HC Deb 30 June 1864 vol 176 cc498-505

said, it would be in the recollection of the House, that on the discussion of the Navy Estimates a Vote was taken with reference to the proposed school, and that he, with other Members, objected, not to the estab- lishment of such a school, for which he believed there were cogent reasons, but to the place in which it was intended to locate it. Since then he had made exertions at different times to get certain papers, especially a document by Sir W. Snow Harris, which had been submitted to the Admiralty, and laid upon the table of the House; but the noble and gallant Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty objected on the ground that it was the production of a private person, and ought not to be printed at the public expense. Certain documents, however, had been laid upon the table, which, though exceedingly incomplete, fully confirmed the objections to the establishment of the school at South Kensington. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwitch (Sir John Pakington) had taken credit to himself for having been the first to propose the scheme to the Admiralty; but on looking back to the papers he found that the first document on the subject was from the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty, and was dated January 13, while the paper transmitted by the right hon. Baronet was dated the 12th of March following. But the right hon. Baronet probably intended to refer to what had taken place in the Institution of Naval Architects, of which he was president, and before which a paper was read last year by Mr. Scott Russell with reference to the establishment of such a school. He must do Mr. Scott Russell the justice to say that it was to him the scheme was justly to be ascribed. Last March twelve months Mr. Scott Russell read a paper to the Institution of Naval Architects, in which he pointed out what had been done in France in the matter, and expressed an opinion that such a school, if established at all, ought to be in this metropolis. But if hon. Members considered what the Ecole Poly-technique was, and the difference between it and the Museum at South Kensington, they would see that there were no grounds whatever for establishing such a school at the latter place. A report was subsequently made to the same institution by Dr. Woolley, in which he alleged that there were thirteen grounds upon which the school ought to be established. Dr. Woolley said, that half the time, or three days in the week, would be devoted to the study of the theory, and three other days to the practical application of the science. Dr. Woolley went on to say that that principle would be preserved in the new school at Kensington, but with this important dif- ference, that the time devoted to the practical study of shipbuilding at the dockyards would be six months in the year, and that for the remaining six months scientific instruction would be given at the school in London. He certainly did not think that arrangement at all advantageous, and he feared that the students would, in the six months during which they were practically working in the shipyards, forget a great deal of what they had previously learnt from lectures in the school. In like manner, he felt that students could not properly follow up a practical study of shipbuilding if they were taken away from it every six months. As the scheme, drawn up by a Committee of the Institute of Naval Architects, was presented to the Admiralty by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich, he should like to be informed who the gentlemen forming that Committee were, because a great deal must depend on the degree of authority which would attach to their names. He certainly considered it most extraordinary that Dr. Woolley, an Inspector of Schools, should be selected to draw up a scheme for a School of Naval Architecture. His inquiries had convinced him of the truth of what he had stated on a former occasion, that almost everything that was required could at present be taught in the dockyards, where there was an efficient educational staff, who were able to give lectures on almost every subject included in the programme, and who, in case of necessity, might be supplemented at a very slight additional expense. At Portsmouth there was a naval college and a laboratory equal, if not superior, to any out of the metropolis. There was a similar establishment at Devonport. There was also the School of Naval Engineers. Surely much better instruction could be afforded at these establishments than at Kensington, where the pupils had no means of working out the lessons which they received during the time they were obliged to attend the lectures. The original School of Naval Architecture at Portsmouth had been conducted most successfully, and to that institution the country was indebted for some of the most able men connected with the Admiralty. The second school, established in 1845, and which was in existence for some four or five years, had been equally successful. There was an admirable building which had cost £35,000, which was comparatively lying idle; and yet the House was to be called upon to expend a large sum at Kensington on a building unfitted for the purpose to which it was to be devoted. The whole of the salaries would amount to £7,000 a year, and he should like to know whether they would be paid during the whole or only during the half-year. There were to be, he understood, only eight shipwrights and eight engineer students, with probably half-a-dozen private pupils; and he submitted that there was no justification for the establishment of such a large and costly new staff for twenty-two students, more especially as they had a sufficient staff already in the dockyards. The whole expenses of the former School of Naval Architecture did not exceed £2,000 a year, and it was given up because there were not enough openings for the pupils who were educated there. At South Kensington there was no educational staff suited to give lectures, as the noble Lord had led them to believe. He was not aware of any branch of instruction which could not be given at Portsmouth, with perhaps a little additional assistance, as well as, if not better than, at South Kensington, He hoped the noble and gallant Lord would tell them whether the scheme had undergone examination at the Treasury as well as at the Admiralty. The school ought to be established where there could be daily instruction in all the different practical operations of shipbuilding. It was very important that students should have the opportunity of watching the construction of a vessel, not for detached periods, but continuously from beginning to end. That could not be done under the system now proposed. He maintained that, whether or not South Kensington would, as was alleged, inspire students with a sense of the beautiful," it would not give adequate facilities for the inspection of machinery such as would be afforded at a dockyard. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.


