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River Thames jetty bid

PUBLISHED: 13:53 25 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 23 August 2010

A JETTY in the River Thames, once used to train young men before joining the Merchant Navy, could be fully restored as a memorial. The National Sea Training School Gravesend Association wants to restore the jetty, part of the former Gravesend Sea School,

A JETTY in the River Thames, once used to train young men before joining the Merchant Navy, could be fully restored as a memorial.

The National Sea Training School Gravesend Association wants to restore the jetty, part of the former Gravesend Sea School, which was based in Commercial Road, Gravesend.

Members of the Association met representatives from Gravesham Borough Council, the Port of London Authority and the current owners of the jetty, the Heritage Quay Residents Association, last Wednesday at North West Kent College in Gravesend, to discuss the possibility of renovating the structure.

Thousands of young men, almost one-third of all Merchant Navy seaman at the time, passed through the school before a career at sea, using the jetty for training exercises.

John Meadowcroft, of Alfold, Surrey, chaired the meeting and is vice President and General Secretary of the Association. He was trained at the school in the 1950s.

He said: "We would like to preserve the jetty in memory of all the lads that went to the school.

"About 70,000 boys, including myself, went through the school to serve all over the world.

"As well as totally renovating the jetty, we think it would be fitting to erect a plaque on the jetty, in memory of all those that trained at the school and lost their lives in war.

"This should never be forgotten."

At the meeting, members of the Heritage Quay Residents Association, which represents residents who live at the flats that have been built on the site of the old Sea School, agreed in principle to the sale of the jetty.

The National Sea Training School Gravesend Association will now have to offer a price and they are hoping to apply for Lottery funds to carry out the renovation.

David Shuttleworth, chairman of the Heritage Quay Association said: "The memorial is a good idea and would be a fitting tribute.

"We are not looking to make money from this, most importantly it needs to go to somebody that will look after it.

"Our main concern is that we would like to see the jetty kept very similar to how it is now. We are happy with what they have proposed so far."

The Gravesend Sea School was established in 1918. It provided training for youths between 16 and 17-years-old and could accommodate 150 boys at any one time.

It moved to the Chalk Marshes in 1967 and by 2003 the sea school closed and became the Metropolitan Police College. The sea school is now incorporated into North West Kent College.

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