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....

TS Laforey


Northampton Sea Cadet Unit was first established in April 1942 at Campbell Square School. 73 applicants turned out on the first parade night and 12 were chosen for the first division. The only equipment at the time was a bag of ropes, a flag and some books.

By August 1942 the Unit strength had blossomed to 100 cadets in four divisions with 10 Staff. During October 1942 more complete equipment had been received along with the first uniforms.

In February 1944 local firms donated the Unit’s first band equipment. In June 1944 Sir Lionel Halsey, the first Captain of the SCC inspected the Unit. In one year Oct 1943 – October 1944, 50 Cadets entered the Royal Navy,
7 entered the Merchant Navy and 1 cadet entered the Army. The Unit quickly grew and by
September 1945 the unit had over 200 cadets.

In August 1947 the Unit bought a 70-foot barge for £500 to use as the Unit’s training vessel. It was equipped with a binnacle supplied by the Admiralty. Rear Admiral  Hutton, the first Captain of HMS LAFOREY was instrumental in achieving this. A naming ceremony was conducted at Southbridge, which was attended, by Admiral Hutton and the first Unit President Rear Admiral Maxwell. The barge was named TS LAFOREY.

The Unit gained its first boat which was a Bassett Cutter Ilse Ampy Steam Cutter soon after opening, however, it had to wait to gain its first Rowing boat until 1948 when the MoD provided a clinker built Whaler. This equipment was obtained by CPO S Tilley. This boat was kept on a set of davits, which were obtained from John Brand Shipyards and are still present at the Unit Headquarters.

During this time there were two Units in the town, the other being called TS WYVERN SCC based at a school in the north of the town. This Unit was commanded by Lt Warren Lovell. The two Units were amalgamated in 1958.

In 1952 the Unit gained land at the rear of Becketts Park where it remains today. The site of Calvesholme Island is excellently placed to provide waterborne training activities. The current building was built using an Army Bailey Bridge in 1972 and replaces the original Nissan Hut building erected in the1950s.

The Unit in the 1950s took its whaler boat on many long distance trips including Market Harborough, Great Yarmouth, London, Wisbech and the Trent up to the end of the 1960s. On one occasion the Whaler was even taken to Holland by Sea.

The Unit was commanded for a long period by Lt Nobby Clarke whose wife set up the first GNTC contingent in the 1970s. This was later disbanded and not reformed until 1990 when the regulations governing females in the Sea Cadets were relaxed.

In 1982 the Unit gained a brand new ASC to replace the heavily vandalised 1952 ASC. The Unit also acquired a private ASC from Thrapston which the local RNA donated £500 towards fitting out as a useful boat. The third ASC was transferred from Leicester in 1996.

In 1990 the GNTC detachment was reformed, later to be absorbed into the Sea Cadets, PPO J Howard was the OC GNTC. On 3rd April 1990 the Captain SCC, Captain Thompson RN visited Northampton Unit. During 1991 the Unit was affiliated to RFA TIDESPRING, prior to that the Unit’s affiliated ship was HMS RHYL.

1992 saw the donation of the Unit SCC Colour by Mr Roger Humphrey and a Drumhead Ceremony was conducted to dedicate the Unit Colour. Also that year the boatshed was rebuilt and the T.S.Laforey SCC Headquarters asbestos roof replaced by the then Officer in Charge, Petty Officer Roger Townsend.

During 1993, the Unit’s strength was 20 Cadets; a Junior Section was formed on 27 July 1992.

In April 1998 the unit was flooded severely and a large scale rebuilding project was organised. £25,000 was received from the insurance agents which enabled the entire inside of the building to be rebuilt, rewired and the Cadet Shower block be fitted out.

The Unit gained its first MoD Powerboat, a Dory, in August 2001 After a successful year training cadets, 2001 ended with the Unit being awarded its first Burgee efficiency award.

In 2002 the year of the HM Queen’s Golden Jubilee the unit celebrated its 60th Anniversary and on May 7th the Commodore of the Sea Cadets, Commodore Parker RN came to visit the Unit. After much fundraising effort from Cadets, Parents and Unit Management Committee the unit bought its minibus from Daventry Community Transport.

