Insight into sea training school at exhibition

131534a'Graham Sea Training School exhibition at The Maritime Heritage Centre'School old boys,from left, Tom Rowley,Cpt Peter Simpson, Cpt Clive Berry and Dave Normandale'Picture by Neil Silk'15/04/13
131534a'Graham Sea Training School exhibition at The Maritime Heritage Centre'School old boys,from left, Tom Rowley,Cpt Peter Simpson, Cpt Clive Berry and Dave Normandale'Picture by Neil Silk'15/04/13

Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre is offering “old boys” and youngsters alike to chance to find out more about Graham Sea Training School.

The current exhibition, which is on until June, features a fascinating collection of photographs, school documents and other memorabilia.

Centre volunteer, Tom Rowley, who attended the school himself, said they have had a fantastic response from people, with many new items brought in especially for the exhibition.

The displays show what life was like at the school, which was based at Paradise House in the Old Town from 1917 to 1974.

Alongside their usual school subjects, pupils learnt all the seafaring skills they would need for a life and career at sea.

Former pupils include Peter Simpson, Clive Berry and Dave Normandale, who met up at the centre in Eastborough to share their memories.

Peter went to sea age 16 as an apprentice and worked his way up to captain, working on deep sea merchant vessels.

Clive mainly worked on Shell tankers, which was then known as the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company.

Dave did his apprenticeship aboard tramp steamers and has been fishing the rest of his life, and Tom spent 36 years fishing and 14 years as skipper of the Coronia.

They all have very fond memories of their time at Graham Sea Training School, which they say was superb preparation for a life at sea.

Tom said: “It was an excellent school. Everybody knew everybody else - it was like one big classroom.

“I’ve never met anyone who had a bad word to say about it. I’m proud to have gone there. I can stick my chest out now and say ‘I went to Graham Sea Training School.’”

Clive added: “It was a broad education there. We covered navigation, seamanship, engineering, with plenty of rowing and sailing.

“It was great preparation for going to sea, there’s no doubt about that.”

They all recall the “firm but fair” ethos at the school, and remember headmaster Commander Tribe as a well respected man.

Tom said: “He was a gentleman. You could talk to him. He was quietly spoken and very approachable.”

However, he added that you knew you were in trouble if your teacher made you go outside and stand under the bell in the corridor, where you had to wait for the headmaster.

Other teachers - many of whom are pictured as part of the exhibition - include Harry Casey and Mr Maine, who was nicknamed “Bruiser”, as he had a habit of nipping pupils whose work was not up to scratch.

Tom added: “He would send you to the shop for his cigs and give you one for going!”

Dave recalls an end-of-season tradition, which involved going down to the harbour and pulling the boats up Castlegate, which was quite a task.

With just 80 pupils in the entire school at any one time, the camaraderie was strong and is something that is still evident among the “old boys” today.

• The Graham Sea Training School exhibition is on until June. The centre’s opening hours are 11am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. Free admission.