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Scrapbook memories of Foudroyant aka HMS Trincomalee

When was HMS Trincomalee known as Foudroyant?

After being sold by the Royal Navy in 1897, HMS Trincomalee was renamed Foudroyant and, under that name, was a training and holiday ship throughout most of the 20th century.

The ship was based off Portsmouth and then Gosport from the 1930s to 1987 and received trainees from schools, colleges and youth organisations.

The trainees learnt all kinds of seamanship including knot tying, signalling, rowing and sailing using the ship’s fleet of small boats.

They also had day trips to the Isle of Wight, HMS Victory, and the local beaches. The favourite activity however, seemed to be learning how to hang up their hammocks and trying to get into them! To many, sleeping in a hammock was one of the most memorable and amusing parts of being on the ship.

A page from Hugh Leonard’s scrapbook from 1952-1987. He traces the ship’s various fundraising and repair programmes until she was finally moved to Hartlepool for restoration as a museum ship.

Training Ship Foudroyant Trainees’ Scrapbooks and Journals

Trainees were encouraged to keep scrapbooks and journals of their time on the ship, and several of these survive at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, containing photographs, leaflets, cuttings, poems and handwritten accounts of their experiences.

A page from Margaret Pearson’s journal, written in 1938 where she describes her sailing training.

The earliest we have dates from 1938 and was made by a Sea Ranger called Margaret Pearson. Hers was only the second female group to be admitted onto the ship.

 

A photograph from Margaret Pearson’s journal showing her Sea Ranger group on Foudroyant.

Indeed, there had been some resistance to allowing girls on board; one letter to The Times newspaper said that surely girls should be learning how to be wives and mothers, and not sailors! However, by the look of Margaret’s photos and accounts her group threw themselves into the experience with great enthusiasm.

Many of the trainees’ scrapbooks contain poetry which mentions the poor state of the ship at the time: Patricia Morris trained on the ship twice, once in 1952 and once in 1953.

She included a poem in her scrapbook which started: ‘Oh Sea Rangers come to the Foudroyant, she’s in Portsmouth and not very buoyant. First you sling your hammock and then you walk the boom, and then we have a campfire and sing a silly tune.’ Hopefully the campfires were had on trips to the beach, and not on the ship!

Page from a 1970s album of training photos

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