The present HMS Collingwood, at Fareham, was built as a New Entry Training Establishment for hostilities only ratings of the Seaman Branch on 197 acres of farming land compulsorily purchased in 1939 for £7,290. HMS Raleigh and the Royal Marines Depot at Exmouth were built concurrently and so may be regarded as Collingwood’s true sister ships. According to the landowner, the site was the finest bit of corn land in the south of England; for the locals it was the best snipe marsh in the country. It was certainly wet and boggy and sea boots were compulsory wear for the person who strayed from the paths. The wooden accommodation huts were mounted on concrete plinths to prevent the ingress of water and visitation of vermin. A single-storied building required a concrete raft four times its floor area.

The original Establishment was opened on 10th January 1940 under the command of Commodore Sedgewick, and training began a week later. The establishment was well planned with buildings spread out to reduce the number of casualties in the event of an air raid, yet providing easy access throughout. The planners perhaps had a premonition that there would be a long term requirement for the site. It was laid out in four identical self contained training sections with a set of HQ buildings. They were named in the traditional manner for defining sections of capital ships; Forecastle, Foretop, Maintop and Quarterdeck, with the accommodation laid out uniformly around the main parade ground. Each section was designed to hold 2,500 men and the establishment absorbed a weekly intake of 1,000 men. The establishment thus housed a total of 10,000 men who were following a ten week course. The individual sections had their own administration office, duty officer’s cabins, junior rates and petty officers accommodation, drill shed, boats and davits, a dining hall capable of seating 600 men, galley and gymnasium. Each gymnasium contained a large cylindrical water tank across which every new entry had to flounder, wearing his inflatable lifebelt in which, it was hoped, he would gain some confidence. The sections had also their own “chain platform”, a contrivance thirty-six feel high, for teaching ratings to swing the lead The first item of training equipment to arrive in the establishment was a condemned whaler, followed by a battleship’s capstan and two chain lockers, each with two shackles of cable, situated at the top of the parade ground.

The HQ complex lay in between the main gate and the parade ground and comprised the commodore’s and officers’ accommodation, pay office, stores, sick bay and church. The Establishment was heated by a system of 13 boiler houses, each with three or four civilian watch-keepers who were supplemented in freezing conditions by pickaxe parties to break up the frozen coke and coal. The dispersed nature of the whole establishment coupled with the poorly insulated and elevated construction of the wooden huts and the single skin construction of later brick and concrete accommodation resulted in a very poor fuel economy. Severe restrictions on fuel use, both during WW2 and with the austerity of the post war decades, has left abiding memories of bracing, if not Spartan conditions with all who wintered in HMS Collingwood during those years . It was rare indeed for central heating pipes to feel more than just warm to the touch. The two radar school boiler houses adjacent to the Galleys on the north side of Queen Road and the smaller boiler house adjacent to the wardroom were also close to the perimeter fence. These were always thought to require lengthy internal security checks by night perimeter patrols during the cold winter months.

The parade ground itself was the largest in Europe and for many years the long gunnery course came to it for their company drill thereby prolonging the Collingwood/Excellent association. It was also used for important ceremonial training such as the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. The medical section at this time was rated a naval hospital with a Surgeon Rear Admiral in charge.

Wireless Telegraphy ratings started their training in June 1940, when they transferred from HMS St. Vincent, forming a section under their own Captain. An RDF school was added in 1942 and remained under the command of a Captain or Commander (Radar Training) until 1946. Apart from the Commanding Officer who was RN, all the RDF officers were RNVR, and therefore not allowed to use the wardroom. They occupied a self contained top security annex situated by the radar parade ground.

On July 25th 1940 King George VI visited the Establishment and had to take shelter during an air raid. HMS Collingwood was bombed in the following year during ceremonial divisions and as a result of the casualties suffered; such divisions were banned throughout the Navy for the rest of the war. On 18 June 1943 three huts in Culloden Road were damaged by a bomb and thirty-one ratings lost their lives.

Training continued apace throughout the war. The large numbers passing through Collingwood are reflected in the income to the ship’s fund. In 1943-44, NAAFI rebate was Ł100 per month, 140 pigs were sold and the surplus swill brought in Ł600 with rags and wastepaper making another Ł150. The total income was over Ł3,000.