The Unit’s strength in September 2002 was 59 Cadets in two divisions with 12 Staff.

In 2003 the Unit received its second Burgee and went through to the Area Drill and Piping competition for the first time in eight years. The Unit gained a silver medal in the National Junior Rowing Competition and entered the Expedition Training Competition for the first time. Sub Lieutenant Chris Read took over as Officer in Charge from Chief Petty Officer Norman in April 2003, later being appointed Commanding Officer in November 2003.
During 2003 affiliation was established with the historic steam ship SS SHIELDHALL and trips to sea in her were provided to cadets of TS LAFOREY. Additionally the first Mayor’s Sea Cadet was appointed, Petty Officer Cadet Chris Rose, whose annual appointment is recognised with an award of a bursary on the Square Rigged Brig TS ROYALIST.

In 2004 the Unit continued at Burgee standard, being awarded its third successive Burgee. The Unit went through to the National Armed Drill and Piping event gaining a fifth place nationally. The Unit also commemorated the 60th Anniversary of the sinking of HMS LAFOREY and was joined by survivor Ex-Leading Seaman Stan Brow who had travelled from Australia for the annual HMS LAFOREY Parade which has been held every year in Northampton since the end of the Second World War. The Unit also ran its first formal mess function at St Andrew’s Hospital raising over £500 for Unit funds. The Unit also received the donation of a Standard by the Chairman of the Unit. Also that year the Unit redeveloped its galley facilities thanks to local company support and a National Lottery grant, and disabled toilet facilities were installed. The year ended with the Unit being recognised as the leading Eastern Area Sea Cadet Unit and being awarded the Sir Gilbert Stephenson Trophy.

2005 began with the Unit competing for the Canada Trophy and all were delighted and surprised to be judged by the Commodore Sea Cadets as the top Sea Cadet unit in the United Kingdom. The trophy itself was presented in May by Vice Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent KCB CBE ADC, Second Sea Lord and Commander in Chief Naval Home Command. The unit also competed in the National Championships for the Armed Ceremonial Guard contest
and even featured on National Television as BBC Look East followed progress of the Northampton Team through the competition. In September the unit established a satellite division in Rushden to be called TS DIAMOND SCC. The year ended with the unit being presented the Sir Gilbert Stephenson Trophy for the second year running.

2006 saw the unit continue in its success in its second Canada Trophy Inspection in gaining a runner up placing and having the Thomas Gray memorial shield presented by the Chairman of the Marine Society and Sea Cadets Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Blackburn CB. The unit competed in all National Competitive events and winning the National Junior Boys Rowing Competition. Unit strength increased to over 80 cadets and 20 staff. The end of the year saw the unit awarded the Sir Gilbert Stephenson trophy for the third consecutive year.

2007 saw the unit participating for the fourth year in the National Ceremonial Drill Championships gaining a fourth place and the units Easter Camp at SCTC Thrapston in which cadets rowed to the boat station as part of their Duke of Edinburgh expedition. The unit bought two fun rowing boats and received a third topper to be used in its training fleet. The unit also gained RYA recognition as a training centre. Petty Officer Cadet Chris Ihme was appointed the Navy Board Cadet for the Eastern Area and the year ended once again with the unit winning the Sir Gilbert Stephenson Trophy for the fourth year.

2008 was another successful year with the unit having Petty Officer Cadet Stuart Jolley appointed Lord Lts Cadet and Petty Officer Cadet Catherine Goldfinch appointed Mayors cadet. TS DIAMOND moved to a permanent home in Rushden and grew to 25 cadets strong whilst TS LAFOREY numbers increased to 85, for the first time the ships company exceeded 100 cadets. In Competition the unit represented Eastern Area at the Armed Drill, Piping, Football, Rowing, Powerboating, Windsurfing and Dinghy Sailing at National Competition. The unit won the open boys Rowing and windsurfing events nationally. The year marked the start of working with the RYA introducing dinghy sailing to primary school children as part of the OnBoard scheme. The year ended with the unit being presented with the Stephenson Trophy and the Thomas Gray Memorial shield.

