wray castle....ring any auto alarms?????

16th May 2007, 23:40

Ron Stringer
17th May 2007, 20:53
No but trained at Tomlinson's other share enterprise (with the glorious Mr Woods) of Brooks Bar College of International Marine Radio in Manchester.

Pat McCardle
18th May 2007, 08:34
I attended for GMDSS. Go to gallery, Ports & Harbours & use search 'Wray Castle'

18th May 2007, 21:57
was i your lecturer...............or examiner?

21st May 2007, 19:52
Also no, but like Ron trained at Brookes Bar.

Pat McCardle
21st May 2007, 20:13
was i your lecturer...............or examiner?

I was there in 98. Were you ex PSNC(FW)? The guy who taught me was, and there was another chap on the course who was ex Furness Withy, who had sailed with you when he was a cadet & now works for Sealion shipping (RNR too) A good time on that course & the food was definately 5 star from that award winning Chef(Thumb)

Just looked at your profile, you could have been my examiner............................A very fair bloke!!

22nd May 2007, 12:08
I just took another look at the pic Pat, it's just how I remember it - pissing down, and the lake water level almost rising by the minute ! I did a PMG2 to MPT General conversion course there in 1976/77 - and had a great time.

Reinvented itself after the demise of Morse Code to offer very highly rated radio courses for the Mobile industry, GSM and 3G, and well as many others. I did some "3G" courses there in 2000/2001, and was able to make contact with some of the old staff. The food had certainly improved from before I can tell you !

They have now vacated the castle for training centres in Cheadle and Oxford, with an office in Kendal. (See http://www.wraycastle.com)

About the old staff, anybody remember Tony Allis-Smith, who lived in the adjacent farm, Bill Marshall, Margaret Allonby (Secretary). There were others, including the Bearded Wonder, but I can't remember names !



Steve Woodward
12th June 2007, 12:02
Used to get our annual Yacht VHF radio licenses from here 18 - it's free now and lasts as long as the boat

29th June 2007, 07:09
Just seen a bit on Look NorthWest Breakfast show - appears the NT are having difficulty finding a tenant for Wray Castle - Full story on Radio Cumbria at 7:45 - I'll try to listen on the way to work - failing that there is a listen again facility on the Radio Cumbria Web Site.

Possibly more on Look NorthWest tonight for those of us in the area.



29th June 2007, 13:18
thanks for the news duncan............

29th June 2007, 18:29
Knew it, know it, loved it, love it. 1958 - 1959.(==D)

29th June 2007, 19:29
Further to my last.... if you want to see a grown man weep (and I'm sure you don't), take me into the Golden Rule in Ambleside and speak to me of Wray Castle...

29th June 2007, 20:06
Just watched the article on Northwest tonight always wondered what it looked like, looks better than the radio college at Brookes Bar.

1st July 2007, 23:22
Jan 66 to March 68. Also Golden Rule, Sally back and front bars, Outgate, Drunken duck to mention a few. Oh, mustn't forget Charlotte Mason's Teacher Training College in Ambleside!


1st July 2007, 23:50
i was the last lecturer/examiner to take a marine radio course at the college.
the national trust has had great difficulty in finding tenants for the building, and it is lying derelict.
there was talk of wray castle being used for ....... "young offenders".....rehabilitation.
in an earlier post on s.n.........i made clear my views on this section of society,and was "rounded upon" by many here.......so i will say no more..........except

it is a wonderful place, in the most superb setting of any marine college in the world, and i would prefer to see it demolished than condemn her to an even more ignominious fate.

best regards to all..............

2nd July 2007, 11:44
the national trust has had great difficulty in finding tenants for the building, and it is lying derelict.
there was talk of wray castle being used for ....... "young offenders".....rehabilitation.

it is a wonderful place, in the most superb setting of any marine college in the world

best regards to all..............

Whilst it is true that the NT has had great difficulty finding tenants, it most certainly is not derelict.... it is a shame that the fake ruins were removed some years ago (whether for safety reasons or to enlarge the car park I cannot say), but the Castle itself is far from derelict. In fact it is open to the public this summer, I believe every weekend from now until the end of August.

There was indeed talk a few years ago of the place being used for the rehabilitation of young offenders, but that apparently came to nought. As recently as last Autumn there were rumours in Ambleside that is was to be opened as a cafeteria and gift shop..... also coming to nought.

"it is a wonderful place, in the most superb setting of any marine college in the world" ........ couldn't agree more!

I shall give it your regards when my wife and I visit later this summer.


