Dockyard Apprentices

As early as the 1940s and prior, 500 Bermudians worked at the H.M. Dockyard. Of this number, there were also Apprentices in training at the old Royal Naval Dockyard, at Ireland Island.  During this time, these young male Bermudians were part of an apprenticeship program, training to be Master Tradesmen.

Early in 1950, the United Kingdom (British Government) announced that the Bermuda Royal Naval Dockyard would close within one year.  The decision to close, had a huge impact on the lives of Bermudian families and workers.  As a result, many of the Bermudians became unemployed, and businesses began closing, resulting in little to no income. 

During this unfortunate closure notice, the training program was also in jeopardy of closing, which meant that the Bermudian apprentices were at risk of not being able to complete their training to become Master Tradesmen. 

Eventually the Royal Naval Dockyard closed, and 49 young Bermudians (ages 15yrs-17yrs) were afforded the opportunity to complete their apprenticeship training in the Royal Naval Dockyard, Portsmouth England.  The Apprentices left for Portsmouth, 9 September, 1950 on the M.V. Georgic, and were overseas between two–six years.

As Apprentices completed their training in Portsmouth, many returned to Bermuda, established their own businesses or became leaders in various government and private companies.  As Master Tradesmen, their trades ranged from carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders, engine fitters, etc.

Our father, Harcourt (Jack) Fraser left in September 1950, and completed his training as a Master Tradesman – Plumber.  He returned to Bermuda in 1954 and was employed by Burrows Junius H Plumbing Ltd. until he joined the HM Prisons Service in 1971 as a Prison Officer having responsibility for Plumbing. 

He is featured in two photos for this scrapbook with his fellow Apprentices. 

Lovingly submitted by Oriel Fraser, Andrew Fraser, Angela Fraser-Pitcher & Family.

Bermuda Dockyard Apprentices – A Hamilton Princess event celebrating the heritage of the Apprentices around 2005.