Wray Castle

Shipbuilder
10th June 2008, 20:29
I went to Wray Castle in 1959 shortly after they commenced as a radio officers training college. I initially found life quite hard. We lived in large, cold dormitaries, & the food was not all that inspiring. Cold in Summer & B... cold in Winter, the roof often leaked where the birds had pecked away the lead. Would often waken up soaked to the skin in "B" Deck, but it never seemed to do me any harm. Before going to the Castle, I had always been led to believe that I was "delicate" & not really suited to life at sea. When I arrived at the Castle, I actually believed it & wondered if I would survive. Very quickly, when it became apparent than no one could care less whether I was delicate or not, I soon realised that I was as fit to survive as the next. Despite the hardships, I quickly came to realise what a fine establishment it was with excellent lecturers who were not averse to using a bit of physical force to control unruly cadets (manys the bruise I received to keep me in order!) I don't think I could have obtained PMGs anywhere else. We had a weekly test every Friday & if we didn't get the required 60%pass mark, we were confined to a lecture room between 1900 & 2100 on weekdays for compulsary study. I hated the "organised week-ends" (Mountain climing, hill walking & rubbish like that - I wanted to be a sailor, not a backwoodsman!) Saturday mornings were devoted to a massive clean out of decks, ragged carpets were dumped out of windows to the lawn below to be be beaten clean by junior cadets. Every item of furniture was removed from the decks so that the rooms could be cleaned thoroughly & then we were subject to inspection before lunch. Remember the Church Parades where Mr. Tomlinson chartered a lake boat to take us across to Church in Ambleside, after which we could have the rest of the day off? Remember the late Geooff Lee leading the devoted down to the Lake in winter to smash the ice for a cold swim? I never volunteered for that caper, but I do remember climbing a tree over hanging the lake in winter when the branch I was on came off. Branch & I crashed through the thin ice & into the freezing water (uniform & all). I got myself out & with a certain amount of smug satisfaction noted that I "took no harm" & that if, in the years to come, my ship plunged into the icy depths of Winter North Atlantic, at least I would not die immediately because I "knew what it was like!" In later years, reading about 2nd officer Lightoller's comments about it was "like a thousand daggers being driven in" when he hit the water on the sinking of TITANIC. My own impression was of a myriad icy fingers stabbing in before they all joined up in an envelope of freeezing pain - my parents would have "had kittens" if they had known!
We have reunions every two years & it is really great to relive the old times again. Any more memories of Wray castle out there?
Best wishes
Bob

Clive Kaine
17th June 2008, 17:51
SB, I started at Wray Castle in 1971, emerging eventually with my MRGC in 1973. There were some similarities to what you describe, but your experience sounds infinitely harsher than it was in my day. It was still pretty cold in winter, though!

There was still plenty of naval-style discipline when I was there, eg a daily parade and inspection on the forecourt, and we still had to clean the place ourselves, including the big Saturday morning sweep-up as you describe. Plus there was the dreaded "defaulters" which could be handed out by the deck captains, which meant we were confined to the college at the weekend and given crappy cleaning jobs to do. Church parades had gone by the time I was there, except for Remembrance Sunday in Hawkshead.

My intake was the first to include female students - there were three of them, none of whom ended up getting their full ticket - and shortly after we started, Border TV visited the college to do a piece for the local news about them. The presenter got us all together in the common room and asked us what we thought about having females there. I spoke up more than the others, so of course she asked me if I'd be prepared to go on camera and say the same things (I was in favour of women being there, by the way). I went on camera and did my interview, which was duly broadcast the following night. The irony was that we couldn't get Border TV at Wray Castle, we got Granada, so I never even saw myself on TV!

The college used to lay on a coach every Friday night to take us into Ambleside for the traditional activities (!), and they'd also provide one on Wednesday afternoons so we could go and play football in the park. Some weeks we even did play, rather than going to the pub.

The lecturers certainly never struck anyone when I was there, though, and on the whole they were decent blokes. The principal when I first went there was a guy called David ("Dickie") Dyke, followed by John Smith. Mr Tomlinson had retired, but he still used to visit the college, and in fact I and one of the other lads used to do his garden at weekends for a while.

To be honest, I didn't enjoy my first year there all that much, as I was continually falling foul of the system and ending up on defaulters, and I struggled with some of the technical stuff, too. The second year was much better, though, as I stayed out of trouble (grew up a bit, probably) and finally got a handle on the work. In the end, I left the place with fond memories.

Personally, I enjoyed the outdoor activities, and my time there kindled a lifelong love of the Lake District. My wife and I still go up there for a week every year - in fact I was at Wray Castle just over a fortnight ago. The building stands empty now, and closed to the public, but it still seems to be in good repair, and on a sunny afternoon there were quite a few families picnicking and visiting the grounds. The amazing view across the lake towards Ambleside and the Langdales hasn't changed though, and I count myself fortunate that I was able to see it every day for two years of my life.

I believe there are one or two more ex Castle Lads on this forum, anyone else want to share a memory?

Clive

Shipbuilder
17th June 2008, 18:25
Hi Clive,
Thanks for interesting reply. David Dyke was junior lecturer when I went in 1959. The senior was Frank Webber and the other "Tug" Wilson as well as Principal Mr. Tomlinson. They were all fine, but Mr. Webber was very strict. The violence did not come from them, but later on when ex cadets returned as lecturers & were not above thumping us smaller cadets. Althought it was not particularly malicious, several of us were always covered in bruises from a deliberate "thump" on the upper arm. The problem with me was that I was very small (aged 15). Had I been bigger & stronger, I would simply have hit them back & that would have stopped it. After my first term, I was quite happy there and rather reluctant to leave when I got my 2nd class. My first trip in the old RHODESIA STAR was dreadful where a handful of officers left no stone unturned in their efforts to make my life a misery. When we got back, I was relieved to go back to the Castle for Part II 1st Class as I got Part I before I left. I did not really want to return to sea after it, but really had no choice as my parent made it quite clear they would not subsidise "further studies" (That would just have been an excuse for not returning to sea!). Anyway, my next ship was the ore carrier JOYA MCCANCE and we had a fine ship's company from captain down to deck boy & I quickly settled in to sea life after that.
Bob

David Dyke died last year, but he was always at the reunions. Geoff Lee died a few months ago.

