Archive for April, 2020

Aboard the Indefatigable 1883

All credits go to the Together Trust so that readers may approach the Trust with any enquiries about their other collections.

Aboard the Indefatigable, 1883   This was a training ship for ‘destitute lads of good character’. Boys would sign up for a three-year course to learn to be a seaman. The Christian Worker edition of 1887 gives a detailed account of a typical day aboard the ship, which would have been experienced by the boys on board:   The boys are divided into two watches, the port and the starboard. From 9am to 12 noon one set are engaged in ordinary school duties, going through a systematic course of reading, spelling, writing, geography, arithmetic, dictation and scripture. The other set are meanwhile pursuing a course of technical instruction at the opposite side of main deck.   The second set of lads are engaged in making clothes, learning to knot and splice, to make hammocks and mats and, when weather permits, are initiated into the practice of a sailor’s life. In the summer, they are accustomed to going aloft, to setting and reefing sails, sending up and down masts and yards, and generally, are taught as much practical navigation as can be imparted upon a training-ship in berth.   The ship was supported by voluntary contributions and was under the joint management at the time of Charles Bushell and Thomas Henry Ismay. Thomas was the Father of Joseph Bruce Ismay, the notorious managing director of the Titanic when the ship sunk in 1912. He had founded the White Star Line but also gave generously to many seafaring charities.   Training ships were not for the faint hearted, life on board could be extremely tough. As well as teaching the usual subjects like reading and arithmetic (education was compulsory after the Elementary Education Act 1880), the boys also learnt about practical seamanship, such as navigation, use of the compass and reefing and furling sails. They slept on board in hammocks, cleaned the ship themselves and washed and mended their own clothes.

Although the Refuge was sending boys to the Indefatigable as early as 1872, other ships were also used by the Committee to train the boys for a life at sea. One of these was the HMS Warspite, which was anchored off Woolwich, Kent. The Warspite had accommodation for 500 boys on board. A yacht was attached to the ship, and a shore establishment included swimming baths, hospital, laundry and storehouses.   However Birkenhead wasn’t the only destination for those with sea legs. In the early days many lads were also sent south to Woolwich to be taken aboard the Warspite. This ship had been owned by the Marine Society since 1862 and trained up to 200 lads for a life at sea.

Thomas, a Refuge boy who ended up on the charity’s training ship, the Indefatigable.   So why when the Refuge had so many homes of their own did they turn to the Indefatigable? Lets take the case of little Tommy as an example. At the age of 12 he appeared at the Refuge, a ragged waif, drifting towards a life of uselessness and crime. He was sent across to the Indefatigable and whilst there received the Silver Medal of the Liverpool Humane Society for “gallantly jumping into the river and rescuing a shipmate who had fallen from the fore chains, and was rendered insensible by striking against the anchor in his descent.” He went from a nobody to a hero – a sturdy lad in England’s first line of defence. The training ship provided a skill and a better life – that’s why   Thomas first came to the attention of the Manchester and Salford Refuge in 1896 when he turned up at midnight at the open-all-night shelter on Chatham Street, accompanied by a policeman. At the tender age of 12 years he had been sleeping on the streets of Manchester as he had nowhere else to go.   Whilst resident at the shelter his circumstances were investigated by the Committee.      

“I have made enquiries and find the boy has slept out on several occasions, that his mother is a very violent woman. All the children have been driven from home by the disreputable mother. Two sisters confirm this and say they would be thankful if anything could be done for Tom.”  

Tom was quickly admitted and transferred across to the Central Refuge on Francis Street. Here he mixed with older boys, continuing his education. On 3rd May 1897, he was admitted to the Indefatigable training ship as a cadet, which was moored in Birkenhead. The ship trained those disposed for a sea life and after two years training Tom sailed for South America in May 1899 on board the Oravia.       

“At a meeting of the Committee of the above at the Underwriter’s Room, April 27 1899, it was resolved unanimously that the thanks of the Committee be presented with a silver medal and 5/- to Thomas …… for gallantly jumping into the river from the training ship Indefatigable on April 20 1899, and rescuing a ship mate who had fallen from the forechains and was rendered insensible by striking against the anchor in his descent’”.  

Thomas eventually became a US citizen, married and moved to Baltimore.

Not bad for a boy from the Manchester streets.

All credits go to the Together Trust so that readers may approach the Trust with any enquiries about their other collections.

Indefatigable Old Boys Association (IOBA)
© 2020

New image come to light: Indefatigable 1936

Courtesy of: Geoff Stephens is at River Mersey.

This picture was published in May 1936 in the Daily Post.  The caption reads ‘The racing crews of the Mersey Schoolship Conway in training for the forthcoming race to be held on the Mersey against boys of H.M.S. Worcester passing the training ship Indefatigible during practice yesterday.’ The photographer is unknown.

Indefatigable Old Boys Association (IOBA)
© 2020

Important News About the IOBA Reunion 2020

Important News About the IOBA Reunion 2020: It is with deep regret and disappointment that we must announce the cancellation of the 37th Annual Indefatigable Old Boys Association Reunion and Annual General Meeting, which was due to take place Friday 4th June through to Sunday 6th 2020. 

The challenging and unprecedented environment presented by COVID-19 and the recent government measures announced on Friday 20th March 2020 made this the only viable option.

This decision has not been taken lightly as a significant amount of work has been carried out by the Committee to date.  The situation which appears to be worsening on a daily basis and the implications of which are becoming more profound, has led us to conclude that the most prudent course of action is to cease any further planning to deliver this significant event. 

The Committee has agreed to return to Anglesey and the 37th Annual Indefatigable Old Boys Association will now take place on Friday 4th & Saturday 5th June 2021.  The proposed re-election of the following roles; Vice Chairman, Secretary and Merchandise will also be delayed and reopened next year.

The Committee would like to send their sincere apologies to all those who had already booked and paid and those planning to attend the reunion.

REFUNDS – If you have purchased Lunch & or Dinner tickets for the 2020 IOBA Reunion we are currently putting in place the process to claim a full refund or transfer your booking to 2021 reunion. Please be assured we will be in touch with regard to this so there is no need to contact us.

Deo adjuvante, we have agreed to return to Anglesey on Saturday 24th July 2021.

Take care and best wishes,
IOBA Committee.

Indefatigable Old Boys Association (IOBA)
© 2020

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