There was a special poignancy when the command ‘eyes right’ was barked on the parade ground at HMS Ganges 40 years ago, as it marked the end of an era.
In June 1976, the last recruit graduated from the Royal Navy training establishment known as Ganges and the place still holds special memories for many today.
Although the base was subsequently used as a sports camp and then by the Police, who practiced their riot techniques there, Ganges will forever be best known the world over for the tough, uncompromising training, which turned raw young civilians, some as young as 15, into disciplined men, fit to serve on Her Majesty’s ships.
The base at Shotley Gate is awaiting development, but the memories live on and the base is now the HMS Ganges Museum, next to the Shotley Marina.
Filled with artefacts given by ex-Ganges boys, or their relatives and families over the past 20 years, the museum has become a mecca for all those with any sort of connection or interest in Ganges and its colourful and important history. The museum holds memorabilia from the old shore establishment including honours board, figurehead and clocks. It is also home to a very large collection of photographs and original documents relating to life in Shotley and a small number of documents relating to old ‘Ganges’ when when it was afloat.
Run entirely by volunteers, the ex-Ganges personnel open the museum at weekends, passing on their knowledge and experiences to visitors.
The museum is open from March through to the end of October each weekend and bank holiday from 11am – 4.30pm. Entry to the museum is free. Special arrangements can be made for opening outside of these times by calling 01473 788723 or 787375.
Coach parties are welcome.
HMS Ganges Association Museum, Shotley Marina, Shotley IP9 1JQ
T: 01473 788723 / 787375