More than 160,000 Navy recruits passed through the gates of HMS Ganges until its closure in June 1976.
The site is now being reanimated with multiple features being lovingly restored including the Grade II listed ceremonial mast, main gates, a mid-19th century fort, and a Martello tower.
of HMS Ganges
It was at Shotley Point that the wooden ship HMS Ganges was berthed from 1899, and used as a cadet training ship for the Royal Navy. In 1905 when the Ganges vessel was finally retired (and towed away to Chatham), the training facility, moved ashore.
The facility remained there until its closure in June 1976, when its training function moved to HMS Raleigh, Torpoint, Cornwall. During its lifetime, more than 160,000 Navy recruits passed through the gates of HMS Ganges.
The Grade II listed ceremonial mast at HMS Ganges was once used for training practice for boy seamen. The recruits would need to climb the 143 foot mast partway in order to pass their training exercise.
On ceremonial occasions, the trainees would stand on various parts of the mast with the boy at the very top being known as the ‘button boy’.
The mast has been described as “the best-known landmark on The Shotley Peninsula for generations”.
Barrelmans Point [bah-rell-mans poynt]
The name, Barrelmans Point, gives affirmation to the person who would be stationed in the barrel of the foremast to aid navigation of the vessel.