My name is Richard Hemingway and I attended the Merchant Navy College
Greenhithe on the "Worcester".
I enrolled for the induction course in 1973, as a cadet with BP tankers. I then returned for phase 1 but went down with glandular fever and had to miss that course. I returned after a further trip at sea to redo phase 1.
I remember seeing the shore side college being built, being torn down, being rebuilt and finally residing in the newly built college for my phase 3. [See additional details below-Ed]
I was the student representative on the board of governors for our lot at the time that the college was officially opened by HRH Prince Philip. I attended the gathering in the Principal's office for a glass of sherry and a chat.
Unfortunately I failed my ONC Nautical Science and as BP were not employing uncertified 3rds anymore, had to find employment elsewhere. I guess I hit the start of the decline in British shipping, 1977.
Signing on the pool, I got a job with J & C Harrisons of London. They put me through my ticket again at Greenhithe, whilst signed on as third mate. Harrisons folded up so I went to Silver Line, working on their managed ships, the 'Carlantic', Carchester and 'Amsterdam'. They had to make redundancies, so as last in, I was first out.
By this time 1981 I was married, with a family on the way, so looked for a coastal job to be close to home. I found a dredging company called 'British Dredging Sand and Gravel Co.Ltd.' Liked the job and employment package and been with them ever since, through two name changes and mergers. 'East Coast Aggregates' who are now merged with 'South Coast Shipping' all under the parent of 'Ready Mixed Concrete'.
I did my command endorsement in 1985, at 'Lowestoft college of further education', I tried to get in at Greenhithe but was told on the phone that it was closing. I remember naively asking when it was opening again, not believing that it was curtains. sigh.....
I have been Master on the coast since 1985 and I am now at Warsash college, doing my combined class 2/1. South Coast shipping are building larger dredgers and my old command endorsement would not cover me for them. I could go on at length, but will wait to hear from you, I could bore for England. LOL.
Richard (The all electric balancing bear) Hemingway
Email via Deck 1972-78
College rebuilding 1974
Yes I can confirm that the college was indeed rebuilt at one stage. I don't have dates here with me at the moment, 'cos I'm at Warsash, but when I go home next I can try and verify the dates. Basically what happened was, when I arrived for my abortive phase 1 term at the Worcester, the bartings for the shore college were in place. When I returned after a period at sea to re-do the phase 1 it looked like nothing had changed. I queried this, (I think with Tony Vaughn)and was told that the first contractors were taken off the project for some reason by the ILEA and a second contractor brought in. They then didn't like the way the first bit had been done and tore parts down to be re-done, hence the delay in building. It makes it so much harder to witness the demise of the college after so much effort was put into it!
I have looked back through my discharge book and past paper work to see if I can find times and dates when the college was rebuilt. As far as I can work out, it happened between February and September 1974. The work was in progress in February when I was there and still at the same point in September, which prompted my questioning.