By the middle of the nineteenth century it was generally realized that there was a problem in providing properly trained officers for merchant ships. In 1859 the Conway was established in the Mersey for this purpose. The idea of having a vessel on the Thames originated with William Munton Bullivant (1827-1908), a London merchant and Richard Green (1803-1863), a Blackwall shipbuilder. By 1861 an active committee had been formed and the Admiralty agreed to lend the Worcester, a 50-gun frigate, as a school. The Thames Marine Officer Training School was opened in the following year. The vessel was initially stationed at Blackwall Reach but moved to Erith the following year where she remained until 1869 when she was moved to Greenhithe. Within a few years, with the increase in the number of cadets, the ship had become too small and in 1876 she was replaced by a larger vessel (formerly the Frederick William). It was at this time that the name of the school was changed to the Thames Nautical Training College, H.M.S. Worcester. The college was incorporated in 1892 and in 1922 it purchased land at Greenhithe. In 1938 the Cutty Sark was acquired by the college and berthed abreast of the Worcester. At the outbreak of war in 1939, the cadets were transferred to Foots Cray Place near Sidcup and the ship was returned to the Admiralty. At the end of the war the old vessel was handed back but within a few months the training ship Exmouth was made available and, renamed Worcester, was officially handed over in July 1945. In 1953 the Cutty Sark was taken over by the Cutty Sark Preservation Society and was docked permanently at Greenwich. The Thames Nautical Training College continued until July 1968 when it became part of the Merchant Navy College at Greenhithe. The third Worcester was sold in 1978 to be broken up.
The records were presented to the Museum in 1970. They consist of printed reports, 1863 to 1968; minute books, 1861 to 1867, 1881 to 1965; harbour log books, 1862 to 1865, 1867 to 1869; visitors books, 1935 to 1947, 1953 to 1968; ledgers, 1862 to 1870; wage books, 1933 to 1936; books of newspaper cuttings, 1857 to 1967, 1917 to 1967, together with photographs and other miscellaneous items. There are further records at the Merchant Navy College at Greenhithe, and the records relating to the cadets are with the records of Seafarer Education Service, now with the Marine Society at Lambeth.
Records of semi-governmental and non-governmental organisations
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
H.M.S. Worcester (Thames Nautical Training College) (WOR)