Wrens came to Collingwood when it was commissioned in January 1940. The first Wren was the daughter of an admiral (Admiral Charlton), who cycled in from Alverstoke complete with her typewriter. As this was the only typewriter in the Establishment, she was appointed Assistant Secretary. The Secretary himself laid special claim to the Wren Messenger, as she was also his wife. Fifty other Wrens joined, of whom forty-seven were completely untrained. They worked as cooks, stewards and messengers while three were switchboard operators who had previously served with NALO and AA HQ Fareham House. Their uniforms arrived in April 1940 and accommodation was provided by the middle of the year in Excellent Road.

The Wrens did not stay long in their quarters on the east side of the southern end of Excellent Road. After the end of WW2, the huge, hospital size, medical complex that had been built half way along the same side of that road was reduced to a smaller Sick Bay and Dental suite. The Wrens then moved into the redundant buildings left behind the Sick Bay and were enclosed behind a security fence. Today of course the Wrens have come full circle and once more reside at the southern end of Excellent Road, although now on the west side where air raid shelters once stood.


On January 1st 1946, following the Middleton Report, the Naval Electrical Branch was formed and Collingwood became its training establishment. It is not known exactly when seaman training ceased but by mid-1946 Collingwood was used as a dispersal centre for demobilisation whilst the radar training continued.

The Captain at the beginning of 1946 was “Sluggy” Edwards. He was relieved by Captain (later Sir) Aubrey St. Clair-Ford, self-styled “the last of the Colonial Governors”, before the arrival of the first Electrical Captain, Gerald Jackson in August 1947.

Captain Jackson was no stranger to the electrical-training world as he had been Captain of HMS Marlborough from 1942 to 1947, one of the many places where electrical training had been carried out. At Chatham it was centred in Actaeon Block (opened in 1940 By Admiral Sir Reginald AR Plunkett-Ernte-Erle-Drax). At Devonport training was undertaken onboard HMS Defiance which comprised several old hulks. HMS Ariel was the Fleet Air Arm centre at Warrington and when HMS Vernon was bombed and evacuated much of the electrical training was transferred to HMS Marlborough. This name covered a number of establishments in the Brighton area, notably Roedean and St. Dunstan’s schools. HMS Vernon Experimental Department went to Havant.

The radar instructional area buildings along Queen Road had all been built during the war after pumping had firmed the ground there and were of brick. Apart from the area around the semicircular radar parade ground which was flanked by the RNVR mess and accommodation to the south and the galleys and dining rooms etc. to the north. The layout of buildings was not dissimilar to the grouping in the main establishment. Four sets of buildings, set on each side of Queen Road at its eastern and western ends were all connected by covered ways to ablutions blocks at the rear. Apart from the ablutions blocks, every building was identical and the only remaining, but much modified, example is that which currently houses the Collingwood Museum. Roughly a quarter of each building’s length, flanking Queen Road, was of traditional single skin brick construction and gable ended, these parts probably used as classrooms. Behind, the remainder of each building was of much more substantial construction with only small high windows. This part, flat roofed in re-enforced concrete, was clearly designed to be air raid proof and must have been the original sleeping quarters because there were no other air raid shelters associated with this part of Collingwood. There were however two other sets of similar ‘air raid proof buildings adjacent to each of the two dining halls in Queen Road, perhaps also intended as quickly accessible shelter during mealtimes.

Post WW2, after all accommodation was possible in the divisions around the main parade ground, all of the buildings of the radar school, except the toilet parts of the ablution blocks which were retained, were converted to become equipment instructional areas, laboratories, classrooms and workshops. The RNVR Officers Mess became the main administration block of the establishment and the associated accommodation blocks became instructors’ common rooms, and further instructional areas.

With the arrival of the electricians a large building programme was embarked upon. On the northern side the training area was expanded round the old radar parade ground. The group of classrooms in Gibraltar Road were developed and the W/T section was enlarged around Euryalus Road. 501 – 539 Buildings and Sampson Road were constructed with the area becoming well known as “The White City” due to the uncamouflaged white asbestos roofs.