2009 started with news of the forthcoming marina developments in Northampton and winning the National Armed Guard Competition whilst the Senior Girls Team represented Eastern Area at the National Five a Side finals in Birmingham. Once again the unit continued in its success in its third Canada Trophy competition gaining a runner up placing and having the Thomas Gray memorial shield once again presented by the Chairman of the Marine Society and Sea Cadets Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Blackburn CB. During the year the unit purchased under grant two new windsurfers, six new laser bug dinghies and a Rigiflex safety boat. During the year the unit secured a 99 year long lease with the Environmental Agency who started construction of a new marina adjacent to the unit. Towards the end of 2009, Marine Society and Sea Cadet Headquarters formally recommend the formation of Rushden Diamond Division as a Satellite of the Northampton and Rushden Sea Cadet Unit. The year ended with the unit being awarded the Barling Cup, passing the Stephenson trophy to Nottingham Unit after five years.

2010 Saw the formation of the Royal Marine Cadet detachment in Northampton Unit under the leadership of Lt(SCC) Sean Smith RMR after his transfer back to Northampton from Kettering where he was Commanding Officer. The detachment quickly grew to 12 Marine Cadets and started in July. The unit won the National windsurfing ompetition and gained a Silver Medal in Yole Rowing at the National Regatta in London. Remembrance parade saw a turn out of 103 cadets and 26 staff on parade between Rushden, Wellingborough and Northampton which was the first time over 100 cadets paraded at the same time for Northampton and Wellingborough Sea Cadets. 2010
ended with the Captain of the Sea cadets, Captain Mark Windsor visiting the unit and awarding the Canada Trophy to the unit once again. The unit also was awarded the Cleverly Trophy for the best junior section and the Area Paddlesports trophy.

2011 Commenced with formal recognition of the Royal Marines Cadet detachment and the unit once again representing Eastern Area at the Armed Guard competition. Leading Cadet Barley won the Eastern Area Piping Competition and also went to the National Event. The unit was presented with the Canada Trophy in May by Admiral Allabaster and was visited by Captain Harsch of the Royal Canadian Navy. The unit purchased a new Trinity 500 rowing boat, Yole sculling boat and Rigiflex 360 safety boat to supplement waterborne training. Petty Officer Cadet Callum Hodgeson was appointed Lord Lieutenants Cadet for Northamptonshire and was the first POC in Rushden and the first to hold this post from the Rushden Satellite.

2012 saw the units bi-annual review being attended by the Captain of the Sea Cadets, Captain Mark Windsor Royal Navy who presented the unit with its 12th consecutive efficiency burgee and awarded the Captains Cup for outstanding performance in the previous year. 107 cadets were on parade under the command of Lt Chris Read. 50 year service medals were awarded to Mr Richard Jones, Mr Robin Guinness and Mr Ernie Shoebridge. Also Petty Officer Cadet Lara Jolley was awarded the Commander Brown Trophy for outstanding leadership. The unit took the decision to start the movement of Rushden Satellite Division to independent unit status. In April the unit
command was handed over to Lt Clare Read. Also during 2012 the unit received the Freedom of the Borough of Northampton and exercised the right by parading through Northampton, Drums Beating and Bayonets Fixed. The unit hosted HRH Duke of York to the unit in March and the unit T.S.Laforey SCC handed over Commanding Officer to Lt Clare Read. The unit was extremely active in HM Diamond Jubilee Celebrations with cadets participating in the Jubilee Pageant ion the River Thames in a Narrowboat and a Rowing Boat. The Narrow boat due to canal closures had to be transported by road to the event, which took some organisation and the kind donations of local companies.

2013 was a year that the unit continued to grow and the Rushden Satellite floated alone becoming and independent entity ready to be accepted in to the Corps. The POC Joseph Barley from the unit won the Individual Piping Competition at National Competition and later attended an international exchange to South Korera. During the year the unit was donated £40,000 by the West Northants Development Corporation and extensive improvements were undertaken to pontoons and jetties in the unit.

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