In 1899 HMS Ganges an old 2nd rate of 84 guns built in Bombay in 1821, took up station in Harwich harbour. She was there to serve as a training ship for young boys joining the Royal Navy. For seven years the old Ganges served her purpose but a severe winter proved that better conditions were necessary to ensure the well-being of the boys. Thus, the sick quarters were the first permanent building on land that previously had served for recreation purposes only.

HMS Ganges

H.M.S. GANGES circa 1899

This move was soon followed by the transfer of most of the training ashore, despite fierce opposition from those who could not envisage sailors being trained on dry land. The old Ganges was eventually towed away to be replaced by Ganges II, which served until 1923 as a gunnery and accommodation ship.
By this time the establishment was virtually the one which lasted until the closure of Ganges . Incorporated into the plan were two Martello Towers which were built in 1808 as defence against invasion. These two towers still stand, overlooking the harbour.

HMS Ganges training depot

Over all those years the one aim of the Establishment had remained the same. This was to train boys of 15-16 to take their place as responsible sailors in the Fleet. An average of 1,800 per year had passed through since the Second World War. Many of the lads trained here were officers in the Royal Navy, some of whom served in Ganges. Three achieved Flag rank, Admiral Sir Phillip Enright (after whom the Technical training block was named) served in Ganges as a boy and, later, as the Executive Officer.
Training in Ganges was divided into three equally important parts. One was education, which continued the boy's schooling. The second part was his technical training; this taught him the groundwork of the career he would follow when he joined the Fleet. The third was character training, which, in brief, taught him to stand on his own two feet.