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New timeline depicting the history of the Royal Navy at BRNC


A new timeline depicting the history of the Royal Navy from the 19th century to today is proving popular at Britannia Royal Naval College. Nearly a year in the making, it adorns the walls of the extremely long main corridor (a whopping 200 metres in length). It’s hoped it will teach cadets and staff more about the building’s remarkable past. Steph Woolvin went to see it….


In September 1942 Petty Officer Ellen Whittall was killed whilst in the ladies toilets near the main entrance at the Royal Naval College. She was the only person to lose her life when a bomb landed in the corridor during World War II. This is just one of many facts on the new timeline, which spreads from the chapel at one end of the expansive main corridor to the dining room at the other. Ornate stonework, high ceilings and large wooden doors have always made this building feel like a living museum and now it’s even easier to imagine what life was like here 20, 40, or even 150 years ago. Each information board is brimming with photos, quotes and historical facts stretching as far back as 1863 - the date when HMS Britannia arrived in Dartmouth to become the Royal Navy’s officer training ship. A few paces down the corridor a yellow line marks the date the college itself opened in 1905. The timeline was the brainchild of Captain Jolyon Woodard (the man in charge). He wanted to extend the college’s own museum, which is based in a converted classroom next to the start of the timeline. He called an expert team together at the end of 2017 to discuss the idea and museum curators Dr Jane Harrold and Dr Richard Porter got on board straight away. “Hundreds of people walk along the main corridor everyday. It was a great opportunity to be able to bring important historical facts about the college out into its heart,”


“Hundreds of people walk along the main


corridor everyday. It was a great opportunity to be able to bring important historical facts about the college out into its heart,”


says Richard. Over the course of a year they worked with designer David Craddock (who created the Titanic exhibition in Belfast). They spent many hours finding important facts, dates and photos which they present- ed to a Newton Abbot firm who pieced it all together on wooden presentation boards and spent two days in November putting them in place. It has three lines, so for most dates you can find out what was happening at the college, in the Navy as a whole and around the world. Jane points out one of the war era boards: “So here in 1939 we can see at the college Prince Philip first met Princess Elizabeth, war was de- clared by Neville Chamberlain and a little later the first naval battle in the Second World War took place - The Battle of the River Plate.” Further along the corridor and


we find out that the college started allowing women to train here in 1976 when the Women’s Royal Naval Ser- vice moved its officer training from


Greenwich to Dartmouth. The full integration of female and male training eventually took place in the early 1990s. “It’s these little bits of information that seem to interest people,” Richard says, pleased that the timeline has been well received. “Straight away when it was put in place cadets and staff began to crowd round and we often see people stopping to have a little read as they head down the corridor on their way to the coffee shop or a lecture.” The timeline has been a particular hit with international students and some are using it for their


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