2nd July 2007, 13:31
thanks ba..............

i was there two summers ago........the word derelict probably wasnt the best choice of words, as there was little structural damage, but it was a forlorn sight, like a fine and regal ship laid up for many years.
i think, having known the castle so well when at her best, the lack of upkeep and maintenance hit me quite hard. the windows were opaque. hadnt been cleaned in years, creeper plants had taken hold around the doorways, the general look was of a very tired old building.
i was with friends when i visited, who got completely the wrong impression,which saddened me..... i was actually sorry i had revisited.
possibly, since my visit, things have improved.
i took some pics which i will try to find and post , but i found viewing them to be a depressing experience, and am not sure i didnt delete them.
what makes it worse for me, is the knowledge of how much time and money was spent refurbishing the accomodation.......all first class guestrooms with en suite showers etc:
brand new galley.......totally refurbished and at huge cost..........
now lying idle.
it has to be admitted that as a hotel per se.......it has many shortcomings which would cost a great deal of money to overcome......not least the fact that it has great open areas......immensely expensive to heat.
but for the purpose for which it was used in 1948 onwards.......as an "outward bound" style of college for the training of marine radio officers....it was superb, and unique.
lessons began at 6am , summer or winter, and the afternoons largely given over to outdoor activities.......for which its location was ideal..........then back into the lecture rooms for the evening.
all cadets were uniformed, and there was even a small "sea cadet" style band which performed on sundays mornings church parade, at st margarets church which sits alongside the gatehouse of the college.
one of the must unusual things about wray castle......was the fact that it was almost invisible........:)
though there was only fencing and green fields between the nearest road and the buildings.......it sat so far back that it couldnt be seen from the road.
we had many visitors who remarked on the fact that if the college sign at the gatehouse was overlooked, the visitors would drive straight past.
also from the lake, or the opposite side of the lake, the buildings were obscured by trees, and even if one knew the exact location, it was really difficult to pinpoint from a boat on the lake, even when close up.
i noticed these trees have now been levelled, which improves the view, but i felt something was lost.
japanese visitors often tried to gain access to the college,as the japanese education system uses, and has used for many years, beatrix potter books for the teaching of reading in all japanese state schools, and the story of beatrix is known to all japanese people. she was a regular visitor to the castle, as was william wordsworth.
i have seen an old photo of miss potter taken on the patch of lawn outside of my office window........:)
during ww2.....wray castle was used to house the butterfly collection of the british natural history museum.
there is a little known story which exists from this period, which i was told by a lifelong resident of the area.
i will post when i have more time on this interesting tale.

best regards...........

2nd July 2007, 14:09

I was given this link by an old Wray Castle hand just this morning. It is, as I write this, still active. Looks pretty good to me inside.


You may have seen it, but if not it is well worth a look.

I was up there three times last year, twice the year before when I visited the castle with two old friends from the early days. Merely induced great nostalgia and comments about how well it looked. It seems to me that the NT are spending some money there, for example a lot of the overgrown undergrowth in the woodland has been cleared out. About four/five years ago considerable havoc was wreaked in the woods down towards Watbarrow Point and Epley Point by a mini-whirlwind that came in off the lake. Walking over Claife it is fairly easy to see the swathe that was cut through the trees, but that is Mother Nature and not the NT. Back in 2000, Wordsworth's mulberry tree looked at death's door, but we spoke to the gardener who had just "layered" it. Result is that this tree, planted (iirc) in 1845 is healthy and vigorous. The interior of the castle is far superior to when I attended, in the days of coke stoves and dexion bunks. We shall be up there again in late September (reunion) and are hoping to have a look round.

The biggest eyesore for us was the whip aerials on the roof from the last occupants of the castle...(something to do with mobile phone courses??) and they are still there. Ugh!


2nd July 2007, 21:32
hello again ba.............

the story which was told to me was of an incident during ww2, when the castle was allegedly "raided" by the british authorities, and at least one of the occupiers of the building was found to have "flown".
a search of the building found an illicit radio transceiver.......and not much else.
wray castle was just a few miles from grizedale hall, near hawkeshead ,which was nicknamed "u-boat hotel"........as it housed some of the top u-boat officers of the german navy, as well as "the one that got away"....von werra, of the luftwaffe......and many more senior officers of the wermacht who had been taken prisoner.
the captain of the u-boat which was captured intact and brought into barrow was incarcerated there also.
he was, apparantly, tried by a kangaroo court of his fellow officers, forced to try to return to barrow docks to destroy the submarine, and was shot trying to escape.
at the end of the war.....field marshall von runstedt was also held there.
it was regarded as one of the most important p.o.w camps in the uk.........