With the increase in officers and the closure of the mess in the radar school, the wardroom area had to be increased. Three blocks were added to the wardroom and the amenities were enlarged. At the same time the Warrant Officers’ Mess was re-opened in 164 and 165 Buildings. At about this time, all the roads within the establishment were renamed after the ships in which Admiral Lord Collingwood had served – thirty -one in all. The Captain had lived in “A” Block until this time but then moved to a group of huts called “Nissen Hall” in Shannon Road, where Captain St. Clair-Ford had a double four-poster installed in his bedroom (the curtains were very useful in excluding draughts).

The old Forecastle, Foretop, Maintop and Quarterdeck divisions disappeared at about this time and were replaced by Howe on the south side of the parade ground, Anson on the north side Fisher to the southwest and Rodney to the northwest. Each of these divisions consisted of two roadways flanked on each side by rows of seven or eight huts, except in Fisher where brick buildings of the same size were constructed on slightly higher, and drier, ground. Each row of huts was connected at their rear by a corridor from the other side of which were drying rooms and an ablutions and toilet block. The huts in Anson Division alone, presumably because they were the first constructed only had covered ways instead of corridors which made for a very Spartan life their in winter. Behind each set of accommodation huts were air raid shelters, built on the surface of necessity because of the boggy nature of the ground and protected by earthen embankment.

Each division had its own galley and dining hall and all of these were run in much the same way as broadside messing in a big ship at first, with each ‘mess’ collecting trays from the galley to be dished up at their mess tables. However Howe, Rodney and Fisher Dining Halls were converted to cafeterias during the early 1950’s and Anson Galley closed down altogether when the cafeteria came into use. Of the four drill sheds only two. Fisher, which also contained the parade armoury, and Anson remained as such. Howe drill shed was used for many years as an overflow wardroom car park and Rodney drill shed was walled in and occupied by Naval Stores. Only Howe gymnasium remained in use, Anson gymnasium being taken over as the drawing office of the Drawings and Publications department. This department, which grew in size with the need for instructional material and was renowned for the quality of its output, also expanded to occupy other buildings, some purpose built, on the west side of Excellent Road opposite the sick bay.

When electrical branch new entry training was transferred to Collingwood in 1949 the eastern roadway of Howe Division became the New Entry Division. The western roadway of Howe at that time accommodated Leading Rates on course, then relatively few in number, and was known as ‘Mates’ Division. Ratings under Part 2 training, who were initially in large numbers as the Electrical Branch expanded, occupied the whole of Rodney Division, Anson Division held junior ratings of the Collingwood ‘Ship’s Company’ together with the ‘Pool’ of Portsmouth Port Division junior electrical ratings who had completed courses and those who were between or awaiting drafts etc. This was more generally known as ‘Pool’ Division at the time. The Apprentices, at first housed in the old Wrens quarters in Excellent Road, were to move in 1948, again as their numbers expanded, to occupy the whole of Fisher Division, leaving 5th Class Artificers who had passed out. and were also increasing in number, in possession of the Excellent Road mess which then became known as 5 Mess.

There were at that time four senior rates messes. Chief Petty Officers were accommodated in 1 Mess adjacent to Rodney Division and No. 2 Mess (mostly artificers) adjacent to Fisher Division. Petty Officers had Nos. 3 and 4 messes on the northern and southern sides of the west end of the parade ground respectively.

A small arms range had been constructed at the western end of the establishment, behind Rodney Division, at the beginning of WW2 and in the early 1950’s a field gun course was also laid down to the south of the range. This was constructed largely at weekends, one winter, by Sappers of the local Territorial Army unit who entertained spectators immensely when their bulldozers frequently bossed down in Collingwood’s still waterlogged sub-soil. The course was used for many years to train the Collingwood teams for the annual Brickwood’s Field Gun Competition at Portsmouth. There was also an enclosed .22 range on the east side of Ocean Road near Rodney Division.

