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Reunion for former Nautical School boys

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: August 05, 2009

  • The National Nautical School at Portishead is better known today as Fedden Village

  • Boys from the Nautical School learn new skills for sea

  • Boys from the Nautical School band march through Portishead

  • HMS Formidable

  • Members of the Nautical School band in Portishead

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A REUNION for boys who attended the National Nautical School in Portishead is being held in September.

It is being organised by Ron Thomas, a former pupil, who now lives in Redland, Bristol.

The Nautical School was a reformatory for boys, aged usually between 10 and 15-years-old and opened in 1906. Some were sent from courts, some were orphans and some volunteered to go there.

The Bristol training ship 'Formidable' opened in 1869 as an industrial school specialising in nautical training.

Several Bristol businessmen petitioned the Admiralty to lease them an ex Naval vessel to train young boys, for the training of young boys as seamen.

In 1906 the school moved into land premises at Portishead and the first boys moved in in May of that year.

As on the ship not all boys trained for sea went into the Royal Navy.

Some went into the Merchant Navy.

Mr Thomas said: "I was glad I went there and think many people you ask would say the same. It was a turning point for me.

"You went there and had a choice it was up to you where you went from there."

The school remained open until 1983 when the last boys moved out.

The site was then bought by a developer but because the building was Listed it couldn't be demolished.

It was instead converted into several luxury flats and apartments, known today as Fedden Village.

The first reunion was held about seven years ago and more and more people have attended every year.

This year's reunion is from Friday to Sunday, September 4-6.

The men will meet at the Premier Inn, in Wyndham Way, Portishead, before a day of reminiscing on the Saturday.

All those going to the reunion will meet at the church at the Old Nautical School for a 30 minute service on the Sunday before going to Fedden Village, which is sure to bring back many memories.

Do you have any stories about the National Nautical School? If so contact Trudi Bird on 0117 934 3003 or email trudi.bird@clevedon.co.uk.

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  • SteveMerry  |  March 13 2013, 9:36PM

    Hi my name is Steve Merry, I attended the Nash from 1975-6 (13 months) I have very fond memories of the school and remember lads like Jez Brogan from Birmingham and Owen Slaughter from Bristol to name but a few. Teachers such as, Mr Riggs, Mr Butler, Commander Heffoud amongst others. I was in Bembo division, the best at the time! Visited the old school with my family a couple of times, it has changed a bit, as has the dock area which I rode, which is now a marina. Never joined the Merchant Navy, which I always regretted but the school will always have a huge place in my heart.

  • benbow79  |  June 22 2012, 3:09PM

    my wife just pointed out it wasnt 79-80 i was in the nash it was 78=79 my mistake

  • benbow79  |  June 22 2012, 3:01PM

    my name is steve storey knott i was in the nash 79 to 80 i was in benbow originally from coventry now living near peterborough good memories of the nash but was the original bad boy at the time didnt go to sea took the other route borstal and prison always fighting now considered a successfull buisness and family man my friends at the time who i remember were kevin jessop from london nicky crows from aldershot or fleet i remember mr tuffrey in paints playing in the band etc could go on more if u remember me and want a chat u can call me on 07906252740

  • fusilier0356  |  April 13 2012, 5:15PM

    I was at the NASH in 1964 - 1965. Sent there by the Courts. I was in Anson Division that consisted of mostly Londoners. It was probably the best thing that happend to me. I tried to join the Merchant Navy when I left but there was a Seamans strike that went on for months , so I joined the Army - served 12 years and then belive it or not I joined the Police and served 28 years, retiring as a Police Inspector. The Captain at the time at the Nash was Capt Campbell. I remember him giving me CUTS (the cane on a bare bottom) He was a good man though. I played Rugby and remember the Chaplain who was a very good ex Welsh Rugby scrum half who taught me to play the scrum half position. Good memories of the village girls and I nearly married a girl from Fishponds in Bristol who I met whilst at the School. If I knew that some of the boys that were there when I was there, I would go to the reunion. So if any one remembers me please let me know.

  • zanshin  |  September 02 2011, 2:35PM

    i was there early 70s remember camping north molten stealing a car south molten haha school bus being taken for a jolly funny days gone by

  • robmay  |  August 18 2011, 6:03PM

    I was at the Nash from '79 to '81. I joined the Merchant Navy and travelled the world! A superb experience in my life and I owe a lot to the staff who trained me, especially Ernie Feltham. Nice man. I now live at the old school (Fedden Village) and it brings back fond memories every day. I will be at the reunion. Rob May

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    Richard Moore, Devizes, Wiltshire  |  May 29 2011, 7:52PM

    My mum Freda Moore was a house "mother" in Hood in the early 1970's. She will be attending this years reunion and has just been reminiscing about a trip to North Molton,Devon with the school..happy days. She would love to hear from colleagues or boys who remember her.

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    Samuel Brown, Bromyard. Herefordshire  |  December 10 2010, 10:11PM

    Sam Brown's school days were spent at the BTS Formidable Portishead. Mid 40s. The best days of my life and the making of me. I was the sailor who never went to sea. Turned out I was colour blind. I was Commander Evan's house boy for a while. Training as a steward. But that was not to be. It was a deck hand or nothing for me. My hobbys. 'Knots and Splices' and Building and sailing radio controlled model boats. I can be found most Saturday afternoons with the Gloucester & District Model Boat Club. Sailing our boats at the Victoria Arm at Gloucester Docks. Would love to make contact with any of my old schoolmates. So many wonderful memories to share. If your out there Morris of Newport. Get in touch. Best wishes to everyone for Christmas and the new year.

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    Julia Whitehead, San Francisco  |  October 01 2010, 4:03AM

    My father, Sidney Langford, attended the school in the early 1940s. I would like to hear from anyone who knew him then. The school opened up his world.

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    Bradley Fieldhouse, Lydney,Glos  |  May 20 2010, 5:22PM

    I was a nautical school boy in 1973. The year that Trev the Rev White,became the Padre. I was in the painting and decorating department with Mr Tufrey and remember doing decorating jobs for less fortunate people, in places like Weston.I have very good memories of the nautical school and staff, many of their names and faces are still clearly in my mind to this day.I hope to attend the reunion this year.

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