King Ratt
17th June 2008, 18:42
For Shipbuilder.
In mid 1966 a Geoff Lee joined us in RFA Oleander as 3rd R/O. I believe Geoff (Nicknamed "Lurch") had been a college lecturer. He only did one voyage with RFA and left. Could he have been your lecturer?

Bill Davies
17th June 2008, 19:00
Visited Wray Castle in the early 50s and recall a pub called the 'Drunken Duck' and confirmation to ensure A or D is not cutting in.

Shipbuilder
17th June 2008, 20:18
Hi King Ratt,
Yes, that was the same Geoff, although he was never known as anything else than Geoff at the Castle. An amiable fellow who started rather late. When I started there in '59, he was already 30 and at that time was 3rd term cadet! He came back as lecturer & his main failing (as far as I was concerned) was his love of the "great outdoors," such as swimming in Winderemere in winter, cross-country runs for reluctant cadets in rain, hail, snow, sleet or whatever. Marathon hikes over snow-covered mountains etc. In all this, an awful lot of the cadets were expected or made to participate & it left me with a great dislike for the mountains of the Lake District. They looked OK, but were not for me - give me Winter, North Atlantic anytime in preference to Geoff's week-end "activities."

Drunken Duck was "regular" for a lot of the cadets, but I was too young to drink even when I got 2nd Class, so celebrated there with a bitter lemon. At reunions, the afternoon of the 2nd day is invariably spent at the "Duck."

Last reunion dinner was at the "Sally" (Salutation).

Since leaving, I sailed with a couple of ex Wray castle cadets as juniors in Union-Castle Mail Steamers, namely Pete Heredge (WINDSOR CASTLE & EDINBURGH CASTLE) & Andy Vost ( S.A. ORANJE). Came across others in various ports such as Reg Walker (in Falklands, '82), Pete Darton in Cape Town in '67, Tony Dewsbury in Cape Town in '65).

Bob

King Ratt
17th June 2008, 20:47
Hello Bob (Shipbuilder)

Thanks for the confirmation of Geoff Lee. I was just paying off the ship around the time he joined. I was relieved by another ex Wray Castle man, Mike Nurse. Reg Walker also still going strong although haven't seen him for a while. Must go. programme on the Lancaster bombers coming on.

73

Rab T

Clive Kaine
18th June 2008, 14:18
Andy Vost came back to the Castle briefly in my time there as a morse instructor.

Other lecturers were Tony Alliss-Smith ("Tas"), who was senior lecturer, Tom Littlewood (ex-RFA), Bill Keeling, and Shaun Callister. If I remember correctly, Tony Alliss-Smith and Bill Keeling, who were both ex-Castle students, had never actually been to sea.

Shipbuilder
18th June 2008, 15:40
Tas did actually go to sea, but only briefly (about 4 months). He did a round trip in Strick's BALTISTAN, returning to the Castle as lecturer & was still there years later when I visited in the mid 1960s.
Bob

andysk
18th June 2008, 16:06
Tas did actually go to sea, but only briefly (about 4 months). He did a round trip in Strick's BALTISTAN, returning to the Castle as lecturer & was still there years later when I visited in the mid 1960s.
Bob

When I did my PMG2 to MRGC conversion in 1976/77 TAS was still there, living at Low Wray Farm, and seemingly delivering his lectures in semi-automatic mode by this time, probably due to boredom ! One day I even took a lecture on batteries for him; as well as more than one morse class.

Also there were Bill Keeling, Bill Marshall, the Bearded Wonder (can't remember his name), ?? Pritchard, the Principle, Margaret Allonby, the college secretary.

Our favourite pub was the Unicorn in Ambleside, good beer, and a landlady who saw you coming in the door, by the time you'd reached the bar - all of 12 feet away - she had the pint there. What service !

Clive Kaine
18th June 2008, 20:29
Oh yes, how could I forget to mention Maggie Allonby - what a gem she was! One of the guys who was a student during my time ended up marrying her daughter.

I liked the Unicorn too, also the Golden Rule was a nice little locals' pub. Our usual gathering place was the back bar of the Sally (now an Edinburgh Woollen Mills shop), and they had a disco upstairs at weekends, which was a good place to go and hang out with the girls from Lottie's!

andysk
19th June 2008, 00:08
Oh yes, how could I forget to mention Maggie Allonby - what a gem she was! One of the guys who was a student during my time ended up marrying her daughter.

I liked the Unicorn too, also the Golden Rule was a nice little locals' pub. Our usual gathering place was the back bar of the Sally (now an Edinburgh Woollen Mills shop), and they had a disco upstairs at weekends, which was a good place to go and hang out with the girls from Lottie's!

Interesting Clive, perhaps we were there at the same time.

The student who married the younger daughter - Lindsay ? - was that Taffy ? I think they ended up with a B&B / Guest House in town somewhere.

There was another less salubrious nickname for the Charlotte Mason's girls, can't write it here, it would probably fall foul of the auto-censor !

There was another pub in town that had a bar reserved for locals, had a sign to that effect on the outside door at one time that someone had added the words "No Crag-Rats".

Oh for a digital camera then !

BA204259
19th June 2008, 06:11
Here's a small picture I took last October in one of the upstairs rooms. It looks a lot posher than it did in my day..:)

The Golden Rule is my favourite pub (although it wasn't back then).

BA204259
19th June 2008, 06:58
And here's a view from the roof, Fairfield Horseshoe in the background.

Clive Kaine
19th June 2008, 08:40
Looking at your profile, Andy, you must have left just before I started in 1971. I don't know the name of Maggie's daughter, but the chap who married her was called Malcolm Wragg.

You might have known some of the more senior guys who were there when I started. Let's see, there was Dave Beech, Johnny Crampin, Sepp Weiss, Eric "Pompey" Ford, "Doc" Holmes - ring any bells? There was also Alan Marsh, who had gone to sea on trawlers but kept turning up in Ambleside when he was on leave.

andysk
19th June 2008, 11:03
For Clive : Actually I wasn't there till 1976, but I have just remembered from reading your post that there was also an older daughter who had married and moved away to South London somewhere before I got to know them.

For BA204259 : Which room was that ? It does look in a bit better condition than I remember in 1976/77 - I have some pics somewhere from then, I'll try to find, scan & post them, but don't hold your breath.

For some reason, I never made it up onto the roof. The best view I seem to remember was from the front of the castle looking towards Fairfield in the January sunshine with snow in the tops. An absolutely unbeatable sight - which made up for the almost continuous rain in September and October when Windermere rose by about a foot !