Around 1952. as large numbers of junior ratings returned from sea for leading rates courses and as the intake of new entries fell, ratings on part 2 training in Rodney exchanged accommodation with the ‘Mates’ division so that all new entries on both part 1 and Part 2 training came together in Howe Division.. The fifth class artificers were moved from the old Wrens’ quarters to make way for the first classes of Electrical and Radio Mechanicians who were mostly Petty or Chief Petty Officers already and would have overburdened the accommodation in the existing senior rates messes. That this mess had originally been Wrens Quarters was quite evident to them because the ablutions block contained no urinals

On the west side of Ocean road opposite the parade ground a large brick building** had been erected which may originally have been the ‘top’ gymnasium referred to elsewhere. This was the only part of the instructional environment that intruded upon the accommodation areas since it housed a complete ship ring main system in the centre part of the building. The northern end of the building housed the Equipment and Trials section, which also occupied other adjacent buildings including a plating shop and one which later became an EVT workshop, these behind the Ring Main building. The southern end of the building must have been used originally for fire control instruction since there was at least one gun mounting still extant behind it in the early 1950’s.

The present Captain’s House was not built until 1959. The one remaining building of this phase of construction is the one that was built as the Confidential Book Store which still stands on the eastern end of the radar parade ground.

Not every change was planned. In the summer of 1948 Building 36 in Badger Road went off the map overnight. The day after their monthly supply of “diplomatic-bag” Bols had arrived, some Dutch ratings held a party, in honour of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands when she was succeeded by her daughter Princess Juliana, and the building was burnt down in the celebrations.


After the war it was decided that the training of electrical artificer apprentices was to be conducted in HMS Collingwood and the first group arrived from HMS Caledonia on 3rd September 1948.

The other branch originals, the ordnance artificers remained at HMS Caledonia for the bulk of their training, and moved to HMS Excellent and HMS Vernon for the final phases. Initially the electrical artificer apprentices were accommodated in Excellent Road but in April 1949 they moved to the south west corner Fisher section. By 1963, numbers dictated that they had to be split into four divisions: Bateson, Middleton, Walker and Phillips. The last electrical apprentice with the grand old English name of Osuwu Banahene passed out in the autumn of 1964.

Their famous mascot was Carl (Collingwood Apprentice Radio and Electrical), a German sheepdog adopted in 1955. He spent several years in Fisher Section accompanying apprentices on many of their engagements, but broke ranks on a notorious occasion with the bitch belonging to the Captain’s wife.

In 1966 most of their accommodation moved to the shared facilities of Mattapan, Taranto, Saintes and Nile blocks, and with it the apprentices lost much of their exclusive and separate identity.


In 1947 Lt Cdr Hough was appointee Grounds Maintenance Officer. He and his two successors were responsible for many improvements. Under their guidance pig and arable farming were developed to provide an income for the Commander’s Fund (although the arable farming was discontinued as uneconomical in 1957). They solved the problems of weeds and long grass by setting goats and sheep to graze on the air raid shelters. Thousands of trees were planted including lines o poplars along the sides of the proposed Fareham bypass between the establishment and Fort Fareham.

In 1952, 92 acres of new playing fields were added to the west of the establishment and ii 1954 a new sports pavilion was opened on the main playing fields. Much effort was required to improve the drainage of the fields and as the estimates for contract work were too costly, the Commander resorted to direct labour. He formed gangs of Poles, Czechs and Pakistanis, with an Irishman in charge of each and provided a comprehensive drainage system for the area. Mushroom spawn was sown successfully on the sports fields, though the “natives” of Bridgemary were apparently the benefactors.


In 1953 a museum of electrical artefacts was started by Lt Cdr Sinfield, the author of a series of articles appearing in the “Naval Electrical Review” under the name of “Genesis”. Amongst the museum exhibits are a model of the W/T room of HMS Resource as it actually was until 1935, leather-covered leads, German World War I valves and a Branby-Lodge Coherer of 1894. In 1959 a class of Brazilians went to the museum for a practical as the museum held the only working 285P equipment they required.


In the first HQ complex there was a NAAFI and a cinema. The cinema was regularly used for Gilbert and Sullivan operas and the annual plays and pantomimes. Broadcasts from the cinema included a “Have a Go” programme in the fifties. The cinema, however, was severely damaged by fire in 1959 which put an end to the regular ship’s company dances and the fortnightly “Can Can” by local girls.

