History on the River Thames

Thurrock Museum archive on tour – have your say

Thurrock Museum has picked 10 great items from its archive is giving you the chance to experience them close-up on a tour of the borough this year. Vote for the object you would most like to see.

Training ships moored off Grays town

The 'Goliath' was a wooden sailing ship built in 1835 for the British Navy. In 1870 she was lent to the Forest Gate School Board by the Admiralty for use as a training ship for boys and was moored off Grays. On December 22nd 1875 a tragic fire destroyed the ship. One officer and about nineteen boys are believed to have died in the disaster. The disaster was widely reported in the National Press including The Illustrated London News and this resulted in a medal being issued to those people, including several local watermen, who had shown outstanding bravery in rescuing men and boys from the ship.

This tragic accident did not destroy the idea of training ships on the Thames. Others followed the Goliath in succeeding years. They were: TS Exmouth, TS Shaftsbury, TS Warspite, TS Worcester and TS Joseph Hertz.

There were two training ships named Exmouth: No 1 from 1876 to 1905 and No. 2 from 1905 to 1939. The first ship was loaned to The Metropolitan Asylums Board by the Admiralty and had been named after Viscount Exmouth, Admiral Edward Pellew.

The Exmouth was laid down in 1840 and was a screw ship of 91 guns. She was commissioned in 1855 and served with the Baltic Fleet. Her first Commander as a training ship was Staff Commander Bouchier formerly of the 'Goliath'. She was crewed by some 500 boys. The Exmouth was replaced by another vessel named Exmouth in 1905 and remained anchored off Grays until 1939.

On April 10th 1915 a Royal Naval airship broke loose from its moorings and the pilot fell out into the river mud at West Thurrock. The crew of the Exmouth threw out grappling hooks and managed to take it in tow.

The second Exmouth remained at Grays until the start of World War Two when she was used for other purposes.

The TS Shaftsbury was moored off Grays in 1878 and was used by the London School Board as an industrial training school (at the same period as the Exmouth). She was sold off in 1906.

The TS Warspite was moored off Grays in 1929 and was closed as a training ship in 1939.

HMS Worcester moored off Grays in 1946 but she was never used for her original purpose as a training ship while at Grays. In 1948 she capsized and sank. It took five years to remove the wreck from the Thames.

In 1947 the TS Joseph Hertz (named after the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain) was moored off Grays as a training ship for Jewish orphans, some of whom had come from the Belsen concentration camp. She was removed after one year.