Wray Castle - Ships Nostalgia
21:29

Welcome
Welcome!Welcome to Ships Nostalgia, the world's greatest online community for people worldwide with an interest in ships and shipping. Whether you are crew, ex-crew, ship enthusiasts or cruisers, this is the forum for you. And what's more, it's completely FREE.

Click here to go to the forums home page and find out more.
Click here to join.
Log in
User Name Password

Wray Castle

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 10th June 2008, 19:29
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
Wray Castle

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
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Wray Castle (Medium) (2).JPG (65.6 KB, 48 views)
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships

Last edited by Shipbuilder; 10th June 2008 at 19:30.. Reason: Spelling mistake
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 17th June 2008, 16:51
Clive Kaine's Avatar
Clive Kaine Clive Kaine is offline  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 126
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
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 17th June 2008, 17:25
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
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.
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 17th June 2008, 17:42
King Ratt's Avatar
King Ratt King Ratt is offline  
King Ratt
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
My location
Posts: 1,954
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?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 17th June 2008, 18:00
Bill Davies Bill Davies is offline  
member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 181
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.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 17th June 2008, 19:18
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
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
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 17th June 2008, 19:47
King Ratt's Avatar
King Ratt King Ratt is offline  
King Ratt
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
My location
Posts: 1,954
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
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 18th June 2008, 13:18
Clive Kaine's Avatar
Clive Kaine Clive Kaine is offline  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 126
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.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 18th June 2008, 14:40
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
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
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 18th June 2008, 15:06
andysk's Avatar
andysk andysk is offline   SN Supporter
Super Moderator (L)
Organisation: Merchant Navy
Department: Radio Officer
Active: 1970 - 1978
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shipbuilder View Post
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 !
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 18th June 2008, 19:29
Clive Kaine's Avatar
Clive Kaine Clive Kaine is offline  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 126
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!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 18th June 2008, 23:08
andysk's Avatar
andysk andysk is offline   SN Supporter
Super Moderator (L)
Organisation: Merchant Navy
Department: Radio Officer
Active: 1970 - 1978
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive Kaine View Post
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 !
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 19th June 2008, 05:11
BA204259 BA204259 is offline  
member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 282
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).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Wray Castle.jpg (49.5 KB, 61 views)
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 19th June 2008, 05:58
BA204259 BA204259 is offline  
member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 282
And here's a view from the roof, Fairfield Horseshoe in the background.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Roof View.jpg (98.5 KB, 44 views)
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 19th June 2008, 07:40
Clive Kaine's Avatar
Clive Kaine Clive Kaine is offline  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 126
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.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 19th June 2008, 10:03
andysk's Avatar
andysk andysk is offline   SN Supporter
Super Moderator (L)
Organisation: Merchant Navy
Department: Radio Officer
Active: 1970 - 1978
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,742
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 ....

Last edited by andysk; 19th June 2008 at 10:26..
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 19th June 2008, 10:45
spacetracker spacetracker is offline  
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 34
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

Last edited by spacetracker; 19th June 2008 at 10:47..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 19th June 2008, 10:50
BA204259 BA204259 is offline  
member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 282
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..
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Wray Castle 3.jpg (66.1 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg Wray Castle 4.jpg (60.5 KB, 40 views)
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 19th June 2008, 21:40
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
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
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Wray Castle (Medium).JPG (96.9 KB, 108 views)
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 19th June 2008, 21:41
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
Looking at it again, I think the cadet standing in front of the G2 is John Tomlinson (Principal's son).
Bob
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 19th June 2008, 22:06
BA204259 BA204259 is offline  
member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 282
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.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 19th June 2008, 22:20
BA204259 BA204259 is offline  
member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 282
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.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Wray '59.JPG (51.5 KB, 125 views)
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 20th June 2008, 09:31
Nelson Nelson is offline  
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 24
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.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 20th June 2008, 12:05
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
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
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 20th June 2008, 12:09
Shipbuilder Shipbuilder is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,293
Looking again, I see Geoff Lee in the back with Miss "X" probably on his knee. Cader on right possibly Peter Jones?
__________________

Miniature Merchant Ships
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Walmer Castle (I) Guest Union Castle - Safmarine 4 13th September 2018 07:24
Norham Castle - built 1883 al1934 Historic Shipping lines and Ships 8 10th December 2012 20:04
History of the Castle Class Corvettes Peter4447 Books, Magazines, TV, Video & Publications 0 16th October 2007 13:23
wray castle....ring any auto alarms????? sparkie2182 Places, People & Events of Maritime Interest 35 4th October 2007 16:32



Support SN


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.