The “Ace of Clubs” then came to the fore. This was a club for ratings under twenty-one and local teenage girls meeting in Buckley Hall, mainly for jazz and jive. Buckley Hall had been converted from a dining hall and was opened in July 1959 as a centre for the establishment’s clubs and societies. In that year the original Collingwood Club was envisaged as an all-ratings institution. Half of the Ł 14,000 cost was borne by NAAFI and half by COLLINGWOOD. It was opened in March 1961 by Lady Power (wife of the C-in-C, Portsmouth) and has since been run by a committee.

Sailing has always been popular: Val, a twenty-five ton ex-German Windfall was first sailed for Collingwood in the autumn of 1946 and the following year a cruising club was formed. In 1956 she was replaced by Korsar and in 1960 by Electron, with Proton as a small sister for local sailing. The establishment is now the proud owner of Electron IV, a new MG346 that has been leading the flotillas in the local regattas.


The huts in the initial building programme of 1939/40 were of wood costing Ł600 each. Wartime constructions tended to be of brick and concrete prefabrication, a style continued in the 1947/49 extension programme. Nearly all the buildings until the early fifties were single-storied. They were also of a temporary nature, possibly because the 1854 Clearance Rights Act gave the Army the power to demolish anything in Fort Fareham’s arcs of fire. (Since the creation of a unified Ministry of Defence the Army has relinquished this right)

By the mid-1950’s steady pumping from the four main drainage sumps made it possible to erect multi-storied buildings. The first double-storied block appeared in 1955 in the form of the Chief Petty Officers’ accommodation at the south end of Ocean Road. Over the next decade the following buildings were erected: Surface Weapons (1957). Display Group (1958). Underwater Weapons (1961), 530 Classroom Block (1964, set back by a fire), The Communication Group (1965).

Also in the mid-1950’s the boiler houses in Howe and Anson divisions were fitted with more up to date boilers, automatically fired on moving grates using pulverised coal. When these were commissioned they were able to provide the full heating requirements of the establishment and all of the remaining boiler houses became redundant, only retaining in some cases their calorifiers for secondary distribution uses. However for reasons mentioned earlier this did little to ameliorate the Spartan winter conditions in most of the accommodation areas, the inhabitants of the single skinned brick accommodation in Fisher section and in the later wardroom blocks suffering worst. The underflow heating pipe ducts in the latter were probably the warmest parts of the wardroom accommodation and as a result were colonized by crickets which chirped all night much to the annoyance of the officers whose cabins were affected.

The small boiler house in the south east corner between ‘D’ and ‘E’ wardroom blocks must have been constructed when the wardroom was enlarged after the war because it was sunk about three feet below ground level, below the water table of the site in 1939. When it ceased to be a boiler house the steps down to its floor level were covered with an alarmingly steep concrete ramp so that officers could use it for car maintenance. At about the same time a civilian run car repair shop was set up in a Nissen hut near and to the north of the piggeries and adjacent to this elevated brick built surface inspection ramps were built, high enough for standing room beneath a vehicle. Ratings were allowed to use these ramps together with another adjoining Nissen hut for car maintenance ‘out of hours’. It would have been impossible to keep a conventional inspection ‘pit’ dry in that location, then still the wettest corner of the establishment.

In May 1963 plans were approved for extensions to the establishment and the replacement of huts and ageing facilities. The programme was phased over more than ten years. The rebuilding programme started in 1964 with Phase I with the building of the Junior Rates’ blocks, Jutland, Armada, Trafalgar and Atlantic, built on the west end of the parade ground and thereby reducing its’ size by about one third. Phase II followed with Taranto, Saintes, Finisterre, Camperdown, Nile and Matapan being opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret in July 1966. Not all of the work was contracted. To get things underway, for instance, the Captain’s wife, Mrs. Wise, helped the clearance by driving a bulldozer through a brick wall. Phase III has necessitated the removal of the Field Gun practice track which ran westwards from Prince and Hinchinbroke Roads towards the establishment boundary. Here the Junior Rates’ Dining Halls are situated.


Mention has been made of the post war extensions to the wardroom. The original mess was composed of spartan ‘Collingwood and Guest rooms’, with the only luxury being a billiard table. Space was so restricted that each seat at a table was used six times per meal.