I did get up there for some 3G techy courses in 2000/01 as well, things had certainly improved dramatically by then, there was a Cordon Bleu chef then, so the food was superb. They had to improve once they went away from cadets ....

spacetracker
19th June 2008, 11:45
Hi All

I went to Wray Castle from Sept 1972 to Feb 1975 straight from a few O-level successes - completing the MRGC and DTI Radar ticket. Generally a harsh environment but reasonably fair and I doubt if there was any other way I would have obtained my sea-going tickets except for enforced incaceration, with no money and lots of study! Can't imagine now how I survived life in the deck (dorms) and I'm sure I learnt to eat whatever was put out for us. Since from when I could remember I had always wanted to go to sea - ultimately to reach Australia for some mystical reason. Wasn't particularly attuned to radio and electronics but in those days I had such a good memory I could have learnt anything, especially as a means to get to sea, travel and get paid. Then find out we had the best job on the ship, a real bonus. Others attending in my era were Colin Chettle, Davey Jones (!) both went to the RFA I think, Paul from Broadstairs who joined BP during the Radar course, Tony Martin from Workington joined B&C same as me, Billy Akers a mad Mancunian, Mark Green from Solihull, same as me at that time, who had a bit of trouble with the morse content I think but was good at the tech stuff. Few lovely ladies, one from Isle of Man I had a crush on (!) and I remember Rowena was there a year behind our lot. Geoff Smith was a year ahead of us (also from Isle of Man?) who went to B&C and I think tipped us off as not too bad a mob. But in those days jobs were everywhere - the hey day I would imagine. Finished at Wray Castle, got a job with B&C, got uniform and paperwork and was off Rotterdam in mid-March to join a King Line bulk carrier as baby Sparks. Two months later after freezing Norway, drydocks in Rotterdam and North Shields I was off to the Windsor Castle and the dizzy heights of 4/R/O. Bumped into Tony a few times at UC and spoke to him when we were on Clan boats, but I don't think I've ever seen anybody again from Wray Castle days. Might have chatted via the key with Geoff Smith also. Just can't remember any more names at present but I'm sure a few will come back.

Matyn

BA204259
19th June 2008, 11:50
Andy

For the life of me I can't remember, but sure it was upstairs. I'm thinking possibly one of the smaller dorms even if it looks unlikely from this point in time.

Of the two attached here, the first one is a room upstairs right at the front. It was closed off in the castle's time as a college (certainly in my day), but the NT bloke who showed us round said it was the billiard room of the original owner and builder, the Liverpool surgeon Dawson.

The second one is downstairs and I think it's the room that held the Siemens radio gear. When I was there the first room on the left as you went through the main door was the lecture room and the next one was the gear room....I think it's that.

I should have taken more notice but I was too busy remembering old times with old friends and a bit too excited to remember what I was doing in the heat of the moment.

I'll just add that I had a wonderful time there. For a young lad coming from where I came from to be in the Lakes was gobsmacking. Even at that age when my main interest was girls (far more than the radio and electronics bit) I was aware of how lucky I was. From this distance in time I have no regrets about any of it. I met some lovely people, some of whom are still close friends almost 50 years down the line. It couldn't have been better..

Shipbuilder
19th June 2008, 22:40
This one will bring back memories of "almost 50 years ago." It was taken in 1959 in the "Gear Room". I was still toiling in either 1st or 2nd term at the time, so I am not in the room. But I think that is Bren Sheldon on the R19 DF, possibly Dave Morris (first cadet to qualify) at the T10 & possibly John Perry sitting down in front of the G2 receiver. Can't remember who the others were.
Bob

Shipbuilder
19th June 2008, 22:41
Looking at it again, I think the cadet standing in front of the G2 is John Tomlinson (Principal's son).
Bob

BA204259
19th June 2008, 23:06
Think your right with those names, Bob but can't recognise the one in the middle of the shot, but possibly John Smith aged 19??

By the way, the 50th anniversary arrives at the end of this August.

BA204259
19th June 2008, 23:20
You should recognise this crowd from those long ago days, Bob. A lot of the guys from later years should know at least two or three of them. Seems that Jeff Lee has the best position here, bless him. Gone but not forgotten.

Nelson
20th June 2008, 10:31
After reading all these horror stories about Wray Castle, I`m just glad I went to Colwyn Bay Wireless College in 1960/61.The accomodation wasn`t all that great, and the food could have been better,but we seemed to have a lot more fun.

Shipbuilder
20th June 2008, 13:05
I recognise all of them execpt the one on the right of the photograph & the girl (Possible Mr. Tomlinson's daughter, but we had no female staff or cadets there at the time). However, I would say the cadet in front is Gordon Cope rather than Geoff Lee?

Nelson
They weren't exactly horror stories although later generations might have thought so. There was great happiness at the place & we all roughed it together. The lecturers lived in the Castle & ate the same food. It was only the Principal who went home at night. Most of us were quite compatible (& still are).

I found when joining my first ship, an old American wartime C3 that uncomfortable as she was, she was an improvement on Wray Castle as far as accommodation was concerned (even though most of us didn't even have washbasins in our cabins). Going to sea would have been a "pushover" if it hadn't been for a handful of obnoxious officers aboard RHODESIA STAR. I only survived my first voyage because my training at Wray Castle made me better able to cope with life in general. If I had my time all over again, I would still opt for Wray Castle.

Visiting later, it did not appeal to me with all the modernisation, improvements & the addition of a bar plus the advancement of technology.

Bob

Shipbuilder
20th June 2008, 13:09
Looking again, I see Geoff Lee in the back with Miss "X" probably on his knee. Cader on right possibly Peter Jones?

Tony Selman
20th June 2008, 13:38
The only man I can recall meeting or sailing with that went to Wray Castle was Frank Fallon. We both worked for Brocklebank's at the time and we were sent by them to take our radar tickets at Watt College in Greenock in 1965. I can't remember whether Frank had done one or two trips as a 2R/O so I assume he would have been at Wray Castle in 62/63. He subsequently left Brocks and joined the RAF in some form of technician capacity. I once visited him and his wife at an RAF Camp somewhere near Weston super Mare I think.

Anyone remember him?

andysk
20th June 2008, 14:11
.... Frank Fallon .... at an RAF Camp somewhere near Weston super Mare I think ....