the assumption made by the locals, was that there may have been a contact working/living in the castle, who had access to the inmates at grizedale hall,and was relaying information back to the fatherland, and receiving orders from there........apparantly he got "rumbled"

if this is all true/totally false....or somewhere in between i do not know.....but it seemed a strange story for an aging lady who had lived in the area all of her life.... to tell..... fabrication or not.

either way it is a good tale to tell the visitors.......:)

what is not in doubt.......is that the castle exterior has been used in the shooting of at least one of the "poirot" t.v. programmes.....which included extensive scenes of the ambleside area, and also morecambe.

also.........hollywood used the castle in the filming of the new beatrix potter film starring rene zellewegger. i would like to see the film.......just to see the castle...:)

best regards..............

peter barc
2nd July 2007, 21:40
I did GMDSS at Wray Castle, liked the Area and the FOOOOOOOOOOD, hated the course.

2nd July 2007, 21:55
what did u think of the lecturer?


Larry Dev
3rd July 2007, 21:44
Done my GMDSS there, sad its vacant at the moment hope they find suitable tennants for it soon.

3rd July 2007, 22:21
thanks larry.............

peter barc
17th August 2007, 12:50
cannot remember if you were the lecturer, i think i was on the penuntlimate course before it stopped, the examiner came from north wales just to examine us, quite a number of us failed on that particular course including me, had to sit it again in Lowestoft..

26th September 2007, 08:10
I was there 1959 to 1961. My laundry number was MN24, so I assume that I was the 24th cadet to enroll. When I first went, no-one had got as far as qualify, but at the end of my first term, Dave Morris got his 2nd class. After that, practically everyone qualifyed for many years. It was cold & uncomfortable & I found the food was awful. Lecturers were superb. Most of the cadets got on very well together forming friendships that have endured over 48 years. A group of the early cadets are going back for a reunion at the end of this week (21st September, 2007). After getting over my traumatic first term, I came to loove the place. Don't remember lectuers starting at 0600 though. Most of us didn't even bother with breakfast in order to get an extra half hour's kip before morning parade. After my first trip to sea in the old RHODEISA STAR (GUAX), I felt that I had had enough of the sea & returned to the castle for 1st class. After I got it, I had no other choice than to relecuctlantly retunr to the sea life that I so detested. My next ship was Houlder Brothers ore carrier JOYA MCCANCE that was a complete contrast to RHODESIA STAR & I quickly came to enjoy the sea life & after serving in colliers & another ore carrier, moved on the the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co until there demise when I transferred to Silver Line for a couple of years before completing my last 13 years in Curnow Shipping aboard both old & new ST. HELENAs

Bob Wilson

26th September 2007, 08:50
And here we have the place itself on our 1993 reunion.

26th September 2007, 09:12
Here I am aboard the flatiron collier WANDSWORTH (My 4th ship) around Christmas 1962 during that hard winter. Not a good time to be battering up & down the North Sea. Think I must have been one of the youngest R/Os in the MN, qualifying shortly after my 16th birthday in October 1960. Not having had much education & with not even an O level to my name, I doubt if I would have made the grade at any other college than WRAY CASTLE.
Bob Wilson

26th September 2007, 10:30
Probably one of the youngest ever in peacetime, Bob. I'm fairly sure that by the mid-60's the minimum age was 18.

26th September 2007, 11:59
It was certainly less than 18. A number of friends who qualified at the Castle about the same time were all under 18. I have a feeling one qualified just before his 16th birthday. Anyway, here is my first discharge book. I have just erased my National Insurance number & address details, but the remainder is untouched. After obtaining the 2nd clas, I remained at the Castle for a few months to get Part I of 1st Class. My first voyage signed on at London 3rd, May, 1961 & sailed the following day for Australia.

26th September 2007, 12:45
Thanks, Bob. At Bridlington (Northeastern School of Wireless Telegraphy) in 1964 there was a 15 year old student and I seem to recall he'd been told that if he got his ticket in the normal timeframe, he would have to wait before he went to sea. There was a problem in that if he didn't get the requisite seatime in within two years the ticket would become invalid. The age limit may have been a Marconi policy by then and not an official line.

I notice that your 2nd Class had a "BA" number and your 1st Class had a "G" number - am I right in thinking these letters indicated Buenos Aires and Geneva respectively. I think they were different international conventions which had ratified the certification. I'll have to dig my own out and have a look.

