The Head Quarters Ship (HQS) Wellington
” The children leave our popular school sessions with a better understanding of both the Merchant and Royal Navy. An unexpected bonus has been that they also gain an insight into careers at sea; The Wellington Trust is extremely grateful for the continued help and support of Sir John Cass’s Foundation in the development of the education programme. ”
Ann Todd, Education Officer, Wellington Trust
The Wellington was one of 13 Grimsby Class sloops built in 1934 in response to the threat of war looming over Europe. She began her service in the Pacific, touring to preserve peace in service of the Empire. With the outbreak of war, HMS Wellington served as a convoy escort, ensuring that vital supply lines remained open, soldiers could reach the battle fields and people in Britain remained safe and fed at home.
Since 1948, she has been moored at Temple Stairs along the Thames and is the headquarters of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.
In 2005, ownership of the Wellington passed to the Wellington Trust, which was established to ensure the preservation of the ship. One of the Trust’s other aims is to educate the nation about the role of the Merchant Navy, and in 2009 the ship began its schools programme, offering free education sessions.
The ship is very special. It offers an engaging and interactive setting to learn and really absorb the detail and challenges of our maritime past and the Merchant Navy today. The Wellington is situated in the heart of London’s busy waterway, the River Thames.
The Wellington Trust received a grant from Sir John Cass’s Foundation to support the interactive teaching sessions on board for primary school children at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, 5-11 years old.
Two alternative sessions are offered. The first is “Wellington in World War Two”, which focuses on the ship in wartime, the need for food and the protection of the trade routes and is related to Key Stage 2 history.
Members of the Cass Foundation’s grants committee were invited on board to witness a school visit first hand. The event, aimed at younger children, is the second session offered by the Wellington educational team. “Links and Lines” is related to KS1 and KS2 Citizenship and enables pupils to explore how merchant ships moved goods and people by sea and how this has affected Britain’s history as well as shape our modern life.
30 pupils from the Ronald Ross primary school in Wandsworth attended a session given by Rebecca Swan one of the four Education Facilitators who work with the children on school visits. On duty also, were Ann Todd, the Wellington’s Education Officer, and volunteer Master Mariner, Robin Batt, who undertook some of his training at The Sir John Cass Nautical School
The first part of each session involves the children with as many hands-on activities as possible, learning about naval uniforms (they get to try them on and unsurprisingly the Captain’s hat is the most popular). Sea routes and types of cargoes are demonstrated, the focus being on world geography, the oceans and the goods transported.
The second part of the schools session divides the class into 3 smaller groups, who then move on a circuit around the ship, engaging in three short 20 minute sessions.
Communications, where they use loudhailers, semaphore flags and Aldis lamps. Cargoes where they either compare and contrast the Cutty Sark with a container ship of today, or look at the Aquitania model and hear about her role as a WWII troop ship. The final group activity is Setting Sail, where pupils are on the ship’s bridge working under the guidance of a volunteer Master Mariner.
During the bridge session, the children take on roles of the officers, and just like the real crew of times past, get to follow orders from the Captain, which they take to with utmost precision and enthusiasm.
The Primary programme has proved extremely successful, these are just some of the very positive comments that the Wellington has received from the pupils:
” I learnt so much on the Wellington. Thank you for the best trip ever. It was great. ” Jack
” I had a blast on the Wellington. I learnt she was a warship in World war 2. It’s a shame she will not sail again. ” Ryan
” This was the best trip ever and thank you for teaching me about HQS Wellington. On Friday I learnt that left is port and right is starboard and that you can use flags to communicate with other sailors. ” Hanoj
” I had a spectacular day. I found out where all the different food and spices come from. ” Jonah
” I had fun learning about the Wellington. I learnt that at night time they used a torch to send messages. My favourite thing was ringing the bell. I had a tremendous trip. ” Hamza