A new mess was opened on 24th May 1947, boasting brick fire places in the Collingwood and main anterooms that were designed by the Commander and built locally for Ł2.10 each. At this stage the after-dinner game of “Shipping the Ammunition” had to be banned to prevent damage to the new camouflaged beams and the lighting sunk in them, but later enjoyed a revival as “Shipping the Armature”


The whole of Vernon (Electrical) was transferred to Collingwood as the E&T department on 19th July, 1946. The department had to move its own gear because no money or dockyard assistance was available, therefore machinery was wrenched from its concrete beds at Havant and reinstalled in 311 Building.

In the department there were submarine batteries to produce 5000 amps at 2 volts for switchgear trials (and office heating), vibration tables, a tropical test tank and lighting laboratories. In 1946 the top gymnasium was full of radar and wireless equipment and test gear and ‘demobees’ were employed in smashing it up until E and T protested to the Admiralty and thereby saved much of the equipment for test gear and instructional aids.

In 1955 E and T started planned maintenance the Kalamazoo and the electrical register. For a short time the section was also involved in gunnery assessment from which evolved the Fleet Assessment Unit at Fraser Gunner) Range. In 1956 – 1957 the section developed ship floodlighting, rewarding Commander Stott, the Commander (E and T) with a Herbert Lott prize.


The Collingwood Amateur Radio Society was first inaugurated just after the end of WW2 hostilities made this possible. The Society was licensed under the call sign G5NO which was personally held by Lt. Cdr.(L) Chambers who organised its activities and was well supported by the large numbers of ex ‘sparkers’ who had transferred to the Electrical Branch on its formation. However, as many of the original members came to the end of their engagements and returned to civilian life the society withered but later in the 1940’s was revived under the auspices of Warrant Electrical Officer (R) A.E.James, later Eng. Lt. Cdr. (RE), himself originally a telegraphist. In 1947 he took out a licence on behalf of the Society with the appropriate call sign of G3CRS and the society occupied the tank loft of the old ablutions block behind the wartime accommodation blocks on the western side of Queen Road at its northern end. These buildings by then housed instructional electronic labs and radar equipments and the ablutions block had become the so called D.C. Laboratory. The Society flourished for a number of years before again withering as the remaining former telegraphist ratings left the service. The present Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society, which operates from 512 building, the former establishment library off Excellent Road, came to Collingwood with the Communications Branch when HMS Mercury closed. It was inaugurated in 1%0 at Mercury and now boasts thousands of members world-wide.

(NB: page 108 ref. note on workshops:- 417 and 465 buildings, formerly the galleys and dining halls of the radar school became fitting and turning workshops both initially training apprentices but after 1952 465 building became the mechanician’s workshop. 438 workshop, opposite the centre of the radar parade ground, which by its size and construction may have originally been yet another drill shed, provided basic workshop instruction for all other ratings. 446 building was used, before ‘White City’ was constructed, for an electrical training workshop, but was taken over later for instrument repair instruction and project work by apprentices. 424 building, see lower down the para, was always the nucleus around which the W/T section grew. I have a suspicion that 424 and 446 might have been the original Chief and Petty Officer’s messes of the radar school.)

The Collingwood Parade ground, large as it still seems, is now not much more than a third of its original size. It has worn the shoe and boot leather of many generations of ‘greenies’ of all ranks and ratings. Classes of junior ratings under instruction mustered there before marching to lessons each morning in ‘Divisions’ and each afternoon in ‘Classes’. The morning Divisions, in the days when blue serge was always worn, except for workshop instruction, was well hated because successive Commanders insisted that this parade should also include five minutes of energetic physical jerks. These were disliked to a man by all who took part because it worked up a sweat which made the first part of the day very uncomfortable beneath serge uniforms and the practice did little to increase physical fitness and certainly did not improve personal hygiene. It was guarantied on cold winter mornings to invite a chill, because it was followed by the march to instruction followed by a wait for the instructor to arrive and open a building.

Through the 1950’s Ceremonial Divisions were held on Friday afternoons and from the inception of the Electrical Branch Collingwood always used to march past to The Wearing of the Green’. Although this practice continued for a short while after the disappearance of the ‘greenie’ green in 1955 and the subsequent publication of AFO 1/56 it abruptly ceased, it was rumoured, in wake of a directive from the then C in C Portsmouth. Whether this was because it was associated with the IRA or because it did not comply with the spirit of AFO 1/56 was never explained, but it was a sorely missed tradition which would have hurt no one to retain.


