Pat Whiley, Martin Williamson and myself, Keith Smith, decided that we would like to visit Ganges again so on 1st June we set out. No problems getting there, apart from it being the Suffolk Show day and the navigator missing the turn off to Shotley and incurring a twenty-minute detour before we got on track again (OK I admit I was the navigator).
We arrived at Shotley and had a walk around the Caledonia Road area i.e. Main gate viewing the dilapidated mast which all of us had on many occasions ascended. The Central dining hall is still there in a bad condition and whilst talking about it two guys arrived on cycles. Turned out they were ex policeman who had undertaken training there when it became a police training school. One of them told us that the lower half of the hall had been used for storing vehicles when he was there. The Instructional block which is a fine building in its own rate still looks virtually as it did 50+ years ago although it’s now private apartments.
We left that area and proceeded to the foreshore and stopped at the infamous steps Faith, Hope and Charity which had been rescued from years of undergrowth. There is a new block of apartments being built next to the steps. Pat asked the builder if the steps were staying but he felt they wouldn’t as the lower stage had already had to be shored up. General agreement was that it was a shame as with a bit of thought they would have fitted in with the new development and been a piece of history retained.
A lot of discussion about the pier (upon which I spent 6 months as pier quartermaster) took place. To see it completely in a poor state of repair and not a boat in sight was not nice to see but as you know reader we are viewing it as we remember it from many many years ago.
Several other points of interest were pointed out although after all these years and trees, bushes etc obscuring the place it was not easy to remember where various long demolished places actually were.
After a snack van lunch of bacon butties, we tried to locate where the Annexe was located and all we found were some original railings and a garage which we felt was somehow connected.
Last stop was a visit to Shotley church. The church is very interesting in itself, but the surprising thing was the number of graves many of which are WW1 and 2 as well as personnel from Ganges. There are 223 interred here and it is a Commonwealth Graves Commission site and it is kept immaculately Should anyone be visiting the area a visit to the church is a must.
Well we had a perfectly beautiful day to remember times past. Sun all day.