Ulster Industrial School Ship 'Gibraltar' / 'Grampian', Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

The Industrial School Ship Gibraltar was established in 1872 by a committee of the leading inhabitants of Belfast. They raised the sum of almost £8,000 to fit up the former battleship which had previously been offered to another group at Cork but had been rejected by them. The ship was moored at Belfast Lough, at the mouth of the River Lagan. On June 22, 1872, the ship was officially certified as an Industrial School to accommodate 310 Protestant boys, aged 10 to 14.

Ulster Industrial School Ship 'Gibraltar', Belfast, c.1873. © Peter Higginbotham

As well as nautical training, the boys on the ship were taught tailoring and shoe-making. Unlike most other training ships, the Gibraltar never acquired a sea-going tender which limited the boys' experience of practical seamanship.

The committee that ran the Gibraltar also Belfast's Fox Lodge Industrial School for boys under the age of ten. Fox Lodge acted as a feeder school for the ship.

In around 1889, the Gibraltar was renamed Grampian. In the early 1890s, criticism was made of the small proportion of boys being trained on the Grampian entering naval service. In 1888, only 6 of the 52 boys leaving the ship had to sea. Many of the boys ended up working at Belfast's booming shipyards. The Grampian was eventually closed in March 1899 and the vessel was then broken up. The ship's role was taken over by the Fox Lodge establishment which was renamed the Balmoral Industrial School.


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