seconded the Motion.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the New School of Naval Architecture ought to be established in immediate connection with one of the chief Naval Arsenals, where the students may have, together with scientific lectures of a high order, the benefit of regular, progressive, and continuous instruction in every branch of practical shipbuilding, as well as constant opportunities of inspecting and studying steam and other machinery, the varied armaments, and numerous operations carried out in the docking, fitting out, and working of every species of vessel embraced by the Royal Navy; and further, that the South Kensington Establishments and Museums are altogether wanting in the educational staff and means of practical application indispensable for such School,"—(Mr. Augustus Smith,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he agreed with the hon. Gentleman as to the great importance to our naval interests, that there should be established a good scientific school for the education of naval architects. The hon. Gentleman seemed to doubt whether the Government had I acted wisely in deciding that the proposed I school should be established in the metropolis instead of at one of our naval arsenals. Now he (Sir John Pakington) found himself in rather a peculiar position in having to speak for the Admiralty from that side of the House; he was bound to say that he did not share the doubt of the hon. Member on that point. In justice to himself and others he was also bound to say, that in the course of his speech the hon. Gentleman had fallen into several misapprehensions with respect to the part which he had taken in framing and promoting the scheme. Neither in that House nor elsewhere had he ever taken credit to himself for the establishment of the school. He did not presume to be competent to express a satisfactory opinion upon the various scientific questions involved, and if he had taken a rather active part in the transactions connected with the establishment of the school, he had done so solely in his capacity of president of the Institute of Naval Architects. What really led to the establishment of the school was a most able paper drawn up by Mr. Scott Russell, and read by him to the annual meeting of the Institute of Naval Architects as far back as March, 1863. The shipbuilders present on that occasion were much struck by the statements which the paper contained; but their attention was particularly attracted by the allegation of Mr. Russell, that he and other eminent builders had been obliged to send their sons to France in order to be properly instructed in Naval Architecture, as there was no institution in England where they could be trained. In consequence of that remarkable statement the Council of the Institute took the whole subject into their consideration, and the result of their deliberations was that they requested him, as their president, to enter into communication with the Admiralty, expressing their belief, in which he shared, that the best plan for the interests of the country would be to establish a new School of Naval Architecture on such a footing that it might be beneficial both to the Royal Navy and to the mercantile marine. Acting on the request of the Council, he had several interviews with the Duke of Somerset, and with the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty, and he would not be doing justice to them if he did not acknowledge the frank and cordial manner in which they entered into the scheme, and evinced their readiness to meet the views of the merchant service as represented by the Institute of Naval Architects. The hon. Member had cited the authority of Sir William Snow Harris, in favour of the establishment of the school, not in the metropolis, but in one of our great arsenals. He had a great respect for Sir William Snow Harris, but he could not concur in his view. It might be all very well, if a School of Naval Architecture solely for the benefit of the Royal Navy were in question, to establish it, as before, at one of the arsenals; but the proposed school was to serve the interests of the mercantile marine as well as those of the Royal Navy, and for such an institution one of the arsenals would not be a convenient site. The hon. Member called for the revival of the old school at Portsmouth. He admitted that the late Sir James Graham never made a greater mistake than when he abolished instead of altering and improving the Portsmouth school; but the great objection to that institution was that, though capable of being made an efficient aid to the Royal Navy, it was not fitted from its site to confer the smallest benefit on the mercantile marine, as there was no means of giving any other instruction than what the dockyards afforded. The hon. Member wished to know who drew up the scheme for the proposed school. In reply he had to state that the whole subject was first of all considered by the Council of the Institute of Naval Architects; that the Council then appointed a Committee to go into the details, and that, as the hon. Gentleman would see by glancing at the names, the scheme was framed by the most eminent men in the shipbuilding profession. He would not say there was not an eminent man connected with the mercantile marine who did not approve the whole plan, but he had not heard of any gentleman of eminence as a shipbuilder who had expressed any dissent from the arrangement which had been made, and he submitted that when the Admiralty authorities and the great body of the merchant service were found concurring in a scheme, the fair inference was that no great objection could be taken to it. For his own part, he believed that, whether as regarded the interests of the Royal Navy or those of the mercantile marine, the best arrangement had been adopted, and that the Government had come to a wise decision in resolving to establish the school in the metropolis, which was the most convenient of access from all parts of the country, and where there were greater facilities for scientific instruction than could be found in any other part of the country.


said, he had only a very few words to add to the remarks of the right hon. Baronet. In the opinion of Dr. Woolley, whose valuable services were about to be transferred to the Admiralty from the Department of Science and Art, there existed at none of the naval ports either instructors or any of the appliances necessary for a good School of Naval Architecture. He supposed the hon. Gentleman would not demur to the opinion of so eminent an authority as Dr. Woolley. The hon. Gentleman thought it was desirable to combine the theoretical with the practical instruction. On that point Dr. Woolley said that at South Kensington the services of the most eminent lecturers in the subsidiary sciences of chymistry, metallurgy, physics, and practical mechanics were already secured, while competent instructors in the sciences more immediately professional were more readily obtainable there than elsewhere. He also said that the principle of devoting one-half of the time of the pupils to instruction in the theory, and the other half to instruction in the practice of their profession, would be kept intact in the new school. Mr. Scott Russell, whose valuable suggestion had been referred to by the right hon. Baronet opposite, after adverting to the immense advantages which the French possessed in their Naval School at Paris, which was a long way from any dockyard, and to which English shipbuilders sent their sons, said they should ask the Government to allow the young men to come to London without forfeiting their dockyard pay in order to attend the college and that in the dockyards there was now a preliminary training given for the higher instruction which should be obtained at the institution in London, The hon. Member said that o correct account of the cost of the school had not been given to the House; but in a paper which had been laid on the table at the hon. Gentleman's desire, there was a detailed estimate of the whole cost of the college, and also of the allowance to the young men, which estimate was a correct one as far as their knowledge went. Many persons supposed that the school would become self-supporting. All the scientific men, with the exception of Sir William Snow Harris (for whom he had the highest respect, but who was not an authority on that matter), and all the shipbuilders, whether connected with the Admiralty or with private yards, with whom he had been in communication, were extremely satisfied with the proposed school, and entertained the greatest hopes of its success. He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Member would not persist in opposing the school. They had taken the lecture rooms at Kensington on economical grounds. Those rooms might be capable of improvement, but they were already used for the Department of Science and Art, and there was no doubt that they were adapted for the purpose in view.


Will the professors be migratory as well as the students?


No; the lectures will take place in London.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.

Amendment negatived.