Submitted by: Pam Skeet (nee Cossins)

Some personal reminiscences of the School from an ex-teacher, Miss Lily Harris-Candey, whose father was Headmaster until 1918 and who taught at the School herself after the Second World War.

My father was a Naval Schoolmaster. We came to Malta in 1902 where he (my father) was attached to the Dockyard School, then as you know, inside the Dockyard gate in Senglea.

In 1904 the school was removed to the old prison in Strada Prigione (the names were all Italian in those days). Now you will be interested to know that it was the children's and apprentices school in one, because the children's opened at 9 a.m. until 12 noon, started again at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. - then the staff had to go back to teach the apprentices from 6 p.m to 7.30 p.m.

The children were those whose fathers were employed in the Dockyard (the lowliest labourer was entitled to send his children to the Dockyard school) and of course those of any service men. The children entered at the age of five years, went on until 7th standard (age 14 years) - the girls left, the boys had an examination. According to their position in the result list, so the lads could choose their trade - engineer, electrician, etc. On leaving school these lads attended the Dockyard by day to learn their trade - left the yard at five o'clock and back to night school from 6 p.m to 7.30 p.m.

Many prominent men in Malta are old Dockyard School boys, who were later able to go to Lyceum and/or University. The Garrison Schools stood, apart from St Andrews, at Santa Margarita, Cospicua and Ricasoli. The children travelled by brakes drawn by lovely great horses. Schoolmasters were in uniform. The Dockyard School Staff consisted of Headmaster and Assistant (both Naval), three civilian male teachers, two Maltese male teachers, extra for night school and three female teachers for Infants, Standards I and II. Many interesting things happened for the Dockyard School children - the visit of King George and Queen Mary, also the German Emperor with his great moustaches - for these occasions we all lined the route from Marsa to Valletta. The laying of the foundation stone of the breakwater by King Edward, where the school children went over to sing under my father's baton (he was the music master).

Once the dear old Duke of Connaught had his birthday here. The school children were all invited to the Palace for tea. On leaving we had to pass along in front of the Duke and Princess Pat, who gave the girls each a doll and the boys a sailing boat.

The Admiral of the Dockyard would call in whenever he liked. Each month a member of the school Committee would be on duty. This committee consisted of Admiral, Parson, Engineer Captain, Admiral's Secretary and Civilian Secretary - as far as I can remember. The Naval Parson (who had a fine house in Bighi) came to the school for Religious Instruction to the Protestants - Canon Cassar. The Roman Catholic Naval Priest took care of the Catholics; two of the masters were of this denomination.
Eventually my father became Headmaster, being relieved in 1918. After being in England with the family until they died, I gravitated back to Malta, were I was extremely lucky to get a job at the Royal Naval School, Headmaster Commander (later Captain) Miles. The staff then consisted of Naval Schoolmasters, their wives and those like myself, locally entered people. Great fun, we had few text books, when these were ordered from the Admiralty they took so long in coming that we all had other ideas by the time they (the books) arrived. We did our best with our own brains!

However, later the seconded people arrived and it was most amusing to note their chagrin to find how they were expected to work. You see they all wanted "a free hand" - they didn't understand "Navy" much less Pink books, white cards, correct reports, with a care not to hurt the feelings of the parents. That's how it was when I was at Tal Handaq. As the school was enlarged the Infants and Juniors went to Verdala, myself with them.

All together I spent seventeen very very happy years, my last Headmaster being Instructor Commander Newberry.

Lily Harris-Candey