T.S. ’Mercury’ was founded on the south coast of England in 1885 by Charles Hoare.
The school was initially housed in the barque "Illova" (which had been renamed ’Mercury’) and was moored at Binstead on the Isle of Wight. It was aboard this ship that the school went on its one and only cruise. ’Mercury’ set sail for the Mediterranean in 1888 and wintered in Villefranche on the Cote D’Azur returning safely in March 1889.
In 1892 ’Mercury’ move to the River Hamble near Southampton. In conjunction with this move, land ashore had been acquired and the beginnings of the shore based element of the school started.
The original ship was supplemented in 1914 with H.M.S. President which, at the time, was a Naval Reserve drill-ship moored in West India Docks, London.
Throughout its 83 years the school enjoyed the encouragement and interest of members of the royal family, eminent politicians and distinguished naval officers including Admiral of the Fleet Earl Mountbatten of Burma who was president of ’Mercury’ for the last two decades of its existence.