That would have been RAF Locking, a major RAF technical training establishment

.... the cadet in front is Gordon Cope ....

Did Gordon later come onto the staff, and end up as Vice Principal ?

Another query, generally to all readers of this thread, what was it that made you go to Wray Castle a private college (or one of the otjhers) rather than one of the local authority run ones ? In my case Norwood Tech was just down the road; so as I couldn't get an accommodation grant, it was a no brainer to stay at home and have all the maintenance grant to myself - so long as I got to the cheque letter before my parents did !!

BA204259
20th June 2008, 15:05
Looking again, I see Geoff Lee in the back with Miss "X" probably on his knee. Cader on right possibly Peter Jones?

You're right Bob, that is Jeff Lee behind the young lady. It was, by the way, Jeff and not Geoff. I can confirm that because I'm looking at an email with an image of the "Order of Service" for his funeral. Jeffrey George Lee. The one in front is of course GC. Sure you are right about Peter Jones but the name that escapes me is the one second left, standing next to TAS. Can you put a name to him for me?

The very attractive young lady was the girl friend of John Perry. If my memory serves me right her name was was Ann (or Anne) Gooch and her parents owned the Waterhead Hotel. Tommy had a daughter named, I'm fairly sure, Angela, but I only remember her turning up at the castle on one occasion. I believe Ann's brother Peter attended Wray some years after our time, but not too clear about that.

BA204259
20th June 2008, 15:23
Another query, generally to all readers of this thread, what was it that made you go to Wray Castle a private college (or one of the otjhers) rather than one of the local authority run ones ? In my case Norwood Tech was just down the road; so as I couldn't get an accommodation grant, it was a no brainer to stay at home and have all the maintenance grant to myself - so long as I got to the cheque letter before my parents did !!

Where I came from there were NO local authority run PMG courses, so wherever I went I would have had to move away from home. I went (with my Dad) for an interview at Brooks Bar with Tommy, who promptly persuaded us that Wray Castle was a better bet. To be honest we didn't need much (any) persuasion. I had obtained a local authority grant anyway, by dint of getting 5 'O' levels which covered, I guess, the course and a fair bit towards the accommodation. As is the way of kids I never really found out what sacrifices my parents had made, but it was more than a little.

Because whichever college I had chosen meant I had to leave home, I ask you....where would you rather spend 18 months..... Manchester Moss Side or the Lakes. That's got to be a no-brainer for me.

I know that later on (after my time) there was quite a lot of "politics" happened at the castle concerning ownership/money etc., etc., but that is something I neither know or want to know about. I had a wonderful time and loved every moment of it, plus the fact that it gave me an enduring love of the Lakes. Well worth it!

Your question about GC. Did a flying visit with my wife and family in February 1975. The place then was being run by GC and John Smith, but that's all I know.

Shipbuilder
20th June 2008, 17:46
The one next to TAS is, I believe Dave Scholfield, then Ginge Wilson etc.
You are quite right Jeff not Geoff (old age creeping in).
I never met Angela. On one occasion, Tommy invited another cadet & myslef to tea on Sunday afternoon to meet her. We waited for ages outside Castle, but he forgot to pick us up - so we missed tea & Angela.
Bob

andysk
20th June 2008, 17:54
.....your question about GC. Did a flying visit with my wife and family in February 1975. The place then was being run by GC and John Smith, but that's all I know. .....

It was GC and JS in charge when I was there in 1976, that was when Bill Marshall came along and joined the staff. He came up from the Midlands somewhere - Walsall perhaps ? - and stayed, eventually becoming the Principal. I seem to remember he had a narrow boat he wanted to bring up and put on the lake, don't know if he ever managed that.

There was also a lecturer from Hull, about 6'4" who had a plastic pig (Reliant Robin) - a rather dodgy ride with 4 up coming back from the pub !

BA204259
21st June 2008, 09:45
....Dave Scholfield, then Ginge Wilson etc.


Thanks Bob, that rings the bell nicely.

Clive Kaine
23rd June 2008, 17:56
Like BA, there were no local training colleges near where I lived, so the option of living at home didn't exist. I'm glad it didn't anyway, because I enjoyed being away from home.

As to why I chose Wray Castle, I was informed about it by my careers teacher at school when I failed my medical for the RN because I'm colourblind. I naively assumed that all MN training colleges were the same, so applied to WC. I've never regretted my choice though. I went to Brooks Bar to do my radar ticket straight after I got my MRGC (WC wasn't offering a course at that time), and I never got the same feeling of "belonging" living in digs as I had enjoyed at a residential college.

Having said that, I went to Bristol to do my MED five years later and had an absolute ball - but I was a bit older and wiser and had plenty of money in my pocket then!

Clive Kaine
23rd June 2008, 18:03
BA wrote:

"I'll just add that I had a wonderful time there. For a young lad coming from where I came from to be in the Lakes was gobsmacking. Even at that age when my main interest was girls (far more than the radio and electronics bit) I was aware of how lucky I was. From this distance in time I have no regrets about any of it. I met some lovely people, some of whom are still close friends almost 50 years down the line. It couldn't have been better.."

Very close to my own feelings. I trained as an R/O because I wanted to go to sea, not because I was mad about radio, unlike some others. The highlight for me was the friendships I made (though I only still keep in touch with one these days - Board Of Trade acquaintances, eh?) and the fact that it was an amazing place to spend two years, and I count myself fortunate for the experience.

Clive Kaine
23rd June 2008, 18:10
Spacetracker, we must have been there at the same time, I left in March 1973. I remember nearly all of the names you mention. I went out with a girl from the Isle of Man, I won't mention her name, but I wonder if she was the same one you had a crush on??

Sadly she sent me a Dear John when I was on my first trip, but hey ho, I got over it!

BA204259
23rd June 2008, 19:09
No names, no pack drill, but if the devil should cast his net...:)

Shipbuilder
23rd June 2008, 20:05
BA204259

I had not even seen that one, thanks. I will confess to being on the top right hand of the picture & we are already looking forward to the next reunion.
Bob & Christine
PS
Those fine fellows, some time served aboard RHODESIA STAR, SOUTH AFRICA STAR, GLADSTONE STAR, WANDSWORTH, CHESSINGTON & OCEAN TRANSPORT.

Shannoner
24th June 2008, 09:53
I failed my medical for the RN because I'm colourblind.