Maintenance and technical responsibility for radio equipment in shore wireless stations ha: rested with the Electrical Branch since 1947 In 1959 E and T produced the planned maintenance scheme for shore W/T stations. From its inception with one officer and one senior rating the Central Maintenance Authority for Shore W/T was authorised in 1960. The SM/ office was set up in 308 Building as its responsibilities and the number of its staff increased By 1964 it was responsible for maintenance documentation, upkeep, advising on design, design deficiencies, inspections complementing, overhauling, replacing, and handbooks on shore W/T equipment world wide. In 1965 it separated from E. and T. and moved to 400 Building in Barfleur Road.


The NMMT was a small group with a temporary home in HMS Collingwood. A nuclear section was formed in the late 1950’s and by 1963 the need for monitoring teams meant the enlargement of this section. It had to act as mother to the teams resident in the major ports and provide a home for the mobile team that travelled all over the world. The group moved to Alverstoke in January 1967 to become part of the Naval Radiological Protection Service, and now serves as the Naval Emergency Monitoring Team (NEMT).


The development of the training area after the war required the re-utilisation of the radar school on the north side of the establishment. Buildings 417,424,438,446 and 465 in Queens Road became workshops while 476 became an armature and coil-winding shop. The gun batteries disappeared, with 309 building becoming the centre for fire control and ASDIC directors, 310 becoming the ring main building and 311 allocated to Equipment and Trials. The main administrative offices occupied RNVR territory in 431, 432 and 433, and a new W /T section sprang up around Euryalus Road. The officer and rating radio sections at the west and east ends of Queen Road were used to house new equipment. The White City was developed for general electrics and Gibraltar Road for classrooms.

Training developed into three entities, Electrical, Radio and Apprentice, each with its own organisation for planning, administration, theoretical and practical instruction. Sections came into being to fulfil certain functions: flyplane, ASDIC, mine sweeping, warning radar, wireless, gyros, nuclear, MRS, GW, GDS, intercommunications, management, cinema, gunnery radar, high and low power. Training was also developed in depth. In his Part 1 training a man learnt about boats and providing guards. Senior Electrical Officers, at the other end of the scale, learned new radio techniques in the Radio Conversion courses.

In 1961, to come into line with the rest of the Navy ashore, the five-day week was introduced in Collingwood. This was accomplished by fashioning a new time-table to retain the previous number of hours of instruction and activities.

In 1962 the training-structure was reformed. The new arrangement was composed of a central administration staff, three instructional groups, IR, IL and LA, responsible for electronics, electro technology and academics, and six equipment groups, surface weapons, underwater weapons, nuclear and general electrics, workshops, nuclear and communications.

The increase in equipment caused pylons to make their way down Portsdown Hill and in due course Collingwood was connected to the National Grid, with its own substation in the SW corner of the Establishment.

1970 – 2000

At the start of the new decade, HMS Collingwood started what was to become an extensive facelift to turn it into the modern, all-encompassing training establishment that it is today. In 1972, a new Senior Ratings block was opened that comprised of separate messes for Petty Officers’ and Chief Petty Officers’ closely followed by the completion of a new wardroom, opened in 1975 by HRH Prince Phillip. Around the same time, the heating of the establishment was updated with the completion of a new oil-fired boiler house; the old coal-fired boiler houses were decommissioned and reduced to distribution centres for the central heating water.

To deal with the expanding numbers within the establishment, a new administration block, Atlantic Building, was opened in 1979 by HRH The Princess Royal, built on the east side of the parade ground, further reducing it in size. It is now the centrepiece of HMS Collingwood.

To ensure the trainees were active when not in the learning environment, 1981 saw the opening of the Sport And Recreation Centre (SARC). It comprised of a double sports hall, a 33.5 metre 6 lane swimming pool and the COLLINGWOOD Club, providing entertainment for all ratings and their guests.

Phase I of a new training block, Marlborough Building, built on the North side of the parade ground, was completed in 1980 and added to with the opening of Phase II in 1986, along with two further buildings, both taking the name Vernon. The two Vernon buildings were later adapted and renamed Mercury and Thunderer in readiness for the arrival of the Communicators from HMS Mercury in 1993 and the closure of RNEC Manadon in 1995.

