The Mars training ship was for 60 years a familiar sight moored out in the river off Woodhaven pier. The Industrial Schools Act (1866) had led to the establishment of a number of training ships around the shores of the United Kingdom and one of these was the Tay training ship. The Mars would serve as a training ship for the east of Scotland. The Mars had enjoyed a fairly short and uneventful spell of active service before being anchored in the Tay . On 17th August 1869, enormous crowds turned out to view her arrival: at two hundred feet long and sixty feet wide she was easily the largest ship to have entered the Tay estuary.
From 1869 until 1929 the ship was home to up to 400 young teenage boys. During that time the ship enjoyed a close relationship with Newport, with the Mars boys taking part in many aspects of village life. The ship’s reputation for stern discipline led to the feared slogan “Ye’ll get sent tae the Mars” – a threat serious enough to bring the most wayward of Tayside boys into line.
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