Hi Clive, I was tested for colour blindness before I was accepted on the MRGC course in Belfast in 1977, if you were colour blind you weren't accepted. Does anyone know if it was an official requirement to have perfect colour vision or were they being over cautious in Belfast?
You must have had a bit of trouble with the resistor colour codes. [=P]

Mick

Ron Stringer
24th June 2008, 17:39
Check for colour-blindness was part of my pre-employment medical with MIMCo in 1960. Would not have been accepted if I had failed.

Can't remember if I had to have a medical prior to starting training for PMG at Brook's Bar but had already passed such a test at RAF Hornchurch a year or two earlier, when trying to get into aircrew.

Clive Kaine
24th June 2008, 21:37
I think the RN standard for the colourblindness test was more stringent, they shone various pinpoints of bright light at me and I had to identify them - I failed miserably.

I didn't have a medical prior to Wray Castle, but for my P&O medical, the doc showed me various coloured panels and I had to tell him what colour they were, which I managed OK, because I seldom have any problem identifying what colour things are in normal day to day life. When I got to sea though, and saw things like lighthouses and nav lights on ships at night, I couldn't tell the colours apart at a distance.

I never had any problem with resistors!

Shannoner
25th June 2008, 10:06
I think the RN were a bit tough on you Clive. If you could mange to distinguish the bands on resistors then there was nothing wrong with you!
Anyway I'm sure you had a much better time in the MN(Thumb)

Clive Kaine
25th June 2008, 11:36
Shannoner wrote:

"Anyway I'm sure you had a much better time in the MN"

Yes, I think you're right. It's funny the way things work out sometimes, because although I was absolutely gutted at the time when the RN turned me down as all I wanted to do was go to sea, in the end I think the MN suited me much better temperamentally, and I have absolutely no regrets looking back.

Also the pay, leave and on board living conditions were all better in the MN. Plus I might have ended up in the South Atlantic in 1982 if I'd been in the RN!

stewart devlin
5th July 2008, 11:45
Oh Dear, I should never have logged onto this site, I am supposed to be working! I have been reading this thread and can add to a few of the previous comments.

Just before we started in 1971 there was a fire that certainly warmed the place up. D deck was destroyed, I think the blame was put on a fag end going through a knot hole in the floor and setting fire to the rubbish under the floor.

Jeff Lee and Johnny Boyd, who ran the Dower House B&B were brothers-in-law. In our time at the Castle Jeff ran the YHA Youth Hostel in Eskdale, where we stayed a couple of times on 'expeditions' from WC.

Two of Margaret Allonby's daughters married WC lads, Taffy Morgan and his wife still live in Ambleside, I still see them occasionally. Malcolm Wragg I have not seen for many years, though I did hear he was up in the area recently staying at the Dower House.

There were actually 5 or 6 girls started at the same time as Clive Kaine and I but some of them did not stay more than a few weeks. The only one to stay long enough to get a ticket (Restricted) was Sheila Rae. She became an account manager with Mercury Telecom and has now retired to Nairn.

The girl from the Isle of Man was Carole (sorry, I cannot remember her maiden name at the moment). She eventually became Bill Keeling's second wife after his divorce. I think they still live near Coniston, though I have not seen either of them for a few years.

The local's bar with the sign was probably the back bar of the Royal Oak. Bill Cook, ex Cunard steward, has recently retired from the Oak, he must have been there over thirty years. There used to be a picture of Wray Castle just inside the door of the back bar of the Sally, that corner was known as the Castle Corner. Not a good idea to be sat there on a Friday or Saturday night when we arrived off the bus.

I am still in touch with, or at least know the whereabouts, of a lot of ex-students from the early 1970s if anyone is trying to contact an old buddy let me know and I'll see if I can help. Does anyone know whatever happened to Trevor Stephenson after he left the Castle?

Anthony Costello
7th July 2008, 13:47
Hi Bob,
I also attended Wray Castle from 1959 to 1961 and again in 1962. Great reading your posting - all those memories came flooding back. A truly great period of my life. Not sure if you remember me. Tony Costello - looked very young, hence my rather embarassing nick name. I was a close friend of Clapper Wilson, as we were electronics hobbyists. I began in "A" deck end ending in "D" deck. I still remember the G2 and T10's. The modern amateur would laugh out loud at the equipment we had to work with. After my sea going time I joined the BBC and was stationed in Penrith at the overseas transmitter.
I see that there is a re-union and would certainly like details of the next one.
My kindest regards, and look forward to hearing from you.
Tony Costello (Angel - there I said it - ring any bells?)

Shipbuilder
7th July 2008, 16:27
Hi Tony,
Of course I remeber you . Have replied via PM - hope it gets through O. As soon as I have your e-mail, can get you added to the reunion list.
Lots of familiar faces - Iain Petrie - george Amick - Bud Holroyd - Tony Dewsbury - Paul Benns - Malcom Kelly - Malcolm Davidso - Piers Sherwood - Chris Godfrey - Russ Daniels - Reg Walker - Pete Nicholson etc etc.

I still remember our last meeting in Immingham in about 1963/4 with me aboard iron ore carrier SAGAMORE & you aboard collier BIRDWOOD.
Bob

omega2618
17th August 2008, 15:37
Hi everyone!I studied at Wray Castle from '73 to '75 to obtain my MRGC but moved on to Fleetwood Nautical College to get my Radar Ticket.(The course was not available at Wray at the time.)I was what was known as a 'mature' student (over 21!) and lived, firstly ,in Ambleside and then in Bowness so I have a very different perspective of my time there.I'm hopeless with remembering names of those who were college residents and the ones I can remember from outside the college would not thank me for publishing them on the internet.Of the leturers that were there at the time,TAS,Tom Littlewood,Bill Keeling there is one missing.'The bearded one!' as Andysk put it.It is ,I think, Joe Lawrence.(Joe 90 to some of the ladies but I never understood why!)He had a lilting Antipodean accent and took my intake for the initial morse lectures where a 'dash' was 50 times longer than a 'dot' and eminated from a very large desk mounted speaker.He was also instrumental in those first few lectures on electrical principles.
When I joined Wray there were many female cadets.At least 4 lived in a new house in Bowness,3 had an apartment in Windermere and at least 4 or 5 lived in B & B accomodation in Ambleside presumably because they were younger!Apart from the odd one or two, they were very successful and went on to validate their 'tickets'.
Although I went on to join Marconi out of East Ham and then UASC based in Liverpool and thence Kuwait my most abiding memory of my time at Wray was its location.I have seen the photos of Fairfield and the Langdales but nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking views from the tops of these mountains.Love it or hate it,my most abiding memory of Wray was the fell walking and the happy hours spent 'on the tops'.

BA204259
17th August 2008, 15:59
.....but nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking views from the tops.... the fell walking and the happy hours spent 'on the tops'......

One of the greatest abiding pleasures of my life, although only in the last few years have I been able to give it the attention I have always wanted to, (no mortgage, kids grown up etc. etc.). God willing I'll be up there again in just a few weeks with my wife and some friends. Almost as great as the pleasure of a few beers in the Golden Rule as we stumble off the Fell followed by a hot bath and a nice dinner and bottle of wine (or two).

bert thompson
17th August 2008, 16:44
Am delighted to hear Carol Heaps is settled in the Lake District. Carol was my junior on the Post Champion and a nice person she was. She had rather a frightening experience on the Pass of Brander when the ship was in collision. and her cabin door was jammed. Everyone said she accepted the situation and calmly waited until her door was cleared.
Best wishes
Bert.

omega2618
19th August 2008, 21:21
BA204259
I've only been back a couple of times since leaving and its doubtfull I could manage the walks we used to do.It took a good day to complete the Fairfield horseshoe when we were young and fit and I forget the number of times we 'ran' over Wansfell to the pub at Troutbeck.Halcyon days.
Some times I think that the Management of Wray missed a golden opportunity to add value to their curriculum.I remember playing football in Ambleside on a Wednesday afternoon but this was stopped due to,I think,transport funding problems.There was also a quick trip around a local plantation but this left a lot to be desired. I suppose then,like now,its 'bums' on seats that generate income and therefore to promote the 'great outdoors' may have put potential students off.
Regards,omega2618

BA204259
2nd October 2008, 12:02
Departing for a week's walking/eating/drinking in the Lakes tomorrow (Friday morning) with old friends. Plan to visit the Castle twice and have another (emotional) tour round it and over the grounds, the by now traditional photographs on Watbarrow Point, the photographer doing his/her best to keep their balance and not fall into the lake.

I/we will visit various hostelries, not least the Golden Rule, where no doubt I will drink a glass to all you old Wray lovers out there and get quite tired and emotional on several occasions before staggering back to the Wateredge.

The combination of a day in the Fells followed by a hot bath (couple of pints on the way home), a good dinner and wonderful company (plus another pint or two and a bottle of wine) just can't be beaten. I thank God I can still do it.

PS... Bob... I know you love it up there even if the fell walking isn't to your taste, but we'll think of you and Christine and have a drink to your health.

andysk
2nd October 2008, 14:18
Enjoy your week, BA204259, hope the weather is reasonable for you, maybe the rain will not be quite horizontal !

Remember me to the Unicorn, which probably doesn't exist in the same form as in 1976/77, almost certainly the beer won't be the same !

If you are seeing any of the old staff who were there then, Tony Allis-Smith, Marg Allonby, give them my regards !

Will you still be able to get into the building, now that the establishment itself has moved out ?

I (almost) wish I was with you, but I'm certainly not as fit as I was then ....

Cheers

Andy

sparkie2182
2nd October 2008, 23:40
BA.........

enjoy your weekend....... the wx isnt too good up here so bring your "pakamac".

however, the scenery is still superb

dont forget to post a few pics in the gallery when you return home.

best regards........

Clive Kaine
3rd October 2008, 17:02
I just want to echo the other comments and say enjoy your week. We've booked to go up for a week next May, but it seems a lifetime away at the moment.

Quiney
3rd October 2008, 21:07
Hi All

I went to Wray Castle from Sept 1972 to Feb 1975 straight from a few O-level successes - completing the MRGC and DTI Radar ticket. Generally a harsh environment but reasonably fair and I doubt if there was any other way I would have obtained my sea-going tickets except for enforced incaceration, with no money and lots of study! Can't imagine now how I survived life in the deck (dorms) and I'm sure I learnt to eat whatever was put out for us. Since from when I could remember I had always wanted to go to sea - ultimately to reach Australia for some mystical reason. Wasn't particularly attuned to radio and electronics but in those days I had such a good memory I could have learnt anything, especially as a means to get to sea, travel and get paid. Then find out we had the best job on the ship, a real bonus. Others attending in my era were Colin Chettle, Davey Jones (!) both went to the RFA I think, Paul from Broadstairs who joined BP during the Radar course, Tony Martin from Workington joined B&C same as me, Billy Akers a mad Mancunian, Mark Green from Solihull, same as me at that time, who had a bit of trouble with the morse content I think but was good at the tech stuff. Few lovely ladies, one from Isle of Man I had a crush on (!) and I remember Rowena was there a year behind our lot. Geoff Smith was a year ahead of us (also from Isle of Man?) who went to B&C and I think tipped us off as not too bad a mob. But in those days jobs were everywhere - the hey day I would imagine. Finished at Wray Castle, got a job with B&C, got uniform and paperwork and was off Rotterdam in mid-March to join a King Line bulk carrier as baby Sparks. Two months later after freezing Norway, drydocks in Rotterdam and North Shields I was off to the Windsor Castle and the dizzy heights of 4/R/O. Bumped into Tony a few times at UC and spoke to him when we were on Clan boats, but I don't think I've ever seen anybody again from Wray Castle days. Might have chatted via the key with Geoff Smith also. Just can't remember any more names at present but I'm sure a few will come back.

Matyn

I was at Fleetwood Nautical Colledge and remember Geoff Smith and another person from WC coming to Fleetwood to do their DTI Radar, following the MRGC

Tom Egner
2nd September 2009, 15:43
Interesting Clive, perhaps we were there at the same time.

The student who married the younger daughter - Lindsay ? - was that Taffy ? I think they ended up with a B&B / Guest House in town somewhere.

There was another less salubrious nickname for the Charlotte Mason's girls, can't write it here, it would probably fall foul of the auto-censor !

There was another pub in town that had a bar reserved for locals, had a sign to that effect on the outside door at one time that someone had added the words "No Crag-Rats".

Oh for a digital camera then !

Hi,

The name is Tom Egner, I was at Wray Castle at the same time as you, from 1976 to 77. Wuold be interested to know your real name, yes I remember Taffy, who married an Ambleside girl. please get back to me

Tom Egner, now living (for the past 32 years) in Gaborone, Botswana -
Gents / ladies of this foum, I have got to be the only RO who is based in a land locked country (deepest darkest Botswana) I was a student at HMS Wray Castle, Ambleside, Cumbria, Lake District from around September 1975 to June 1977. I left before qualifying as there was no prospects of work as a RO at the time. My name is TOM EGNER, was then from the Isle of Man, but life threw me a curved ball in July 1977 - whilst holidaying in Ibiza (Visiting my mother) my then 10 year old brother wanted to visit our father, then living in Botswana, Africa - he needed to be accompanied by an adult, our father was paying and I had not been to Botswana since July 1975. I arrived in the capitol of Botswana - Gaborone - then the fastest growing city in the world, today almost 31 years later I am still here.
Enough about me, I would be more than interested to hear from some of the guys / girls who were ar HMS Wray Castle during my time, where are you and what are you up to????? I only found this site this morning and can only recall the name of two characters from that era of my life - Geoff Tootle and Eddie Gratrix.

Lancastrian
2nd September 2009, 17:25
Photos of Tom Littlewood in his RFA days - http://www.rfaaplymouth.org/copperminepeople/displayimage.php?album=3&pos=16
http://www.rfaaplymouth.org/copperminepeople/displayimage.php?album=3&pos=26

Shipbuilder
11th September 2009, 20:54
Towards the end of this month, the original Wray Castle cadets are having their two-yearly reunion in Ambleside. Quite a lot of us are left of the original 1958 - 1962 crowd. I was not quite in at the beginning, but when I went in '59, no-one had got as far as qualifying fully, although several had got Part I of 2nd Class!

My laundry number was MN24, so I was the 24th cadet to join!
Hard hungry days, but mostly enjoyable. Still fresh in my memory even though it was 50 years since Frank (the cook) picked me up in his landrover in Ambleside for the breakneck journey to the Castle.

Bob

carlvickers
13th September 2009, 14:13
Hi Guys

I dont suppose any of you have a copy of the MRGC syllabus by any chance?

I got my ticket back in 1984 but i need the syllabus to prove i am safe to work in the electronics industry.. good old health and safety

cheers

Carl

Shipbuilder
13th September 2009, 14:31
Hi Carl,
Wouldn't the certificate itself be sufficient, if you still have it?
Bob

carlvickers
13th September 2009, 14:50
Hi Bob
I do still have it (surprisingly enough to me!!) but i now live in Australia, and unfortunately the MRGC wasn't offered here, so no-one seems to know anything about it.

cheers

Carl

andysk
14th September 2009, 10:47
For Tom Egner ...

Sorry for the delays in answering, too many other things happening here !

I don't actually remember your name, but do recall the names you mention, Geoff Tootle and Eddie Greatrex, though wouldn't recognise any pics, either then or now ! I started there in Sept '76, and finished my PMG2nd Class to MPT General Cert conversion in May/June '77 approx. I was there with another couple of others, Dave Galloway (of BP Tankers), doing the same conversion course and Evan Coventon, ex RN who went off to join the Coastguard in Falmouth.
Enjoy the site ...

Cheers

Andy

Dave Woods
14th September 2009, 12:12
I think the RN standard for the colourblindness test was more stringent, they shone various pinpoints of bright light at me and I had to identify them - I failed miserably.

I didn't have a medical prior to Wray Castle, but for my P&O medical, the doc showed me various coloured panels and I had to tell him what colour they were, which I managed OK, because I seldom have any problem identifying what colour things are in normal day to day life. When I got to sea though, and saw things like lighthouses and nav lights on ships at night, I couldn't tell the colours apart at a distance.

I never had any problem with resistors!

Just noticed this little thread within Wray Castle. I was found to be colour blind in 1964 and therefore could not go on deck as I wanted and I was then offered an R/O course at another college. When I eventually went to sea Marconi was not in the least interested, and even when we had to have 5 yearly medicals I was able to pass the Engineers restricted sight test. I went on to become a cable engineer working with underwater fibre optic telephone cables where the fibres are colour coded. In 2006 the doctor in Liverpool queried as to whether I could see the various colours adequately to do my job and after giving assurances I could I was granted a medical certificate for two years. Last year it all changed, and there was a new range of tests and I did not stand a chance of passing, and after a load of huffing and puffing was given a restricted medical certificate which stated I could not work on fibres alone; this was no problem as there was always a team present during any testing. My only problem came with the high fibre counts, where there are three colours all the same (Red, Rose, Pink) there are other combinations. I learned over the years that if I could not see a colour to get a torch and magnifying glass and all became clear.

stewart devlin
27th September 2009, 22:53
Hi guys,

I'm sorry to have to tell you that Margaret Allonby has just died of cancer. The funeral will be at Lancaster crematorium on Tuesday 29th September (sorry, don't have time at the moment) but will be followed by a service at St.Mary's parish church in Ambleside at 15:30.

Clive Kaine
28th September 2009, 12:39
Hi guys,

I'm sorry to have to tell you that Margaret Allonby has just died of cancer. The funeral will be at Lancaster crematorium on Tuesday 29th September (sorry, don't have time at the moment) but will be followed by a service at St.Mary's parish church in Ambleside at 15:30.

I am genuinely saddened at this news, Stewart. She was an absolute gem, and was directly instrumental in helping me to achieve my ticket after (to my shame) I failed my Radio paper in 1972 and my LEA threatened to withdraw my funding. I'm sure many other people who studied at Wray Castle over the years also have reason to be grateful to her, and will feel the same.

Clive

Shipbuilder
28th September 2009, 17:11
Sorry about the sad news, although Margaret Allonby was after my time at the Castle, I will pass it on to the others.

Today, we have just returned from the reunion celebrating the passing of fifty years since the place opened as an R/O training college. We had about fifty ex cadets attending, plus wives and partners. Friday was socialising in the Salutation, Saturday was a long lake cruise to Lakeside and back, followed by dinner in the evening at the Salutation. Sunday (today) was a visit to the Castle, followed by lunch at the Drunken Duck.
A great time was had by all!
Bob

Aljard
8th September 2010, 14:40
Hi all,

My uncle was a trainee wireless operator at Wray Castle in 1959. One night, I believe in November 1959, he and two friends sneaked out for the evening across lake Windemere in a rowing boat. (I believe for a forbidden night out in a pub)They were never seen again and pressumed drowned. The rowing boat was discovered upturned the next day. He was 18 years old at the time and called Peter Bradshaw.

