HMS Ganges Revisit - April '16

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HMS Ganges History

The name HMS Ganges came into service in 1779 when 3 vessels were presented to the navy by the Honourable East India Company. One of them was the Bengal built on the Thames at Blackwall which was re-named HMS Ganges. She was broken up in 1816. Her successor built in Bombay was launched on 10th November 1821, subsequently arriving at Portsmouth in October 1822. After various commissions HMS Ganges was commissioned as the flag-ship of Rear Admiral R L Bayes on the Pacific Station and left for the Pacific in September 1857. On return to England in 1861 HMS Ganges entered the history book as being the last sailing ship to be a sea going flag-ship. In 1866 HMS Ganges became the boys' training ship anchored in Falmouth harbour where she remained until August 1899. In November 1899 HMS Ganges was transferred to Harwich harbour.
HMS Ganges remained in Harwich harbour as a boys' training ship and in 1905 the boys moved ashore for their training, which continued at Shotley until 1976.

In 1907 the 143-foot (44 m) high mast of the old steam corvette HMS Cordelia was erected. It would become a major landmark. The old HMS Minotaur had been HMS Ganges since 1906, but was renamed HMS Ganges II on 25 April 1908. HMS Caroline was renamed HMS Ganges that month as her replacement. In 1909 the Signal School was established and three signal masts were erected. In 1910 the old HMS Agincourt had been removed to become a coal hulk, leaving only the old HMS Minotaur as Ganges II. By 1912 Ganges II was being used as an overflow ship as the number of boys in the establishment increased, and she was duly moved closer inshore. A floating dock was also moored nearby for the use of destroyers and submarines. In September 1913 HMS Ganges (the former HMS Caroline) was renamed HMS Powerful III and left the establishment. HMS Ganges II (the former HMS Minotaur) was renamed HMS Ganges. She became the base ship of the establishment during the First World War. On 8 October 1913 HMS Ganges II became an independent command and was based at RNTE Shotley.
In 1916 the establishment was bombed by a German Zeppelin. Rationing measures nearly produced a mutiny in 1917 but dispersed peacefully. Other wartime activities included the establishment of a trawler base at Ganges II, and the completion of 600 miles (966 km) of anti-submarine nets by boys and staff. In 1918 the base suffered outbreaks of influenza and diphtheria. Armistice Day was celebrated by a display of mast manning.

By October 1919 HMS Blake briefly became the depot ship for the base. Also that year HMS Ganges, the former HMS Minotaur was renamed HMS Ganges II, and so joined RNTE Shotley in sharing the name. On 3 August 1921 the Hunt class minesweeper HMS Tring became the establishment's tender. By now so many boys were attending the base that they had to be sent to training battleships to finish their training. These included the Portsmouth based HMS Monarch, HMS Courageous and HMS Conqueror. HMS Ganges II (the old HMS Minotaur) was towed away in 1922 by the Dutch tug Swartezee and was broken up. Since only active ships bore names at this time, the name HMS Ganges temporarily ceased to exist, but the training establishment at RNTE Shotley continued. HMS Tring was paid off into reserve on 20 October 1925 as an economy measure. It was decided by 1927 that RNTE Shotley would be renamed after the original training ship and she was recommissioned as HMS Ganges that year. In 1930 Edward, Prince of Wales visited the establishment. A number of administrative reforms were also carried out this year, including the establishment of eight internal divisions named after famous Admirals.

The outbreak of the Second World War led to the decision to close HMS Ganges as a boys' training centre. Training finished on 16 May 1940 and operations were moved to HMS St George. HMS Ganges continued in service, being used as a centre for 'Hostilities Only New Entry Training'. A new overspill centre was commissioned at Highnam Court, near Gloucester on 28 April 1941, and it was defined as a tender to HMS Ganges. Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent paid a visit to HMS Ganges on 1 October 1941, and on 31 January 1942 operations at Highnam Court were transferred to HMS Cabbala. Another royal visit came on 12 October when Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester inspected the establishment. Eventually by the end of the war 60,968 ratings had passed through Ganges.
Ganges reopened as a boys' training establishment in October 1945. The establishment soon regained its former size and importance, continuing to expand its facilities. A number of VIP visits took place, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited in 1956, First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Carrington visited in 1960 and HM Queen Elizabeth in 1961. In 1968 the Ham class minesweepers HMS Flintham and HMS Dittisham were attached to Ganges. In 1975 Ganges was opened to the public for the first time, with Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma the guest of honour. It was decided by the Admiralty to close HMS Ganges, which was done on 6 June 1976. The white ensign was lowered for the last time on 28 October and the establishment's training duties were transferred to HMS Raleigh.
Following closure of HMS Ganges the married quarter estate was used by RAF personnel from nearby RAF facilities. In 1999 a large section of the former NCO quarters were acquired by The Welbeck Estate Group.

HMS Ganges Museum History Page


The first stop on a beautiful sunny Sunday of adventure, Piffblazer, BigDirk, a non-member and I headed over to HMS Ganges to try and see the bits we missed out on last time. On arrival, we decided to try and find another entrance part to the North of the site and were not disappointed when we found a way over the fence. We scrambled through the undergrowth straight into the view of a Hi-Vis clad security guard who shouted “stay there” to us…..yeah right. We laid low for a while before heading back in the same way, being sure that I completed my traditional impale-yourself-on-a-rusty-fence trick….Tetanus jab booked in, we headed straight for the water tower to try and keep out of the way for a while before gradually getting bolder and exploring more of the site. The one building I wanted to see was the swimming pool; we located it and found an access point. After a scramble and a struggle, we got in (cheers for the push Dirk!). What a place! A little battered and bruised but still fairly well preserved, we spent a good while in here taking it all in. I decided I needed a picture from the balcony, so climbed on up with a little help from my friends (thanks again Dirkus!). Looking out of the window, I saw a couple of people milling about, followed by a few more, then even more! It seems the day we decided to visit was some sort of an open day, with literally coach loads of people in the parade square. We knew we would have to be careful to avoid being spotted.

After the pool, we headed to an accommodation block for a look around. It’s worth noting that a lot of the buildings here are sealed pretty tight, so bring your climbing shoes! I took a few external shots while my buddies looked at the bunker in the hill, and was in the process of taking a wide shot of the mast when I heard a car driving up the road….shit.. I stayed where I was, crouched down and she drove straight on by me. I think security guards vision must be based on movement!

After this fairly close encounter, we decided that was enough for this site and headed off to our next target (but not before getting stuck in the mud by the River Orwell…..). We spent well over 3 hours here, a real achievement I think as we were spotted the moment we walked in.

Here are some pictures:















Thanks for coming.

Bones out

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Jun 19, 2012
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Well done you guys and nicely captured indeed. I got bored being busted here after the long road to nowhere drive so it's still on my ever increasing list.


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Jan 9, 2013
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Kent/West Pomerania, Poland
Fantastic composition. I particularly like the one at the beginning with your splore companions. Lots of people don't include people shots, but I think they capture the soul of the explore! :) Nice work!


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Mar 15, 2016
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Nice photos, i used to swim there as a lad. i believe it is soon to be resurected.


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Apr 2, 2007
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What an incredible adventure, and an absolutely stunning set of photos to match!
Thanks for sharing :)

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