Training Ship at Old
Reproduced with acknowledgement to Derek Blair, Australia, formerly an officer
with Ben Line in Leith
Ship at Leith
Between 1944 and 1977, TS
Dolphin acted as a merchant navy training ship, based at Leith Docks,
Edinburgh, training 4,000 boys, including Derek Blair, now living in
Australia, who provided the photograph above. Thank you, Derek.
Thank you, also, to John D
Stevenson Edinburgh, for provided the comprehensive notes, below.
was the fifteenth ship to bear the name of “HMS Dolphin” and was built by
the Middlesbrough firm of Dixon & Co. Ltd., and was launched on 9th
The hull was planked with four
inch mahogany covered by a two inch layer of teak, with the hull up to
the water line, sheathed with heavy gauge copper. The main deck forward
was ten inches thick and the ship was reinforced, both fore and aft, ready
to take large calibre guns.
She was a three-masted auxiliary
barque, of 925 tons, fitted with a horizontal compound “Back acting” steam
engine. Her normal crew numbered 113"
"The ship was commissioned at
Sheerness in 1884 and was first attached to the Mediterranean Squadron. In
1885 a landing party from the ship's crew formed part of a naval brigade
landed at Suakin in the Sudan.
In March 1885 she saw active
service in Egypt, India and Australia, and fought at the battle of Tofrik.
She saw further action in 1888 dealing with the remnants of the slave
trade. In 1896 she was paid off at Sheerness.
her engines were removed and she became a sea-going sail training ship,
stationed at Portland taking boys on four month sail training cruises."
"In 1907, the ship was de-rigged
and transferred to Portsmouth. In the early years of the submarine branch
of the Navy, Dolphin was used as a depot ship along with H.M.S. Mercury,
later moving to Gosport. Dolphin remained in this role as the first
submarine depot ship until 1924 when she was decommissioned, giving her
name to HMS Dolphin Submarine base at Gosport .
In 1925 Dolphin was bought by
Lieutenant Commander J. M. Robertson, a Glasgow ship-owner and Sir Donald
Pollock. . Their plan was to convert the ship into a nautical museum."
Arrival at Leith
"The old vessel was towed from
Portsmouth to Leith but when entering the Firth of Forth the ship
encountered extremely heavy weather and took on board a large amount of
water. The next day the tug crew decided Dolphin was slowly sinking took
the decision, for safety sake, to beach her off Fisherrow.
There she lay for nearly a year
before being taken to Leith dry dock for repairs, then Rosyth for
refitting. In 1928, she was berthed at the West Old Dock,
Training Ship at Leith
"In 1944, Dolphin changed careers
again, to become a Merchant Navy Training Ship. Captain Salvesen, Mr Tom
McPhail and Mr J. J. Robertson agreed with Leith Nautical College that she
should become a a pre-training sea school for cadets and deck boys.
It was then she became "TRAINING SHIP (TS) DOLPHIN"
Captain Adam Tait, a native of
Shetland, and a Master Mariner took " command" at this time. TS
Dolphin was eventually presented, by Sir Donald Pollock, to the "TS
Dolphin Training Ship Society" The ship to be leased to to Leith Nautical
College. The welfare of the boys, the social life of the ship and the
organising of evening classes remained with the Society.
Up to fifty boys had residential
accommodation on Dolphin. 80 to 90 boys were at any one time being taught
, This was made up of Deck Boys, Catering Boys and Cadets.
In 1950 the college opened a
class for ship's cooks; boys who trained sat the Ships' Cooks
and Catering Certificates. The department was run under the guidance of
the Atholl Crescent School of Domestic Science."
"The need for this type of ship
declined, and on July 4, 1977, when West Old Dock was scheduled to be
filled in, she was towed away from the dock.
was beached later that day, on a spring tide, near to Bo’ness, to be
burned out where she lay It was ironic that her fate was decided in
order to salvage her copper cladding that had kept her hull in good
condition for almost a century.
1. Thank you to John D Stevenson, Edinburgh for the notes
above, based on his research from various sources -
May 25, 2007.
2. Thank you, also to Eric Gold, East London for telling me
that the TS Dolphin section of the
All at Sea web site
gives historical information about the ship and photos of some of the boys
who trained on her at Leith. - May 22, 2007
Bill Gunn wrote:
"I am an Australian
currently living and working in Samoa. I have collected
any prints, books and other memorabilia about Samoa over the past
30 odd years.
Among the many newspaper clippings is an
engraving of a sailor at the corner of a street
in the capital city of Apia. He is
captioned as being 'Gunner Gunn of HMS Dolphin'.
The newspaper from memory is dated around 1894.
From the EdinPhoto web
site, I see that there was an HMS Dolphin which travelled
to many parts of the world including Australia. It
may well have come through Samoa as well."
"I am particularly
interested in researching this vessel mainly because I too
am a Gunn, originally from Scotland, UK, Australia and now Samoa.
It seems that I
was not the first Gunn to arrive on these shores!
Can you assist me? I'd
like to find information about the crews
of such vessels, then
try to trace the family histories to see
if I might be related to Gunner Gunn."
Bill Gunn, Samoa:
October 26, 2012
Hi Bill: I don't have
any information about the crews myself. I'll make some enquiries and
will let you know if I discover anything.
Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: October
I've now received
Reply 2 (below) from John D Stevenson.
Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: October
26, 2012, 10pm
John D Stevenson
Thank you to John D
Stevenson who wrote:
(the training ship at Leith) was
built at Middlesburgh and was launched in 1882, the fifteenth ship to bear
the name HMS Dolphin."
Built 1750 / 1751
"HMS Dolphin which
visited Samoa in 1767 was a different ship, a 24
gun 'sixth rate frigate' built at
Woolwich Dockyard 1750/51.
She was used as a survey ship from 1764 and
made two circumnavigations of the world under the successive commands of
John Byron and Samuel Wallis . She was the first ship to circumnavigate
the world twice.
On 17th June 1767 Captain Samuel Wallis
RN , Commander of HMS Dolphin, raised the
British flag in Samoa. The
vessel remained in service until she was 'paid off' in September 1776 and
finally broken up in early 1777
John D Stevenson: October 26, 2012,
I asked John if he could suggest where any details
might be found of crews of early ships visiting Samoa.
"I don't think there is
much chance of finding crew lists.
However, I have used the
following sources for early shipping information in the South Pacific:
Library of New South Wales
Maritime Museum of San Diego"
John D Stevenson: October 26, 2012,
West Wickham, Kent,
Gill King wrote:
"I recently acquired an Original
Sailors uniform with 'HMS Dolphin'
on the hat. The
name inside the trousers is RC Moxham.
you know how I can find out more about this crew
Gill King, West Wickham, Kent, England: August 4, 2014
Reply to Gill King
have any suggestions as to the best way fpr Gill to pursue her interest in
the crew member, RC Moxham.
have any suggestions for her, please email me to let me know, then I'll
pass on her email address to you so that you can try to contact her.
Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh: August 4, 2014