August 8th, 2013

I never grew up with the intention of being in the Merchant Navy – although it seemed to please my Grandfather who had been in the Royal Navy, and impressed my younger brother enough for him to become an engineer aboard HMS Vigilant.

When a recruiter visited my school the prospect of a four year cadetship offering very highly regarded engineering qualifications alongside the romantic connotations of a life at sea simply sounded too good to resist.

Training as an Engineering Officer was a cadetship lasting for four years, and in my case the entire shore side years of the course were completed at the South Shields Marine & Technical College which meant moving away from home and into digs in South Shields.


I have to say I loved it, and although I admit to having forgotten most (if not all) of what we were taught I have very fond memories of my time there. In addition to marine and nautical training the college also offered courses for girls (notably hairdressing & beauty – hence why some of the photos in this album look like we have been used as cannon fodder for hairdressers sitting exams!).

Needless to say a large college full of randy sailors and attractive females led to a very active social life. If memory serves me right South Shields had the highest density of pubs and clubs in the United Kingdom! Add that to a funfair and sandy beach within 500yds of the digs and you begin to see why it was so popular.


My roommate Ian ‘Rudi’ was another RS Dalgliesh cadet in the same intake and we lodged in a house on Beach Road with ten more cadets (and me the only none smoker). It was fun since even though the food was terrible, the all night card games and risk competitions more than made up for it.

We used to hang around with some Scots lads, Jebsons cadets in digs close by on Beach Road.

Billy, Ian ‘Runcie’ and Callum – which is why they also feature heavily in my college album.

link to album

Comments are closed.