Marine Society & Sea Cadets – TS Derby, Knowsley Park – Established in 1854 the Sea Cadets was created by communities wanting to give young people instruction on a naval theme. Traditionally old seafarers provided training while local businessmen funded the Unit Headquarters.

The tradition of community based Sea Cadet units continues today with 400 across the UK, each with charitable status enabling them to raise funds to meet their running costs. The Sea Cadet organisation is a registered charity (number 313013).

The sea cadet facility at Knowsley Park is vitally important to the 18 sea cadet units on Merseyside, and has had a presence there since 1962 by kind permission of Lord Derby. Having first had a small lodge on the north bank they were given the use of a larger boathouse in the 1990’s that had originally been built for Liverpool University Boat Club who no longer had use for it. Nearly 50% of the children come from underprivileged backgrounds, and they can learn to sail and handle small boats safely on the lake. They join at the age of ten and finish as cadets by the time they are eighteen. Many become adult instructors and it is not unusual throughout the UK to find people who have been members of a Unit for more than 50 years.

In 2001 the lodge was required by the estate for other purposes and the cadets were left with just the boathouse to work from. Unfortunately the boathouse was just that, a large area used for storing boats. The roof leaked and in heavy rain the floor flooded as land drains overflowed.
In 2002 one individual had the idea to convert the boathouse into a training centre where they would be able to provide training to the cadets in dry and warm conditions. He set about drawing the plans and raising the money and indeed doing the conversion work himself on a DIY basis during his days off from his full time job. After clearing the land drains and paying out a lot of money to have the roof patched, the building was eventually dry and he carried on with the conversion.

However, during the winter of 2009 the cadets found that the roof had developed a number of leaks that were damaging the work indoors and was now in desperate need of a complete replacement. This was beyond the skill of the management and they required expert help with the project.

At the end of 2010, TS Derby were successful in their application to receive the roofing material via IKO’s ‘Fix That Hut’ campaign. In January 2011, the products were delivered by one of IKO’s customers, Chestnut Roofing & Building Supplies Ltd, in preparation for the work to commence by IKO’s specialist national roofing contractor, BriggsAmasco. Climax Scaffolding Limited kindly donated the scaffolding free-of-charge to gain access safely to the roof area.

The volunteer adults who manage the Cadet Units maintain the premises and in the past year have carried out some major changes. There is now overnight accommodation for 36 people while running many courses both land based and waterborne, with heating a galley, store, office and staff room with cooking and toilet/shower facilities.

Lt Cdr Paul Rycroft RNR, The District Officer for Liverpool based at TS Derby Boating Station comments; “We are really pleased that our unit was successful in receiving the much needed free roofing materials. TS Derby has always been a valued unit for the cadet members, and with help from IKO PLC, Chestnut Roofing & Building Supplies Ltd and BriggsAmasco, it will continue to provide the sailing skills to these young cadets for many more years to come.”