To mark the centenary of the formation of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) in 2017, the Old Royal Naval College is holding a special exhibition exploring the lives and experiences of the women who served and trained at Greenwich.

In 1918 the first pioneering group of women joined the Royal Naval College as cooks, motor drivers and telephonists, releasing men for sea service. Entering a predominantly male environment, they won the respect of their colleagues despite initial scepticism. During the Second World War and beyond, Greenwich became an important centre for training officers and ran specialised courses for Wren ratings. As the roles open to women expanded, many of the Wrens who trained at Greenwich went on to play a vital part in the war and beyond. Combining photography, film and oral histories, this exhibition explores the changing role of women in the Navy through the lens of the time they spent at Greenwich.

Researched and curated by a team of volunteers from the University of the Third Age, the exhibition draws on new interviews with former Wrens who trained here. If you have a memory or experience to share, why not visit the exhibition and leave your reminiscence on our ‘Memory Board’. 

Held in the Visitor Centre, the exhibition is free to visit.

2017 marks 100 years since the Women’s Royal Naval Service was formed during the First World War. Created at a time of crisis and shortage of manpower, the WRNS made a vital contribution to the war effort, paving the way for an even greater role during the Second World War. Across the UK celebrations are being held to acknowledge the important influence that the Wrens have had on opportunities for women in today’s Royal Navy. For more information please visit the WRNS100 website.