Royal Dockyard School

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Royal Dockyard School
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Training Establishment overview
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
HeadquartersAdmiralty Building
Parent Training EstablishmentDepartment of Naval Education (1914–1951)
Naval Education Service (1951–1978)

The Royal Dockyard School was first established at Chatham Dockyard England in 1843 to provide technical education of shipwrights at HM Dockyards until 1971. The dockyard schools were administered by a head teacher and supporting teachers and instructing staff. The schools themselves in the final years of their existence were under the supervision of the Naval Education Service of the Royal Navy.[1]


Early in the 1840s, the Admiralty, recognising the need to improve the technical education of shipwrights in the naval dockyards, approved the establishment of apprentice schools. The first Dockyard School opened in Chatham Dockyard in 1843, followed by schools in Portsmouth Dockyard and Devonport Dockyard in 1844, and Sheerness Dockyard, Pembroke Dockyard, Deptford Dockyard and Woolwich Dockyard by 1846.[2] At first the purpose of the schools was to improve the technical competence of shipwright apprentices and to identify those that showed the most academic aptitude for further education in order to qualify as naval constructors.[3]

Later, as the Royal Navy went from wooden ships with sails to steel, electricity and steam propulsion, the mission of the schools expanded to include the technical education of apprentices in all the trades.[4] Over the years the Dockyard Schools at Chatham, Devonport, Portsmouth, Rosyth Dockyard (reestablished in 1940) and Sheerness developed a four-year education programme for the most academically qualified students that lasted until 1958 when the last traditional classes of fourth years graduated.[5] After the War, with countries of the Empire gaining independence and Britain’s worldwide role shrinking, overseas dockyards were closed, and the number of apprentices greatly reduced.[6]

Eventually the Dockyard Schools were phased out completely by 1971. The dockyard schools were administered by a head teacher and supporting teachers and instructing staff.[7]

Royal Dockyard Schools


Royal Dockyard School Chatham (1843-1952)

Head Teach Royal Dockyard School Chatham

Royal Dockyard School Portsmouth (1844-1952)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Portsmouth

Royal Dockyard School Devonport (1844-1952)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Devonport

Royal Dockyard School Sheerness (1846-1952)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Sheerness

Royal Dockyard School Pembroke (1846-1952)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Pembroke

Royal Dockyard School Deptford (1846-1952)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Deptford

Royal Dockyard School Woolwich (1843-1958)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Woolwich

Royal Dockyard School Rosyth (1846-1971)

Head Teacher Royal Dockyard School Rosyth


  1. King, Frank. E. (2013) The Royal Dockyard Schools and their Education System, The Mariner's Mirror, 99:4, pp. 464–473, DOI: 10.1080/00253359.2013.844542.
  2. King. pp.464–473.
  3. King. pp.464–473.
  4. King. pp.464–473.
  5. King. pp.464–473.
  6. King. pp.464–473.
  7. King. pp.464–473.
  8. King. pp.464–473.