It seems odd that with today’s internet and powerful search engines that a naval unit from as recently as the 1980s can virtually disappear into obscurity. This seems to be the case though with the RNR unit HMS Salford. Despite extensive searches online I can find almost no details about it at all! Hopefully tonight’s post can rectify that situation slightly as we are looking at a recruitment leaflet for HMS Salford, dating back to the early 1990s. The cover of the leaflet proudly proclaims that HMS Salford is ‘Manchester’s Navy’ and features the ship’s badge, along with the logo for the Royal Naval Reserve that was in use at this time:Inside is information on the unit and the various branches of naval service open to potential officers and ratings:Interestingly one of the branches mentioned is the Postal Branch, now long defunct in the Royal Navy.
At the end of the war it was originally intended to retain a small regular Postal Branch in the Royal Navy but the Admiralty eventually decided to transfer peacetime mail duties to the Regulating Branch and form a Postal Branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. This Branch to comprise of Post Office employed personnel who would form the professional expertise on which a larger organisation could be built should the need ever arise.
Thus the Royal Naval Volunteer (Postal) Reserve Branch was formed in 1961 and subsequently transferred to the Special Branch of the Royal Naval Reserve in 1959 and became a Branch of the Royal Naval Reserve in its own right from 1st June 1976.
In 1976 there were 45 officers and 425 ratings enrolled from Post Office employed volunteers who undertook to perform a minimum of 28 days training every three years. The Branch was headed by a Director of Naval Postal Services (Designate) a post which was held by Captain R 0 Bonnett VRD RNR. In the event of war, or emergency, they would form part of the joint services Postal and Courier Communications organisation, relieve the Regulating Branch of the mail duties it performed and provided such other postal and courier facilities as Ministry of Defence (Navy) required.
Officers and ratings undertook both joint service training with the Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Communications Service and trained in naval establishments. They provided Fleet Mail Office facilities at the Coronation Fleet Review 1953, the NATO Fleet Review 1969, the Western Fleet Review 1969 and the Coronation Jubilee Review in 1977 and on several more minor occasions.
The rear of the leaflet features a picture of the outside of the base and a map guiding recruits and visitors to the unit:The Navy News reported on the opening of an all ranks mess at HMS Salford in 1990:
One of the few “all ranks” messes in the RNR has been given a facelift funded by the Territorial Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserves Association. Manchester’s HMS Salford has been carefully restored to blend in with the Victorian décor of its surroundings at Salford’s old town hall, a Grade II listed building.
I have found reference to the base being under threat of closure in 1994, but I have not found any definite date for the base’s final decommissioning. Today the Old Town Hall is used for luxury flats after being sold off to a property developer about a decade ago.