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Construction students help build training facility at Tregantle Fort

On Wednesday 25 June, a group of our City College Plymouth Construction students visited Tregantle Fort, to see a demonstration of a training facility they helped to create.

Work undertaken at the Fort has seen four open classrooms transformed into the mock-up of the inside of a ship, complete with 18 separate compartments. The facility is being used by the Military Training Unit (MTU), based at HMS Raleigh, to teach sailors the correct routines for searching vessels for intruders as part of the ship’s protection team.

Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Jewell, the project officer for the MTU, said: “We started work with the College last year and over the last nine months their carpentry students have paid regular visits to the Fort to put up partitions to represent the bulkheads and water-tight doors found on a typical warship.

We’ve supplied the materials and it’s been a mutually beneficial project giving the students the chance to practise their construction skills on something that has long-term value as well as giving us an excellent training facility.”

The students saw how the facility is being used by the Royal Navy during the formal opening by the Commanding Officer of the Maritime Warfare School, Captain Steve Dainton, which will include a demonstration exercise.

Major Martyn Heenan, the Officer Commanding the MTU, said: “The students have done a tremendous job. They’ve been into HMS Raleigh to see the other the facilities we have and get an idea of the training we provide. Ships’ protection courses are four weeks long. Typically we have 30 students under training and they will spend five days using this facility. The enhanced level of training that this facility will provide to us is important and we are opening it for the wider fleet and Naval service. The cohesion generated by working with the College on this joint project gives the wider public a better understanding of the Armed Forces."

The students who have been involved in the project have completed the work under the guidance of their instructors.

Wood lecturer, Peter Backaller, said: “This project has provided our students with a fantastic opportunity to do something very different with the skills they have been developing whilst at City College - it has certainly kept them interested and engaged. It has also been a great project to do in 2014, the year that as a country we have been commemorating D-Day and the end of World War 1.”

Woodwork student, Ryan Holroyd added: “I am really enjoying this course, and this particular project has opened my eyes to the different ways in which I could take my career. It’s been fascinating to work with HMS Raleigh and really rewarding to think that something we have built is being used to train our Royal Navy.”

Tregantle Fort is managed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) under the Command locally of Lieutenant Colonel Andy Westcott. The MTU has been allocated the four classrooms and other areas, under a memorandum of understanding. As a listed building English Heritage have been consulted throughout the modifications.

The Fort was built in 1865 and was one of a number constructed around the Plymouth area to deter attacks from the French. Early in the 1900s the Fort became an infantry battalion headquarters and later was used for rifle training because of its extensive ranges heading down towards the sea. Tregantle was vacated after World War 1, but in 1938 was occupied by the Territorial Army Passive Air Defence School. Later in World War 2 it was used as accommodation for US troops preparing for D-Day. Since then it has been used extensively for training by the Army, the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy.