Dartmouth Royal Naval College
Britannia Royal Naval College
From stunning views of Dartmouth to one of the longest corridors in Europe, Britannia Royal Naval College boasts an impressive setting for young cadets to embark upon a career in the Navy. The college is situated just above the River Dart in South-West England and has offered an initial training programme for officers for over 100 years.
Originally named the Royal Naval College and using the ship HMS Britannia, the BNRC changed its ship name to HMS: Dartmouth when Britannia was given to a new yacht. The building itself is beautifully regal, which is no less than you would expect from the architect who designed the façade of Buckingham Palace. Sir Ashton Webb, along with Higgs and Hill, finished building the college in 1905. It was certainly an impressive upgrade from the original training base; two wooden boats moored on the River Dart.
Many famous names have graced the naval grounds; both King George V and King George VI trained here alongside men such as the Duke of Edinburgh. On a more romantic note, it is rumoured that this is where Prince Philip first met Princess Elizabeth.
The college is nothing if not hardy. In WW2 the cadets had to be moved to Cheshire due to a bombing by six Fock-Wulfes, but only part of the main building was damaged. Of late, the establishment was threatened with closure as part of the Defence cuts. Luckily this proposal was not followed through. Catering to men (and women since 1976) the college welcomes cadets between the ages of 18 and 32, and trains officers from over 20 different navies. With such a colourful history, the fervent mission statement appears rather fitting;
“To deliver courageous leaders with the spirit to fight and win”
Although the college generally accommodates fewer cadets nowadays, it prides itself on being the sole naval training base in the UK. The diverse education the Navy offers here ranges from classes in public speaking to workshops on weapon engineering. As part of a new training programme, the college have recently introduced ‘Frantic Friday.’ Exactly what is says on the tin, this is a hectic day of physical and mental exercises that the new recruits must complete on the second week of their course to demonstrate just how far they have come from “civilian to military officer”.
Aside from the arduous training, the college maintains a vibrant community spirit. The Volunteer Band plays throughout the year, as well as at the prestigious Christmas Concert. The college is continually developing new traditions as well as maintaining the old.
It is possible to take a look around this majestic site. Whilst you may not be able to cover the full 126 acres, the expertise of the Britannia guides is at your disposal most Wednesdays and Sundays between April and October. It is advisable to book in advance, allowing you to sneak in some English heritage before afternoon tea.