

1.30p.m.                    School

4.30 p.m.               Tea - after tea play until 7.30 p.m.

7.30 p.m.               Back to Houses - clean boots, bath or shower, prepare for
bed.

8.30p.m.             Bed
9.30p.m.              Lights out.

Footnote - Winter time was a little different as more time was spent in Houses.

 

PERSONNEL IN CHARGE

Superintendant.  Commander King in charge of School

Deputy, Commander Freeman

Head teacher - plus woodworking, Mr Bailey.

Teachers,  Mr Pionchen.   plus other staff.


 

OTHER BOYS

146  Jimmy Green.

147  Peter Burden

151  Mohamed Wilson

?      Bryce

?      Mitchell.

?      Jennings.

Over 400 boys altogether.