Nice suit you were wearing on "Wandsworth"! Come on, Bob, let the cat out of the bag - you were at Battersea or somewhere, weren't you?

Seeing you looking so young, reminds me of a recent event at my current work. A new young fellow showed up for work and one of the old hands said:"Does your mother know you're out?" Quick as a flash, the lad replied: "Does the Retirement Home know you're out?"

John T.

26th September 2007, 13:27
Hi John,
I wasn't with Marconi, I was with AEI (Former Siemens). The transmitter behind me is the old SB502 MF/IF if I remember the number correctly. I had trained on the T10 MF & the T36 HF which were much superior. Also sailed with the HF SB186X in the FREDERICK T EVERARD. The coarse tuning was done by pushing a brass rod either in or out of the front panel. BA & G were as you say Buenos Aires & Geneva. When the photogrpah was taken I am pretty sure we were at sea & I was actually doing something as the transmitter switches are in the ON position. The gasworks that we went to were Geenwich, Rotherhithe or Wandsworth. With great relief, I escape early in 1963 & went to the big Furness Withy ore carrier SAGAMORE in which I remained for two years until Marconi took over AEI. A week after the take-over (I was on leave at the time) Marconi told me I couldn't go back to the SAGAMORE as "they" did the appointments, not the sea staff. I resigned in a fit of annoyance & joined B & C, sailing out of Liverpool in the old RICHMOND CASTLE after which I went into the passenger ships & lived happily every after. The WANDSWORTH lies at the bottom of the sea off Lisbon where, as the PIETRO REMBADO, she was involved in a collison with the Liberty ship RIO TAJO in 1969

3rd October 2007, 11:53
i was there two summers ago........

also from the lake, or the opposite side of the lake, the buildings were obscured by trees, and even if one knew the exact location, it was really difficult to pinpoint from a boat on the lake, even when close up.
i noticed these trees have now been levelled, which improves the view, but i felt something was lost ...

Who says it can't be seen from the lake !!!

I can't remember where I got this from, but I think the original picture is in the library in Ambleside.

Bob, when was your pic of the Castle taken ?

I seem to remember Margaret Allonby, the school secretary, telling me in 1976 that the Castle was at one time lived in by a top surgeon. Who, when he was needed in the hospital in Liverpool, used to get into his steam launch, travel to Lakeside pier having a full English breakfast on the way, the take the train to Liverpool in his private carriage.

Probably a bit of 'author's licence' there, but a nice story nevertheless !



3rd October 2007, 12:18
Hi Andy,
As I said in the listing with the picture, it was taken during the 1993 reunion. From what I remember, the top of the Castle could always be seen from the Lake, but it was difficult to find it unless you knew where to look. At the reunion last week, we had a lake cruise & the Castle was very visible owing to a lot of trees having gone. I was told that they blew down in a storm! The reunion consisted of Friday evening informal meetings in Ambleside. Boat trips on saturday followed by dinner at the Salutation & lunchtime session at the Drunken Duck on Sunday. I didn't attend the Duck owing to the problems of getting back. Last time, the taxis seemed very reluctant to come out that far & also at the last reunion, we didn't find the Duck food much to our liking. Everyone seemed to have a good time & it was great to meet up again. next one in two years.

4th October 2007, 10:18
No but trained at Tomlinson's other share enterprise (with the glorious Mr Woods) of Brooks Bar College of International Marine Radio in Manchester.

Hello Ron, I was at Brooks Bar from 1962-64. I seem to remember you. I think you were there a bit before me. regards,
Peter Hewitson

Ron Stringer
4th October 2007, 11:26
Sorry Peter,

I went there in January 1959 and did my 2nd Class PMG (with time our for a spell in hospital with TB) in November of that year. Then had to wait until June 1960 to go to sea - shortage of berths for trainee R/Os. But by the time you went there in 1962, I was long gone - on my 4th ship, no less! Didn't go back for my 1st Class but instead went to South Shields, where I also did a Radar Maintenance ticket.

All the best

4th October 2007, 16:32
Hi Bob ...

My comment about visibility from the lake was a bit tongue in cheek !

When I was there in 1976/77, the DD was a draughty drinkers pub, big fire, good beer, average food. Since then I believe it went upmarket to become a 'gastro-pub', not catering for impoverished students !

We used to drink in town at The Unicorn, a small but select establishment in North Road. Hartley's bitter (from Ulverstone), great landlord, nice friendly crowd, but sadly all swept away by 2001, when I returned for some UMTS courses, in the rush for modernisation.

My car used to know it's own way back to the Castle from there and the DD, which was just as well.