At about eleven years of age Albert McKenzie joined the Training Ship Arethusa. She had been launched in 1849 and saw action in the Crimean War. She was the last British ship to go into battle under sail.
In 1873 at the end of her useful life the Royal Navy sold her to be converted into Training Ship for boys and she was moored in the Thames at Greenhithe (between Dartford and Gravesend)
The ship took in Boys of about eleven years of age from the poorer parts of London. Life on board was tough and the disciplne harsh.
But they were fed and clothed and taught the basic skills and discipline required to be a sailor either in the Royal or the Merchant Navy.
In this tough environment Albert McKenzie excelled at boxing, which would have stood him in good stead for the fighting on the Mole.
At the age of fifteen Albert McKenzie and many of the other Arethusa boys signed up for the Royal Navy and joined HMS Ganges.
Arethusa was finally sent to the breakers yard in 1933, but at least one of her cabins was salvaged
When Sir Clough Williams-Ellis created Portmeirion village (location for the TV series 'The Prisoner') he used the timbers from Arethusa in the Cockpit Bar (above) in the Portmeirion Hotel. The bar was lost in a fire in 1981.