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Merchant Navy College

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History from 1968-1999



The College was formed in 1968 by the amalgamation of two world-famous training establishments - Incorporated Thames Nautical Training College (better known as H.M.S. WORCESTER) and part of King Edward VII Nautical College. In 1975 the College moved into shore buildings and expanded by the inclusion of Second Mate and Home Trade Certificate courses and by the formation of an Electronics Engineering Department. This included the Marine Radio and Radar Course students and staff previously at South London College (Norwood Technical College). That college had from 1952 conducted courses, very successfully, for the training of radio officers for the Merchant Navy and the linking of these courses with those offered for deck officer cadets provides a unique opportunity for the two disciplines to work side by side. [Ref 1979-80 prospectus p.5]

College from North-east Main block from Abbey Aerial photo 1974 From the river West side main block Swale block from top field

The college ashore was designed and built (and rebuilt) during the years 1974-75 by the Inner London Education Authority ILEA, opened officially on Thursday 28th October 1976 by Prince Philip, and trained Deck, Engineering and Radio students for the Merchant Navy before closing in 1989.  The Worcester became redundant and was sold to be broken up in Belgium in 1978.

The cause of the closure was a political dispute over funding between Kent and ILEA as a result of the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher and the subsequent pressure on ILEA funds. The college buildings passed back to the Marine Society on whose land they had originally been built.

The Marine Society secured the buildings while funding was sought to re-open the college, but later sold the land owing to the mounting security costs. The college stood empty until being demolished in 1999 to make way for housing. Its memory lives on in the minds of those whose careers were built on their studies there.

Worcester from Ingress Park Landscaping Ingress Abbey Daily Telegraph Developers Worcester in 1974 - Hemingway
Photographs by Simon Langlois, Richard Hemingway and Phill Grove

No less does the Worcester lie in the past. That part of the Thames which the M.N.C. overlooked has seen cadets trained for seafaring for a long time and more information may be obtained by visiting the Worcester website. Three "HMS Worcesters" served Britain's maritime interests from 1862 until the early 1970s. Our former staff and students will remember Tony Vaughan who was 2nd Officer on the Worcester and later became a duty officer at the college.

Where are you now? If you are a former student or staff member of the college please add a comment to the Forum to let us know what you are up to.

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