Relive the history of Dundee’s HMS Mars training ship at this fascinating exhibition

For decades the HMS Mars training ship was anchored on Dundee’s silvery Tay, solidifying its reputation as a transformative home for thousands of homeless and impoverished children across the city.

The HMS Mars training ship (Photo: DCT Media).

The ship’s Royal Navy and Merchant Marine training programme aimed to spare the troubled youngsters from lives of crime and destitution, rehabilitating them with education and a range of valuable skills.

Although the HMS Mars was infamous for its harsh conditions and strict regime (children were woken at 5:30 am, prayed dutifully every day, and partook in both academic and practical study) it was known first and foremost as a training vessel, and not a reformatory one.

Picture taken from a joinery workshop on board Mars Training Ship (Photo: DCT Media).

Sons of the Mars

Set up by St. Andrews students Matthew Rice and Yohan Mainguy, this innovative exhibition will explore life for boys on the ship from 1869 – 1929.

The Mars at Inverkeithing before being scrapped in 1929 (Photo: DCT Media).

When discussing the many unique features of the exhibition, Matthew said:

We have newspaper clippings, photographs, a few items and engravings from HMS Mars. We have been in touch with the grandchildren of some of the people who lived on HMS Mars to get their stories. It’s such a fascinating subject and there are some great stories.


The exhibition will run between March 22 and October 20.


Dundee’s HMS Unicorn Ship.

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Claire Merten