HOW WAS T.S GAMBIA FORMED?
All the credit for the forming of TS Gambia must go to the first Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander I.Mc Lean OBE and his first Lieutenant Lt St Clair. LTCDR Mc Lean was no new man at the role of Commanding Officer of TS Waireka in Dunedin.
When he arrived in Auckland he could plainly see there was a need for a cadet unit in South Auckland. At this time there was already three Sea Cadet Units in Operation, TS Achillies, TS Leander and Kings College but they were all in well to do Districts and to be a member of Sea Cadets was an upper class thing. LTCDR Mc Lean was told to go ahead with full Navy League support, adds were places in the local paper and permission was sort from the Otahuhu City Council to use the Community center and place a small portable shed at the back of the canteen. The response was very good and the first parade started with 64 boys Larger than the size of TS Achilles total Ship Company. This was on 26/06/67. Holding Parades in the community hall had its problems as that every weekend the equipment lockers were vandalized and keeping gear was a very hard task, we had to put up with this until 1971.
After one year the Otahuhu City Council was so impressed with the unit that they donated a piece of land on the edge of the Tamaki river at the end of Princess Street, where our ship now lie. After this the parents formed a fund raising committee and a boat shed was erected to house the new cutter which had just been recieved from the Dockyards and to accommodate for a second one which was under construction, this took some time to do but once people started hearing about TS Gambia support was very good especially from the Otahuhu Businesses and the RSA.
In 1970 portal and roof framing from Wilson and Hortons old paper store were donated to Gambia and erected by Parent Support Committee. This formed our main parade deck and administration block, the same size was built on the front to make a building of appropriate 5000 square feet. Although not completed it was commissioned on 22nd April 1972 as the Training Ship Gambia by the Rear Admiral Carr RNZN the commission hangs on the bulk head by the main entrance, bearing Her Majesty the Queens signature. The building was completed by about 1976 by the Officers and committees at an estimated cost of about $20,000.
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