Sea Cadets helps teenagers to stretch themselves and become the best they can be. We know what that takes because we've been doing it for over 160 years.

The turbulence of youth

The pressures that young people face are ever-changing, but what remains constant is that the teenage years can be turbulent. Independence is exciting, but also daunting.

For orphans of the Crimean War, sleeping in the back streets of England’s sea ports, life looked bleak. To help them, coastal communities banded together to provide places for sailors to pass on nautical skills and training to give these destitute young people a future. This is how, in 1856, the Naval Lads’ Brigade was born.

Royal patronage

Soon, they were springing up across the country, and in 1899, Queen Victoria marked their importance to young people by becoming Patron, and giving £10 to the Windsor unit for uniforms.

Today, HM The Queen is our Patron and HRH The Prince Andrew Duke of York KG GCVO is our Admiral of the Corps.

Scroll through our gallery to learn more about our rich history....

Bideford Sea Cadets were formed in 1942 and were affiliated to the Navy League on 24th November of that year.  The Navy League was an organisation formed in 1894 to promote the importance of the Royal Navy and to educate the public and young people.  They sponsored and supported the early naval based units of young boys which have now become the Sea Cadets.

The staff were mainly ex servicemen who were no longer fit for active service.   The original headquarters was based in a room above what is now the Oxfam Shop in the High Street.  The unit then moved to larger premises above a garage - now Caesars nightclub - at the bottom of Cooper Street.  After the war they acquired a redundant torpedo boat, thought to have been a 'Fairmile D class', and the unit moved to be afloat 'TS Revenge'.  Before the boat was scrapped a new unit was acquired in St Georges Field, the site of the current unit. Shortly after this move, the unit took delivery of a motor fishing vessel which took the name 'TS Revenge' and was based in Bideford until 1972 when it was taken to be used for the wider training of Sea Cadets.

In 1988 the unit was converted, to include classrooms, a galley, an armoury stores, a boat maintenance area and separate male and female toilets and showers.  With the help of a National Lottery grant, central heating was installed and hot water was supplied to the galley, toilets and showers.  In 2002 the four small classrooms were modified into two larger ones.

On Saturday 26th April 2014, Mrs Clarke and family, Bideford Town Mayor and Madam Mayoress, Bideford Town Councillors, Members of The Bideford Bridge Trust, Staff and Cadets of Bideford & District Sea Cadets celebrated the completion of the new unit building with a ceremony to formally hand over the keys. Without the vision of the late Mr Steve Clarke this building would not exist. Both as a local business person and Town & District Councillor, Mr Clarke had worked tirelessly over the previous 7 to 8 years to achieve a Fit-For-Purpose building for our young people and also for the wider community of our town. 

Today you can see the result of his dedication and enthusiasm for such projects and Bideford Sea Cadets thank him for this.

Bideford & District Sea Cadets is well respected within the local community.  The unit is always present at the Mayors Parade and Remembrance Sunday as well as being represented at any other ceremonies throughout the year.  We are also affiliated to Hartland Royal British Legion.  We are always generously supported during our fundraising events and the cadets are often asked to assist at local events.

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