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....


The Sherbourne Unit was formed in Highgate, Birmingham during the Second World War on the 3rd November 1942, taking its name from the school and road on which it was located.  In the late 1940's the unit moved to a house on the Alcester Road in Balsall Heath, this became the Unit Headquarters for nearly fifteen years.  The Unit moved to its present location in 1962. 

The Unit is housed in a former Birmingham City Council yard used to repair vehicles (the building housing the current boat deck). Major alterations were necessary to render the unit fit for purpose.  A new 'Heads' block extension to the boat deck and a gangway were installed.  The unit reached a low point by 1983, under went 2 inspections and the threat of closure loomed, but with hard work, determination and recruiting new staff, it turned itself around. 

In 1985 the unit was awarded the Colditz award for service to the local community presented by Major Pat Reid.  Shortly afterwards in 1987 the house section was given to the unit by Birmingham City Council and opened by Mrs Elsie Carter, Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham.  In 1999 the unit was awarded a National Lottery Grant of £24,500 for repairs and computer equipment. Past grant awards have included a Children in Need grant over 3 years to purchase a Trinity 500 (new SCC approved Rowing Boat) to replace the old Admiralty Sailing Craft, and membership of Bartley Green Sailing Club and the Black Country Foundation for purchase of a new double kayak. 

 A grant of £25,000 in 2014 from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant enabled us to make some improvements in particular to the boat deck.  What was a dark, dismal and cold environment - is now light, airy and warm with insulated walls, new floor and a suspended ceiling providing a much improved multi use space.

3 classrooms and the pantry have been completely refurbished which has greatly improved the immediate overall feel of the unit on entrance. Over £15,000 funding has been secured from trusts and foundations for the refurbishment of the ships heads to develop them into male and female facilities.  Work is currently underway and is hoped to be finished soon.

Our eventual aim is to strengthen our ties with the local community by opening up the facility for community use. The next project will be the Ships Galley to develop this into a fully functioning catering kitchen which will also enable us to deliver the catering element of the sea cadet training programme to intermediate level.

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