Were any other members fellow students at Wray Castle at the time and do they recall Peter, his friends and the night he dissappeared?

sparkie2182
8th September 2010, 22:27
Former Wray Castle radio cadets may be interested in this piece of good news.......................

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-hawksheadandclaife/w-wray-castle.htm

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-hawksheadandclaife/w-wray-castle-future.htm

Clive Kaine
9th September 2010, 11:04
Hi all,

My uncle was a trainee wireless operator at Wray Castle in 1959. One night, I believe in November 1959, he and two friends sneaked out for the evening across lake Windemere in a rowing boat. (I believe for a forbidden night out in a pub)They were never seen again and pressumed drowned. The rowing boat was discovered upturned the next day. He was 18 years old at the time and called Peter Bradshaw.

Were any other members fellow students at Wray Castle at the time and do they recall Peter, his friends and the night he dissappeared?

There were stories about this when I was a student there in the early 70s, but I always assumed they were just that - stories. I had no idea that they were true.

This was obviously a great tragedy for the families involved at the time, and I'm sorry to hear of your loss.

Shipbuilder
9th September 2010, 12:16
It was true allright and lots of us who were there remember it well. Have supplied more info to Aljard direct.

The original cadet intake usually have a reunion every two years and the incident is often referred to. Out next reunion is about October 2011.

Bob

Troppo
9th September 2010, 13:22
Hi Bob
I do still have it (surprisingly enough to me!!) but i now live in Australia, and unfortunately the MRGC wasn't offered here, so no-one seems to know anything about it.

cheers

Carl


Yes, it was - I have mine, pristine in the plastic cover in my safe N105.

You might try AMCA (the comms regulator) or the maritime college in Launceston.

In fact, now I think of it, the syllabus is effectively on the inside of the ticket...it lists what you are qualified in...

stewart devlin
26th September 2011, 21:23
Just attended the 2011 reunion, 50th anniversary for most of those present, 40th for Roger Haviland and I. We held a short service and dedicated a memorial stone to the three lads that drowned, if you are visiting it is just inside the churchyard gate on the right. A quiet and reflective moment to complete a grand weekend.

R719220
6th October 2011, 06:37
Just attended the 2011 reunion, 50th anniversary for most of those present, 40th for Roger Haviland and I. We held a short service and dedicated a memorial stone to the three lads that drowned, if you are visiting it is just inside the churchyard gate on the right. A quiet and reflective moment to complete a grand weekend.

The service was held in the churchyard of St Margaret of Antioch, built as part of the Wray Castle estate. The short service was beautifully conducted by the Vicar of Hawkshead. Very touching, very moving, especially for the family members (of one of the lads) who attended and the ones who knew them all those years ago. Sadly, the church is no longer in use (decommissioned but still consecrated) but is very well kept. I attach a photo of the memorial.

DavidEJones
21st February 2014, 15:46
Bill Keeling did go to sea, with the RFA, he relieved me on my first ship, but I think he only did one trip. He was the radar lecturer when I was a student at Wray Castle from 1972 to1975. I am the Davey Jones mentioned in another post. He returned to teach at Wray and was there as a senior lecturer and later co-principle when I taught there.

DavidEJones
21st February 2014, 15:59
Hi All

I went to Wray Castle from Sept 1972 to Feb 1975 straight from a few O-level successes - completing the MRGC and DTI Radar ticket. Generally a harsh environment but reasonably fair and I doubt if there was any other way I would have obtained my sea-going tickets except for enforced incaceration, with no money and lots of study! Can't imagine now how I survived life in the deck (dorms) and I'm sure I learnt to eat whatever was put out for us. Since from when I could remember I had always wanted to go to sea - ultimately to reach Australia for some mystical reason. Wasn't particularly attuned to radio and electronics but in those days I had such a good memory I could have learnt anything, especially as a means to get to sea, travel and get paid. Then find out we had the best job on the ship, a real bonus. Others attending in my era were Colin Chettle, Davey Jones (!) both went to the RFA I think, Paul from Broadstairs who joined BP during the Radar course, Tony Martin from Workington joined B&C same as me, Billy Akers a mad Mancunian, Mark Green from Solihull, same as me at that time, who had a bit of trouble with the morse content I think but was good at the tech stuff. Few lovely ladies, one from Isle of Man I had a crush on (!) and I remember Rowena was there a year behind our lot. Geoff Smith was a year ahead of us (also from Isle of Man?) who went to B&C and I think tipped us off as not too bad a mob. But in those days jobs were everywhere - the hey day I would imagine. Finished at Wray Castle, got a job with B&C, got uniform and paperwork and was off Rotterdam in mid-March to join a King Line bulk carrier as baby Sparks. Two months later after freezing Norway, drydocks in Rotterdam and North Shields I was off to the Windsor Castle and the dizzy heights of 4/R/O. Bumped into Tony a few times at UC and spoke to him when we were on Clan boats, but I don't think I've ever seen anybody again from Wray Castle days. Might have chatted via the key with Geoff Smith also. Just can't remember any more names at present but I'm sure a few will come back.

Matyn

Hi, I am the Davey Jones mentioned in the above message. I also remember the wonderful Margaret Allonby, one of the nicest people I ever met.
I did a few trips with the RFA, having joined at the same time as Bill Akers, had a few drinks with him in Gib., and Colin Chettle.
There is a group on Facebook who have organised a few re-unions for Wray Castle students in recent years, the next one is planned for 2016. I will be doing my utmost to be there, but will be a little creaky in the joints by then.

martin.e.cross
5th March 2014, 00:00
I was at Wray from Sept 74 going on to gain DOT Radar.
I have only recently found this page & thread via the WC facebook page.
I have seen many names that 'ring bells' and also learned a little of the 'history' of some of the peoplewho were there during my time.
I have a strange (bordering on the insane) target......
When I joined I had the RMS WC cap badge - a splendid badge.
Unfortunately in the late 80's my (very soon to be ex-) wife 'skipped' said badge.
I would like to replace that badge so if anybody has one they would be willing to part with or knows how I could obtain one Please Get In Touch....
Thanks