A program for the modernisation of Junior Ratings accommodation was started in the mid-1980’s and 1987 saw the acceptance of Bryson Hall. It was to a very high standard and the most modern in the Royal Navy. It was followed by the remaining accommodation blocks in the period stretching from September 1993 to January 1994. The first of the old, four-storey accommodation blocks was demolished in 1986 and by 1994, the parade ground regained some of its’ pre-1965 size, albeit no longer used as a parade ground but now a pleasant green area.

Today, of the 475 original buildings erected on the site of HMS Collingwood, only a few remain. Of these, only the theatre and church buildings are used for the purpose for which they were built, the remainder being used for meeting places for the numerous clubs within the establishment.


A paper written by the then Chief Naval Engineering Officer (CNEO) in 1972, helped change not only the WE Branch, but the also the ME Branch, into what is recognisable today. The outcome of this paper was the Engineering Branch Development (EBD). It resulted in the ME Branch reassuming responsibility for power generation and distribution and hence the ME(L) sub-specialisation was born. Initially, this required the voluntary transfer of WE ratings and so in September 1979, 2,600 ratings were transferred from the WE to the ME department. Over the next few years ‘ heavy ‘L” training was gradually transferred from HMS Collingwood to HMS Sultan which resulted in the demise and eventual demolition of the distinctive White City in the northwest corner of the establishment.

At the same time the Weapons and Electrical Engineering Branch became the Weapons Engineering Branch as detailed earlier in this book. Titles also changed within the department in that all artificers became known a; Weapon Engineering Artificers (WEA) and sub-specialised into one of four categories namely Action Data (AD), Communication: and Electronic Warfare (CEW), Weapon Data; (WD) and Ordnance Control (OC).

In June 1980, HMS Collingwood restarted the Charge Chief Qualifying Course (CCQC) ii the wake of EBD. The original course was run from the mid- 1960is but was stopped in 1972 As a result of EBD, and the changing technical face of the Royal Navy, it was decided u introduce the course as it was necessary for; Charge Chief to be a system engineer. After several changes over the following years, the CCQC has evolved into the currently run course.

September 1982 saw the first batch of artificers of the aforementioned sub-specialisations start their training at HMS Collingwood and at the close of 1983, the last HMS Fisgard artificer entry started their time at HMS Collingwood. With the passing of HMS Fisgard into Fisgard Squadron HMS Raleigh, HMS Collingwood assumed responsibility for the initial technical training previously undertaken during the first three terms before arriving at the establishment. 1983 also saw Mechanicians become artificers, Mechanician apprentices become artificer candidates and mechanics become Weapon Engineer Mechanics (WEM), with sub-specialisation ordnance or radio.

In 1990 women were allowed to serve at sea which resulted in the recruitment of the first female WEAs and WEMs but probably the most noticeable changes within the training doctrine occurred in 1993. The year saw the transfer of the Communicators to HMS Collingwood following the closure of HMS Mercury but perhaps the most radical change was the cessation of the Weapon Engineer Mechanics training due to the development of the Warfare Branch. The idea of an operator that possessed first stage fault diagnostic skills brought about the greatest changes within the WE Branch since its inception.

Later Years

A rationalisation of the Royal Navy’s training estate led to the Maritime Warfare School (MWS) being formed and moving to the site in 2002. It is the Royal Navy’s largest training establishment and is the headquarters of the MWS and Surface Stream which also has units in Excellent,             Longmoor, Temeraire, Horsea Island and Raleigh, delivering training in Warfare, Weapon Engineering, Diving, Physical Training, Chemical Biological Radiation Nuclear and Damage Control, Sea Survival, Seamanship and Military skills

HMS Collingwood, the ‘temporary’ camp of 1939, has now moved into the 21st Century as the premier training establishment of the Royal Navy. To quote Mr. Ferrers-Walker, an Old Boy that attended a memorial service and reunion in 1993:

“From Commodore Sedgewick onwards, the reputation of this Shore Establishment, bearing the name of Lord Nelson’s Second-in-Command, has remained second to none. Long may it remain to do so.”